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Authors: Desiree Holt

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BOOK: Hard Lovin'
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Elliott dropped into the big chair across from the desk. “Of course I’m upset. I care for Erin very deeply.”

“Care for?” Rance pounced on the words. “But not love?”

“Okay, love. That means a lot of different things to different people. If I didn’t want to marry Erin I never would have asked her. Scratch that. I never would have let you set us up the way you did.”

“Set you up?” Rance stared. “What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”

“Come on, Rance. Erin was a wounded bird when you brought her home. She’s your only child. Your only family all these years since Mattie died.”

“And the point of that is?”

“I know you only want what’s best for her. Always have. But maybe you held her just a little too tight. A little too close. These past months she’s been getting stronger.

More sure of herself again. I know—hell, everyone knows—you’re convinced marriage to me is the answer to everything. I let you pull the strings because I thought I could make her happy. And Erin just let herself be swept along with the tidal wave you created.”

Rance closed his eyes for a moment then opened them. “Are you trying to tell me she really didn’t want to marry you? Hell, she could have had the best life in the world.

Just like here.”

“And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe she doesn’t want that. Cal wasn’t the answer, obviously, but maybe she needs to find out what is.”

Silence dropped like a stone into the room. “We’ll discuss that when I’ve got her safely back here at the ranch. But for damn sure no whistling gypsy is going to get his hands on her or her money or this ranch.”

T.J. shook his head and stood up. “Fine. We’ll discuss it then. Meanwhile I’m heading home. I’ll change clothes and go to my office. I sure don’t feel like practicing law today but I can make calls and see who I haven’t already talked to who can turn over some rocks.”

When he was alone again Rance leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. To save his life he couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. Why Erin had run away from a life millions of women would have hung on to like barnacles. When he got her home he’d damn sure find out. But not before he sent Grady Sinclair running as if his ass were on fire.

* * * * *

A handful of people had stayed after the last set to compliment Grady and Erin watched him smile and chat with them until finally they were able to leave. Now it was one o’clock in the morning and they were back at the motel.

“I hope you weren’t too bored tonight,” Grady said, carefully laying his guitar case on the table and placing his hat on top of it.

“Are you kidding?” Erin grinned at him. “I could listen to you sing forever. Your music is enchanted, Grady. Or maybe enchanting is a better word.”

He cupped her face in his big palms and kissed the tip of her nose. “Darlin’, you make my head swell.” He moved his body against hers and said in a low voice, “And other parts of my body, too.”

She slid her arms around him, pressing herself against him. It seemed all he had to do was touch her and she was on fire. Hot and ready for him. Oh, sure, she’d had a lot of sex in her life. It had always been…pleasant. Except, of course, with Cal after the first few months.

No. Quit that. Don’t let thoughts of him ruin this.

“Kiss me,” she demanded.

He obliged willingly, his mouth hot on hers, his tongue thrusting inside, dancing everywhere. His hands rubbing up and down her back in a way that sent shivers skating over her spine. He slipped one hand up through her hair to cup her head, tilting it to give him a better angle. When he broke the kiss she was panting for air and her pussy was so wet she was sure he could catch the scent of her musk.

He licked a line beneath her jaw, just a light caress with his tongue before finding that spot behind her ear that electrified her. She placed her lips over the hollow of his throat where his pulse beat so hard and when he gently bit her ear lobe she moaned into that warm place.

Grady tugged the shirt from her jeans and moved his hands beneath it to touch her bare skin. Erin shifted enough to unbutton the western style shirt Grady had worn to perform in, desperate to feel his chest, the soft hair curling on it, the hard muscles beneath that. Feel the steady beat of his heart.

Her fingertips brushed across his skin and she found his nipples, dragging her nails over them lightly. Lust built in her when he sucked in his breath and his cock flexed 53 behind the restraint of his jeans. She slid her hips from side to side, her pelvis brushing his. His hands tightened on her.

“That’s it.” He pulled her tee shirt over her head. “I want you naked. Right now.

