Authors: Myla Jackson
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Western, #Erotica
Sweet tea and grits
, the man was hung like a horse and poked straight out. He pinched the tip of one of Audrey’s breasts, rolling it around between his thumb and forefinger.
Lucky wondered how his fingers would feel on a naked breast. She slid her hand along her neck and down to the tip of one of her breasts, feeling it bead beneath her shirt.
Audrey gripped Jackson’s cock. “I only have a few minutes. Hurry, so that I can get back to work.”
“Bossy just a little?” he teased, trailing his finger down her chest to the mound of curls at the juncture of her thighs.
Lucky’s hand moved the same direction, skimming over her belly to slide into the waistband of her jeans. She knew it was wrong and the naughtiness rippled over her, but she couldn’t drag her gaze away from the couple making love among bottles of whiskey and beer.
“Seriously? You’re going to make me beg?” Audrey planted a fist on her hip.
Jackson pulled a riding crop off a shelf behind her and tapped her thigh.
Lucky gasped, her pussy tightening. A crop?
. How kinky did they get? She stepped closer to the stack of boxes, recalling how hot the man in the hallway had made her.
“So you want to play that way? Whip me, baby.” Audrey lifted her thigh, exposing one cheek. “I’ve been so bad.”
Jackson popped the crop across her naked thigh. “Say you want it.”
“I want it.”
Lucky’s breathing labored. The couple was hot. Burning, smoking, white-hot and they made her hotter. She pushed her fingers into her panties, and down between her folds. One flick and her belly clenched.
“I’m so wet,” Audrey moaned. “I’m aching to feel you inside me.”
Say it, Audrey
, Lucky urged silently
. Say it
“Fuck me, cowboy.” Audrey grabbed Jackson’s hips and pulled him toward her. “Please. Do it now.” She spread her legs, guiding his cock into her.
Lucky slipped a finger inside her wet channel and dragged the juices up to her clit.
As Jackson rutted into Audrey’s pussy, Lucky swirled, flicked and teased herself until she panted, her body growing rigid.
Audrey cried out, her back arched and Jackson slammed into her one more time.
The fervor of their joining sent Lucky over the edge. A wave of electrical synapses rolled over her, making her gasp aloud.
Audrey’s eyes widened and she stared at the gap in the boxes, straight into Lucky’s eyes.
Lucky jerked her hands from her jeans and staggered backward toward the exit, heat suffusing her cheeks. Her back hit a cardboard box, and she froze, recalling the boxes stacked on wire shelves leaning precariously near the door to the storeroom.
She spun and watched in horror as the stack, shelf and all, leaned and tipped. Then, in that slow motion of impending doom, they fell.
Lucky leaped out of the way and backed into another stack of boxes behind her. She put out her hands to catch herself to keep from falling and knocked into another stack.
As all three stacks rocked then fell, Lucky dove for the doorway, afraid she’d be crushed by bottles of liquor.
She ran into a solid wall of muscle that reached out to grab her and pull her against his chest, knocking the hat from her head. Her hair spilled out around her shoulders as the bottles crashed behind her.
“Well, look who I caught snooping around again,” a male voice said.
From the room behind her, over the blare of raunchy music, she heard Audrey scream.
Jackson cursed, “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”
More crashing of glass sounded and Lucky stood frozen to the spot, her breath caught in her throat, praying for the floor to open up and swallow her.
When the storeroom grew quiet, she pushed hard to free herself of the hands gripping her arms, she stared up into those deep, dark, sexy brown eyes. Why did she keep running into him?
Once again he was witness to her crappy luck. She’d hoped when she left Comfort she’d leave the bad luck behind. Somehow, it had followed her all the way to the Ugly Stick Saloon.
The scent of spilled alcohol swirled around her, making her sick. “Let me go. They might be hurt.”
His brows furrowed and he set her aside. “Stay,” he ordered.
She stood where he set her, her heart pounding, the skin where his fingers had held her tingling.
“Audrey? You in there?” he called out.
“Yeah. Don’t come in. There’s broken glass everywhere.”
