The Cowboy Earns a Bride (Page 16)

The Cowboy Earns a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #8)(16)
Author: Cora Seton

He bent down and stole a searing kiss. “You keep thinking about that. I like the way you smile when you do.”

Mia laughed, but as she climbed out of bed worry assailed her. Luke wanted her—he’d made that clear for months—and last night he’d taken her several times with all the ardor she’d expected from him, but would that ardor translate into enough love to make him actually marry her? She wasn’t sure.

Suddenly shy, she hurried to fetch her robe and a change of clothes, but Luke intercepted her, sliding his hands down her back to smooth over her bottom. “Look at you. You are one fine woman.”

She melted into him, stood on tiptoes and kissed the underside of his jaw. “And you are one fine man.” Still, her insecurities chased each other around her brain, even as Luke kissed her thoroughly. He must have sensed that, because he pulled back.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing.”

“Don’t hide things from me.”

Her cheeks flamed because she knew what he meant. Luke didn’t trust her all the way—not after she’d kept such a huge secret from him. She’d have to get used to opening her heart to him, which was hard after the way Ellis had treated her.

“I’m afraid,” she confessed.

He tugged her down to sit on the bed. “Because of what people will say?”

“No, not really. I’m afraid you’ll change your mind. Settling down to marriage is hard enough under normal circumstances. We won’t get a honeymoon period to adjust to each other. Before you know it we’ll have a baby and all the responsibilities that entails. How are you going to feel when I’m up three times a night breastfeeding and I don’t want to have sex? Will you still be happy you took us on?”

He scowled. “This isn’t about sex.”

“Really?” She indicated her naked body.

“You think that’s all that concerns me? We’ve lived together for months, and last night is the first time I got laid. If this was about sex, it would’ve been over a long time ago.”

“Exactly. Last night you got laid. The chase is over. Why wouldn’t you lose interest?”

He pulled back. “You think I only wanted you because you were playing hard to get? You’re dead wrong.”

Mia shrugged. “Maybe.”

“Maybe, nothing. I said I’ll marry you. I said I’ll raise that child as my own. That’s what I plan to do.” He tugged her closer. “And if you have any more complaints, Mrs. Matheson, you’re going to have to take them up with management.”

He lowered her back down onto the bed, shedding his shirt as he did. He climbed on top of her and kissed her neck, one hand loosening his belt and unzipping his jeans. Mia giggled in spite of herself. “What’s management going to do about it?”

“Look into it very, very thoroughly,” he said, trailing kisses down to her breasts as he shucked off his pants and boxers. Mia sucked in a ragged breath and twisted her fingers into the comforter. “You might even say they’ll probe the situation.” He settled himself between her legs and nudged against her. Mia closed her eyes and gave in to the sensation, all thoughts of future problems gone from her mind. As Luke thoroughly put to rest all of her complaints, she only knew she never wanted to leave his side again.

It was more than an hour before they left the cabin.

Luke helped her up into the seat of his truck. He started the vehicle, reached for her hand and held it the whole way into town to Thayer’s Jewelers.

Mia asked him to stop at the Cruz ranch on the way into town to see if Rose would come with them. Rose had worked for several years at Thayer’s before quitting a few months back, and Mia valued her opinion, plus Rose was reputed to have a sixth sense about couples—whether their marriage would make it or not. Mia wanted to know what kind of hunch she got about them.

When they got to the ranch, they found Morgan and Rob with Cab and Rose. All four of them were standing outside Ethan and Autumn’s bunkhouse in the snow staring at an evergreen shrub that Rob had been trimming.

“Awful cold weather for gardening,” Luke called as they approached.

“I’ve been wanting to try topiary in case any of my customers want it in their gardens,” Rob said. “I thought I could do one for Autumn as kind of a baby gift.”

“What is it?” Luke asked, cocking his head.

“It’s a bit of a puzzle, isn’t it?” Cab said with a grin.

“It’s supposed to be a horse.” Rob frowned. “It’ll look better in the spring when the new growth comes in. I hope.”

Mia bit her lip to hold back her laughter. She hoped there would be some new growth on that bush, because the current bare spots gave it a sickly look. She wasn’t sure where the horse came in, either.

“See, this is the neck and here are the four legs,” Morgan pointed out helpfully.

“I see it,” Rose said, but Mia saw laughter dancing in her eyes.

Another truck pulled up and Jake got out. “What the hell is that?” he said, striding up to them. He looked the bush over a minute. “A bulldog?”

“I was thinking armadillo,” Cab said. “But I see what you mean about the bulldog.”

Rob bristled. “It ain’t a bulldog or an armadillo. It’s a horse. Anyone can see that.”

“Rose, any chance you could come with us to Thayer’s?” Mia thought it best to ask before an argument erupted.

“Thayer’s? Are you two buying a ring?” Rose looked pleased.

“Yes, I was hoping you could give us your… opinion.” Mia sent her a hopeful look.

Rose nodded. “Of course.”

“It’s the head that’s all wrong,” Jake told Rob.

“It’s the legs,” Cab countered. “Look at them—stubby little armadillo legs.”

“You know what? I need to get my ring cleaned,” Morgan said. “How about you drive to Thayer’s with me, Rose? We’ll meet you and Luke there, Mia.”

“Sounds good. Bye, Cab,” Mia said, although Cab wasn’t paying attention. Mia didn’t blame him; the bush with its lumpy shape and bare spots did draw the eye in this winter landscape. “I hope Autumn likes her armadillo, Rob.”

“It is not an armadillo. See what you started,” he said to Cab.

“I can’t help it if your horse is vertically challenged.”