Even though the two men looked on the verge of either a yelling match or coming to blows, Sarah felt for both of them. She placed her hand on Tony’s lower back and felt his muscles clench with tension beneath her light touch. She looked back and forth between them and felt a real sadness for whatever had happened that neither could seem to put aside long enough to see the other was hurting.
Dean leaned in and snarled, “One day I won’t.”
Tony shrugged dismissively, an act that appeared to anger the other man more.
Sarah understood their relationship even without knowing the details of it. Something causes a rift between two people, and time coupled with pride only increases it. It took driving hundreds of miles away from her problems, but now she saw them for what they were, and she felt grateful for the clarity she was gaining. It was that growing understanding of herself that made her say, “I appreciate your help, Dean. Maybe we could all have dinner together tomorrow night as a thank-you to everyone who dropped everything to help me find Scooter.”
Two shocked Texans turned to stare down at her as if she’d suggested they both wear dresses and do a jig.
“No—” Tony said.
“That’s a mighty kind offer,” Dean said at the same time, and turned to challenge Tony. “Better watch out, Tony, or your little lady will teach you manners.” He tipped his hat to Sarah and said, “I’m tempted to accept just to see if you could make the impossible happen.”
“Get the hell off my property,” Tony grated.
“With pleasure,” Dean answered, and strode back to his helicopter.
Watching him go, Sarah asked, “Is Dean your brother?”
Tony turned his full attention back to Sarah, and she took an instinctive step away from the intensity of his glower. He pushed a hand beneath her hair and hauled her to him. His hand closed on her behind and lifted her onto her tiptoes against him. “I don’t want to talk about him. In fact, what I want has nothing to do with talking, but you need to understand something. I’m not one of those city boys who will do what you ask just because you bat those sexy brown eyes. You stay here, you stay on my terms, not yours.”
Sarah gulped. Normally she would have said there was nothing sexy about a domineering man, but her panties were soaked with evidence to the contrary. Domineer me all the way to the bedroom, cowboy. She rubbed herself against his already bulging erection. Unless this location would work for you, then I’m totally okay with that option, too.
His mouth had just descended to claim hers when David’s voice announced, “Never mind, boys, it looks like they found the horse. Let’s go.” There was a small commotion followed by the sound of trucks starting, and then horses and vehicles departing.
What does a woman have to do to get a moment alone with Tony on this ranch?
Hopefully, we’ll need more than a moment.
She laughed at the thought, and once she started she couldn’t stop. Maybe it was a release after the emotional roller coaster she’d been on. Maybe it was temporary insanity because of excess sexual frustration. Whatever it was, she hid her forehead in Tony’s chest and gave in to a fit of laughter. She laughed until tears were running down her face, then settled back onto her heels to wipe a hand across her wet cheeks.
When she peered up, Tony was glowering down at her again. Sarah raised a hand and touched one of his cheeks gently.
He inhaled sharply and covered her hand with one of his own. Then he turned away, took her horse by the reins, and handed them to her. “Might as well head back.”
Sarah swung herself up onto her horse and waited for Tony to join her on his own. As they rode side by side back into the open field, she couldn’t help but say, “If you want, you can threaten me again when we get back to your house. I thought it was really hot.”
A slight flush spread up his neck and across his cheeks before he turned his face away, and they rode again in silence.
Which was a good thing, because he missed the huge smile that spread across Sarah’s face.
You might fool everyone else, Tony Carlton, but I’m onto you.
A few hours later, Sarah sat in a swing on Tony’s porch with her notebook and pen on her lap. After helping her check that Scooter hadn’t been hurt by his excursion, Tony had announced he had a few things to do that afternoon—alone. David said he’d headed into town.
Not exactly how I thought our return would go.
She smiled as she imagined them galloping to the porch, both coming to a sliding stop just in time. He’d jump down, pull her from Scooter, toss her over his shoulder, and, taking the stairs two at a time, whisk her into his bedroom.
Not scowl at me and announce you’ll be back later.
Texas, you are a big fat tease.
What am I supposed to do? Sit here, revving my private engines and wait?
I hate you, Tony Carlton.
I still want to rip off your clothes and kiss every one of those muscles I clung to during the ride, but that doesn’t mean you can dump me at your house like I don’t matter.
I’m going to teach you a little lesson when you get home. Sarah’s breath caught in her throat at the thought. Anger is sexy.
She whipped open her notebook and turned to the first scene of Ridden Hard. The scene was missing tension, the building passion of push and pull between characters. No wonder the heroine didn’t orgasm.
Sarah closed her eyes and imagined she was in the scene with Tony. She pulled from how she’d felt since she first met him and began to write.
I park at the end of Holt’s driveway and curse the heavy rain that makes it impossible for me to see if his car is there. I should come back later. I should wait for him to invite me over, but he’s all I can think about. Right. Wrong. It doesn’t matter.
I can’t stay away. My Jimmy Choo stilettos fall victim to the mud, but I don’t care. I step out of them and place them beside the door. The rain has plastered my white cotton dress to my body, the transparency of it only increasing the heat between my thighs.
As soon as he answers the door he’ll instantly see my nipples pushing through the wet material in anticipation of his touch. I won’t have to tell him how eager I am to feel his mouth on them.
I knock once.
I knock twice and eagerly push my long red curls back from my face.
I shiver from the pleasure of knowing that I’ll be in his arms in seconds.
Still no answer.
I try the door and find it unlocked. I step inside, leaving small puddles in the hallway. The clock on the wall ticks away in an otherwise silent house. Five thirty.