The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Page 40)

The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #5)(40)
Author: Cora Seton

Rose welcomed his weight, welcomed the reminder of how tightly they had joined. She wrapped her arms around his waist and relished the feel of his skin under her fingers. A moment later he pushed up on one arm, allowing her to breathe more freely. “Was that okay?” he asked softly, tracing a finger around one curving breast.

She shivered at his light touch. “More than okay.”

“I didn’t hurt you?”

“No.” A smile curved her lips. “That definitely did not hurt.”

“Good,” Cab said, and turned on his side, pulling her close against him. As his arm went around her, she relished the solid feeling of his chest under her cheek. She could hear his heartbeat again and it was as strong as last time. Cab was a man to depend on.

A man she could love.

He stroked her hair as she stilled and considered that thought. Could she love Cab?

Should she?

Hadn’t she just broken off her engagement with Jason? Wasn’t she supposed to take some time to find herself? What happened to all her clear-headed thoughts about spending time alone, finding a new job, devoting herself to her painting, and creating her own life before she became part of a couple again?

And here she was in Cab’s bed not a full day after splitting up with Jason. Was she one of those women who couldn’t be alone for a minute? What was wrong with her?

It felt so good to be here, though. So right. Cab wasn’t Jason—he wouldn’t abandon her.

But he could easily dominate her. Not in a crazy caveman way, but because he was such a strong-willed, powerful man with an urge to keep her safe from the evil that he knew all too well lurked in the world. How could she maintain her boundaries with a man like that? Especially when he was sexy, intelligent, and drove her crazy with longing for his touch?

As her heart rate slowed and her mind cleared, she realized she was following a very familiar pattern. As soon as she broke free from one strong-willed person in her life, she found another one to step in and take over. If she dated Cab, would his controlling behavior escalate? Would he use his dealings with criminals on the job as an excuse to tell her what to do the way Emory had used his OCD tendencies?

And what about school? Now that Jason wasn’t in the picture anymore, this was her opportunity to go. All the money she’d saved in an account toward their wedding and home could be put to use securing her education. Would Cab stand in the way of that?

Suddenly, Cab’s muscular body half-draped over her felt confining. She wiggled to create some space between her and Cab, but he just snuggled her closer. She wiggled again. “Cab?”

“Hmm?”

“I need to go.”

He shifted a little. “Bathroom’s just down the hall.”

“I know,” she said, but she took the opportunity to slide out from under his arm and off the bed without clarifying what she meant. Glancing around, she realized she had no clothes in here; she’d left them in the billiard room. She grabbed one of Cab’s flannel shirts that hung from his closet doorknob and threw it around her shoulders. Its tails fell practically to her knees. Scooting out the bedroom door, she retraced their steps to the billiard room and stopped in the face of their earlier games. Most of her clothes were still piled on the armchair. The rest were scattered about the floor.

Cab had bent her over that pool table. She’d knelt over there beside it and taken him into her mouth.

She blushed a little to think how she’d bared herself entirely to him and how the whole experience had thrilled her to the core. She liked Cab a lot and she wanted to explore a relationship with him. Still, she needed him not to overwhelm her newfound independence.

She dressed herself in a few moments, moved out into the kitchen and collected her purse. She hesitated, not knowing what to do next. If she returned to Cab’s bedroom she had a feeling she’d find it hard to ever leave. On the other hand, she had to say good-bye and tell him clearly what she wanted. To date. To get to know him. Maybe more.

It occurred to her now that so far she and Cab had done everything out of order. First she needed to make a plan for her life and get over Jason. Then they should date a while. Only after they’d spent time together should they tumble into bed.

Too late.

“Where are you going?” Cab leaned against the doorway to the kitchen. He’d found his jeans, or maybe grabbed a new pair, but his feet were still bare. So was his broad chest.

“I… don’t know,” she said. “I need to… do something.”

He waited for her to go on and when she didn’t, he said, “Did we just ruin things, Rose?”

“No!” She hadn’t meant to blurt it out like that, but she didn’t mind when Cab smiled.

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“You remember what I was talking about with Autumn and Claire and Morgan the other day?” She twined the strap of her purse in her fingers anxiously.

“About attracting people who boss you around?”

“Yes.” It warmed her that he knew exactly what she meant. Cab was observant, and it seemed he’d been observing her for a while. “It’s because I don’t know who I am yet. I don’t have my boundaries set up.”

“And that’s why you’re leaving?”

She nodded. “So I can work on setting them up.”

He scratched his chin. “I don’t suppose you’ll let me help you, either?”

“That’s kind of the whole point of boundaries,” she said. “To keep people on the other side.”

“I’m glad you let me inside your boundaries just now,” he said, the corners of his mouth turning up.

“Yeah, well… I’m glad, too,” she said softly.

“Come here.” He straightened up. Rose went to him and leaned against his bare chest as he enfolded her in an embrace. “You really do attract people who tell you what to do, don’t you?” He chuckled. Rose swatted him.

“If they tell me what to do and it’s what I want to do anyway, then I don’t mind doing it.”

“Spoken just like a woman.” He leaned back to get a better look at her. “Do you really have to go? I could be up for another game of pool.”

“I just bet you could.” Rose gave him one last kiss and pushed him away. “I really have to go.”

“When will I see you again?”

She glanced around, realizing she had another icy cold night ahead of her in her tree house, and she’d have to rush to get more supplies down the highway if she wanted to get back before dark. Should she just stay here with Cab and forget all about establishing her own identity?