Bedded Then Wed(4)

By: Heidi Betts


Feet dragging slightly through the loose straw that covered the loft floor, she took a seat beside him. She kept her spine straight, her hands on her knees as she searched for something to say. The problem was, she’d already ex-hausted her list of small-talk topics on the drive home. She didn’t have a clue what else to say that wouldn’t sound forced or too probing into his personal life.

Thankfully, Mitch kept the moment from turning awkward.

“So how’d you enjoy the celebration today?”

“It was fine,” she said. “The Fourth of July picnic is always fun.”

“Yeah.” He picked up a long strand of golden-yellow straw and twirled it between two fingers, casting shadows in the dim light. “I got a slice of your cherry pie before it was all gone. It was good.”

“Thanks.”

“You made some of the other food, too, right? I thought I heard somebody mention you always cook a lot for the picnic.”

She nodded, remembering all the times she, Mitch and his brother, Chase, had hung out together just like this. On those long summer days when it was too hot to run or play, they’d found a shady spot to do nothing more than lie around and shoot the breeze. The happy childhood memories eased her nerves and she began to relax.

“Mom used to cook up a storm for all the town celebrations, you know. After she died, I guess I picked up where she left off. I had her recipes, and I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed.”

“I think people would have understood,” he said seriously.

“Probably. But I enjoy it, and I think it makes Pop feel more like Mom’s still around.”

“She did make the best potato salad in Texas.”

“Yes, she did,” Emma agreed with a smile.

“Yours was pretty tasty, too.”

She met his storm-gray eyes and grinned. “How do you know it was my potato salad you were eating?” There had to have been at least four or five bowls of the stuff, all prepared by different cooks.

He sat up and leaned closer to her, one corner of his mouth quirked with amusement. “Because I saw you arrive and watched you set the bowl on the table with the rest of the food. Then I made sure to get there early before it was all gone.”

His face was inches from her own, hovering over her, smelling of some crisp, clean aftershave she couldn’t quite identify. Whatever it was, it made her think of waking up in the arms of a strong, sexy man. This man, in particular. Running her fingers over his stubbled, unshaven jaw…kissing his warm, pale lips…feeling the full, bare length of him pressed against her while they slowly stirred each other’s arousal.

“I didn’t see you,” she responded quietly, unable to tear her gaze from his tempting mouth. “Not until much later.”

“I was hiding out to avoid those nosy questions I get whenever I show my face in town. But I could still see every move you made.”

She shivered with awareness at his words. He’d been watching her at the picnic and she hadn’t even known it.

Instead of feeling unnerved that he’d essentially been spying on her all day, she was flattered…and suddenly incredibly turned on.

“I wish I’d known you were there,” she said, boldly lifting her hand to caress the strong line of his jaw. “I would have asked you to dance.”

He wrapped his fingers around hers, pulling her hand away from his face and turning it to press a kiss to the center of her palm. Tiny flames of desire flickered to life in her belly and started to spread outward.

“We could dance now,” he offered softly.

She shook her head. “There’s no music.”

“I don’t know,” he murmured, brushing her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb, “I definitely hear something in the air.”

And then he leaned forward, covering her mouth with his own.

Emma’s heart kicked up, pounding in her chest like the hooves of a galloping horse. Mitch Ramsey was kissing her. Finally. Gloriously.

His lips were firm, skillful. He knew exactly where to press, where to move, when to open his mouth and encourage her to do the same. While his tongue darted over and around hers, she tasted the coffee with just a touch of cream and sugar that he must have drank before bringing her home.

Her nipples turned hard and pressed against the inside cups of her bra as he stroked her from hip to breast. The heat of his touch burned through her blouse, raising goose bumps along her flesh and sending her core temperature soaring.

She ran her hands over his back, feeling the sleek muscles beneath his shirt, the way they rippled and flexed as he moved. Using her nails like claws, she tore at the tail of his shirt, dragging it out from the waistband of his jeans until the pads of her fingers encountered smooth, bare skin.

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