Authors: J. J. Ranger
He cupped her breasts, lifting them high, his thumbs stroking the erect nipples through the material of her T-shirt and bra. A soft moan escaped her. God, she wanted him.
A vibration from his pocket startled her. “You're cock is buzzing."
Dustin groaned and pulled her mouth back to his. “Ignore it,” he commanded and sucked her lower lip into his mouth.
She did and tugged his shirt free of his jeans. One by one, she released the buttons and pushed the fabric aside, revealing taut, bronzed skin, each muscle fully defined. Holy hell, he'd grown up good. Ever so lightly, she skimmed the tips of her fingers over the flat planes of his stomach, reveling in the muscles jumping under her touch. Bending forward, she ran her tongue around a beaded nipple, licking a path down to his navel. Dustin sighed and dropped his head to the back of the couch.
With impatient fingers, she unfastened his jeans, each button popping free. She slipped a hand inside his boxers and circled his steely erection, milking and massaging the ropy veins threading down his thick length. Silken heat burned the skin of her palm. His eyes smoldered with desire, and his breathing grew shallow. Ah, the power she wielded in her hand.
Sliding off his lap to her knees, she shouldered his thighs wider apart and maneuvered her mouth to hover above his cock. Through lowered lids, she met his gaze and took him into her mouth. Her tongue swirled around the silky skin of his shaft, then up to the head, coating him with saliva. She moaned low in her throat, tickling him with vibrations. His hips surged off the couch, and he thrust deeper into her mouth.
Her teeth grazed the shaft from balls to tip, then she took him full in her mouth. She circled the base of his cock and pumped with the rhythm of her lips. His cock swelled, and with a deep groan, he came in her mouth, a burst of hot, salty goodness. A thrill rushed through her. She wanted him inside her. Now.
He cupped her breasts through her shirt, and she arched into his caress. His thumbs brushed her nipples, teasing them into stiff peaks. She kept her hold on his cock and pumped the semi-flaccid length.
Again his pocket vibrated. She swallowed and pulled away with a sigh. “While that could be a very interesting foreplay tool, I think you'd better answer your phone."
He jerked the offending item from his pocket and growled a greeting into the phone. Shannon stood and adjusted her shirt.
He would have to do as she suggested. For once, could he have not listened?
While Dustin argued with whoever was on the opposite end, she grabbed her purse and snuck out. The moment had passed.
Doubts assuaged her. She didn't suck off just any guy. The act was way too intimate for her. But other than grope her tits, Dustin hadn't done much to show her it was more than a quick come for him.
Well, of course he didn't, you idiot. He decided to answer his phone instead of play.
Insecurity reared its ugly head.
Maybe Carolyn's approach to men—love and leave ‘em—had been the right idea, after all.
Dustin could have happily killed his little brother. As much as he loved Dane, the guy had the worst timing in the world.
"Sorry I caught you at a bad time, but you are the ‘make guests happy’ guru."
He rolled his eyes. “Shitty cop-out. So tell me again why the stripper cancelled for the party?"
Dane huffed. “Apparently, the bride kept calling the agency, demanding a specific type of guy. If you ask me, she needs to—"
"I'm not asking.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. God, he couldn't get Shannon's rejected expression out of his head. And here he sat on the couch, alone, his still wet cock slumped to the side like a limp noodle. “Look, just call the agency and smooth the ruffled feathers, and then use your Dumen charm on Bridgette."
"Fine. But you owe me."
Dustin hung up, leaned his head against the back of the couch, and closed his eyes. What would Shannon say if he told her he'd asked Dillon to buy his share of the ranch? Or that Gran dreamed of him and Shannon getting married and raising their family on the Rocking P?
Shannon loved being a stylist, and he loved Shannon. But his job now was to remind her she had more heart than her mother, and that even though Carolyn never wanted a family, that didn't mean Shannon couldn't have one.
Yes, if it was up to him, he would love her to be a stay-at-home mom and help him run the ranch. However, he loved her enough to know her career was important to her and he would never ask her to give it up. Hopefully, she would see she could have the best of both worlds.
