Home > The Care and Feeding of an Alpha Male (Bluebonnet #2)(16)

The Care and Feeding of an Alpha Male (Bluebonnet #2)(16)
Author: Jessica Clare

He gave her a slow, wicked smile in return that made the pit of her belly flutter with excitement. “Parents?”

“What?”

“You said you hide from your parents. Aren’t you a little old for that?”

“I moved back in with them after I left Allan,” she admitted. “Everyone thought it would be pretty temporary…except me.” She smiled over at him. “Eleven months later, here I am. Still living at home.”

“Nothing to be ashamed of in that,” he said, and she could have sworn that he was pleased.

“You?” she asked casually. “Anyone waiting at home for you?”

“Just Grant,” he said with a drawl. “Probably wanting to go over class schedules again. So no.”

“Ah,” she said. So he was a total bachelor? It seemed weird and awkward to ask him if he had a girlfriend, but she suddenly really wanted to know.

“So no boyfriend?” His lazy drawl almost sounded interested, and her pulse fluttered.

“No boyfriend,” she admitted, feeling as shy as a schoolgirl.

He grunted, then stared at the sky. “Come on,” he said abruptly, interrupting her thoughts. “Let’s get a move on before the rain comes down again.”

FOUR

Almost there,” Colt told her as they crossed a low, muddy ridge. “In the next valley.”

“I’ll never be so happy to see a roof in my life,” she said cheerfully, her breath coming in short pants.

He bit back his own smile in response. Colt was enjoying her company a little too much for his own good. It wasn’t just that she was sexy and appealing, and that when the rain had started, his shirt had begun to cling to her like a second skin, or the fact that when she bent over, panting, to take a quick breather, that he thought very nasty things about having her bent over.

He…kind of liked her. And he’d be damned if that wasn’t a surprise. Beth Ann’s personality was cheerful and she was hard-working. The hike hadn’t been a fun one—when the rain had returned, so had the mud, and it sucked at their feet at every step. She’d slipped and fallen twice, and he’d helped her back up. But instead of losing her shit about breaking a nail or whining about being tired, she’d simply given a self-conscious little laugh and cracked jokes about her now heel-less Louboutins.

When she’d asked him to show her which way was north, his curiosity had been piqued and he’d taken her aside for a few minutes to show her how to tell which direction was north when there was no sun and only cloud cover. He’d shown her how to make a compass with a needle and a bit of water. Not that he’d needed it, but she’d wanted to know. She’d seemed interested, and so he’d grudgingly demonstrated as they walked which branches made the best firewood, and how to cut pine bark from a tree to cook. She’d gamely taken a bite and laughed anew when he’d made a bitter face at the sour taste.

“I’m glad it wasn’t just me, then,” she’d exclaimed, and her gleeful delight had made his mouth tug up in a smile.

Dammit. She was supposed to be a spoiled princess. He remembered her in high school, always hanging on the arm of Allan Sunquist, jock and jackass. She’d seemed content back then to be arm candy, and he hadn’t had much of an opinion of her. He thought of her when he’d first come back to town—his first sight of her had nearly knocked him flat. She’d been pretty in high school but she was flat-out amazing as an adult. Her blond hair was always perfectly styled, her clothing born to accentuate a long-legged figure. And she’d also been quick to cast him withering look after withering look that had quickly put his back up. He’d learned to avoid her after that.

Where had that vapid blond belle gone? He couldn’t ask that, of course.

They moved over the ridge and he offered her a hand to slide down the steep side. She took it, and stepped down after him, her eyes scanning the horizon. “I thought I saw it.”

“You did.” He pointed off into the trees. “About fifty feet that way.”

She gave a fist-pump and grinned at him. “If that thing doesn’t have a roof, I’m going to cry,” she told him, but her face wore a wide smile that made his lips itch to kiss.

“It has a roof,” he told her. “I had to repair it when we moved in.”

“Repair it?” she asked as they hiked forward. “So it’s been here awhile?”

“A long while,” he agreed, pushing past a low-hanging tree branch. “Probably before the emu farm that was here before we bought the place. It’s an old hunter’s cabin, so we don’t use it much, but Brenna likes to keep it stocked in case of client emergency.”

She visibly perked despite the rain trickling down over both of them. “Stocked?”

“Just a couple of MREs and some firewood. Nothing to get excited about.”

“I’m already excited,” she said. “I’ve never had an MRE and I’m already tired of apples.” They’d eaten them along the way, but six apples later, and she was already looking for alternatives.

“We’ll have a fire and I’ll fix you a meal, then,” Colt said. “But you have to ask nicely.”

“I am excellent at pleading my case,” she said in a silky, teasing voice. “I’m sure we can work something out.”

Well damn. He’d just gone instantly hard. Luckily for him, the cabin came into view and she gasped at the sight of it. “We’re here,” he said.

It was also smaller than he’d remembered, he thought critically, looking at the little thing. The one window was caked with dirt and the old roof sagged on one side.

“I am so thrilled to see that thing right about now,” she said with a laugh. “I can’t wait to make a fire. It’ll be so nice to be warm again. I’m going to have permanent goose bumps at this rate.”

A twinge of guilt fired over him. It was his fault she was out here this weekend, just because he was a petty jackass. He squashed the feeling. “Why don’t you check it out and I’ll start gathering some firewood.”

Maybe if he built her a nice big fire, he’d feel a little better about being a lying dick. Worth a shot.

There was wood in the cabin, but he didn’t want to clean it out the first night they were there, so he went to forage in the woods. When he returned with an armful of wet tinder, he heard an enormous thwack from inside the cabin.

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