Authors: J. J. Ranger
Hot, moist breath ignited a fire deep in the pit of her stomach as Dustin lavished kisses down one leg and up the other. His wide shoulders eased her thighs apart. He sucked at the delicate skin of her inner thigh, and her legs parted, allowing him better access. His tongue swirled from her knee to her pussy, flicking over the satin-covered clit. She sucked in a breath through her teeth and arched toward his mouth. She'd forgotten how quickly he could have her burning. Even at eighteen he'd been a skilled lover—her first and most memorable. She wanted him to be her last.
His hard body nestled between her thighs, his face just inches from her hot, wet mound. She moaned and lifted her hips toward him, needing, aching.
Dustin ran a finger down the crotch of her panties. “So wet,” he murmured and touched his nose to her clit. “Mmm, like honey and musk. Your scent makes me hard, baby.” Dustin placed both hands on her hips and held her down. “Stay still,” he growled against her pelvis.
He pinched her hip. “Trust me. Stay."
Sense flew out the window when he pulled aside the crotch of her panties and thrust one finger deep in her core. She moaned against the pressure, the pleasure building through her pussy, and fought against arching. Her spine tingled, and more little moans escaped. He blew lightly on the wet material, and she nearly came. The skillful, rhythmic stroking had her quickly spiraling toward a climax. Her body soared. God, he was good.
His tongue ever so slightly touched her engorged clit. Shannon practically shot off the blanket at the sensation of tongue and finger, stroking, caressing, teasing. He pressed hard with his tongue, drawing little circles around the swollen flesh.
She pushed herself up on her elbows and drew her knees back to give him further access. Tension curled tight in her belly, each slow, tantalizing lick sending her closer and closer to the edge.
Dustin sucked hard on her clit, and Shannon flung back her head and cried out. Her pussy clenched and tightened. “Oh, God, don't stop.” One hand squeezed his muscled shoulder while the other wound in his soft hair.
He moaned against her mound, the vibrations sending her over the brink of sanity. Her hips pumped against his mouth, riding wave after wave of the mind-blowing orgasm.
With a shattered scream, Shannon sat up in bed, panting, her legs spread wide. Sweat dripped down her back.
"Wow, must have been some dream,” Bridgette teased as she strolled out of the bathroom.
A dream? No, no way that could have been her imagination. Her eyes darted around the room. Sure enough, she was still fully dressed and in her own bed, and the picnic and Dustin had melted away into dreamland when she woke. Disappointment and embarrassment stabbed her in the gut. And her body pulsed with the residual waves of orgasm. “Fuck."
Again Bridgette giggled, heading out of the cabin. “Think you've already done that."
Shannon scowled. “Why are you in my cabin?"
Her cousin shrugged. “I wanted to borrow your perfume.” She spritzed the air with the flowery scent and walked through the mist. “By the way, the fire's starting and I think Dustin is waiting for you to come...er, he's waiting for you to show up."
The door clicked closed behind her cousin, and Shannon flopped back against the pillows. The dream had been so real.
had been so real.
Was there any possibility he still wanted her? True, he'd been flirty all day, but that didn't mean anything. His job was to be flirty with
the guests. Yet, instinct told her he wasn't treating her as just another guest. Despite the careless way he had dismissed her hopes and dreams, she felt safe with Dustin. And if her dream was any indication, she wanted him as much now as she had back then.
What would it hurt to find out if the dream could become reality?
"Just so you know—if you hadn't come, I was never going to speak to you again,” Shannon said, tossing her hair back as she popped a roasted marshmallow into her mouth.
Her friend, Charissa, settled on the bench next to her and smiled. “Sure you would have. But I'm glad I saved myself the interrogation from you and Bridgette."
"Yeah, that wouldn't have gone well.” Bridgette was definitely known for being the nosey cousin.
"I heard you saw Dillon earlier.” At least she wasn't the only one being tortured by a Dumen brother this weekend.
Charissa nodded. “Yep."
"And? How'd it go?"
Shannon arched a brow and pursed her lips. “No fireworks?"
"Well, maybe some sparks,” her friend admitted with a grin.
"And? What are you going to do about that?” she asked, sliding another marshmallow onto her stick.
