Read Heart So Sweet: Book 3 in the Great Plains Romance Series Online

Authors: Corrissa James

Tags: #Contemporary Western Romance

Heart So Sweet: Book 3 in the Great Plains Romance Series (4 page)

BOOK: Heart So Sweet: Book 3 in the Great Plains Romance Series
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Susannah ran a shaky hand through her wet hair, pushing it back from her face and shoulders. “You’ll have to speak to my brothers about that.” Her voice sounded more in control than she felt. Tate stood about five feet from her, but it might as well have been five inches. She suddenly felt hot in her lightweight robe, although she feared she could be nude in a freezer and still feel hot when she thought about Tate.

“I already spoke to them, and they told me to speak to you.”

“You did? Speak to them, I mean? When?” Susannah suddenly realized why the arguments from the house had been louder than usual today. She looked back at Tate. “Really?” she asked as she moved a step closer to him. “Lucas let you in the house?”

A darkness passed across Tate’s face and he frowned again, like he had earlier in the day. Only this frown was deeper, darker. Scarier. Susannah ignored the shiver that traveled down her spine.

“Of course he let me in. I am the sheriff, in case you forgot.”

Susannah scowled at him. “Oh, knock it off, Tate. You know what I mean. I don’t know what the hell happened between the two of you back then and I don’t care, but Lucas, well he’s had a hard life since...since coming home.”

“I know.”

“So if he let you in the house–”

“He didn’t.” The frown was back. “He let the sheriff in.”

Susannah’s hope drained from her just as quickly as it had appeared. She noted Tate’s clenched jaw and hooded eyes and realized that he was hurting too. No doubt he had wanted whatever had happened between them to have healed by this point. She placed a hand on his arm. “I’m sorry, Tate.” She said it so quietly she didn’t think he heard her, but he finally looked into her eyes and she could see the pain ripping him up inside. “It’s not you. Lucas has been...it’s just...”

“I know.” His voiced cracked. “I had just hoped.”

Susannah squeezed his arm lightly. “I know.”

They looked at each other for a moment, sharing their love for Lucas while knowing neither one of them could help him. Finally Tate took a deep breath and seemed to shake it off.

“So, I actually came over here for a ride.”

Susannah looked at him, not understanding.

“Your brothers all took off, leaving me stranded. I guess they thought it was funny to strand the sheriff.”

Susannah still didn’t understand. “But how did you get here?”

Tate shrugged. “I rode your horse.”

She smiled, then giggled, then burst out laughing. “Serves you right after making me leave him there all day.” She shook her head and moved to look out the front window, then laughed again. “You might want to start walking now, before it gets too dark.”

“Annie.” Tate scowled at her, but she just shrugged.

“Don’t blame me.” She nodded toward the window. “They took my truck when they left.”

Tate moved to stand next to her, verifying that her truck was indeed gone. Not a single vehicle was in sight. He glanced at his watch, then frowned. “I don’t want to call a deputy this late, so I’ll just have to wait until they get back.”

Susannah snorted. “Might want to make yourself comfy. They likely won’t be home until sunrise—if that soon.”

“What about Lucas’s daughter?”

“Jenny? What about her?”

“They won’t stay out so late with her, will they?”

She smiled and patted his shoulder. “Sorry, sheriff, she’s headed to her grandparents’ place up in Minnesota. Lucas won’t be back until morning.” She turned to head back down the hall, but Tate stopped her, pulling lightly on her elbow.

“You mean to tell me that I am stuck here with you until morning.”

Susannah’s laughter was replaced with an icy anger. “Well, excuse me, Sheriff Trudell, if being with me is such an imposition.”

She jerked her arm from his grip and spun around again, ready to storm off and slam several doors. Unfortunately, her pride wouldn’t let him off so easily so she whipped back around, ready to argue with him further, only to find him standing so close to her that she could feel his breath on her cheek.

“Stuck here, Annie.” His whispered voice was huskier than usual, and it made Susannah tingle all over. “Alone, with you.” He bent down to kiss her lightly on the mouth. “There’s no place in the world I’d rather be.”

