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Excerpt...Second Song Cowboy (Book 5, Second Chance)
“I WON THE bet, sweetheart,” Dante waded into the cold water and every part of his body shriveled. “Now I plan to collect.”
April stood at the edge of the pond, digging her toes in the grass and holding her arms tight around her waist. The thin tank top and tight white shorts she wore sent his imagination down a forbidden territory. The swim shorts didn’t adequately cover growth and he popped above the elastic waist. He quickly adjusted himself but not before her gaze dropped. Her tongue swept out to moisten her bottom lip. When her eyes came back up, she smiled. “I don’t think you understood the bet at all.”
“What’s not to understand? If I ran naked through Hoover’s field then you’d jump into the pond.”
She dipped one toe into the water. “But it’s cold,” she whined.
“Yeah, and streaking in the rain at nightfall wasn’t too warm either. I’m in here already.” Dante squinted as he scanned the area. “And there isn’t anyone around.”
“Why don’t you admit it? You just want to see me freezing cold so you can laugh.” “I wouldn’t force you into anything you don’t want.” Guilt slipped through him. “You don’t have to follow through with the bet. It was stupid anyway. You’re afraid of this muddy water.” He took a step toward land, but movement caught his eye. He looked up as April pulled her shirt over her head. His chest tightened as he slid a gaze over her red bra. “Really, you don’t have to do this.”
“I’m not a chicken! Now turn your head,” she demanded. With untamed curls bouncing about flushed cheeks, she looked like a wild woman ready to pounce.
“I don’t think that was part of the bargain.” He chuckled.
“Dante Brooke! Turn!” Her modesty charmed him. He did as she requested and, a few seconds later, he heard a splash of water. He watched as she waded by him, her body submerged in the water except for her angelic face. “Happy now?”
She stood, with her back to him, water skimming her bare shoulders. He felt a twinge below his belt and counted to ten. It didn’t help much and he was afraid he’d make a fool of himself. His father told him that a man should think with his head, not his zipper, but Dante realized he was failing, miserably. He wondered if that included a nineteen year old. He swore April did funky things to him.
He couldn’t think when she was around. He wondered if his attention span would come back once he went back to the University of Texas in the fall. Frustration made his gut ache. He didn’t want to go back to school, but he couldn’t let his parents down and drop out.
He brought his gaze up and April splashed him. He wiped the water droplets from his eyes. “You’ll get yours,” he teased. Moving through the water, he reached out and she dodged him.
What had started out as friendship between them had grown into something more over the last month, something he didn’t quite fully understand. Their heated kisses had turned into heavy petting in the front seat of his dad’s truck. The night always ended the same with him dropping her off at her grandfather’s house, where she was staying for the summer, and he’d go home to take care of his problematic salute alone.
He didn’t mind one bit that she wasn’t ready to take things further. Truth was, he’d wait as long as needed. It was just getting harder to hide the fact that he had parts with a mind of their own.
His thoughts traveled to the black velvet box hidden in the glove compartment of his truck, nestled there for the right time. Maybe they weren’t quite ready for marriage, but he knew in his heart that he’d promise her forever. Overcome with emotion, nervous laughter bubbled up in his chest.
“Oh, so you think this is funny, huh?” She swam up and pinched him on the bottom.
“Hey, you!” He caught her and tucked his arm around her waist, pulling her closer. He loved the feeling of her firm breasts against his bare chest.
“How is it possible that this happens all the time?” She dropped her head back and met his gaze as she wiggled her hips.
“That I talk you into crazy stunts? We’re going to freeze when we climb out of the water.” He kissed her cheek. “I didn’t bring a towel.”
“No. This.” She glided her hand across the front of his shorts.
He chuckled. “Raging hormones. It’s perfectly normal for a guy between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three to get a hard-on at every slight breeze.”
Her gaze narrowed. “Really?”
Dante shrugged. “I just know that I’m more out of control when I’m near you.”
“I’m starting to wonder if I could—well—satisfy you. You know, in intimate ways.”
He placed his chin on top of her head and wrapped his arms tight around her shoulders. “I don’t think there’d be a problem.”
