Sarah saw red. “How can you be so nice one minute and then such a jackass the next?”
His kissed her with such need that she forgot why she was angry. She forgot everything except how it felt to be with him, on him, beside him in his bed. Her body quivered with want and her hands clung to him feverishly.
He pulled away from her and smiled, a devilishly cocky smile. “I’ll call your friend and get the details. I’m sure her number is saved on the phone.”
He walked away, heading to the house, looking happier than she’d seen him since their return. She called after him, “I didn’t say I was staying.”
His laugh echoed back to her, and she made a silent promise to his retreating back.
She muttered to herself, “Mine. In my room. In my bed. Whenever I want you.” What an asshole. A hot, sexy, blow-your-mind-because-the-sex-is-so-good asshole.
So why am I still here? Why not throw his conditions back in his face?
Because I want more than anything to believe that regardless of how he asked me, he did so because he doesn’t want to lose me.
Because the more I understand myself the more I believe I can save him.
He wants more time and I don’t have the strength to deny him.
Sarah looked around the bedroom and was happy to see her high-heeled cowboy boots. Tony had brought all her things to his room, and from the near grin on his face when he’d rejoined her on the porch, it seemed he’d enjoyed the act immensely. Then he’d given her some lame excuse about having to get some work done but added he’d see her that night.
She could just imagine him now, gloating to the other men. “For all of you who think I don’t understand women, don’t worry. I got this one.”
She had fumed and stomped into the house and up the stairs. Feeling pretty proud of yourself, aren’t you, Tony? She whipped open the zipper of another piece of luggage. Think you have the upper hand?
She smiled when she came across the denim shorts she’d impulsively purchased for the trip, imagining she might one day have the confidence to wear such a revealing pair.
She searched through Tony’s closet until she found a blue-plaid cotton shirt and tied the bottom of it in a knot just below her breasts. She buttoned it, then smiled mischievously at her reflection in the mirror and unfastened two more buttons than she’d ever dared to.
You shouldn’t have taught me poker.
I’ll see your blackmail and raise you one deliberate seduction.
In your bed whenever you want me? Sarah arched her back and widened the open collar of the shirt a bit more, revealing just a tease of her lace bra.
Oh, you’ll want me.
And then I’m going to help you.
Whether you want me to or not.
No ponytail—this called for a bit of hair tousling. She teased and sprayed her long curls until they hung wild and free in a casual, sexy style that looked natural, slept on. She applied just the right amount of makeup, including pink lipstick to accentuate her full lips, and studied her reflection again, kicking up one heel in mock flirtation. She put a hand over her mouth and rounded her eyes with forced innocence. Perfect.
She made a quick phone call, then with her head held high, she walked down the stairs, past an openmouthed Melanie, and out the front door of Tony’s house. She saw him in the distance, talking to David near one of the round pens. Without sparing them more than a glance, she walked into the barn.
Her ego received a boost as all activity instantly ceased. All five young men stood absolutely still, as if they were animatronics whose power source had just been pulled. She walked to where they were working, and hid a laugh when one of them dropped the pitchfork he’d been holding and didn’t take his eyes off her to retrieve it.
She’d never felt particularly beautiful, but the past week had brought a side of her alive that she’d never expected. For once, she was aware of the power of her femininity.
“I’m looking for Tony,” she lied huskily, almost bursting into laughter when none of them moved except for one red-haired young man who pointed wordlessly toward the side door. I’ve spent twenty-five years dressing fashionably and have never gotten this reaction. No wonder women do a little flash-and-tease now and then. Holy crap, men are easy.
“Sarah,” Tony growled from the main door of the barn.
Sarah didn’t turn to face him. Instead, she bent slowly at the waist to pick up the pitchfork that the redheaded man had dropped. She was fully aware how high her shorts rode up her ass cheeks during that move and the view it probably gave him.
He was beside her in a heartbeat, and Sarah smiled up at him before slowly straightening. His eyes were flashing with a mix of passion and anger. She leaned against him, loving how his eyes were drawn to the cleavage she’d purposefully revealed. “I was looking for you,” she said, laying a hand on his tense forearm. He knew she’d seen him outside before she’d entered the barn. Her words hung like a playful taunt between them. “But luckily, you found me. Now we can invite them together.”
His eyes narrowed and between gritted teeth he asked, “Invite who—where?”
Sarah looked around at the rapt audience. “Do you remember how we talked about how nice it would be to have a dinner to thank everyone who helped search for Scooter the day he got loose? Why not tonight? Melanie and I can throw something together.” Sarah asked the young men around her, “Would you be able to make it on such short notice?”
The men looked to Tony as if their responses depended on his reaction to her offer.
And for a painfully long pause, everyone waited.
Tony’s hired hands all knew that he didn’t want them in his house. Hell, some of them had worked at the Double C for years without being this close to him. This was the exact opposite of the way he ran his ranch, and his temper rose even as he bit back the initial impulse to shoot her idea down without discussion.
It wouldn’t change anyone’s opinion of him in the slightest if he gave Sarah a verbal thrashing right in front of everyone for suggesting this. In fact, that was the behavior the men expected from him.
And Sarah knows it.
This is her attempt to stick it to me.
Let her have her one dinner. It won’t change a thing.
And it won’t bother me because it doesn’t matter.
She’s here until I work her out of my system, until I dull the edge of my need to kiss those pink lips she’s pursing so seductively at me right now. Let her invite whoever she wants to dinner. Knowing that I can sink my teeth into that ripe little ass she’s deliberately wagging in my face right now will more than make up for the aggravation.