He pulled back slightly to look at her, and she could see the desire burning in his eyes. She felt her own desire rising to match his. Yet he made no move to continue. He was telling her that he wanted her, but it was her decision. Susannah tried to steady her breathing. It was her choice: make up a place for him on the couch or take him to her bedroom for a night of wild abandon.

She smiled coyly, like she’d seen the girls do with her brothers when they wanted something. She knew exactly what she would do.

 

Chapter Six

 

Tate frowned when Annie dropped the pile of folded sheets and a pillow on the couch.

“No maid service here.” She flashed a toothy smile at him, then moved into the kitchen, calling over her shoulder. “Although I suppose I could make you a quick sandwich.”

“Do you mind if I take a shower?” His voice was almost a growl. He didn’t try to hide it. “Wash off all the dirt from bringing your horse back?”

“No problem, but there’s probably only cold water left.”

“Perfect,” he snarled, storming down the hallway.

He considered calling around and try to find a ride, but it was Friday night. People were out having fun. No one would answer their phones, or if they did, they would be quick to say they were too busy. He briefly thought about walking back to his father’s place, which bordered the Clarks’ farmstead to the west. It would be less than two miles as the crow flies between the bungalow and his house, but the river served as the boundary, and it ran deep and swift this time of year. Crossing it during the daytime was challenging. At dusk it was just stupid. Plus, on the far side of the river, on his father’s property, was a steep bluff. As kids, when they were fearless, they had tried to climb it but never succeeded. If he wanted to walk home, he’d have to take the roads, and that way would be six miles or more—a trek he’d have to make again in the morning as Annie and her brothers were the closest neighbors and he would still need a ride.

He swore as he got in the shower. The water wasn’t ice cold, but it was damn close. He almost wished it were colder. Trying to get the picture of Annie in her robe out of his head was proving impossible. The light fabric clung to her skin, allowing him to see every contour of her body. Even if he could see her naked, he doubted it would be as much of a turn on as seeing her in her robe.

Thinking about the possibility of seeing her naked was a mistake. His body was reacting on its own, and the cold water wasn’t changing anything. He tried turning the spigot for the cold water, but instead of the icier blast he’d expected, the water was warm and getting warmer. He groaned. Someone had mixed up the connectors, and Annie hadn’t bothered to warn him, knowing he’d go right for the hot water spigot. He wished he had stayed with that choice, because the warmth of the water was only adding to his arousal.

He was playing with fire and he knew it. It didn’t help that the awkward little girl he remembered had grown up into such a desirable woman. Working the farm with her four older brothers had turned her reddish hair a deep earthy color and highlighted the freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheeks. She wasn’t beautiful in the classic sense. Rather, her beauty stemmed from her power. He wondered how she’d react if he started kissing each freckle, then chuckled at the thought. He knew exactly how she would react because Annie had never been one to mince words. She didn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve, so to speak, but she didn’t hide them either. Everyone always knew where they stood with her, and after that kiss this morning, Tate knew he should never have stuck around when her brothers left. He should’ve called his deputy, should’ve left the moment he realized they were alone. He could’ve borrowed her horse to ride back to his house or back to the Jameses’ ranch to get his SUV, but he hadn’t even considered those options. She hadn’t offered them either. All he could think about was that kiss on the road and the realization that she wanted him just as much as he wanted her.

But she was Lucas’s little sister. If Annie made even the slightest insinuation that Tate had coerced her—hell, even if she said she instigated it!—Lucas would likely kill him when he found out. He was pretty sure the only reason Lucas hadn’t killed him already, given what happened with Mary Ellen, was because Tate was now sheriff.

Actually, that wasn’t fair. Lucas was one of the few people Tate had ever met who never let his emotions control his actions. It was one of the reasons they had become such close friends. Tate was always reacting based on his anger or frustration. Lucas had been a calming influence, while Tate had challenged him to look beyond the confines of the region. Growing up, both boys had been interested in seeing the world beyond Harrington County—an interest not always encouraged among the locals. They had often woven complex narratives of traveling the world, finding adventure in every city and a woman in every port. Looking back now, Tate was shocked at how differently their lives had turned out, although he doubted either of them regretted their choices.

