Gentling the Cowboy(5)

By: Ruth Cardello

She looked down at her state of undress, then back at him. Her eyes were as wide and expressive as a young filly’s. “I’m not dressed,” she said.

He hoped his swollen dick wasn’t as obvious as it was painful. “I noticed.”

Emotion deepened her already dark brown eyes. A line of exasperation creased her brow. “I’m sorry you didn’t know I was coming. I’m sorry I made myself at home while you were out.” She stopped and her voice softened. “The truth is, I’ve driven a long way to get here and I’m just too tired to fight about it. I’d like to get dressed. Did Lucy come home with you?” She began to slide around him, inching toward her clothing.

He sat back on his heels a bit. “Lucy?”

“Your sister.”

“I don’t have a sister.” This pretty little woman was about as loony as they come, but a man couldn’t be blamed for overlooking that when she stood there with her skin still pink from the heat of the shower.

She stumbled back a bit at that. “Y-you don’t?” Eyes big with surprise, she chewed her bottom lip nervously. “But this is the Double C Ranch.”

“Yes, ma’am, it is.”

“And you’re Lucy’s brother, Steven Albright.”

“No, ma’am, I’m not. My name’s Tony, Tony Carlton.”

He waited for a reaction to his name, then received one he hadn’t expected. His little shower beauty rubbed her forehead with the back of one hand. He watched her and worried for his sanity as he once again became mesmerized by her movements. He should care who Steven was, but instead all he could think about was how he wanted to redirect that hand to rubbing something else, something that was craving her touch in a bad way.

“I don’t understand. Isn’t this the Double C Ranch in Mavis?”

He removed his hat and wiped the wet sheen from his forehead. The residual steam from the shower added to an overall temperature spike caused by prolonged exposure to a scene worthy of mention in a men’s magazine. “Fort Mavis.” Her mouth dropped open and her eyes rounded with real shock. Not too much amused him, but her look of horror tickled what was left of his funny bone. “We’re almost a day’s drive west of Mavis,” he added.

She went pale, and then a deep red flush started at her neck and ran straight over her face. “You all right, ma’am?” he asked and went to her side right quick. He was not about to explain to Doc how a near-naked city woman cracked her fool head in his bathroom. Desire took second seat to concern.

Thankfully, she sat on the closed toilet seat. Her adorable shoulders slumped and she covered her eyes in a childlike attempt to disappear. “So,” the little beauty groaned, “I’m in the wrong town.”

“Yes, ma’am, it sure sounds that way.” He knew he should step out of the bathroom and let her get dressed. The mystery was solved. She wasn’t a reporter or a thief. No, she was just . . . blonde. The thought had the corners of his mouth itching to smile.

Regaining some of her composure, she brought her delicate hands down, stood, squared her shoulders, and met his eyes—knocking all coherent thought clear out of his head. “I knew I shouldn’t have trusted that gas station attendant. I was just so happy that he’d heard of the place.” Her color was back to normal, but her voice was a bit strained. “Does Texas have a lot of ranches named Double C?”

“Appears we have at least two,” he said, and this time he could not restrain the lusty grin that spread across his face. She was as adorable as she was sexy—a disconcerting combination. Had she turned up the heat and come on to him, he would have lost interest—well, after sampling whatever she’d offered.