A dizzy, disconnected feeling buzzed through her system and she found it difficult to breathe. “And yet you were a perfect gentleman.”

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His deep-throated laugh vibrated through her body.

“Oh, maybe I looked like that on the outside. But on the inside? I would’ve liked nothin’ better than to lock that damn bathroom door behind me and put my hands and my mouth all over your perfectly lush curves. All over. Every inch. Over and over. Until I knew that body as well as my own.”

Ginger looked sideways at the bulge in the crotch of his jeans and then met his dark gaze. “You’re attracted to me after the very unsexy way I mooned you?”

“Are you serious? Lord woman. With you bent over like that?” He rubbed his fingers across his goatee, staring at her hungrily from beneath lowered lashes. “’Bout the sexiest damn thing I’ve ever seen.

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Took every ounce of restraint for me not to drop my jeans and just drive into you. No sweet-talkin’, no foreplay. Just down-and-dirty, hard-and-fast sex.”

A wave of lust swamped her.

“But I ain’t the type to take advantage.”

Talk about a cold dash of reality. “Meaning what? Since I’m a captive audience, my attractiveness has markedly increased for you solely because we’re in such close proximity?”

“You wanna explain that in English, counselor?”

She huffed out a breath. “Fine. You find me appealing because I’m the only woman who’s here.”

Kane bent down so they were nose to nose. “Not. Even. Fucking. Close.”

The door opened and Hayden raced in.

She and Kane broke apart, but not as fast as she imagined they would.

Without preamble Hayden blurted, “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings—”

“I know. Look.” She flattened her palm over her scalp. “No more porcupine.” She brought him down beside her on the bed and brushed the hair from his brow. “Now I’m ready to get out of this bedroom for a while. I’m starved. What did you guys eat last night?”

“Spaghetti. And we had chicken noodle soup today.”

“Sounds yummy.”

“Let me help you up,” Kane said.

“I’m fine.”

He moved in front of her and growled, “That was not a request, Red. Give me your damn hand.”

Using Kane for support instead of the wall did have advantages. Muscles, muscles and more muscles.

Plus, he smelled good. She let him maneuver her to the kitchen.

Her dad watched their progress, silently, but his shrewd gaze flicked back and forth between her and Kane.

No reason to feel guilty. She was an adult woman. It was her house. And besides, nothing had happened between them except hot looks and teasing banter.

“Glad to see you up and about, daughter.”

“I’m glad to be up and about.” She glanced at the kitchen, expecting a disaster area, but it was clean except for the pot on the stove.

“Would you like some soup?” Kane asked her.

“Sure.” She’d never seen the domestic side of the rancher, and she watched him shamelessly as he ladled soup into the bowl. He set it in front of her and she looked up at him with astonishment. “Homemade chicken noodle soup?”

“Yes, ma’am. My mama’s recipe. She made sure both Kade and I knew our way around the kitchen before she kicked us out.”

“You are too good to be true,” Ginger muttered. She dipped the spoon into the broth and slurped.

Delicious. She ate like she’d never seen food. Kane refilled her bowl without asking or without commenting on her ravenous appetite.

“So can I watch Transformers tonight?” Hayden asked.

“I figured you’d probably watched it last night.”

“Huh-uh. Last night we played games.”

“You all played chess?”

Hayden sighed. “Mom. Three people can’t play chess. Besides Buck doesn’t like chess.”

Ginger sent Kane an inquiring look.

Kane shrugged. “Intellectual games ain’t really my thing. I’d rather play cards. Plus, chess is something you play with your gramps. When I was your age, I played checkers with my grandpa. It was our thing.”

“What about your brother? Didn’t he feel left out?” Hayden asked.

“Nah. Gramps played cribbage with him. And trust me, we were awful protective of ‘our’ game with grandpa. I’d never horn in where I didn’t belong.”

Again, Ginger was bowled over by Kane’s sweet side.

Are you? Are you really? Haven’t you watched him with your son and marveled at his patience and thoughtfulness? Haven’t you seen him treat you the same way?

“Ginger?”

She blinked at Kane. “Sorry. Were you speaking to me?”

“Just wonderin’ if you want more soup?”

“No. Thank you.”

“I’ve gotta head to my place and check a couple things. I told Hayden he could come along…if that’s all right with you?”

