The Cowboy Lassos a Bride(3)

By: Cora Seton

She bit her lip to keep from laughing out loud. The testosterone leaking out of this handsome cowboy must be playing havoc with her hormones. Jake wasn’t interested in her that way. He was dancing with her out of pity, just like the rest of them.

“It’s nice,” she managed to say finally.

“Where’s Cody tonight?”

Hannah leaned back to peer up at him. She was surprised he even remembered Cody. Had the two men even crossed paths? She wasn’t sure. “He didn’t feel like coming. He’s not much for weddings.” She suppressed a sigh.

“He ought to know better than to leave a pretty girl like you alone in a situation like this.”

“Why? What could possibly happen to me?” She smiled up at him as he smiled down. Flirting with Jake was the last thing she’d expected to happen when she arrived here tonight, but it felt as comfortable to do so as if she’d had years of practice. If only this dance could last more than a few minutes. She wanted it to go on forever.

“Who knows what kind of unsavory elements might get a hold of you.”

His fingers pressed into her skin and she leaned into his embrace, realized what she was doing and tried to pull back. He didn’t let her. His hands settled more tightly at her waist and kept her pressed up against the length of him. Suddenly Hannah could hardly breathe.

“I’m impervious to unsavory elements,” she made herself say, but her voice sounded weak. Unsure.

He stopped dancing for a moment. Started again. “Impervious?” He dipped his head lower so that his lips were near her ear. “Are you sure?”

Not when his breath tickled her neck like that. “Absolutely.”

One of his hands slipped down just a fraction of an inch on her waist, but it was enough to make its position almost indecorous. His other arm wrapped around her to make it entirely clear who was in charge here. Hannah was aware of every inch of his body that pressed against hers. Her heart was beating strong and fast. She clung to him, so off-balance as to be dizzy.

Jake swayed with her to the music and Hannah wondered if everyone could see the way desire was setting her nerves alight. She now knew just how intimate a simple dance could become when one partner was determined to seduce the other.

Because that’s what Jake was doing. Seducing her. Reeling her in until he was the only thing she could think about. It was working, too.

“Let’s test that theory, shall we?” Suddenly he was pulling her back through the tables, across the reception hall and out into a corridor. He traced its length, trying the handles of the doors they passed to storage rooms, smaller meeting rooms and the like. Hannah stumbled after him, not caring who saw them or what they thought. She just wanted to be with Jake. Anywhere he wanted to be.

Finally one opened. Hardly bigger than a closet, it appeared to be a break room for the staff. Jake spun her back into his arms, backed her up against a counter and kissed the daylights out of her.

Hannah only had a fleeting thought of Cody at home on his rundown couch, in his boxers and a T-shirt, a six-pack and a bag of chips on the coffee table, television remote in his hand. Then she could think of nothing else but Jake. The man’s mouth on hers, devouring her, kissing her until she had to gasp for breath, his hands smoothing over her waist, almost dipping down over her ass, but hesitating, not crossing that threshold.

Not yet.

Hannah knew this could go as far as she wanted to take it. Knew too that Jake was too much a gentleman to push for more than she was willing to give. How much was she willing to give? She wasn’t sure. Except with each passing moment she felt closer to wanting to give him everything. The champagne she had drunk lent a warm glow to the workaday room. Jake’s arms around her, his mouth on hers made her forget everything else.

She wondered briefly who this wanton woman was. It couldn’t be her—safe, quiet Hannah who’d supported herself since she was barely eighteen. She’d never done something so reckless, so out of character. But she couldn’t stop. She didn’t want to.

As she twined her arms around Jake’s neck, he lifted her suddenly and placed her on the counter. Never breaking off the kiss that was searing her straight down to her soul, he pulled her tight against him and she reflexively wrapped her legs around his waist, her gown riding up over her thighs.

“Hannah,” he groaned as he trailed kisses down her neck. “Hannah, you drive me wild.”

Hannah blinked, but surrendered to his ongoing sensual attacks. This was news to her. She would have bet he’d never noticed her in his life.

Sure, they’d been thrown together last week at one of Ethan and Autumn’s poker nights. She’d asked him some questions about an article she’d read—something about sustainable ranching. Apparently she’d hit on one of his favorite topics and they’d discussed it at length—as acquaintances at a get-together. Then the poker game had started and that had been that. She hadn’t given it another thought. Having a crush on Jake would be like lusting after your older brother’s best friend—completely safe because its outcome was completely predictable.

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