Authors: Kimberly Dean
Tags: #0.99, #alpha male, #books, #Contemporary, #contemporary erotic romance, #dating, #dogs, #erotica, #family, #feud, #life, #male, #pets, #relationships, #romance, #single, #women
Hell to Pay
Hell to Pay
The Longs and the Wilsons had been at war for generations, but when Cassidy Wilson moves to Summer Lake, she tries to stay out of the fray. Her dog just won’t let her. Time and again, Thunder ends up right where he shouldn’t—on Rafer Long’s property. Dark and brooding, Rafer is the sexiest of Cassidy’s enemies. Just being near him makes her body grow hot and her knees go weak.
doesn’t mind finding Cassidy on his turf. Sweet and pretty, he’s lusted after her even when he knows he shouldn’t. So when her dog gives him an excuse to be with her, he uses it.
Even knowing there will be hell to pay.
Table of Contents
It was too quiet.
Cassidy Wilson looked up slowly from her flower garden, her ears going on the alert. A soft wind ruffled the leaves on the trees overhead, and water from the lake lapped rhythmically against her little expanse of shore. It was all very pleasant and calming…
And way too quiet.
“Thunder?” Turning on her haunches, she let her gaze sweep the yard. Her heart sank when her energetic black Labrador was nowhere to be found. “Thunder.”
Worried, she tossed her gardening gloves onto the porch and pushed herself to her feet. Ever since they’d moved into her grandparents’ old cabin on Summer Lake, her dog had become much too adventuresome. In the city he’d liked to stay close, but here the birds and rabbits provided excitement that he couldn’t seem to ignore.
Just when she needed him to stay put…
“Thunder, come back here!” Immediately, she went on the search. As much as the move had suited them both, there was still one drawback to their new living situation that she couldn’t fix.
. If he’d ended up on Long property again…
“Oh God.” Her steps quickened.
The Longs and the Wilsons were like oil and water, never to be mixed. Their families’ feud ranked right up there with the Hatfields and McCoys, only without guns. Well, at least lately.
Unfortunately, it all went back to property rights.
“Come on, puppy love.” Swiping her palms against her shorts, she headed down to the lake. She hoped he was there beyond the tree line, where she couldn’t see him. He liked to play with his reflection in the water, even though it startled him every time he got splashed.
“Damn,” she swore when she got to the shore. Little ripples coursed across the lake’s surface, but the only visitor other than herself was a lone mallard duck. It swam lazily under the hot summer sun as a feeling of cold dread ran down her spine. There were only two other options, neither of which she liked.
She turned slowly. Long property surrounded her on both sides.
Which enemy should she face first?
Without hesitation, she turned to her left. Randy Long, or Rancid as she tended to think of him, was the lesser of two evils. As loud and obnoxious as he was, his bark was worse than his bite. He’d tried his best to drag her into the seemingly endless feud, but she’d ignored all his huffing and puffing.
His brother, though, wasn’t a man to be put off so easily.
Something hot and dangerous fluttered inside her chest. It mixed with the dread, creating a feeling that was more than a little unsettling.
Yes, Rancid first. Definitely Rancid.
She quickly navigated the winding path that trailed through the woods. On this side of her property, the tree line was nature made. The path was matted with fallen leaves and coursing vines. Still, someone had been using it. Longs crossing
property as a shortcut to one another, no doubt.
Her lips flattened. And they’d been complaining about her dog.
The path came to an end, opening up into Randy’s back yard, and she did a quick visual sweep. The space was three times the size of hers and ten times as ostentatious. A manicured garden, complete with a water-pouring statue of Cupid, stood at the back of the house. A pool afforded a picture-perfect view of the lake and, most importantly, a carefully manicured putting green stood between her and the pool house.
Cassidy crossed her fingers. She prayed that her Lab hadn’t messed up that golfing green, although a devious little voice at the back of her mind thrilled at the idea.
“Thunder!” she hissed.
No thundering paws bounded over to greet her. Keeping as well-hidden as she could, she leaned forward to see past the tree on her right. No tails wagged and no tongues dangled out of a smiling mouth.
Her toes curled in her flip-flops. She’d known she was hoping against hope.
Stepping back into her hiding place, she took a moment. She’d only found her dog over here once. Every other time he’d gone on one of these little expeditions, he’d ended up in the last place she wanted him… the place where her knees went weak and her mouth went dry…
That hot, dangerous dread flared higher in her chest, and she knew without a doubt where her delinquent puppy was.
Rafer Long’s back porch.
“Oh damn.” A shaky breath passed her lips. Then another. She forced her legs to start moving again, even though they weren’t quite steady. She could deal with Randy. Rafer was another matter entirely. Once she crossed onto his property, the feud somehow became more real. All the friction borne by the generations before them seemed to heat whenever they came face-to-face. The distrust, the sensitivity, the rawness… it just all came to life.
Maybe she could catch Thunder before he was spotted.
And maybe this feud was a curse.
She bit her lip. She’d tried to stay out of it, but she kept being thrust right into the fray. And primarily by her own pet. The traitor.
The woods opened back up onto her property, but she didn’t even try another look. She was focused on the other set of trees that separated her from those who did not want her there—the trees that had been planted to keep her family out. She rubbed her stomach as it tightened.
Silently, she headed down the path to the south and crossed onto Long property once again. The copse of trees was much smaller than that to her north, and she crossed it much too quickly. Still, this time she didn’t try to hide. She stepped into the clearing and immediately felt her cheeks flare.
Rafer Long was waiting for her. Watching and waiting…
His muscled body tensed the moment he saw her. Sitting on the deck next to him was her dog.
