|Never Love a Cowboy|
"We're not kids anymore," Tucker said in a dangerously quiet voice. "You're a woman and I'm a man, and you know damn well what's between us. It's time to settle this, once and for all."
"If only we could!" Emma said desperately, looking into his steel-blue eyes. "How? Just tell me how we can forget about this!"
"We'll let ourselves go all the way, as far as we want. Right here on this cot. And then it will be over. Over forever," he repeated, as if reassuring himself, as he tore his gaze from her lips.
He didn't want any misunderstandings.
"Listen, Malloy, there's something you need to understand. I'm not looking to saddle myself with a wife. And Lord knows you'd be the last one I'd pick if I were --"
"I'd sooner marry a skunk as marry you!" she cried indignantly.
"Good, Malloy, that's real good. So we're safe. I'm not the marrying kind anyway -- never have been and don't ever expect to be." He shrugged. "But sometimes a woman gets in your blood..."
His voice trailed off. It had never happened before, not to him, not with the fevered potency with which this woman was in his blood. But in the past there'd been a time or two when only by bedding a woman he'd taken a fancy to had he been able to forget about her. He reckoned this would turn out the same --it would have to. And then he could move on.
"So if we agree to get this all over with, right here and now, we'll both be better off."
Eagerly she grabbed him by the shoulders, her slim fingers burning into his flesh. "I want that. I can't bear to keep thinking about you, imagining --"
So she'd been doing that, too. Tucker felt a surge of desire so powerful he nearly groaned. It took all of his self-control to fight it back. He was sore as hell all over but wanting her hurt far worse than anything Slade and the others had done to him. Yet he held back.
Not yet. When we have everything plain and settled between us.
"Well, this should take care of it," he assured her. Then he added in a low tone, "I think."
"You think?" Uneasily, Emma sought to understand what he meant. Doubt flickered across her face.
"I'm almost sure." Tucker's voice roughened. "It's never been this bad before."
Then he could have kicked himself. Damn, why had he admitted that? Her eyes flashed with something, and he could have bitten off his tongue for possibly giving her hopes of --- of what? Snagging him?
"This one time... we'll let things go," he said again firmly. "Then....that's it. It's finished. Over. No matter what. You got that, Malloy?"
"No matter what," she repeated, nodding her head, but her eyes were fixed once more on his mouth. Longing consumed her.
She ached. Being this close to him made her ache.
"Will you please kiss me now?"