Authors: J. J. Ranger
Bridgette gave her a sly grin. “Only one way to find out. You've got to grab the bull by his...uh, horn and take him for a ride."
Shannon crinkled her nose and met her cousin's smiling gaze. “I hate it when you're right."
That evening, Shannon roused from her cabin and walked to the main lodge. She stepped inside and her eyes grew wide. Someone had decorated the dining hall with pink and white condom-shaped balloons. She couldn't keep the grin off her face. At the bridal table, Bridgette sat in the seat of honor surrounded by Jessica, Sara and Charissa.
"I see you approve of the decorations,” Dustin said, appearing at her elbow.
Her tummy quivered at his nearness. “Yes, they are very...inventive."
He wiggled his eyebrows. “Giving you any ideas?"
Yes. How fast can I get you into the bathroom so we can put those condoms to use?
She screwed her lips to the side, pretending to think. “Nah. I prefer bareback."
His eyes widened slightly, and then he gave a slow, sexy grin that made her breasts swell in anticipation. “Is that so? Interested in doing a little riding tonight?"
Wow, talk about jumping in with both feet. Her nipples tightened, her body swaying involuntarily toward him, silently begging for contact. “We're all going to the Winkin’ Point Saloon tonight to celebrate the end of the party. I wouldn't say no if you wanted to buy me a drink.”
And I wouldn't say no if you wanted to feel me up on the dance floor, either. Hell, what about a good fuck right there on the bar?
Sweat beaded her forehead and she fanned her face. “Man, is it hot in here?"
"Here, open your gift bag,” Bridgette interrupted, shoving a hot pink foil bag under her nose. “Might be something in there for Dustin as well.” She winked and disappeared back into the throng of giggling women.
Dustin cocked his head to the side. “Well, come on, open the bag. I want to see what I could possibly use in there."
Shannon shrugged. Why not? She knew her cousin, and without a doubt, the bag would be filled with sex toys and props. Seated at one of the wooden tables, she undid the gold ribbon at the handle and eased the sides apart. Inside, nestled in gold tissue paper were an edible bra and thong set and a hot pink vibrator with silver flecks.
Laughing, she handed the vibrator to Dustin. “This must be for you."
He examined the item, twisting and turning it in his hand. “Nice color.” He flicked the switch at the base of the mechanical cock, and it buzzed to life. He gave a wicked grin and touched the tip of the dildo to the curve of her neck, rubbing her from shoulder to ear and back down. “Imagine all the fun we could have with this thing, though I think I'd prefer the thong."
Shannon held it out for him. “If you wear that tonight, I'm bringing my camera."
"I'm not opposed to picture taking if you aren't. I was hoping you'd be willing to model it for me.” He leaned in closer and dropped the vibrator back in the bag, his hand casually brushing her nipples. “It's going to taste much sweeter as I eat it off you.” He pressed his lips to hers in a tantalizing whisper of a kiss and then stood. “See you at the bar."
Her heart catapulted in her chest, her breath hitched. She wouldn't back out now. As Bridgette said, she needed to grab this particular bull by his horn and show him she was not just in it for the weekend. Maybe then she'd have a chance at reclaiming what she'd given up all those years ago.
The ranch cook made surf-n-turf at Bridgette's request, and during dinner, Shannon joked with her cousins and the other women. No matter what was said, it always got twisted to sound dirty. Shannon commented on how the melted butter only enhanced the flavor of the lobster tail.
"Honey, we already know you want to butter his tail. Why are you sitting with us?” Bridgette joked.
"Please,” Shannon shot back. “You're so hard up for sex right now, you had to buy your own blow-up doll and superglue Adam's face to it.” The other women oohed at the taunt. “No, seriously. My cousin decided she wanted to be a ‘virgin’ on her honeymoon, so two months ago she told Adam they couldn't sleep together until then."
Bridgette blushed but laughed with her friends. “It's true. Gotta say, though, I hope Adam can live up to Plastic Adam's talents. That doll is an awesome fuck."
Shannon snorted. “Lovely. Can I quote you on that in my wedding video interview?"
A staff member came out of the kitchen, pushing a bakery cart. On it was the biggest penis Shannon had ever seen. Leave it to Bridgette to plan a party with a penis-shaped cake, complete with flesh-colored frosting. Hopefully, her wedding cake was in better taste or her parents would have Texas-sized fits. She chuckled.