Ginger appreciated Kane didn’t presume anything with her son. “Fine with me. I’ll hang out and keep Dad company.”

“I don’t need a babysitter, Ginger,” her father said crossly.

“Maybe you don’t, Dash, but she does,” Kane answered. “I don’t trust Red not to get into trouble while we’re gone, so keep an eye on her to see if she needs any help, ’cause God knows the stubborn woman won’t ask for it.”

“Hey!”

Her father sent her a sly look. “Redheads are always trouble.”

After Hayden and Kane left, Ginger nestled into the couch and snagged the remote. “Anything good on TV?”

“There’s a documentary on Catherine the Great on The History Channel.”

“No offense, Dad, but that’d put me to sleep.”

He shook his finger at her. “No offense, but you are supposed to be resting.”

“I’m tired of resting. I’m restless. It’s driving me nuts.”

He pulled himself out of his wheelchair to sit on the opposite end of the couch. “Dr. Monroe called me and gave me the official medical breakdown of your injuries, but that doesn’t tell me how it happened.”

Ginger explained and wasn’t surprised by her father’s drawn-out sigh.

“You’re lucky.”

“I know.”

“Not only do I love and adore you, Gigi, I count on you. So does Hayden. I couldn’t handle it if something happened to you.”

Gigi. He only used his pet name when he was really upset. “Maybe I’ll call West Construction and have them check the downspouts to see why we have an icy spot on the steps. Be just our luck if someone sued us.”

He harrumphed. “Did you make any progress on the Jensen case?”

Now they were back to the status quo. “Not really. I can’t find a precedent. I know I’m overlooking something simple.”

He offered a few suggestions she hadn’t considered. And for the millionth time, she was grateful there wasn’t a blessed thing wrong with his mind.

Shoptalk faded. Ginger stretched out on the couch, allowing her dad to settle her foot and cast on his lap. He confiscated the remote and picked the most boring TV show ever. She dozed off.

Insistent taps on her shoulder awakened her. She blinked sleepily at her impatient son as she swung her feet to the floor. “You’re back. Did you have fun?”

“Yep. Buck let me bring some of his cookies. Want one?”

“Absolutely.” Kane sauntered closer. With his feline grace and King of the Jungle swagger, when he walked into a room he owned it. Why did Ginger have the urge to offer him her neck in submission? Or show him her tail?

Kane smiled, as if he could read her thoughts, and flashed his teeth before he sat next to her on the couch.

“Normally I don’t share my sweets, especially when they’re from my niece.”

Ginger bit into the cookie and the rich, buttery taste burst into her mouth. “Eliza made these?”

“With a little help from Grandma.”

Hayden inserted himself between them and looked at Kane. “Did you have grandmas to bake cookies with?”

“Nope. So I guess you and I are in the same boat, sport. Havin’ to beg cookies from whoever we can.”

“Not to rain on your cookie parade, but how many have you had? I don’t want Kane to have to deal with you getting sick.”

“I’ve had four…maybe five.”

“No more today, okay?”

Hayden sighed. But he didn’t complain. The poor kid had been dealing with food allergy issues his whole life.

“Your mama’s right. I don’t need to eat any more cookies either. I’ll just put them away for tomorrow.”

Kane’s comment mollified her son. “So guess what else? Buck’s going to teach me how to play poker and Texas Hold ’Em. Cool, huh?”

“Very. I assume there won’t be betting?”

“Mom,” Hayden said with exasperation.

“No ma’am. No betting,” Kane said. “This is strictly for fun.”

“Then count me out,” Dash said.

Three sets of eyes zoomed to the family patriarch.

“After I teach Hayden, I’d be up for a game or two with real stakes,” Kane offered.

“Poker or blackjack?” Dash asked.

“How about a little of both? With a side of Texas Hold ’Em just to make it interesting?”

Dash smirked. “I’ll get my wallet.”

After Dash disappeared into his bedroom, Kane lowered his voice. “Level with me. Is your grandpa any good at cards?”

Hayden shrugged. “He’s always talking about playing cribbage for a quarter a point at the senior center.”

“Does he win?”

“All the time. You should see the jars of quarters in his room.”

Kane groaned. “I do believe I’ve been had.”

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