“Where’s Jackson? He came lookin’ for you.”
“I’m here,” the man in the storeroom called out. “Fuck, the floor’s so slick I can’t tell what’s glass and what’s whiskey.”
“Need me to get in there to help you out?”
“Trent, don’t come in here,” Audrey ordered.
Lucky couldn’t stand still. She had to see how bad it was. She leaned around the man called Trent and peered into the storeroom, her empty belly clenching. “Holy hell,” she whispered.
Audrey appeared from around the mound of broken containers that used to be a tall stack of boxes, pulling her shirt down over her breasts and then tugging her skirt over her hips.
The tall man with the swarthy skin of a Native American who’d helped bring the trucks out of the ditch followed her out, picking through the crushed cardboard, bottles and spilled whiskey, wine and beer.
Once she stepped out of the disaster zone, Audrey turned back to inspect the damage. “What the hell happened?”
Another town, another calamity. “It was my fault. I was the one who wrecked into your truck, and I’m the one who caused the boxes to fall.” Lucky tipped her chin up. “I’ll clean up the mess. I promise. And I’ll pay you back, every cent,” she whispered. “As soon as I can earn the money to do so.”
Audrey faced Lucky, her eyes narrowed. “You did this?”
“It was an accident.” Lucky held up her hands. “I didn’t do it on purpose. Really.”
Audrey shook her head. “Were you the one trying to get my attention?”
Lucky nodded. “I should have walked away. I tried, but I backed into the boxes while watching…uh, nothing…” Her cheeks heated and she looked at her boots. “I’m sorry.”
A small, slender finger tipped her chin upward. “Hey. It’s okay. No one got hurt.”
Jackson glared. “Are you kidding me?”
Audrey smiled at him. “Jackson, be a dear and go check on Greta Sue.” She nodded toward the other man behind Lucky. “Take Trent with you.”
Trent, Mr. Tall, Dark and Sexy. Lucky’s gaze followed him as he left with Jackson.
When Audrey turned back to Lucky, she gave her a gentle smile. “You can come with me.” She led her into a small office with an old desk and shut the door.
“I’m so sorry.” Lucky tucked her hands in her pockets to keep from wringing them. “You could have been hurt.”
“But I wasn’t.”
“I ruined your boots,” Lucky glanced at the stained red boots.
“They’re things. They can be replaced.” Audrey’s shoulders raised and lowered. “I’ll get over it.”
“And the truck.”
“I know a really good body guy in Hole in the Wall. He’ll have it looking like new before you know it.”
“I can’t believe you’re not ranting and raving. I would be so mad at all the stuff I’ve ruined.”
Audrey laughed and hugged her, that one gesture was the straw that broke Lucky’s control. Tears welled and she fought to keep them from sliding down her cheeks. She swiped at one that escaped. “I’m sorry. I never cry.”
The other woman’s eyes widened. “Why not?”
Lucky stood straighter. “My father taught me it did no good to cry. Be tough and the world won’t take advantage of you.”
Audrey’s lips twisted and she gave Lucky a knowing grimace. “Gets old, doesn’t it?”
Another tear slipped free and Lucky swiped it away, nodding. Her throat constricted with emotion. When she could finally force words past the knot she said, “I’ll pay you back. Everything. The truck repairs, the bottles of alcohol. Everything.” Her head tilted down. “As soon as I can earn money to do it.” She glanced back up, her jaw set. “And I will.”
The owner of the saloon stared at her for a long moment as if looking straight into her soul.
Lucky wanted to hide from the glance, but she stood tall and proud, despite the few tears making salty tracks down her cheeks.
“I could always use some help around here,” Audrey finally said.
Her jaw fell and she blinked past the tears in her eyes. “Are you offering me work?”
Audrey nodded. “If you want it. Although it would be nice to know your name.”
“Lucky Albright.” She held out her hand.
The owner of the Ugly Stick Saloon gave it a firm shake with slender fingers.
Lucky debated telling her about the bad luck streak that had been following her around like a heavy black cloud for going on two years. “Are you sure?”
