THE KNOCK BROUGHT Penn Jericho up from the couch where he’d been sitting in his dark living room, pondering the day and resting his aching muscles. His prosthetic foot clanked loudly against the wooden planks and anticipation grew wildly in him as he got closer to relief. It had been weeks since he’d found solace in the warmth of soft curves. He was long overdue.
Swinging the door open, he didn’t bother turning on the light as he reached out, grabbed a slender hand and dragged his earlier-than-expected-booty-call across the threshold. His body turned rock-solid, and he realized just how much he needed this. And because he wasn’t wearing any clothes, his cock saluted the sexy bombshell he pressed against the wall. She rewarded him with a whimper of surprise, yet he knew all too well how she liked it when he took control. Something dropped from her hand, hitting him on his ankle, but he didn’t care. Not. One. Shit. He had a one-track mind.
He nuzzled her hair, glad that she wore it straight and silky unlike her teased and fluffed style. Inhaling her scent, he paused. This wasn’t her usual smoke/alcohol combination from waiting tables at the honky tonk. No, this reminded him of a fresh batch of sugar cookies. He could eat a dozen, but for now, he’d settle on eating one delicious, wet cookie. He threaded his fingers in her soft hair and lowered his mouth, drawing his tongue along the seam of her lush lips. He tasted cherry. This was turning into a scintillating buffet for his senses. “I thought I’d go crazy waiting on you, Saucy,” he whispered close to her ear as he molded his palm to her breast.
She stiffened. Now why would she do that? He pulled back slightly, only enough to look down at her through the shadows. The room was too dark to make out her features or expression, but he got the feeling she wasn’t her usual ready-and-willing self. They were like magnets when they came together and by now, she’d be ripping her sharp nails across his skin and begging him to take her fast and without mercy. He always obliged her.
He blew out a long breath. Maybe she wanted to play the role of the innocent virgin tonight. Or maybe he’d come on too strong right off the bat, but she never complained before. “Are you playing hard to get?” No answer. “What’s wrong?” His body deflated…some.
“If I was ‘Saucy’ I’d probably be into this.” The soft voice was tinged with a seductive accent and wasn’t high-pitched like Saucy’s southern twang. Every hair on his body stood at attention. Uh-oh.
What the fuck? He used the fingers of his free hand to brush over her forehead, following the delicate line of a smooth cheek, her chin, up to eyes, but almost knocked off glasses.
Since when did she wear glasses?
Shit! He removed his hand from her breast, but not before he noticed how hard her nipple was.
He wasn’t sure who he was groping, but it wasn’t his go-to beauty, Seneca. Rubbing his hand down the wall, he found the light switch and flipped it on. He met dark eyes, blinking wildly, framed in large, black glasses. He skimmed his gaze over her bewildered features. She had the palest complexion he’d ever seen. “You’re not Seneca,” he muttered.
“No, I’m not.” One thin brow popped up as she fixed her crooked frames. “For a Jericho who prides himself on being a top notch private detective, I’m quite disappointed in your skills. Good thing I’m not a maniac wielding a weapon or you’d be a goner.”
He swept his gaze lower between their bodies that were still pressed together. Her breasts were pushed up, spilling over the white lace of her bra exposed in the scooped neckline of the top, giving him a nice view of the ample, pale mounds. Her fingers rested lightly on his chest, right over the area of his heart that was trying to beat it’s way free. “The ‘no weapon’ is covered, but I’m not ruling out the ‘maniac’ part just yet. Who the hell are you?” Clearly, she was right about his lack of diligence. He’d been thinking with something other than his brain and a man knew that was always a big mistake. In his defense, no one ever came to visit him, especially here at Second Chances Ranch, unless they were invited. This lady wasn’t invited, at least not by him. Had she come to the ranch to see one of his brothers? Probably so. Penn was a bit envious.
“Now since you see I’m not packing, please remove your,” she cleared her throat, “body from my person. I’m very flattered, really I am, but you’re not my type.”
“You have the wrong house, lady,” he snorted.
He hesitated. “Maybe.”
One corner of her mouth lifted. “I’m Harley Tate.”
His balls tightened. How had he not recognized her? With a growl, he stepped back, pushing a hand through his still-damp hair. “Why the hell are you here? And a bigger question, how the hell did you know which house is mine?” If she’d stopped at any of his brothers’ places, they would have sent her back where she came from, or at least warned Penn that she was in the vicinity.
Her cool gaze strolled down his chest, his stomach, lingering for a long moment at his erection that didn’t get the message to back off. Her smile grew as she brought her eyes to his face. “Unless you’re showing off, which is a waste of time with me, why don’t you cover up and we’ll chat. Thinking is hard, literally, with that demanding all of the attention.” Her cheeks turned rosy.
He took several steps and grabbed the first thing he came to, a throw from the couch. Wrapping it around his hips, he held the material in place with one hand. Her stare was now focused on his prosthetic leg as if she’d just realized it was fake. He gritted his teeth. After his accident, he’d gotten used to stares, random questions, and people walking on eggshells because they weren’t sure how to take the ‘new’ Penn. However, she didn’t show any sign of awkwardness—only awareness. He’d never much cared what people thought, but for some reason, he was glad she didn’t show disgust or uneasiness. And he didn’t like it that he appreciated it, not one bit. “Lady, I have an office. Make an appointment.” Best to end this as soon as possible.
She pushed off the wall, cocked one hip in the skinny jeans, then crossed her arms over her waist, tapping the toe of her shoe on the floor in irritation. “That would have worked out just fine if you would have accepted any of my calls. I was tired of getting the run-around. Thankfully, your receptionist is tired of me calling too. She was kind enough to give me your address and describe your house, down to the old truck in the driveway and the red birdhouse hanging on the tree out front. Not that I wouldn’t have found it sooner or later, but sooner is better for my timeline. I’ve found that everyone knows you and your brothers around these parts. Available bachelors, rodeo stars, community heroes…” She rolled her eyes.
“I’m no longer a rodeo star, so I don’t give impromptu autographs.” He narrowed his gaze.
She laughed. “Whatever. I’m not here for your signature. That’s of no importance to me.”