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Authors: Desiree Holt

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BOOK: Hard Lovin'
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His tongue licked fire on her nipple as he rocked in the tight clasp of her pussy, creating just enough friction to send her senses skyrocketing and flames bursting through her. She dug her heels into the small of his back and raked her nails down his skin, little cries of need bursting from her mouth but still he kept up his steady pace.

When she was at the point of promising anything if he’d just get on with it, she felt a change in his rhythm and his strokes in and out of her increased in pace, in thrust.

Now he was fucking her in earnest, his mouth still tormenting her nipple, his hips pumping, pumping, pumping.

“Open your eyes,” he gasped, releasing her nipple. “Look at me, Erin. I want you to know who’s fucking you.”

She opened her eyes wide and looked into his, darkened almost to navy, the heat from them scorching her. She couldn’t have torn her gaze away from him as he drove into her. Harder, harder. Riding her to the top of the roller coaster. She reached, reached, reached.

“Now, Erin,” he shouted. “Now.”

They exploded together, her sheath milking him, his semen pumping into the latex in thick, hot spurts. They shattered, everything fading away except their bodies and the shared climax and the thundering of their hearts. Spent at last, they relaxed against each 27 other and Grady managed enough energy to slide from her body and dispose of the condom.

Erin watched the flex of muscles in his taut ass as he walked away from her, the hard abs and defined muscles as he walked toward her again. He sat on the edge of the bed, lightly stroking her cheek with the tips of his fingers.

“We have a problem,” he told her in a soft voice.

She frowned. They’d used a condom. What could be the problem? “What?”

“Last night was the end of my gig at Smoky’s. I’ll be moving on today.”

Pain shot through her, but what had she expected? “It’s-It’s okay,” she managed, drinking in his face. Memorizing the sight of him. She hadn’t even begun to think of the fallout she’d have to face when she finally headed back to the ranch.

“I don’t know a thing about you,” he went on as if she’d never spoken, “but I can tell you this. Something connected between us last night.” He rubbed his thumb over her lower lip. “Right, darlin’?”

She nodded.

“I’ve got some baggage I’m carrying around, Erin. I’ve got to deal with it sooner or later. But if you give me a number, I promise to come back for you when I unload it. See where we go from here.”

Take me with you now.

But she just nodded again, licking his thumb.

“Okay. I’m gonna shower and toss on some clothes, pack up my truck and take you back to yours.” He paused. “Aren’t there people looking for you? Weren’t you missed last night? You don’t look like someone who could just drop off the radar.”

“No,” she lied. “No one. But I’m good.” She rose up on her knees and wound her arms around his neck. “But you’d better come back for me.”

Although I have no idea where the hell I’ll be in the meantime.

“You want a shower, too?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I’ll do it later when I get…When I get back to my place.”

“All right.” He brushed his mouth over hers. “Just give me a few here.”

When she heard the shower running Erin found the remote and turned on the television, flipping to one of the local channels. She nearly passed out when she caught the tail end of the news bulletin.

“And her father, Rance Braddock,” the anchor was saying, “tells us the Texas Rangers have also been called in to help in the hunt for his daughter. In a prepared statement he said, ‘When I find the person who took my daughter he’ll wish he’d never been born.’ As of this moment the Braddock Ranch is in lockdown as they await further word. So far no ransom has been demanded but kidnapping is still not being ruled out.”

A picture flashed on the screen of her, the engagement shot she’d had taken that T.J. and her father had insisted on. It was replaced in seconds by a shot of her father and T.J. speaking to a reporter on the front porch of the ranch house.

Erin turned off the television and stuck the remote under a pillow with shaking hands.

Shit, shit, shit.

Now what? If she got in her truck and went home they’d lock her up despite the fact that she was nearly thirty-one years old. Her father would make sure that wedding went through no matter what and that would be the end of any chance she had to regain control of her life. And suddenly, with Grady, she wanted that very badly. She didn’t care that she’d known him less than twenty-four hours. He was right when he’d said they’d connected on the most elemental, the deepest levels. She couldn’t walk away from that. From this special newness that was like a breath of fresh air.

