Chapter 2

1221 Words
Chapter Two Colton was staring at her again. She could feel his eyes boring into her backside. Seeing straight through her dress to the red lace thong she’d chosen on a whim. If she couldn’t embrace her wild-side at a wedding, she should just give up. Find a nice accountant and settle down. No more flamboyant, temperamental designers who stole her ideas. Or opera singers. Or cowboys. No more projects. No one who needed fixing and the love of a solid, steady woman. Problem was, every time she went on a date with a nice young financial advisor, or someone who hailed from the Upper East Side, it was boring. B-O-R-I-N-G. Confining. Total yawner. And by dessert, she could see her future spinning out before her in an endless sea of teas and charity events, two-point-five kids and a labradoodle. Or worse, a teacup Chihuahua. And eventually, even though it was only the first date, Lydia could tell she’d be the one asked to give up her life. Her passion, to stand by her man. And, she just… couldn’t. Her friends in New York might consider her provincial, but her mother was a successful businesswoman, and her three sisters smart and kicking a*s in their own professions. Where did she fit in? She drank green tea, not Cosmos. She slept in flannel pajamas, not buck n***d. Her idea of being scandalous was staying so long at MOMA that security had to escort her out ten minutes past closing. Or losing herself in the stacks at the public library and discovering some treatise on fifteenth-century alchemy. She wasn’t a clubber. She didn’t take pills washed down with a gin fizz. But she didn’t spend nights playing scrabble and reading Sylvia Plath, either. Too Gertrude Stein for Prairie, too plain Jane for New York. She stepped up to the makeshift bar. “Old Fashioned, please.” One thing was certain. Tonight, she was breaking the mold. She was going to have a cocktail. Maybe even two. Celebrate the fact she’d just cut off ten inches of her hair and kissed her dream job goodbye. She glanced back over her shoulder while she waited. Damn. Colton’s eyes bored straight into her, sending liquid fire right to her core. One thing hadn’t changed in ten years, his effect on her. One look from him and she went weak in the knees. But this time there was heat in his eyes. Appreciation. She stood a little taller in her boots. Let him look. Let him finally realize what had been in front of him but that he’d stupidly ignored. She brushed away a flash of anger. Water under the bridge. She was a different person now. Stronger. Colton? Not so much. He oozed dangerous. Bad-boy. Wild-child. Ten years, a half-a-foot, and forty more pounds of muscle had only amplified that. She’d heard through the grapevine that he rodeoed. And it showed in the way he moved. In the way his muscles bunched under his shirt. And yes, she was not ashamed to admit, in the way his a*s filled out a pair of dark Wranglers. Something about the way a pair of worn jeans hugged rock-hard muscles set a heat in her belly in a way worsted wool and chinos never did. She accepted her cocktail and took a sip, keeping her eyes on Colton as he crossed the room to stand before her. “You cut your hair.” His voice sounded like too much smoke and whiskey. A shiver of attraction raced down her spine. A voice like that would rough up her sensitive parts in the most delightful way. “You cleaned up,” she answered tartly. Better to keep Colton Kincaid at arm’s length. Or at least try. He raised an eyebrow. “You look good, Lyds.” “Don’t call me that,” she whispered, heat from the Old Fashioned and not his gaze, warming her belly. At least that’s what she tried to tell herself. His mouth curved temptingly up. “Why not? Too many memories?” Oh, hell. She was going to need another cocktail. Or three. Memories of taking his keys, of watching in despair as he disappeared behind the barn to get stoned with one of his buddies. And worst, of kissing him goodbye. Of pouring all of her idealistic seventeen-year-old emotions into a kiss he’d ultimately rejected. She gulped down the rest of her drink and licked the remainder off her lower lip. She registered his sharp intake of breath. Let him look. Let him think about everything he’d tossed away the night he’d left Prairie. “Yeah,” she muttered when she found her voice. “I guess you could say that.” “Can we talk?” “I think I need another cocktail if we’re going to talk.” His eyes shot skyward. “I’m not a goody-two-shoes.” “Nobody ever called you that.” They didn’t have to. She knew what his friends had thought of her, how they’d referred to her as Libby-Lyds, short for Librarian Lydia. She gave him a bright smile. “I’m glad you’re back, Colt. I know how much it means to Travis. Mama, too,” she added after a pause. “I’m glad to hear you’re doing well.” She turned to escape to the kitchen, too flustered to think straight. “Wait, Lydia.” He caught her arm, eyes pleading. “Save me a dance?” Several of the men were already outside, lighting a big bonfire for those willing to brave the cold November air. They’d even set up a small sound system, running electricity from the barn. She lifted a shoulder, smiling coyly. “Maybe?” “Maybe?” he challenged, a knowing smile brightening his face. This was the Colton she remembered, had a hard time resisting. The young man full of swagger, doing what he wanted, when he wanted, damn the consequences. “Afraid you won’t be able to resist my charms?” She couldn’t help it. A laugh rose, and she gently socked his shoulder, not missing the solid mass underneath her fingers. “Hardly likely. I think you’re the one who needs to resist my charms,” she flirted back. He captured her hand, held it pressed against his shoulder. His voice dropped. “Maybe I don’t want to.” His look said everything, made her mouth go dry. A spark of desire burst to life between her legs. She clenched her thighs against the warming tingle. No. Nononono. She would not give into these sensations. It didn’t matter that this might be her only opportunity to take a walk on the wild side. To break in her red lace thong, to see what love ’em and leave ’em felt like. Lord knew, she’d been on the receiving end of that equation more times than she cared to count. What did her roommate in New York always say? Go big or go home? There was no one bigger or badder in Prairie than Colton Kincaid. And if she wanted to shed her good-girl image once and for all, take advantage of the condoms she always carried in her purse but never used, banging him at his brother’s wedding reception would certainly be a good way to start. She c****d her chin, and stared right at him. “That so?” She held his gaze one, two, three beats, then reclaimed her hand. “I’ll see you ’round, Colton.” She turned and made her way to the buffet set up along the far wall. Do not look back, do not look back. She did. He still stared at her like he had x-ray vision. Her lady bits responded as if he did.
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