Audrey walked around Lucky, studying her from the top of her cowboy hat to the tips of her boots. As she circled her, the pretty owner tapped a finger to her chin. “Can you dance?”
Shaking her head, Lucky pointed at her boots. “I grew up ranchin’. I have two left feet on the dance floor. But I can ride, rope and mend a fence as good or better than any man. And I’m good with animals.”
With a laugh, Audrey’s eyes narrowed. “I suppose some of the cowboys can be real animals when they’ve had a few too many, but we don’t have much call for mending fences or ropin’. Our mechanical horse is on the fritz or I’d have you ride it.” Her smile returned. “Ever wait tables?”
Her hopes plummeting, Lucky shook her head. “Closest I’ve come to waiting tables is serving dinner to the horses, spreading hay out for the cattle, or slopping pigs.”
“I can see some similarities in ranching and serving customers. It’s just different drinks and food. If you’re game, you can work here until you find something more your style.”
Lucky stared into Audrey’s eyes. “You have every right to be angry with me. To hate me and want me to leave. Why are you being so kind?”
Audrey touched her arm. “I have a sense about people. You seem nice enough and I can tell you’ve got a good heart. I didn’t have two nickels to rub together when I came to work at the Ugly Stick Saloon. Sometimes people need a chance to start over. I know I did.” She raised her hands palms up and stared around the bar. “Now I own the place.” Her mouth twisted. “I wonder sometimes if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But I promised I’d help other people like the former owner helped me. Kind of paying it forward.”
Lucky’s heart swelled, pushing hard against her ribs. After the “good” people of Comfort had run her out of town, she’d wondered if she’d ever be accepted anywhere. And she’d accidentally stumbled on this place out in the middle of nowhere Texas. If she hadn’t run out of gas, she might not have stopped. Might not have met this remarkable woman.
Lucky hugged Audrey and stepped back fast, her face burning. “I’m sorry. It’s just…you know…hard to find work.”
Audrey hugged her back. “I know. But you’re destined for something different. You can work until you find it. And after, if you need to work extra.”
“I might. I intend to pay for the repairs on your truck and for all the bottles of alcohol I broke.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
With a shake of her head, Lucky stayed firm. “Yes, I do. When do you want me to start?”
“You can help clean up tonight.” Audrey studied her. “For all your outdoor tan, you’re kind of pale. When was the last time you’ve eaten?”
Her stomach rumbled loudly in answer. Embarrassed, Lucky glanced at her feet. “Yesterday.”
“Good grief, Lucky, I’ll have one of the girls whip up a burger for you.”
Weak with relief, Lucky dared to think perhaps her luck had turned around. Though she was sure once she could think straight again, she’d realize it hadn’t. That bad luck streak was potent and hard to kick.
“I’ll go let Charli know you’re a new employee and to get someone to grill up that burger.” Audrey turned to leave, stopped and glanced back over her shoulder, tapping a finger to her chin. “You know, I recall seeing an ad out front for a ranch hand. I’ll go look for it and let you know. In the meantime, stay put in here until I get back with that hamburger. Can’t have my new waitress passing out with hunger on her first night.”
“Thank you,” Lucky choked out, feeling like she’d found a safe haven in the storm that had become her life over the past two years.
Left to her own devices, Lucky glanced around at the old furniture and the papers neatly stacked on the scarred, wooden desktop. Scattered around the room were photographs of Audrey and various people. Front and center was one of her and Jackson holding each other like only lovers can, the love between them apparent and so poignant it hurt for Lucky to look at them.
There were other photographs of Audrey and what looked like waitresses who worked for the Ugly Stick. They wore short shorts and cowboy boots and they all looked happy.
Maybe, just maybe, Lucky could be happy again.
Since Sean died, she hadn’t had much reason to smile. If not for her, he’d still be alive today. They’d both been in the same wreck, but Sean died and she’d lived. And if it weren’t for her begging to go along for the ride to Austin, Sean wouldn’t have been broadsided by an eighteen-wheeler.