"I'd say that's too much of a mouthful even for you, babe,” Charissa called out.
Bridgette shot her a sly look. “Don't bet on it.” The other women snickered.
"She's in her element now,” Shannon said. Her heart felt lighter than it had in years. Her future was secure with Gran's ranch, she was surrounded by people who loved her unconditionally, and she was finally going to open her heart to Dustin.
"She certainly is,” Jessica said in amusement.
Shannon blinked in surprised. That was the most she'd actually heard the brunette say since she arrived.
"Y'all going dancing after this?” Charissa asked.
"You know it,” Shannon replied.
Charissa glanced at Jessica. “What about you?"
She swallowed a sip of wine and smiled. “Haven't made up my mind yet."
"I heard Deacon's going,” Shannon put in with a suggestive wiggle of her brows. “With Dustin and maybe Dane, too.” Thank God she wasn't the only female getting her heart tormented by the Dumen brothers.
"Now that's what I call satisfying.” Bridgette clapped her hands together. “Let's dig in!"
Later that evening, Shannon opted to drive herself to town for the outing at the bar—Bridgette's driving scared her silly.
Tonight she was going to let go of her fears. She was going to stop worrying how much like Carolyn she could be and finally suck up the courage to show Dustin she was a take-charge kind of girl. She wanted him and was finally not afraid to let him know.
She pulled to a stop at the entrance gate and grinned. She had a tool kit in the back of the SUV. As kids, she and Dustin had unscrewed the
together, but she'd never tried to do so alone. Dillon would be pissed when he saw the sabotage.
Mwahahaha, cue the evil mustache-twirling villain.
And he'd never know it was her.
Digging out a wrench, she walked to the stone pillars and placed the tools on the ledge. She climbed the rough column and perched on the edge—not an easy feat in cowboy boots, but thank God she hadn't worn her stiletto heels.
Utilizing all her balancing skills, she muscled the wrench on the bolt holding the steel letter in place. Finally, keeping one arm anchored around the gate post, she put all her weight into turning. The bolt slipped free. The entrance gate now read
A self-satisfied grin enveloped her face, and she dropped the tools to the ground. God, that brought back her childhood. Dustin would be so proud of her.
Still chuckling, she climbed back in the vehicle and drove to town.
Main Street was lined with pickup trucks of varying ages, makes, and colors. Patrons visiting the bars overflowed onto the uneven sidewalks. She found a parking spot not too far from the Winkin’ Point and made her way through the bustling crowd.
A live band filled the small stage at the back of the building, and the dance floor was brimming with couples two-stepping. The girls from the bachelorette weekend occupied a large table just off the dance floor, and from the looks of their stumbling and their askew clothing and hair, they were well on their way to drunken unconsciousness. She didn't plan to drink quite that much, though a few would go a long way to loosen her up for a night of seducing Dustin.
"Hey, beautiful, can I buy you a drink?” The low, familiar timbre of his voice brushed over her skin like a caress, making her wet. Strong fingers pulled her long hair away from her neck, and soft, warm lips pressed to the bare curve of her shoulder. His masculine scent enveloped her.
She leaned back against Dustin, squeezing her thighs together. Tingles danced down her spine, pooling in her pussy. “Keep kissing me like that and you can do anything you want to me."
He chuckled and his breath blew across her earlobe. Shannon shivered and turned in his arms. The man could make a nun come in just one hello. “Hello, cowboy."
He wore another button-down dress shirt, this one gray, and button-fly jeans. She flicked a finger down his stomach and tapped the oversized belt buckle at his waist. Ah, easy access on both counts. Would he feel the same about her pink T-shirt and short, flowered skirt? Hell, she'd worn crotchless panties just for him. Somehow, she didn't think he'd complain about that.
He gave a slow, easy grin that melted her to the core. Hmm, if anyone was going to seduce anyone, she wanted to do it to him, but it looked like he was winning. She'd have to step up her game.
The band kicked into a slower number. Her arms snaked around his neck. “Dance with me."
If he was surprised at her bold behavior, it didn't show in his expression. He caught her around the waist and backed her onto the dance area. With expertise, he led her through the two-step, his hazel gaze burning into hers.
"You look beautiful tonight."
