“This oughta be good,” Kane muttered.


“She said Colt might be an asshole on occasion, but he was her asshole and she didn’t appreciate you messing up his pretty face.” Her eyes searched his. “Does that mean something to you?”

Kane smiled. “Yeah, she’s not pissed off at me for getting into a fistfight with her husband.”

“Wait a second. You and Colt got into a…fistfight?”

“Yep. Wasn’t the first time, probably won’t be the last.”

Ginger stared at him, her mouth hanging open. “You’re both grown men! Whatever would possess you to take a swing at one another?”

He bristled. “I don’t expect you to understand. Me’n Colt… Let’s just say we’re both just hotheaded.

We get pissed, come out swingin’ and then we’re done. Fine. Back to normal.”

“You’re serious.”

“India didn’t tell you that Kade and Brandt had to break up the fight between me’n Colt at Sky Blue?”

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“No. She just told me that you’d had a bad morning.”

“Indy thinks Colt is completely tamed. Sure, he hasn’t been drinkin’, druggin’ and whorin’ around for a few years. He’s happily married to a woman he worships and now they’ve got this perfect little boy. But there’s a dark side to him. A side that likes to inflict pain and receive it in return. Colt’s brothers have never understood it. Kade never understood it about me, either. But me’n Colt? We recognized it from the time we were kids and accepted that violent side. And it might sound barbaric, but every once in a while? We just need to beat the ever lovin’ shit out of each other. Today was that day.”

She honestly didn’t know what to say.

“When Colt hears why I was a major asshole today, well, he’ll probably show up at my place with a damn puppy. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”

Ginger placed her hand on Kane’s thigh. “I’m so sorry about Shep.”

“Yeah. Ah. Thanks.” He swigged from his bottle. “Seems a little silly, cryin’ in my beer over my dead dog. Jesus, I’m livin’ the clichéd country song—my dog died, I had a knock-down, drag-out fight with my kin and now I’m at the local watering hole drownin’ my sorrows about the suckage of my life.”

“I imagine so,” Ginger murmured. “But your woman hasn’t left you.”

Kane muttered something that sounded like “Not yet.”

She wanted so badly to soothe him. Kane constantly touched her when they were alone together.

Tender lover’s caresses on her face. Running his work-roughened fingertips down her neck. Twisting sections of her hair around his fingers. Playing dot to dot with her freckles on her.

How could she show him the same loving care he’d shown her?

“Don’t move. I’ll be right back.” Lettie happily supplied Ginger with what she needed. She returned to the bar with a washcloth and a bowl of hot water.

“What the hell’s that for?”

“I’m going to clean you up.”

“Can’t stand to look at me with blood on my face?” he said curtly.

“Blood, swollen spots and bruises on your handsome mug does affix you with a sort of sexy, rugged meanness. But the truth is, I was hoping for one of your amazing kisses. The taste of blood might spoil it.”

His stoic face softened. “I’ll give you all the kisses you can handle, sugar.”

“Good. Then hold still and let me play doctor.” Her gaze zoomed to the broken skin below his lips.

“Turn ’bout is fair play, right?”

She didn’t respond. She just gently dabbed the spots until all the blood was gone. There wasn’t a damn thing she could do about the bruises, except offer them a healing kiss, which she did. On his mouth, his jaw, the cut by his temple, his cheek. She also pressed soft kisses on the section of his lips that weren’t swollen.

“Ginger,” he said huskily, nuzzling her hair, “You make me want…”

“I know. But right now, I want to dance with you, Kane.”


Because I want an excuse to wrap myself around you and just hold you. “Because there’s no one here to see my two left feet.”

“Really?” he asked skeptically.

“Really. I fell down the stairs, remember? I’m utterly graceless. I’ve watched you with Hayden.

You’re a wonderful teacher. I figured if anyone could teach me, you could.”

“Okay. But I get to pick the songs.”

Kane hopped off the barstool and made a beeline for the jukebox.

She yelled, “No ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk’, Kane McKay. I mean it.”

He laughed and started shoving in quarters.

Selections chosen, he stood on the edge of the empty dance floor and held out his hand.

