Read Goodnight Kisses Online

Authors: Wilhelmina Stolen

Tags: #prequel, #texas cowboys, #sexy contempory, #novella romance, #contemporary cowboy, #teaser for book, #proposal of marriage, #texas ranch, #contemporary romance western, #love and romanve

Goodnight Kisses (10 page)

She grabbed the keys before McCrea
could take them. “Thanks, Ed. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be back
later
for
my truck.”

“It’ll be here, honey. Just be careful.” His finger
took another aim at McCrea. “And son, you’d better mind your
manners.”

McCrea latched onto her elbow, and
practically pushed her toward
s
the small entryway at the front of the bar. “Let’s
go.” His tone and grip made her wonder if the moment of desire
between them could be rekindled. It
could
on her part. Her body was
humming in all the naughty places it had before the exchange of
words between him and Old Ed.

“Why are you in such a hurry?”

As they made the dark space of the entryway, McCrea
hauled her into a corner, and the hard edges of his body pinned her
against the wall, causing an involuntary arch of her body. His palm
to the wall, throaty groan stirred her crux, and she knew his
desire hadn’t diminished either. “I’m in a hurry to have you all to
myself.”

God, she was hungry too! Her hormones had been pin
balling from high to low since her close encounter with him in the
barnyard, and his teasing foreplay was killing her.

The soft orange glow of the
flashing “Open” sign in the window gave her a glimpse of his smile
as he made a grab for the keys. She twisted her hand
free
and dangled them in front of his face. “Don’t think you’re
going to sweet talk me out of these.”

His arm fell, and he followed her to the door. “Keys
are the last thing I want to talk you out of, darlin’.”

Outside, she trotted
backward
with a grin. “Oh, really?”

She knew she was playing with fire,
but she didn’t care. She wanted more than goodnight kisses from
McCrea. “Get your ass in that driver’s seat before I take another
kiss
and
the
keys.”

A light rain began to fall, cooling the hot August
air. Her sweaty skin, wet from McCrea’s touch almost sizzled when
the rain hit it. Once on the driver’s side, she took a moment to
fan her face and draw in a deep breath. As she exhaled, she hit the
unlock button on the remote and climbed inside his truck. Unlike
the ranch truck, the new leather in his smelled rich and felt
wonderful beneath her legs. Her hands caressed the steering wheel.
“Boy, this is something,” she said when he climbed in and slammed
the door.

She watched him take off his hat, toss it onto the
dash, and rest an arm on the back of the seat. “Just be careful.
It’s got a lot of power.”

“Oh, please. Why do men think women can’t handle a
truck?” She heard him laugh as she turned the ignition. She scooted
the seat forward so she could reach the pedals, and took off her
jacket. “Buckle up,” she said while fastening her own.

He leaned back in the seat, his fingers tapping
impatiently against his leg. “Seat belts are too constricting. I
don’t like being tied down.”

She cracked her window, and drew in a deep breath
and savored the sweet night air. The rain seemed to intensify all
the sounds and smells that made Santa Camino home. Fireflies
twinkled under the trees, and the soft sound of crickets filled the
air. “Suit yourself.”

She switched on the lights and searched for the
wipers. “Where are the wipers?”

He reached across the seat to turn on the switch,
and brush her breasts with his arm. “Right here.”

Her nipples pearled. “Thanks,” she breathed out.

He straightened and gently tapped her forehead with
his finger. “What’s going on in there?”

A knockdown,
drag-out
fight
between this excruciating ache in my body and common sense.
She managed a smile. “Nothing.”

The corners of his mouth tilted up at one side.
“You’re not a very good liar are you, Eleanor?”

“I wish you’d stop calling me that.”

To deepen her torment, he placed a
hand on the seat between her
thighs
and kept his eyes locked
with hers as he lowered himself.