The decision—their future—was up to her.
Shannon pulled on her riding boots and stumbled out the door to meet up with Bridgette and Jessie. Morning sunlight hit her in the face, and she slid on her sunglasses. Why on earth had she chosen to skip breakfast? Oh, right, to avoid Dustin.
Chicken as it may be, she couldn't face him after walking out on him again. How the hell could she have let the opportunity for sex with Dustin slip from her fingers? Just yesterday she'd been determined to do just that, and then when he was right there between her legs, she backed out. All she'd needed to do was wait for him to get off the phone, and she could have finished where they'd left off. Ooh, but how entertaining it would have been to fuck him while he was
Bridgette frowned. “You say something?"
Shannon shook her head. “Just mumbling to myself."
They got to the corral and right away her gaze locked on Dustin.
She had hoped to avoid him just a little bit longer. However, the Double D wasn't that big of a ranch and he seemed to always be everywhere.
He strode forward in dark denim and a pressed, yellow button-down. Her breasts tightened at the predatory look in his eyes, and her face heated, but she stood her ground, fascinated at his cat-like grace. She vaguely heard the conversation around her and even responded, but as to what was said, she had absolutely no idea.
"I thought you might want to ride me,” he said, handing her the reins of a chestnut gelding with white socks.
Shannon blinked. “What?” Oh my God, was she that obvious?
He raised an eyebrow, his lips quirked in a grin. “I thought you'd like to ride Harlan behind me."
Was that really what he'd said? Either her hearing was faulty or she was projecting her own thoughts on him. “Sure, right.” To hide her embarrassment, she swung into the saddle.
Dustin gave her a knowing grin and mounted his stallion.
Oh, to be his horse right now, or better yet, for him to be hers. She'd ride him like a wild bronc, thighs squeezed tight around his flanks, bumping and thrusting ‘til he broke from exhaustion. She shook her head to clear the wayward thoughts.
Dustin tossed around instructions about riding order, the authority in his voice ringing strong and clear. With a nod to Deacon, one of his older brothers, he set the trail ride in motion and she fell in right behind him. His hips swayed in time with the easy gate of his stallion. He belonged on horseback, on a ranch. If he'd gone with her to New York, he would have been unhappy. She knew that. Had always known that. His dream, his life, was here in this country. Yet, he hadn't tried to force her to stay in Texas either.
She glanced around her. Surrounded by pine trees, singing birds, boulders and mountains, she felt at home, peaceful. New York was loud and crowded and impersonal. Yes, she had a circle of friends from the fashion industry, and she'd enjoyed the nightlife for schmoozing purposes, but she'd never really felt settled. In Paris, she'd exhausted all her energy in fashion shows and worrying about Gran's health.
The horses crested a hill, and Dustin turned in the saddle. “You know, I should be pissed at you for leaving me like you did last night."
Her brow furrowed. “What, because you were busy arguing with someone on the phone? How is that my fault? Hell, I blew you, what more did you want?"
He smirked. “I wanted you, naked."
Shannon shot a glance over her shoulder, hoping no one had overheard him. None of the other riders paid them any attention. “You could have ignored your phone."
He lifted a shoulder. “No one said you had to leave. Besides, you
me to answer the phone."
Since when had he ever done what she'd told him to do? “So, what? I should have just fucked you during your phone call?” She snorted a laugh, as if she hadn't just been thinking that. “If that were to happen, I would demand your full attention. I'm greedy like that."
"I remember.” He laughed, revealing white, straight teeth. The effect hit her in the pussy, tingling, arousing. God, he was beautiful when he smiled. “I think we should give it another shot.” He nodded toward the trees, as if indicating they should make a stop.
Shannon looked beyond his shoulder to the trees in front of him. “I think you should not get knocked off your horse."
He turned around in time to avoid the tree branch aimed at his head.
"This conversation isn't over,” he called back.
Maybe not, but she had a slight reprieve for now and she intended to put it to good use.
The second they got back to the corral, Shannon headed to the cabin. Her cell phone rang, and she checked the display. Immediately she felt on edge.