One of these days,” he went on, “I’ll be able to take my time and undress you slowly.

But not right now.”

She finished removing her jeans and panties while he stripped out of his own clothes. Then they were on the bed, the energy of the music still flowing through both of them. In her mind Erin could hear that low, smooth voice and the clear notes of the guitar. The songs that reached right into her heart. And she couldn’t get enough of the man who created them.

He slid one leg between both of hers, rubbing his thigh against the liquid folds of her pussy, brushing against her clit with the slight motion. One hand cradled a breast and his mouth fastened onto the taut nipple, sucking it deep into his mouth, the suction going straight to her womb. Erin clasped his head and held it firm against her while she tried to ride his leg, her clit crying out for more stimulation. The hot ridge of his cock pressed against her hip, long and thick.

Grady moved his mouth to her other nipple, lightly raking his teeth over it, molding his fingers to her breast as he sucked and pulled. Erin was desperate to touch him, too, but she couldn’t find a way to get her hands in between them. Finally she managed to push his head away, momentarily bereft by the loss of his mouth, and pushed him onto his back.

“Erin,” he began.

“Let me. Please.”

On her knees beside him she took his shaft into one hand while her other cupped his balls, rubbing the soft, lightly haired sac that held them. With great care she wrapped her mouth around the head of his cock and took him deep inside her mouth.

The thick vein running along the underside pulsed against her tongue.

Lean fingers threaded through her hair, moving her head this way and that.

Shifting the angle at which his cock slid in and out of her mouth. His guttural groans of pleasure made her hotter and wetter, the muscles in the walls of her pussy fluttering with tiny spasms in response. She squeezed and sucked, losing herself in the pleasure of his scent and his taste.

She was startled when he jerked her head away.

“My turn.” His voice was husky, thick with desire.

He rolled her to her back, spread her legs and opened the lips of her cunt with his talented fingers. One long, slow glide of his tongue over her raging clit and tremors of response rippled through her. She teetered on the edge, knowing she couldn’t take much of this before exploding, and she wanted his hard cock in her cunt when she did.

“Inside me,” she panted. “Please, Grady. I need you inside me now.”

He was sheathed in seconds then poised over her, his gaze burning into hers.

“I don’t know what it is, sugar, but we’ve got something here. I hope it doesn’t burn us alive.”

Then he drove into her with one powerful thrust of his hips, the head of his penis bumping the mouth of her womb. Her head dropped back as she felt the fullness of him everywhere inside her. When he pulled out slightly and slid back in part way she wrapped her legs around him and pulled him in even deeper.

“Now.” His voice was rough-edged with need. Drawing back a little, he sucked in one deep breath, let it out and pistoned hard into her body, the rhythm so forceful it drove her into the pillows behind her head.

The orgasm erupted in seconds, but it was no less powerful because of its speed.

They shuddered and shook together, the kinetic energy of the evening racing through their bodies. Rough breathing cut through the air and Erin didn’t know if it was her heart or Grady’s she felt pounding against her ribs.

She had never in her life experienced sex like this. Wild. Untamed. Receiving as much as she gave. Just as Grady himself was different from other men in her life. Not protective and suffocating like her father. Not controlling and demeaning like Cal Stadler. Nor did he treat her with kid gloves the way T.J. did. No, Grady Sinclair made her feel like a woman in full bloom, somebody special to him.

Someone to whom she’d given her trust with no regrets.

“I don’t think I can ever move again,” she said after Grady had disposed of the condom. “At this rate I may not live long enough to follow you around the country.”

He spooned her against him and kissed the top of her head. “Then I’ll just have to make sure you keep up your strength.”

He was silent, no goodnight yet, and Erin knew he was turning things over in his brain.

“Erin?”

She tensed. “Uh-huh?”

“Think you’ll ever trust me enough to tell me about those scars? And who or what you’re running from?”

She felt as if she’d talked it to death with the counselor and never wanted to talk about it again. And she was afraid if Grady knew the truth—knew everything—that he’d put her on a bus back to where she’d come from.