Her mind malfunctioned, fizzling out all rational
thought, and her lungs ceased to work. She couldn’t have taken a
breath if her life had depended on it. It was like drowning in
fire.

“Eleanor is a beautiful name,” he
said
softly
and laid his head against her thigh. “For a
beautiful lady.”

God! What is he doing?
She was sure she might die from the heat of his
hand which was only inches from her crotch. The stubble on his jaw
bit into her bare skin, roughly stimulating her already heightened
arousal. With his free hand, he felt under the
seat
and pulled
out a brown bag. He raised to pause briefly at her lips.

The humor on his sexy face told her
he
was loving
every minute of her sexual
torture. 

Adjusting her seat
belt gave her something to
do
and allowed her a second or
two to find her voice. “I think it sounds old and boring. El
sounds sexy and sophisticated.”

“Jess tell you that?” His jaw ground together after
the question.

“No, why would you say that?”

“He’s the one who gave you the nickname, and it
sounds like something he’d say.” He ripped the bag open, smiled as
if he were greeting an old friend he hadn’t seen in years, and
twisted the cap off a new bottle of Jim Beam. “Come to Papa.”

She watched him take a long drink of the hard stuff.
“Thirsty?”

“Maybe.” He downed two more swallows that ended with
a grimace. “Does it bother you?”

“A little,” she answered honestly. “The last time I
saw you chug JB was when you and Wade argued about college.”

He let his head fall against the rest. “Same
argument. Different demands.”

“What?”

He raised for another chug. “Nothing. Drive and let
me take care of my problems my way.”

This wasn’t part of his usual
repartee. His tone warned her to stay clear of something he
considered none of her business. Something, she guessed stemmed
from his conversation with Wade earlier today. Still his
harshness
hurt her. “So much for trying to help.”

A deep sigh turned his head towards her. “I was
rude, wasn’t I?”

“A little.” Whiskey consoled silently without
questions or judgment. “Look, I get it. I really do. You don’t want
to be a rancher or follow in Wade’s footsteps.”

He rested the bottle on his
thigh
.
“My problem goes beyond that argument.”

“You have a great life and more
money
─.”

“Don’t be naive.” He took
another
drink
and settled lower in the seat.  “Just because
I have money doesn’t mean I don’t have problems.”

“I realize that, but you have a family who loves
you. Wade loves you, and though you might not see it now, he has
your best interests in mind.”

He watched her for more seconds than she was
comfortable with. “How long were you outside the study door?”

“Not long, why?”

“We were shouting after you left. Did you hear any
of it?”

“No.” Her lips twisted into a sheepish grin. “My
mind was on my date.”

A shake of his head made her feel
childish. “
Of
course,
it was.”

“I’m listening now. Talk to me. Tell me about your
problem,” she urged him. “You have my full attention.”

He wrestled a deep sigh. “You wouldn’t
understand.”

“And the
whiskey
does?”

Contrite eyes drifted down to the bottle in his
hand. “Something like that.”

“This must be a doozy of a problem. Are you going to
be okay?”

“Sure, why wouldn’t I be?” The edge of his top lip
turned up. “After all, I’m rich.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I know what you meant, and I appreciate your
willingness to listen.” He recapped the bottle, sat it on the
floorboard and gave her a wink. “But I don’t want to spend the
night talking about my problems.” He yanked the visor down and let
a small box drop into his other hand. “I have something for
you.”

She was surprised. “For me?”

His mood lightened as he presented her gift. “For
you.”

“You bought me a present? Why?”

“I didn’t buy it.” He opened the green felt box.
“It’s not a big deal. I just saw it and thought of you.”

“A coin?”

He lifted it from the box and looped the chain
around his finger. The dingy coin swung back and forth. “I found it
at the Mission a few weeks ago.”

“It’s from Vera la Luz?”

“I dug it out of the ground myself.”

She caught the coin to get a better look. To
construct the necklace without damaging the coin, he had crudely
wound a piece of thin wire around the circumference and twisted a
loop at the top to hold the chain. “Is it gold?”

