Page 11 of Faithful Cowboy (Whiskey Valley Bryant Brothers)

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I work hard, trying to make it easier for him, but it’s hard when this is my first time doing anything like it. My arms and back are screaming at me to stop.

When we’re done, he takes me to an outdoor sink to clean up, and when I finish, he hands me a bottle of cold water. I don’t know where he got it from, and I don’t ask. I just start to chug it, and before I know it, I’ve drunk the whole thing.

“You want to take a break?”

I shake my head, wiping my mouth self-consciously. “No. I have four, well, three and a half more days to fit it all in.”

He frowns, and I wonder if it’s because he wants to take a break or he’s not happy that I’m leaving in three and a half days. A part of me hopes it’s the latter.

I don’t have time to ask because he’s walking over to one of the stalls. “This is Bessie. She is who you’re going to ride while you’re here.”

I swallow. “Ride?”

He laughs. “Yeah, you need to ride. You said you want to be able to describe what it felt like on horseback. That’s the only way to do it.”

I take in the tall horse. “You could just describe it to me.”

He pets the horse’s nose. “No, honey. Trust me, you’re going to love it.”

I put my hand on my hip. “What happened to whatever I want?”

He laughs and pulls me toward him. “Whatever you want unless I know you’re going to be missing out on something.”

He’s searching my face, his hand cupping my chin, and I want to go on my tiptoes and press my lips to his. Neither one of us move. Heck, I hold my breath because I’m afraid that one tiny movement will end this when I what I want is for him to kiss me. Right now, I want it more than anything.

He doesn’t move, just continues to stare at me. There are so many reasons why this is a bad idea, but right now I can’t think of a single one. “Are you going to kiss me?”

He grunts but doesn’t lean the few inches toward me to put me out of my misery. “I want to.”

I go up on the balls of my feet, and we’re so close. One hand goes to my hip, and the one on my chin holds me tighter. “I want you to.”

He groans, hard and fast, before lowering his lips to mine. I don’t know what I expected, but the fierce way he possesses my lips brings a whimper out of me. He angles my head and deepens the kiss. His tongue invades my mouth, and I run mine along his velvety smoothness. A door slamming somewhere is what breaks us apart. He doesn’t let me go, but he does pull back. “I didn’t... I’m sorry.”

He looks at me apologetically, but I shake my head. “What are you apologizing for? I said I wanted you to kiss me... I mean, unless you regret it—"

He doesn’t let me finish. He’s looking at me in awe. “I don’t regret it, but I should have protected you. Anyone could see us—"

I pull back then. Is he embarrassed of me? Am I just someone traveling through town that he can get his rocks off with? Sort of like a secret he has to hide.

He doesn’t release me. “Whatever you’re thinking... stop. I only meant I don’t want other men to see you—to hear you—like that. Even now with your glazed eyes and swollen lips, I don’t want another man to look at you and get any ideas.”

His words are laced with possessiveness, and my heart hammers in my chest. We just met yesterday. I am going to have to keep reminding myself of that. I try to fix my hair and take a few steps back from him. “All right, let’s saddle ol’ Bessie and see what I can do.”

He wants to say something, but he doesn’t. He nods and gets Bessie out of the stall. He puts the reins around her neck and loosely ties her to a stall door.

He holds up the saddle and starts explaining the names. I start to write it down, but I can’t write fast enough. I hold up my phone. “I’m sorry. Can you start over? And do you care if I record you?”

“You want to record me?”

I shrug. “Yeah, instead of trying to describe everything as I write it down, I will just be able to watch the video.”

He doesn’t seem too sure about it, but he nods. “Sure, okay.”

“It’s just for me. I’m not going to share it with anyone or anything,” I assure him. Of course, I don’t mention that I’ll probably watch it at least a hundred times and not for the sole purpose of learning to saddle a horse.

I watch him through the screen of my phone. Even though he starts out a little unnerved at being recorded, he eventually warms up. Saddling a horse is like second nature to him. He’s smooth and confident, smiling at me every now and then. Oh yeah, I’ll definitely be rewatching this a few times.

Chapter 9

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