Despite herself, she blushed. “Thanks. You don't look so bad yourself.” Tipping up the brim of his hat with her forefinger, she winked. “Of course, you've got too many clothes on for my tastes."
His eyes widened. “Jumping right in there, aren't you?"
One shoulder lifted. “Why not? Wouldn't you say we've wasted enough time?"
He jerked her off the floor, one arm tight around her middle, leaving her legs dangling. “More than enough.” His mouth covered hers, searing, demanding, promising more to come. His tongue swirled over her lips, dueling with hers. His hand flattened against the small of her back, pressing her tighter into his hold.
She pulled back, her chest heaving with ragged breaths. Screw being social, she was ready for some action. “Do we have to stay?"
"Absolutely not. Give me your keys."
She handed them to him without question. His hand brushed hers, warm and firm. She couldn't wait to feel those hands on her later.
"Matthew and Rich will make sure your truck gets back to the ranch."
Someone plowed into her back, sending her spiraling forward into Dustin. “Hey!"
A drunk cowboy, no taller than five feet, snarled, “Get out of my way."
Another man, this one twice the shorter guy's size, jumped up from the nearest table. “Thas no way to talk to a lady. ‘Pologize."
Shorty flipped off the bigger man and shoved against his chest, his expression fierce. Gigantor, not taking any flack from the small guy, took a swing, but Shorty ducked underneath his arm, and Gigantor caught Shannon right in the eye with his elbow.
"Sonofabitch!” Stars exploded in her head, and the room swayed. Her hands flew to her face, covering her left eye as she fell back on her ass at Dustin's feet.
"Shannon, are you okay?” Dustin helped her stand. “Honey, move your hands. Let me look at the damage."
She shook her head. “Just take me home."
"You've got a small cut above your eyebrow.” He pried her hands away and lifted her chin with his fingers. “It's already swelling. Oh, baby, you're going to have a hell of a black eye."
A grunt of pain came from behind, indicating the fight was still in full mode. Dustin stepped around her toward Gigantor at the same time as a group of bouncers surrounded the fighting men.
Shannon took his arm. She hung her head and pouted. “Take me home?"
Dustin wrapped his arms around her, shielding her against further assault. His particular scent of woodsy cinnamon filled her senses, shooting her hormones into orbit to compete with the swirling of her head. And dammit, she hadn't had a drop to drink.
Shannon's left eyebrow throbbed but the pain had lessened. At least a small bruise and cut could be covered up with makeup.
Dustin swabbed antiseptic cream on her cut and then covered it with a small bandage. He handed her a bag of peas from his freezer. “Here, this should help numb it for a while."
He settled on the couch next to her and draped his arm along the back over her shoulders. Heat radiated from his side, warming her. When she'd asked to go home, she actually meant back to Gran's. Instead, he'd driven her back to the ranch, straight to the main house—his brothers were otherwise occupied and not around to bother them. Did he think his home was where she belonged? Or was that just wishful thinking on her part?
"Thanks.” Gingerly, she pressed the bag to her aching eye and leaned her head back. “I don't know why they insist on serving alcohol in bars anyway. Drunk and cowboys don't mix well."
Dustin chuckled and pulled his fingers through her hair. “Even as a kid you were always a magnet for trouble and injury."
His whiskey-smooth baritone took her back to long conversations, lying on a blanket under the stars. His fingers soothed away any lingering stress. After all she'd been through in fourteen years...if only she was able to turn back time and accept his offer. Maybe...
Again, she sighed. There was no going back, no fixing what had already happened. They could only move forward.
She pushed up from the cushions and stood. “I'd better go. It's late.” She couldn't imagine he'd feel very amorous, staring at her swollen eye all night.
Clothing rustled and her skin tingled as he rose behind her. His fingers trailed along the back of her arm, leaving goose bumps in their wake. “Shannon..."
She closed her eyes briefly, then turned to face him, gazing into his eyes. “Dustin..."
He stepped closer, and she took an instinctive step back. Move for move, he backed her up until her ass hit the door, his expression amused. Her heart rate kicked up and blood rushed to her face. Why was she so nervous? His large hands cupped her waist, the pads of his thumbs pressing into her stomach, the skin beneath trembling with need. Her body relaxed and swayed toward him, yet she kept a few inches between them.