“But I’ve never done it before. You’re as close as I’ve gotten to second base, and that isn’t much to brag about.” She played with a lock of his hair.
“Don’t feel pressured. When it’s right, it’ll happen.”
“You’re patient with me.” She kissed his jaw.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You asked me what I want for my birthday and I know.” Her soft voice mingled with the breeze.
“Anything for you, April.” He meant it.
“I want you.”
“You have me. That is until I have to head back to college in a few weeks.”
She bit her lip. “I don’t have you in the way I’m wanting. I don’t want to head to Nashville a virgin.”
“Why? Are you afraid your virginity will keep you from fitting in?” He rubbed his nose with hers. “Trust me, you’ll blow their hearts away with that voice of yours.”
Blinking, she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Dante, I want to share this precious gift with you. I couldn’t imagine giving this to any other.”
His body automatically tensed as he took a small step back, scraping his feet across the dirt bottom of the pond. “Are you sure?”
“Positive. I want my first time to be with you. These last few months have been the best of my life.” She bent her head and kissed his chest, licking a few water drops from his skin. His breath swooshed from his lungs as he stared down at her, unknown places of his body ached. She was a beautiful sight and he knew he’d never deny her.
“I’ll take very good care of you. I promise,” he whispered next to her ear.
Popping her head up, her green eyes glistened in the sunlight. “I know you will. Now, come on.” She grabbed his hand and practically pulled him along. Her knees came up high as she awkwardly made her way through the water. “I’ve read in a magazine how orgasms work, and although I’ve never done this before, I can’t wait to try. Did you know that a man can go in twenty seconds but it takes a woman on average twenty minutes?”
“Twenty seconds?” He hoped he could last longer, but a sliver of doubt crept up his spine. He would have laughed if he wasn’t so turned on. How did a guy like him deserve a diamond like her?
How had he missed her beauty all these years?
In the past, when she’d come to visit her grandpa, she’d been a scrawny, shy teenager who giggled every time he looked her direction. Now, the glasses and braces were gone, and she’d blossomed into a butterfly. Her confidence had boosted and, although a slice of bashfulness remained, she could light up a room the second she walked through the door.
He hadn’t left her side much since she came to town three months ago. Life wasn’t as fun without her next to him. Like the time the snake slithered across their path in the woods. She’d screamed and threw herself into his arms, clinging to him like butter on toast. The harmless Brown Snake had disappeared into the brush, and as he’d started to pry her from his body and tell her the critter was non-poisonous, he’d taken a second thought. He’d liked having her close. When he’d finally told her the truth, about the snake being harmless, she’d playfully smacked him, which soon turned into their first kiss.
His brother, Deckland, had joked and said April was making Dante into a man. He wasn’t sure, but he knew he wanted to protect her and take care of her.
As she stepped out of the veil of water, he ticked his gaze over her, his heart skipping several beats. Her long, wet hair clung to her slender shoulders and flowed like pale silk to her waist. Droplets of water beaded on her breasts and flat stomach, glistening in the sunlight. A lovely smile creased the corners of her shell pink lips, driving his anticipation deeper.
They walked into the thick grass and she turned to face him, throwing her arms around his neck, careless that she was still bare-ass naked. Enclosing an arm around her waist, he pulled her in, wet bodies sliding together as he slipped his palm over her heart-shaped bottom.
“I’m so lucky to have found you, Dante.”
He closed his eyes, making a silent vow that he would always take care of her. Being with her, making her the happiest girl alive was his goal. He’d graduate from UT and she’d come back from Nashville, and then they’d settle here on his family’s ranch. “You do realize that you have me wrapped around your finger.” He lifted her off her feet, tucked her goosebump-covered body close and carried her toward the truck. “The sun is lowering. Do you have a problem with me giving you your birthday present under a sky full of stars?” He nuzzled her neck.
“Perfect. This is more than I could ever dream possible,” she purred. Kicking her legs friskily, she reached up toward the sky as if she wanted to give a fat cloud a hug. “No matter what, I’ll always be right here, with you. I could write a song—hundreds of songs—just about tonight.”
“One day you will, sweetheart. I’m sure your future is brighter than any star in the sky.”