The Maverick's Thanksgiving Baby(2)

By: Brenda Harlen

As he tucked his phone away again, he resolved to keep his focus on four-legged creatures and forget about women. Because while horses might not look as good or smell as pretty, they were a lot easier to understand and a lot less likely to trample all over his heart.

Or throw themselves into his arms?

“Whoa.” Jesse caught her gently as she bounced off his chest.

Maggie’s wide, startled gaze locked with his. “I’m so sorry,” she said breathlessly.

“Everything okay?”

She shook her head, an introspective look now competing with the panic in her dark chocolate-colored eyes. “Are you married?”

“What?” He had no idea what thought process had precipitated the question, but he immediately shook his head. “No.”

“Engaged? Involved?”

“No and no,” he said, just a little warily.

“Then I’ll apologize now and explain later,” she told him.


He’d intended to ask what she thought she needed to apologize for, but that was as far as he got before she lifted her hands to his shoulders and pressed her lips to his.

To say that he was stunned would have been an understatement. But the initial shock was quickly supplanted by other stronger emotions: pleasure, happiness, desire.

He wanted this. He wanted her. As if of their own volition, his arms wrapped around her, pulling her against him as he kissed her back.

Somewhere in a part of his brain that was still capable of registering anything beyond the heavenly feel of this woman in his arms, he heard the crunch of gravel beneath heavy, impatient footsteps and a frustrated voice muttering, “Where on earth could she have... Maggie?”

The woman in question eased her mouth from his.

There was desire in her eyes—he wasn’t mistaken in that. But there was something else, too—a silent plea?

A plea for what, he didn’t know and didn’t care. Right now, he would have promised her anything. Everything.

She finally turned to look at the other man, and Jesse did the same.

Jared Winfree’s brows were drawn together, his expression dark as he glanced from Maggie to Jesse. “Are you making a move on my woman?”

Since Jesse had no idea how to respond to that question, he was glad that Maggie spoke up.

“I’m not—and never have been—your woman,” she told the Romeo.

But Jared continued to scowl. “We were supposed to be going to grab a bite to eat.”

“No—you offered to take me for a bite to eat and I told you that I already had plans.”

“With this guy?” His tone was skeptical.

She took Jesse’s hand and lied without compunction. “We’ve been dating for the past several months.”

“Then how come I’ve never seen you with him before?” Jared challenged.

“We’ve been trying to keep a low profile and avoid being the topic of gossip,” she said easily.

It was obvious by the stormy look in the other guy’s eyes that he wanted to challenge the claim, but with Maggie’s hand linked with Jesse’s and her lipstick on his mouth, the evidence was pretty convincing.

“When you decide you want a real cowboy, give me a call,” Jared told her, and stormed off in the direction from which he’d come.

Maggie blew out a breath. “Thank goodness.” She released the hand that she’d been holding on to as if it was a lifeline and turned to him. “And thank you.”

“No need to thank me for something that was very much my pleasure,” he assured her.

And the big-city lawyer with the razor-sharp mind and persuasive tongue actually blushed when his gaze dropped to linger on the sweet curve of her lips.

“Do you want me to explain now?” she asked.

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