"Hello, Mr. Green, what can I do for you?"
"Good morning, Shannon,” the attorney said. “I wanted to inform you that I was contacted by Carolyn's attorney this morning."
"Wow, she isn't wasting any time, is she?” Why did it still surprise her that her mother would try to bring legal action against them?
"Don't worry. I've handled the situation."
"How? Did you pay her off? It's the only way to soothe that savage beast."
Mr. Green chuckled. “I reminded them that if they contest the will, she forfeits any claim on her inheritance. She dropped her claim."
I bet that went over well.
“So what exactly does that mean?"
"It means you won't be bothered by your mother any further. The ranch and Rosemary's estate are yours free and clear."
Shannon thanked the attorney and hung up. She tossed the phone on the dresser, flopped on the bed, and stared at the ceiling. It was a relief to have the Carolyn situation resolved—well, not that she totally believed her mother would never bother her again for money.
Now she had to figure out what to do about Dustin. One of the reasons they broke up was because he didn't want a woman who chose a career over him, and not only had she chosen her career, she had moved thousands of miles away and had never came back to see him. Based on the flirting and the making out and the tenderness when they touched, she believed Dustin had forgiven her for walking away. So, was it possible he could get over his career-woman issues?
A knock sounded at the door.
Her heart tha-thumped in her chest, hoping it was Dustin on the other side. “It's open."
Instead, Bridgette walked in and folded her arms over her chest. “All right, missy, you need to come clean. What's going on with you?"
Shannon ignored her cousin and continued counting ceiling planks.
The bed creaked and bounced as Bridgette plopped down beside her. “I'm not a total idiot, or so self-absorbed that I can't see something is going on with you and Dustin."
Really? Shannon hadn't thought they'd shown anything to anyone. Hell, other than a few suggestive remarks from Dustin and that one kiss at the bonfire, there
been anything for anyone to see...unless someone had watched them at the Rocking P.
"There's nothing to tell.” She met Bridgette's disbelieving stare. “Honestly, well, unfortunately. Dustin and I have talked..."
"But no nookie?"
Shannon sat up. “Nookie? Seriously?” She flexed her shoulders and ran her fingers through her hair. “Look, I don't even know what to say. I came back to Bandera for your bachelorette weekend—"
"And to settle Gran's estate."
Bridgette's mouth dropped open. “What? What about your job?"
Shannon stood and paced the room. “The design house I typically work with has a branch in San Antonio. Before I left Paris, I interviewed as Senior Stylist and got the job. Instead of dressing the models on the New York runways, I'll be styling for photo shoots. The pay is more and I only have to work during shoots, which means I can work as little as twelve hours a week. And the stress is less."
Her cousin crossed her arms across her chest. “Uh-huh. So you're staying in Bandera for good."
Shannon shrugged. She hadn't said anything to her family about the move because, honestly, she hadn't been sure until the job offer that she
return full time to Texas.
"You do realize that when you left, you broke his heart."
Guilt assuaged her. What about her heart? Regardless of what everyone thought, leaving hadn't been an easy choice for her, either. “Yeah, I know."
"And what about now?"
"What do you mean?"
Bridgette frowned. “Are you here for the long haul, intending to get back with Dustin, pick up where you two left off?"
"I don't know, Bridge. He told me he wasn't a fling guy, but what if he's just saying it?” Carolyn's words echoed in her head, reminding her how men would say anything to get what they wanted. God, how she hated the doubt that crept in. Why couldn't she just take Dustin at face value?
Because you are afraid to get hurt
"Was this before or after you told him you were here for good?"
Had she actually told him she was moving back to Bandera permanently? She didn't think so. They hadn't really talked about the future, just the past. “Before."
"Uh-huh.” Bridgette stood and put her hands on Shannon's shoulders. “Do you still love him?"
"So what are you going to do about it?"
She shoved her fingers in her hair. “I don't know. Every time I get the opportunity—or even the possibility of an opportunity—I chicken out. What if we sleep together and it sucks? I mean when we were younger, it was great, but that could have been teen hormones. What if our adult hormones aren't so great?"