The Maverick's Thanksgiving Baby(6)

By: Brenda Harlen

She sucked in a breath; he snatched his hand back.

“I’m so sorry.”

“No, it was my fault.”

But fault was irrelevant. What mattered was that the air was fairly crackling and sizzling with awareness now. And the way he looked at her—his gaze heated and focused—she was certain he felt it, too.

She barely knew him. But she knew she’d never felt the same immediacy and intensity of connection that she felt the minute he’d taken her hand inside the community center only a few hours earlier. But she was a Los Angeles attorney and he was a Rust Creek cowboy, and she knew that chemistry—as compelling as it might be—could not bridge the gap between them.

And Jesse had obviously come to the same conclusion, because he took a deliberate step back, breaking the threads of the seductive web that had spun around them. “I should probably be on my way.”

“Oh.” She forced a smile and tried to ignore the sense of disappointment that spread through her. “Okay.”

She followed him to the door.

He paused against the open portal. “Thanks again for dinner.”

“You’re welcome,” she said. “And if you ever need a fictional girlfriend to get you out of a tight spot, feel free to give me a call.”

He lifted a hand and touched her cheek, the stroke of his fingertips over her skin making her shiver. “I don’t want a fictional girlfriend, but I do want to kiss you for real.”

She wasn’t sure if he was stating a fact or asking permission, but before she could respond, he’d lowered his head and covered her mouth with his.

She might have caught him off guard when she’d pressed her lips to his outside of the community center, but it hadn’t taken him long to respond, to take control of the kiss. This time, he was in control right from the beginning—she didn’t have a chance to think about what he was doing or brace herself against the wave of emotions that washed over her.

For a man who claimed he didn’t do a lot of dating, he sure knew how to kiss. His mouth was warm and firm as it moved over hers, masterfully persuasive and seductive. Never before had she been kissed with such patient thoroughness. His hands were big and strong, but infinitely gentle as they slid up her back, burning her skin through the silky fabric of her blouse as he urged her closer. Her breasts were crushed against the solid wall of his chest, and her nipples immediately responded to the contact, tightening into rigid peaks.

She wanted him to touch her—she wanted those callused hands on her bare skin, and the fierceness of the want was shocking. Equally strong was the desire to touch him—to let her hands roam over his rock-hard body, exploring and savoring every inch of him. He was so completely and undeniably male, and he made everything that was female inside of her quiver with excitement.

Eventually, reluctantly, he eased his mouth from hers. But he kept his arms around her, as if he couldn’t bear to let her go. “I should probably be on my way before the sheriff gets home.”

“He won’t be home tonight,” she admitted. “He and Lissa went to Bozeman for the weekend.”

He frowned at that. “You’re going to be alone here tonight?”

She held his gaze steadily. “I hope not.”

He closed the door and turned the lock.

                      Chapter Two


Jesse had tossed the last bag of broodmare supplement into the back of his truck when he saw a pair of shiny, high-heeled boots stop beside the vehicle. He wiped the back of his hand over his brow and lifted his head to find Lissa Christensen, Maggie’s cousin and also the sheriff’s wife, standing there.

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