“Yeah, it’s gold. I didn’t have time to get it
polished, but we can do that later.”

She clasped it tight. “No way. I like it just the
way it is.”

His hand brushed against her hip as
he released the buckle of her 
seatbelt
, and
unclasped the chain. “Turn aound.”

She gathered her damp hair to
one
side
and slid around in the seat with her back to him.
“I thought the gold was just a story.”

He moved closer to drape the chain over her head,
and fastened it in place. “There is always some truth to a legend.
Remember the story Dad told us?” he whispered into her ear, and ran
his hands down her bare arms.

“I couldn’t wait to see the Vera la Luz Mission. All
the kids at school talked about how haunted it was. I was
terrified, but so excited,” much like she was right now. “That was
my first camping trip, and Mr. C tried so hard to make me feel like
I was part of the family.” 

“You are a part of my family,” his voice was tender.
“Haven’t you realized that yet?”

“I always feel like I’m in the way. Like today in
the study.”

“You’re never in the way,” he said. “I was just
upset.”

“About what?” she tried again to make him open up,
but he was evasive.

“Nothing I can’t fix.”

She caressed the coin. “Do you think there’s more
gold up there?”

“Maybe,” with a raspy voice against
her ear, he spoke of the ghost story from their childhood.
“the
Wayfires
are real. Maybe the gold is protected by the
spirits of my Comanche ancestors.”

She felt herself melting into his
arms. His hands branded her with
a fire
only he could
extinguish.

Loud laughter erupted from a group of men exiting
the bar. “Shit.”

She scooted back into the driver’s seat. “It’s
beautiful, McCrea.”

That pleased him. “You like it?”

It wasn’t beautiful nor fancy, but to Eleanor, it
was priceless. “I love it. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“We can go back to dig for more, and spend all
weekend there if you like.”

Just you and me under the
stars.
Her eyes fell to his lips. How many
times had she dreamed about those sexy lips kissing every inch of
her body?  How many times had she dreamed of giving herself to
a man she had loved and wanted for years? Would that night be
tonight or the night after? Would it be in
a bed
with sheets or in
a sleeping bag under the stars?

The particulars of when and where didn’t matter. All
that did matter was that they wanted each other. Tonight was the
start of something wonderful between them.  “You really think
there’s more?”

“I suppose anything is possible,
but if there is, I want to know how it got there.” He reclaimed the
bottle from the floorboard. “There are always more questions than
answers whenever it comes to the Legend of the
Wayfires
Gold.”

That much she knew. McCrea and others had spent
years digging, and researching the legend without any answers to
show for their work. “But now we have proof.” She loved talking
about the romantic legends of Santa Camino.

“I’ve found pottery shards
and
arrowheads
. I’ve thought about calling
one of the universities to see if they’d be interested in doing a
dig. There is so much we could learn about it.” With a deep sigh,
he laid his head against the rest and looked westwards towards
Promise Point to where the mission lay in ruins. His passion for
history was one of the things she loved about him. McCrea was an
educated man, knowledgeable and worldly about so many things. He
was also a conundrum. A puzzle as complex as the mystery he sought
to solve, but he was real.
A flesh
and blood man, not a
ghostly apparition.

“I wonder what it was like back
then.” She followed his eyes to the
Point,
and allowed herself to
get lost in the romance of the past. “When the West was
wild.”

“Texas was a wild and dangerous place,” he
agreed.

“And romantic.” She knew there was a dreamy look in
her eyes, but she couldn’t help it. Though her view on marriage was
tainted by her mother’s failed one, she was a hopeless romantic.
Rose’s influence, no doubt.

His head rolled across the rest to look at her.
“Romantic?”

“Yeah, the old west was romantic.”
She slapped his
thigh
and smiled before she put the
truck into reverse to back out. “Don’t you think
so?” 

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