So what if she knew nothing about him? Something strong had blossomed instantly between them something her gut instinct told her she should hang on to. She knew deep down he wasn’t Cal and that was all that mattered. And she couldn’t go back to the ranch. That just wasn’t an option. And the freedom from restrictions and control that was a part of Grady’s life beckoned to her like the sweetest chocolate.

Thirty years old and I’m running away from home.

She swallowed the hysterical laughter that threatened to bubble up inside her.

By the time Grady opened the bathroom door she’d turned everything over in her mind about a hundred times and knew she had only one possibility open to her. She swung her legs off the bed and plastered her body against his, winding her arms around his neck.

“Take me with you.” She stood on tiptoed and whispered kisses along his jawline.

Grady froze and stared at her. “What?”

“Take me with you. Please, Grady. I won’t be any trouble.” She knew she was babbling but she didn’t care. “I even have some money. And I’ll bet at the places where you work I can get jobs waiting tables.”

She looked straight into his eyes. Could he tell how desperate she was?

“Erin.” He tried to set her away from him. “That’s impossible. You don’t know what you’re asking.”

“I do, I do. You said we’d connected and you wanted to see me again. This way we won’t have to wait.”

“I said when I got rid of the baggage filling up my head. Sugar, you’ve probably got people waiting for you. A home to go to. I’m just…” He dropped his hands from her and spread them wide. “I’m just a bum. A whistling gypsy bumming from place to place. You don’t want that.”

“Yes, I do.” She grabbed the front of his tee shirt. “I have no one, Grady. No place I need to be. And I want out of this town more than you can imagine.”

He put his hands on her shoulders and let his gaze travel down her body and back up again. “Does this have anything to do with those scars you’ve got?”

A cold knot settled in the pit of her stomach. She’d completely forgotten it was daylight and she was naked. She backed away uneasily, crossing her arms over herself but not knowing where to hide herself first. Finally she just pushed it to the back of her mind while she concentrating on convincing him to take her with him.

“Yes.” She swallowed. “It does.” In a very remote way, but he didn’t have to know that.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No.” She shook her head. “I don’t. Please don’t ask me. I didn’t want you to see them.”

“Darlin’, if we keep getting naked they’ll be a little hard to hide.” He touched her cheek. “And I really like it with the lights on.”

She rubbed herself against him, her nipples chafing against the fabric of his shirt.

Desperately she pressed her cunt against the erection she felt hardening through his jeans.

Again he moved her slightly away from him. “Erin, listen to me before you really decide. You’re not like the girls I usually pick up. I told you that. This isn’t a life for you.

You’ve got class. I can tell. You deserve so much more than I can give you.”

She dropped her hands. “I’ve got nothing.” She turned away from him, shoulders drooping. “Never mind. Just take me back to the bar. No, better yet, drop me at the diner in town. Then you can make tracks and forget about me.”

For a very long moment he said nothing. Erin held her breath, hoping, hoping, hoping.

“It’s not just for the fucking.” His voice sounded as if it came from a long way off.

“I want you to be very clear about that. I have too much respect for you for that despite what we did. “Not that it won’t be a part of it, but maybe we can, I don’t know, find our way together.”

“Oh!” She was limp with relief. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” She threw herself at him again, raining kisses everywhere she could.

“Hey!” He grinned. “Save that for later. If we’re going we need to go. Smoky paid me before I started last night so I’m all set.” He paused. “What about your truck?”

“Leave it. I just borrowed it. The owner can come and get it.”

Finally he pulled her in for a deep kiss. “Then we best get moving. I just hope you don’t regret this.”

“I won’t. I promise.”

I hope you don’t, either.

Chapter Three

He whistled and he sang ’til the greenwoods rang

And he won the heart of a lady

Grady looked over at the woman sitting beside him as his truck ate up the miles on Interstate 10. Dark brown hair fell in waves to her shoulders, framing an elfin face, and hazel eyes looked from beneath thick lashes. She sat quietly staring straight ahead through the windshield but her fingers played nervously together in her lap. He’d give a lot to know what it was that had her so uptight, or why she’d been so desperate for him to take her with him. He still couldn’t believe he’d let her talk him into it. He had enough personal baggage to fill the bed of his truck and he could barely keep himself straight, let alone someone else.