"I don't know. What are you going to do about Dustin?” she countered.
Shannon turned wide eyes on her. She thought she'd learned better to
wear her emotions on her sleeve. “What?"
"Oh, please. Like all of us haven't noticed the smoldering looks passing between the two of you? He's watching you from over there right now,” she said, casting a glance across the bonfire where Dustin leaned against a tree trunk.
Her insides jangled with excitement. Grinning, she shrugged and got busy toasting her next treat. “What can I say? You know the history between us. Chemistry doesn't go away just because you want it to.” And man, right now, she wanted it to.
Dustin stood off to the side of the circle, watching Shannon pretend to have a good time. Even dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, with her hair pulled back in a pony tail, she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen.
While everyone around her roasted marshmallows and drank beer, she stared into the flames with a pensive look on her face. What was going through that pretty head of hers? Regret over returning to Bandera, even if it was just for the weekend to settle Gran's estate?
He pushed away from the tree and strolled over to her. She didn't even flicker a glance in his direction.
Must be some heavy duty thoughts.
"Is this seat taken?” he asked and dropped to the bench beside her.
Her hazel eyes widened and her mouth made a perfect “O” as she met his gaze. “It's your bench,” she retorted, a spark coming back to her eyes.
"I saw smoke coming from your ears and figured you were thinking something to death."
Her lips pursed and she fiddled with her fingers. Oh yeah, she was definitely over thinking
He bumped his knee against hers. “Fair warning, I'm about to get sappy."
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, God forbid."
Dustin chuckled. He missed her sarcasm. “I know. But here goes. I'm glad you came home, Shay."
Shannon leaned against his shoulder briefly and then straightened. “Me, too."
Her eyebrow rose, and she cast a quick glance at him. “So what? Am I supposed to give a dissertation?"
"I know you well enough to know something is bothering you. We may not be dating anymore, but I'm pretty sure I'm still a good listener."
"Knew,” she corrected. “You
me. A person can change a lot in fourteen years, Dusty."
How well he knew that. “Still."
Shannon sighed, her shoulders rising and falling with the exhale. Her lower lip stuck out in a full pout, and his cock twitched. He wanted to kiss that mouth, to throw her down on the bench and fuck away her worries.
"I talked to Carolyn this afternoon."
Ah, the evil mother. After Shannon's dad died, Carolyn Piermont turned psychotic. She abandoned Shannon with Gran, only to come back when she needed money. The woman never showed an inkling of warmth toward her only child.
"What else? She wants money. We meet with the attorney tomorrow."
He already knew the meeting would not bode well for Carolyn. Gran had explained the will to him, and she expressed her dying wish—that Shannon stay in Bandera where she belonged. And he agreed one hundred percent. No matter how much they wanted her to relocate permanently, they both knew it had to be Shannon's decision. And he would be damned if she felt forced into anything with him. “What if Gran left everything to you?"
She chewed on her lip. “I guess I'll take care of it. I mean, the ranch should be owned by someone who wants the small-town life."
His heart lurched. Was she trying to say she didn't want that? Was she more like Carolyn than he thought?
Gran, we might have a bigger fight on our hands than we thought.
“Would you like me to go with you?"
Shannon didn't answer for a minute, just stared into the fire. A muscle twitched in her jaw. He felt an urge to take her into his arms.
Finally, she turned to him. “I appreciate the offer, but no. I need to do this on my own.” She stood and smiled down at him. “Good night."
He watched the sway of her hips as she walked away, and with each step he grew harder. Damn. As much as she didn't want him at the meeting and, knowing how viperish Carolyn could be, she would need him afterward.
All Friday morning Shannon dreaded the meeting with Carolyn and the attorney, Mr. Green. Still, she mustered up the courage and drove into town.
The law firm of Green, Gubler and Estes was located in Bandera between a saloon and a coffee shop, in a gray brick building with large glass windows. Drawing a deep breath, she climbed out of her SUV and entered the building.
"Oh, my baby is here,” Carolyn gushed as she wrapped her arms around Shannon's shoulders. “It's so good to see you, darling."
Shannon pulled back and assessed her mother with skeptical eyes. Her brunette hair was cut in a bob, and she wore a designer pantsuit that cost more than Shannon made in a week. She hadn't changed a bit. What was her game? Carolyn hadn't ever called her baby, and she definitely wasn't the hugging type.