Tate turned off the water, wondering what Lucas would be like if Mary Ellen had lived, if the Twin Towers hadn’t come down and Lucas hadn’t gone off to fight the insurgents. Would he and Mary Ellen have been able to build a life together? Perhaps, but Tate doubted it. If Lucas hadn’t been in such a hurry to join the Army, he might have gotten the truth out of Mary Ellen eventually, but he wouldn’t have ever trusted her after that. Tate might have gotten his friend back, but only at the expense of Lucas’s happiness with his wife. Both men had been forced to make difficult decisions, but they were the best choices possible, despite the tragic outcomes.

Reflecting on the last ten years seemed to do the trick as far as Tate’s desire for Annie. Nothing like remembering life tragedies to deflate one’s arousal. He’d have to remember that the next time he was unable to control his lust. He put on his pants and quickly towel-dried his hair. He grabbed his shirt and shoes and headed out to the living room. He’d call his deputy and get a ride back to his car, putting today’s adventure with Annie as far behind him as possible.

When he found her standing in the kitchen, the robe still clinging to her body and her bare feet tapping out some silent melody as she waited for something to cook on the stove, he dropped his shoes and shirt by a chair. He wasn’t leaving until he had satiated his appetite—and he wasn’t talking about dinner.

Chapter Seven

 

When Susannah heard him swearing in the shower, she laughed out loud. Her brothers could fix tractors and trucks, could birth cows and drink more beer than most breweries could produce, but plumbing was not their thing. She pulled a loaf of bread from the cupboard and giggled. Revenge was definitely something she could get used to. It served him right, thinking he could so casually suggest that they sleep together after the way he’d rejected her earlier in the day. Well, not rejected her. Her brain was telling her he’d probably stopped the kiss because he was still on duty. But her heart was still feeling the sting of rejection, whether imagined or not.

She was waiting for the bacon to fry for BLTs when the shower shut off. A few minutes later and Tate was standing next to her at the kitchen counter, shirtless, his wet hair barely toweled dry. They cut up tomatoes and ripped up leaves of lettuce. Susannah tried not to look at him, tried not to notice the muscles rippling up his arms and across his chest, but every move he made seemed to reaffirm that he was truly a fine specimen of a man. Even his breathing, so close to her, caused flutters in her stomach, and whenever their arms touched—which was too damned often in her opinion—goose bumps erupted all over her skin.

Finally she dropped the knife on the cutting board. “Why don’t you go sit down and I’ll finish up here.”

When he didn’t respond, didn’t move, she glanced over at him and drew in a sharp breath.

He stared down at her, his eyes full of the same desire she’d seen before. “The cold shower didn’t work.”

She turned back to the cutting board, considering his comment. He said it so calmly, so matter-of-factly, that Susannah realized he wasn’t trying to play with her emotions or take advantage of her. He truly wanted her. She smiled. She wanted him too. She flicked off the burner, left the bacon in the pan and all the food on the counter, and turned to pull Tate into a kiss that left them both breathless.

When she tried to pull him toward the bedroom, he growled and held her closer, exploring the inside of her mouth with his tongue as he pressed his hips against hers. The contact—from his hips, his hands, his tongue—sent wave after wave of desire through her body, each one stronger than the next, until she wasn’t sure her legs would support her anymore. When she thought he was about to pull away, about to stop the delicious sensations he was causing down to her toes, she wrapped her arms around his neck and matched his exploration, meeting each probe of his tongue with one of her own. She let her hands slide down his chest, feeling the solid muscles twitching under her fingertips. He released his hold on her hips and dug his hands into her hair, his kisses deeper, more urgent now. Susannah encircled his waist and pulled their hips back together. Tate groaned.

BOOK: Heart So Sweet: Book 3 in the Great Plains Romance Series
12.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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