This was gonna be a helluva night.
Two large fans whirling above Lori Dayton did nothing to ease the sultry flush across her skin, or the increase of her pulse. One set of fiery blue eyes across the room was responsible for her sudden reaction and the instant tightening of her nipples. The man she’d dreamed of for the last four years moved determinedly from the entrance, straight across the dance floor, and past the wraparound bar, toward the poolroom situated at the far end of the establishment where she stood. He didn’t speak to her nor did he approach. But he was close—too close.
Focus and forget about Dean Wilcox.
He had clearly forgotten about her.
She diverted her gaze from his hot glare, choosing instead to study the intricate pattern of the tinsel draping the limbs of the large Christmas tree stuck in the corner. It must have taken hours to separate and lay each silver strand precisely an inch apart.
In the distance, she heard the band begin to warm up and laughter rang. The scent of cigarettes mingled with a variety of perfumes and colognes. A beer bottle or glass crashed to the floor. The loud, brittle sound startled her, making her heart lodge midway in her throat. Normal barroom noises, so why was she nervous?
“C’mon, sis, call your shot,” Mitch, her partner and brother, impatiently encouraged. His eyes were fixed on the table as he chalked his stick. Will and Lance Carter had challenged them to a game of pool. She hadn’t wanted to play, but Mitch never turned down a challenge.
Two local gals had their hungry gazes pinned on Mitch’s muscular six-three frame like it was hunting season, and he was their quarry. They sat at a high-top table across the way, but looked like they wanted to slink across the room and wrap themselves around him. All three of her brothers were babe material—they had golden hair and eyes to match.
Women thought her brothers were hot, but as far as Lori was concerned, no man came close to the raw sensuality Dean Wilcox oozed. When the two gals who had been eyeing Mitch now ogled Dean, Lori realized she wasn’t the only one who thought so.
“Earth to Lori.” Mitch pulled her from her thoughts.
Narrowing her eyes, she sized up the table. Pool stick in one fist, she dragged the other hand along the cool railing, moving slowly in search of the best shot. She fought not to look at Dean, not wanting to let him know he affected her, but she couldn’t help raising her eyes to meet his.
With a condemning stare, he watched her. Only six feet away, he stood with his legs were wedged apart, unyielding arms folded across his broad chest. His stance screamed that if she drew any closer to him he would still be miles away, still be untouchable.
“Eleven ball, corner pocket.” It would be a stretch, but it appeared her best choice. Leaning forward, she lengthened her five-seven frame across the table. With a jerk of her head she tossed her long blonde hair over her shoulder, and then positioned her fingers—
Well fuck. Her eyes were focused on Dean’s zipper, which was directly in line with the corner pocket. The impressive bulge revealed he was erect, hard. The muscles in her throat tightened as she swallowed. She knew that cock, knew its length and girth, the way it felt sliding between her thighs, filling her to—
Her heart began to pound. What’s the matter with me? Lust—nothing more. Remember the man hates you.
To make the situation more uncomfortable, when she leaned farther down, her T-shirt gaped to give him a direct, unhindered view of her bare breasts—helluva time not to wear a bra.
Dean made no attempt to look away. Instead, his eyes darkened. His nostrils flared.
And just like that her concentration flew out the door. Adios! It was gone in a heartbeat.
Once again she found herself thinking of him. Her vaginal muscles clenched as she imagined his strong hands touching her breasts, stroking the ache inside her. Her panties dampened.
She licked her suddenly dry lips, blinked.
It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen her breasts before. But each time she slipped the stick back and forth between the cradle of her thumb and forefinger, she thought of Dean buried deep and rocking inside her needy core.
With more force than she intended, she thrust her stick forward and struck the cue ball lower than anticipated.
In horror, she watched the spinning white ball raise from the felt, clear the rail, and nail Dean dead center of his groin.
They say cowboys don’t cry…
Evidently, they do if hit squarely in the nuts. Then all bets are off. They crumble like a day-old cookie to their knees. At least that’s what Dean did.
With a gut-wrenching “ugh”, he folded over, cupping his jean-clad crotch. She caught a glimpse of his painful expression as his golden skin tone drained to a pasty white. Like a snowman in the middle of summer, he melted and dropped to his knees. His head followed, bowing low.
“Ouch,” a choir of rowdy cowboys cried in unison, hugging their cocks. Then they began to laugh hysterically at their fallen friend.
Exactly what a man found funny about seeing another man getting his balls crushed Lori would never understand. Perhaps they were simply glad it was Dean and not one of them.
With a grin, Will retrieved the cue ball and positioned it behind the invisible boundary on the table. With ease, he stretched his tall frame over the ocean of green felt, then slid his pool stick through his fingers. “Mitch, your sister’s been back, what—two hours? Already the men in Safford have to watch their gonads.”
Lori restrained the urge to chuck the eight ball at his crotch. Instead, despite the warning in her head, she went to Dean’s side.
Crouched down next to him, she inhaled the warm scent of Old Spice. A tremor visibly shook him. Her hand wavered awkwardly above his shoulder as she fought the need to touch him. “Anything I can do?”
He yanked his head up, tossing back locks of wavy, black hair from his face. Blue eyes watered with the effort it took for him to breathe. “Get away from me,” he growled.
Those were the exact words he had spoken to her the last time she’d seen him. Funny they would be the first ones she heard returning home.