"Good, you've arrived,” Mr. Green said, coming out of the conference room. The attorney was short, bald, and bespectacled, yet he had a kind face. Ah, the maternal motivation had to be so Mr. Green would think Carolyn was the perfect person to inherit all of Gran's estate.
Shannon followed her mother and the attorney into the small meeting room and took a seat. Nervous sweat trickled down her back, and she squirmed in her seat. She really didn't want to be here. She should have asked Sara or Bridgette to come with her for moral support, or she could have taken Dustin up on his offer.
"Let's begin.” Mr. Green tapped a manila folder and then pulled out a document. “Rosemary Piermont met with me shortly before her death and updated her will.” He looked from Carolyn to Shannon.
Why would Gran change the will? This could get ugly.
"To her daughter, Carolyn Piermont-Williams, she left two hundred fifty thousand dollars. To her granddaughter—"
"What?” Carolyn screeched. “The old lady was worth one hundred times that amount. What about the ranch? Or the rest of her properties?"
Mr. Green bestowed a stern glance at Carolyn. “If you would let me finish."
Carolyn flushed and dipped her head.
"Thank you. As I was saying, Mrs. Piermont left a quarter of a million dollars to her daughter, and the balance of her estate—monetary and physical properties—to her granddaughter, Shannon Piermont.” He tapped the document with his forefinger. “This is non-negotiable. The will stipulates that if Shannon declines her inheritance, it will be forfeited to a charity of Miss Piermont's choosing."
Carolyn growled and jumped from her seat. “This is preposterous. I slaved my entire life for that old bat, and she repays me with a lousy quarter million?"
Shannon huffed a laugh. “You're joking, right? All you've ever done is leech off Gran. Your career is more important to you than anything. You weren't there for me or her. I think you're damn lucky you got anything. If it had been me writing the will, I'd tell you to pay back every penny you ‘borrowed’ from me before I left you a damn cent.” Her heart pounded in her chest. The explosion was so unlike her, but it felt good to get that out. “Mr. Green, thank you. I hope you will allow me to keep you on retainer. I know it's what Gran would have preferred."
"Thank you. I'm sure you'll visit the property, and to let you know, Rosemary arranged to have someone keep an eye on the place.” Mr. Green smiled and nodded. “Good luck, young lady."
Carolyn hissed out a breath. “This isn't over. You will hear from my attorney."
Shannon faced her mother. “Carolyn, Gran loved you, and she deserved so much better from you. You got your money. Now move on. And be happy."
A weight off her shoulders, Shannon practically floated out of the law office. Not only had Gran trusted her with her most prized possessions, she had given Shannon a chance to recapture her childhood—the happiest times of her life. Most likely she would hear from Carolyn again, but she held no delusions that the woman would want to pursue a mother-daughter relationship now. For her, it was and always had been about the money. She had no doubt there would be another battle on the horizon.
Bring it on
Twenty minutes later, she pulled into the Double D and couldn't remember a bit of the drive back.
She ran into Bridgette on the way back to the cabin and learned the last member of their party, Jessica, had finally arrived. Jessica was pretty—a brunette, slender, with an expressive face.
Shannon said a quick hello as she passed their cabin on her way to her own. She jumped in the shower and dressed for the evening's activities. Last night had not followed any type of schedule to give everyone a chance to arrive and get settled. The actual schedule for the weekend started tonight, and there was supposed to be another bonfire. She thought she'd heard something about camping out.
Ha! She wanted no part of camping. Instead, she wanted to kidnap Dustin and drag him back to her cabin for the night, holding him hostage until he gave her the same mind-blowing orgasm she'd had in the dream.
After arriving at the fire pit, she lagged behind the group, leaning a hip against one of the oak trees farthest from the fire ring. The bonfire danced in its ring of stone. Wood crackled and popped, and she inhaled the tang of smoke and hickory, instantly transporting back to her youth. Memories of Gran showing her how to roast marshmallows, the Dumen brothers teasing her about crushes, the first time Dustin kissed her the summer before her freshman year. While she felt a twinge of sadness for the past, her memories were happy.