“I’m sorry,” Cassidy blurted. Instinctively she hurried forward, wanting to stave off his anger.
“He wasn’t leashed.”
The cool voice whipped across the lawn, sending a chill over her skin. Or something like a chill… Only it was hotter
otter and, in its own way,
“I put in an invisible fence,” she explained quickly. “I don’t know why it’s not working.”
“This is the third time this week.”
“I know. I’m not sure how to contain him anymore. He seems to have found a way off the chain when I use it. I feel like I’m living with the Houdini of the canine world.”
Rafer didn’t smile, and she was rambling. The words just kept coming faster and quieter the more he watched her. Finally, they trailed off to nothing. They stared at each other, two on-edge combatants waiting for the other to make the first move.
Sensing something at play, Thunder rolled onto his stomach. He’d been using Long’s deck as a scratching post for his back, oblivious to the fact that he wasn’t wanted there. Propping himself up, he smiled at her, panting with his pink tongue lolling carelessly.
“I’m sorry if he bothered you,” Cassidy said quietly.
In one smooth rolling motion, Rafer pushed himself to his feet. “He seems to be spending as much time over here as he is at his own home.”
“I know.” Her heart took off like a racehorse as her enemy approached her. Tall and lean, he moved in a way that was just… sexual. Or menacing. There was such a fine line between the two. Like a tiger on the hunt, he had a lethal beauty that she couldn’t tear her gaze from.
And God, he was beautiful. Dark-haired, blue-eyed and hard-muscled.
“I’m beginning to think you send him over here intentionally,” he said, stalking towards her.
“No! I swear.”
“Are you trying to rile me, Cassidy?”
Her mouth went dry.
When he stopped, he was in her space. “Because it’s working.”
Pinpricks caught her skin. “He just seems intent on exploring. Something over here must have caught his interest.”
Something or someone… Razor blue eyes suddenly focused on her, seemingly peering into her soul, and her stomach dropped to somewhere around her feet. She knew
had always had a fascination for things that frightened her. Thunderstorms, horror movies,
“That doesn’t make it all right.” His voice had gotten even lower and raspier.
Embarrassment crept through her when her nipples tightened almost painfully. “I know. You’re right. I’ll keep a closer eye on him.”
“Not good enough.” He stepped closer until their bodies nearly brushed.
“I warned you,” he said quietly. “What did I tell you would happen if I found him on my land again?”
His jaw was tense, a muscle throbbing way back under his ear. He radiated heat, frustration and aggression.
And pure and utter temptation.
“What did I tell you, Cass?”
Every muscle in her body trembled. “There’d be hell to pay.”
“That’s right.” His blue eyes flashed. “And the devil is here to collect.”
His hand suddenly lifted, and Cassidy flinched. Something dark and heated passed across his face, yet he hesitated. When he moved again, there was no time for her to react. But instead of striking or shaking her, he did something entirely unexpected.
His fingers curled around the nape of her neck and pulled her forward as his head came down. His lips settled on hers, hot and bold. The kiss was fast and frenzied, his lips searching out hers as his tongue pressed forward. His fingers tightened against the base of her skull, almost as if afraid she’d pull away before he got a taste of her.
There was no danger of that.
Cassidy was so shocked she couldn’t move. So confused, she didn’t realize she had the option of fight or flight.
When his tongue rasped against hers, she didn’t try to struggle. She wanted to run even less. Pleasure consumed her, thick and warm. It clouded her head, pushing out all thoughts of suspicion or fear.
He slowed down. His fingers gentled, caressing instead of restraining. A sound left the base of his throat as their tongues tangled and their lips meshed.
The kiss was dangerous. Defiant. And delicious.
When he pulled back, Cassidy could hardly breathe. Yet her lungs were expanding and contracting like an accordion. She stood frozen, staring blindly at his chest. His white Western-style shirt was halfway open, showing tanned skin stretched over hard muscles. Smooth,
Her fingers curled.
His head was still tilted down next to hers. His breaths brushed against her temple, hot and hitched. His cheek brushed against her hair, and her brain began firing fast.
Her chin lifted, and she found his blue eyes watching her. Watching and evaluating. The suspicion came back, dark and intense. The questions were on the tip of her tongue.
“No,” he said sharply. “Don’t.”
His lips covered hers again, roughly this time, some emotion she couldn’t identify coming through. He edged closer, his other hand catching her at the waist. Yanking her tank top out of the way, he spread his fingers against her lower back.
Cassidy gasped. Fire ran from that touch.
Heat circled her waist, crawling up to her breasts and creeping down her buttocks. He nudged her closer, and their bodies connected. The fire became all-consuming. His chest was as hard as it looked, but warmer. Her nipples ached as they strained against the confines of her bra, wanting flesh-on-flesh contact. Down lower, something even harder pressed against her belly.
Even if this was a trick, he was turned on.
And that little bit of knowledge let her enjoy what was happening. He might be trying to play her, acting on some strange new tactic, but he wasn’t immune to her.
He liked what he was doing.
So did she.
Slowly, her arms lifted. Hesitantly, she ran her hands up his arms and over his shoulders. His muscles clenched wherever she touched, emboldening her. When she wrapped her arms around his neck, their bodies came flush. A groan sounded in her ears.
“You make me so crazy,” he whispered.
“Total insanity,” he agreed.
The hand at her back ventured higher… then lower. It slid right under the denim of her low-riding shorts. The intrusion pulled the material tight against her abdomen. Still lower his touch slid, finally rounding about the curve of bottom. His thumb hooked around her thong and his fingers curled inwards, cupping her possessively.