“Darlin’?” he prompted.

“I told you what the deal is. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” She was positive he’d never open up and tell her what he kept tucked away so firmly inside himself.

More silence.

“Not tonight,” he said in a taut voice. “Another day.”

If ever,
hung silently in the air.

What could he have to tell that was so terrible? So awful that it apparently had been chasing him like a devil.

“Grady?”

“Yeah, sugar?”

“I’m glad you let me tag along with you.”

He tightened his arms around her. “Not half as glad as I am. I just hope there isn’t someone waiting in the bushes to kick my ass because of it.”

If you only knew. But I promise I’ll never let Rance Braddock take out his anger on you.

Even if I have to threaten never to speak to him again. Once he stops screaming long enough for
me to explain, anyway.

With that settled in her mind she drifted off to sleep, secure in the arms of the man she’d fallen in love with in just two short days.

Chapter Five

He came at last to a mansion fine, down by the River Clady

And there was music and there was wine for the gypsy and his lady

They managed two more days of what Erin had come to think of as sheltered bliss—insulation from news of the outside world—before it all came crashing in on them. The bar was busier the night before, even though it was the middle of the week, and Erin had enjoyed the response of the crowd as much as she was mesmerized by Grady’s music. She thought she could probably sit night after night and listen to him forever, soothed and seduced by his songs. It was turning into the best time of her life.

This morning they’d stopped at a fast food restaurant to grab a late breakfast before heading to a music store. Grady wanted to get some new strings for his guitar then head to Walmart to pick up a couple new pairs of jeans. Erin had spotted a rack with newspapers just outside the door on the way in and when they left she tried to hustle Grady past it as quickly as she could. But he stopped to put away his change, looked down, and every line in his body tightened.

Erin was almost afraid to see the newspaper, knowing what she’d see. And sure enough, there it was. A head shot of her, her engagement photo that her father had insisted on, and a huge headline. “Hunt Still On For Missing Heiress.”

Grady fished a quarter out of his pocket, stuck it in the slot and retrieved a copy of the newspaper. Then he took Erin by the elbow and hustled her firmly to the truck.

“Grady,” she began.

“Not now.” His fingers tightened on her as he opened the truck door and boosted her inside. “Not out here.”

She was terrified to look at him, terrified to see his face. On the ride back to the motel she gripped her hands together in her lap, shaking inside.

I should have told him. I should have let him know. Why did I think we could just keep
going and it wouldn’t catch up with us until I was ready? Would I ever be ready?

She was still having internal dialogue with herself when they pulled into the motel parking lot and into the space in front of their room. She had barely unbuckled her seat belt before the truck door was yanked open and Grady all but pulled her out, hustling her into their room and slamming the door.

“Sit.” He pointed to one of the chairs at the round table.

“Grady,” she tried again.

“Not yet. Just…sit.”

Erin bit down on her lip to keep from saying anything else while Grady sat on the edge of the bed and read the story in the newspaper. Then he clicked on the television, searching for local news. It was the noon hour so every station was up with its broadcast. And sure enough, there was her face all over the screen. And some on-air reporter blabbing the details of her life.

At the moment she was sure she couldn’t just sit there any longer, Grady finally turned to her. She recoiled at the expression on his face.

“Am I going to be arrested?” he asked, his voice flat, his face expressionless. “I guess they figured out you took off with me. The newspaper said everyone from the local sheriff to the Texas Rangers is after my ass.”

She shook her head violently. “No, no, no, no, no. I’d never let that happen. I swear to you.”

“Erin. You don’t seem to understand the power involved here. Your father owns half of Texas. He’s personal friends with the fucking governor, for shit’s sake.” A muscle jumped in his jaw.

“Y-You know him?”

“Are you kidding me?” He snorted. “Anyone who even passes through this state has heard of Rance Braddock. When you begged me to take you with me, you forgot to mention the little detail that he’s your father.”

“I-I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I never thought…”

BOOK: Hard Lovin'
4.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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