He’d watched her in Smoky’s for three nights straight, seeing pain and sorrow in every line of her body. He knew all about that. When she came back last night by herself he couldn’t help himself. He didn’t just want her. He needed her. And lordy, hadn’t the sex just blown his mind. No, not sex. He’d had plenty of that with women whose names he forgot the minute they walked away. That, last night and this morning, was making love. Their connection on an emotional level had shocked the shit out of him.

They hadn’t talked much. Hell, he’d never been a big talkin’ man and small talk, at least for him, was about as painful as a root canal. And conversation certainly hadn’t been at the top of the list for either of them.

Now he wished he’d pushed her a little more, tried to find out what she was running away from. Because that sure as hell was what she was doing. And didn’t he know about that, too. He’d also discovered that no matter how fast and how far you ran, you couldn’t get away from the thing that was chasing you.

“Hungry?” he asked.

They’d stopped on the highway for breakfast but that had been a few hours ago and she hadn’t even eaten that much.

She shrugged. “Not so much.”

“Well, you need to fuel the pump, anyway. When we get to Houston we’ll grab a bite.”

From the corner of his eye he saw her turn her head to look at him. “Is that where we’re going? I didn’t even ask.”

“Uh-huh. Smoky told me a buddy of his owns a shit-kicker bar in a suburb. Slow the early part of the week but busy starting on Thursday.”

“Well, that’s good, right? Busy on the weekend?”

He shrugged. It was all the same to him.

“Do you always go right from one job to the other?” she wanted to know. “And isn’t it unusual for you to finish up on a Saturday and start on a Sunday?”

“Sometimes I catch a few days between gigs, sometimes not. But apparently this guy had someone cancel out on him at the last minute and Smoky gave him my name.”

He slid a glance at her. “You okay with that?”

What did it matter? He had a job to get to and at the moment she was little more than a hitchhiker who’d practically forced him to bring her along.

“Yes. Sure. Of course. I mean, I’m just glad you let me come along.”

He reached over and brushed his fingers against her cheek. “I’m guessing you’re running from trouble. I’m just glad I’m the one you decided to run with but I didn’t want to give you any illusions about what you walked into. Crazy hours. Cheap bars.

Going where the wind blows me.”

“It’s fine,” she insisted. “Just…thanks for taking me with you.”

The silence stretched out.

“How long is the, um, gig for? That’s what it’s called, right?”

He gave a small chuckle. “Yeah, that’s what it’s called. It’s for two weeks.” He stole a look at her. “You can still change your mind, you know. I can put you on a bus back to Walton Creek. Maybe the friend who lent you the truck can pick you up.”

“No!” She practically shouted the word, then more softly repeated it. “No. I want to stay with you. That is, if you…still want me.”

He reached over and closed his hand over both of hers. “If that’s what you want,

Erin, then I’m good with it. But since the gig’s so short I won’t be looking for a room in a house. Just a motel close to the bar. Nothing fancy.”

“Grady, I’m not looking for a mansion or a fancy hotel. Whatever you get is fine.”

He wanted to ask her how long she planned on hanging around with him but he sensed this was definitely not the time to push her. But sooner or later they’d have to get to it. When this job was over he could be heading anywhere. From Montana to Oregon or maybe another place in Texas. That was no life for a woman. Certainly not one who appeared to have as much class as Erin Braddock.

It was after one by the time they reached Richland Hills on the outskirts of Austin.

Grady pulled into a diner so they could eat and after they placed their order he pulled out his cell phone and called Bubby Trammel, the owner of the Yellow Rose Saloon.

“We’ll stop by the bar after we eat,” he told Erin, pouring ketchup out for his fries.

“Bubby says he can recommend a motel that most of the guys who play his place use.

Cheap. Nothing fancy, but he guarantees it’s clean and safe.”

“Anyplace is fine.” Her voice was low and soft. She glanced up from her tuna sandwich. “Really, Grady. I’m good with whatever.”

BOOK: Hard Lovin'
5.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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