Ginger wasn’t sure why she felt nervous; she just did. As she started toward him, the Eddie Arnold classic “Make the World Go Away” drifted from the jukebox. When Kane’s rough fingers enclosed hers, the heat lingering beneath the surface sparked. When he enfolded her in his arms, that same spark ignited.

She wanted skin on skin, mouth on mouth, wanted to feel him above her as his body sought the entrance to hers.

But this cheek-to-cheek, chest-to-chest, pelvis-to-pelvis position was a good temporary substitute.

They drifted together through the mellow song, not talking, just dancing. The second song kicked in, Barbara Mandrell’s “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed” and Kane kicked up the pace, deftly swinging her into two-stepping. Just when Ginger thought she might have to take a breather, the third song started: Big and Rich’s “Lost in This Moment”. She sighed. How had he known she loved this song?

Kane barely moved as they slow-danced. Ginger was truly lost—in the solid heat of Kane’s body, surrounded by his earthy scent, his hard muscles pressed against her softness.

“I like dancin’ with you, counselor.”

“Same goes.”

“Wanna know a secret?”

“Ah. Sure.”

“I love that you’re tall. I don’t have to crouch down to dance with you and wind up with a crick in my neck.”

“Being an Amazonian throwback does have advantages.”

“Wanna know something else?” he whispered, sending a tingle strait to her core.


“You don’t have two left feet. You just needed to be with a man who takes the lead.”

“Who takes the lead in all things,” she murmured.

He stiffened. “Complaints?”

“Not on your life, cowboy. You’ve been avoiding me since the blizzard.”

“I’ve been busy.”

“Hayden misses you.” I miss you too.

“Good to know.”

That was it? They weren’t going to talk about the over-the-top, totally domineering sexual encounter in his bedroom? How she’s sensed his regret as he’d untied the ropes and she’d been more pissed off by that than by his intensive use of her body? It’d scared her how much she’d liked it. How much she’d wanted it again. How easily she could give everything over to this man. That was what’d bothered her. Not his rough side.

Tell him.

No. It’d be better to wait. See how things played out.

The song ended too quickly.

Ginger tilted her head back to look at him. “Kane?”

His eyes opened. The sadness was still there. She hadn’t expected that a couple of dances and some sexual teasing would erase the day’s events, but his suffering distressed her nonetheless.

She framed his face in her hands. “Come home with me. Have dinner with us. I’ve already got a roast in the Crock-Pot and I’ll even let tonight be Hayden’s Xbox night. Please.”

Gratitude swam in his eyes before he looked away and kissed the inside of her wrist. “I’d like that, Red. I’d like that a whole helluva lot.”

“Good. I’ve got a couple of hours left at the office…” She stopped talking. “You know something?

Nothing needs to be done today. It can wait.”

That surprised him. “You sure?”


“So what now?”

“Let’s stay here and dance a little longer.” Ginger pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “But now it’s my turn to pick the music.”

Ginger rode along with Kane as he unloaded the cake. Although many of her clients were ranchers, she wasn’t sure what their daily lives entailed. She appreciated the glimpse into Kane’s life. No wonder the man was so muscle-bound; it appeared everything he did required strength.

They picked Hayden up from school instead of at the bus stop. During the ride home, her son was subdued. Maybe it hadn’t been the brightest idea to tell him about Shep, but Hayden deserved to understand Kane’s melancholy mood.

Her father sat at the kitchen table working on a crossword puzzle. He gave no indication of shock at seeing Kane making himself at home in the living room. Most days Hayden and his grandfather shared an after-school snack, but today, Hayden left his snack untouched.

Ginger watched covertly as her son stood in front of Kane, shifting from foot to foot.

“Hey, buddy. What’s up?”

“Ah, nothin’. I’m sorry about Shep. He was the coolest dog ever.”

“Yeah, he was.”

“You’re gonna miss him, huh?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna miss him. Big time.”

Then without another word, Hayden crawled right onto Kane’s lap and rested his head against Kane’s chest, curling his arms around Kane’s neck.

Kane hugged Hayden back without hesitation. He closed his eyes and they sank into the couch cushions.

Oh God. Ginger had to turn away, lest she start sobbing. Her sweet baby boy had such a kind heart.

Kane knew that. He celebrated it. And it was never more apparent they had a unique bond than when Kane openly welcomed Hayden’s comfort.

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