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The Rancher's Secret Heir

Written by Maureen Child

Chapter Seven

JT carried her to his bedroom and, once there, laid her out on the bed. He peeled her mint-green tank top and shorts down and off her body, then let himself enjoy the view he’d missed for far too long.

Her figure was full, lush, and he thought he could spend the rest of his life exploring her curves and never have enough. In another second, he yanked off his jeans and joined her on the bed. He hadn’t been able to think about anything but this moment for hours. Now, JT ran his hands up and down her body as his mouth took hers, devouring her, drowning himself in the taste and feel of her again.

This last week, being with her and not being able to touch her, had been torturous. Now he had her, though, and he wasn’t prepared to let her go again. But that thought was buried in the darkest corner of his mind as he reveled in the sensations he found only with Emily.

She kissed him hungrily, scraping her nails up and down his back, scoring his skin, branding him right down to the bone. He swept his hand down to her center, stroking her until she whimpered with the same need that had him by the throat.

Unwilling to wait, he knelt between her legs and smiled down at her as she lifted her hips in welcome. “Please, JT. Now.”

“Right now, Em. No more waiting.” JT pushed his body into hers and, in that instant, finally felt completely alive again as he hadn’t for more than a year. He saw the same truth in her eyes as they moved together in the shadows, their bodies claiming each other, their breath mingling as they kissed.

He pulled back and watched her eyes as her body ignited, loving the soft sigh slipping from her throat. He waited only an instant longer before allowing himself to follow her into the shattering world that only lovers knew.

“Well, that was worth waiting for,” Emily said when she got her breath back.

“Yeah, and it’s worth never losing again.” JT rolled to one side of her, propped himself up on one elbow and looked into her eyes. “Stay here with me. You and Lorelai. Stay, Emily.”

Her body was still buzzing and now her mind was racing a million miles a minute. Was he asking what she thought he was? She had to know. “Are you asking me to marry you?”

He pulled his head back and looked surprised. “No.”

Just like that, her stomach sank and her heart crumbled at the edges. Tears filled her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. “What are you saying, then?”

He shrugged, reached out and cupped one of her breasts in the palm of his hand. Heat swamped her body at his touch, but couldn’t melt the iciness creeping through her veins. “The whole town thinks we’re engaged. We stay engaged. Live together.”

“But not married.”

“No. I won’t get married.” He shook his head, bent to kiss her gently. “I told you once about my folks and how screwed up my family is. I don’t want to risk that.”

“And just living together you risk nothing?” she asked. Couldn’t he see how ridiculous that was?

“If we don’t make promises to each other, we can’t break them.”

“Oh, JT...” How could he be so smart and so stupid all at the same time? And how could he break her heart and not notice?

“Just think about it, okay?” He bent lower to take one hardened nipple into his mouth.

She sighed at the feel of his lips and tongue and teeth on her skin, and stroked her fingers through his hair. She wanted him so, but she wanted it all.

She wanted the promises. She wanted love.

But his hands and mouth were sending her body into shivers of ecstasy, so she shut her brain down and took what he was willing to give. There would be time enough tomorrow to think. To plan. To cry.

*

When JT came back from delivering another horse to its new owner the following afternoon, Emily and Lorelai were gone.

Coldly furious with him, his housekeeper informed him that Em and the baby had left soon after he had himself, and Emily hadn’t talked about coming back. And now, JT was torn.

He’d asked her to stay, hadn’t he? Offered her his home. Offered her all he had to give. Why wasn’t that enough?

“And why is the house suddenly so damn quiet?” He stomped into the guest room where Emily had been staying and he could smell her. Vanilla. Cinnamon. Her scent hung in the air, taunting him because that was all he had left of her.

There was a cold fist around his heart as he walked to the baby’s room. Lorelai’s blanket was tossed over the rail of the crib and her favorite doll was lying discarded on the hardwood floor.

“She must’ve left in a hurry to leave you behind,” JT muttered as he bent to pick up the tattered doll. His fist closed around it helplessly as his gaze swept the empty room.

Outside, pale winter sunlight splayed across the pool and sent dappled shade onto the water’s surface. He’d made plans to put a fence up around the pool, for safety’s sake, and now, he guessed there was no hurry about that. Now that his family was gone.

Gently, he laid the forgotten doll down in Lorelai’s crib, then stood there for a moment, considering his options. But that didn’t take long, because as far as JT was concerned there was only one option.

Bring his girls home.

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About the author

When I started writing, I was just looking for a way to work and stay ...

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Maureen Child

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