“Cassie,” he breathes, taking my hand, shooting a current of energy straight up the limb. “Baby, you ought to be inside where it’s safe.”
And then he drops to his knees in front of me, bringing my hand to his mouth, pressing his slightly parted lips to my knuckles, kissing them in a way I know must be indecent. It reminds me of the way Miles kissed my mouth last night. “Am I not safe with you?” I ask, not taking my hand back. Nor wanting to.
A smile makes the corner of his mouth creep up. “What do you mean by safe?” His voice is husky and it thickens my pulse, turns my nipples to tight, concentrated aches. With him closer now, his dangerous good looks are even more apparent. The slight crookedness of his nose makes me think he’s a boxer. A fighter. A man who has seen things far beyond my secluded farm.
“I mean…are you going to hurt me?”
“Hurt you?” Genuine puzzlement transforms his expression. “God, no, I’m not going to hurt you, Cassie.” He’s still holding my hand and he turns it over now, studying it with fascination. “I’ve known you for two minutes and I want to protect you. Is that crazy?”
“I don’t know.” Although I speak the truth, there definitely is something happening here. With Sam kneeling in front of me, there’s a restlessness in my tummy, like my body is craving an anchor. But…this is how I feel when I’m around Miles. I’ve spent time with other men, too, so I know these are unique sensations. None of my teachers or guys I went to school with make me feel this way. None of the farm workers who have passed through, either.
Only these two men seem to turn a dial to ten inside me when they’re near and…I want to understand why. I want to explore why. Meaning, I don’t want Sam to leave yet. Not that he’s showing any signs of going. Or even letting go of my hand.
“Where are you from?”
Gold eyes tick to mine. “Originally? Boston.”
Originally. “Have you been traveling?”
His body language turns guarded, his jaw going tight, eyes evasive. “I’d rather talk about you.” He brings my hand to his face, pressing his nose to my wrist and inhaling deeply. “Are you old enough to be sitting this close to me with your legs open, Cassie?”
“Legs open—” I look down and realize I’ve crisscrossed my legs. In a skirt. The fresh pair of pink underwear I put on this morning are almost completely showing. Flushing to the roots of my hair, I curl both of my legs to one side, yanking my skirt down as far as it will go, which is about halfway to my knees. “I-I didn’t know.” I swallow hard. “But to answer your question, I turned eighteen yesterday.”
Sam’s eyes close tight, his breath coming faster against my wrist. “Thank you, Jesus.” Gold peeks out between his lids and I feel his attention roaming over my breasts, making my nipples peg inside my tank top.
His touch feels restrained. Like it could give way at any moment.
He settles my hand on his shoulder and walks closer on his knees, looming over me, blocking out the sun. With his eyes holding on to mine, he trails a finger up my throat slowly, slowly, eventually tipping up my chin.
Through the thin layer of his white T-shirt, I see his shoulder muscles tense, hear his breath turn short, labored. The wildness of his energy makes me wish for Miles. Not Miles alone. Miles and Sam. Miles wouldn’t let anything happen to me. I could just give in and enjoy the excitement Sam stirs in me without worrying my lack of wits would land me in trouble. Miles would keep a tight rein on everything and maybe if I was lucky, he would touch me, too.
Both of them might.
Thoughts of Miles, along with Sam’s touch and presence, have turned my panties moist. There’s a yearning in my tummy that makes my backside restless on the grass and I need something, something, so when Sam leans in close to kiss me, I soften my mouth and prepare for the kiss I want. The kiss I need—
A shotgun cocks behind me.
Today is not the first time I heard the click of a shotgun loading.
It’s not even the first time I’ve had one aimed in my direction.
It does mark the first time I’ve had one pointed at me while my dick is harder than steel and I’ve got the most beautiful woman alive sitting in front of me.
Careful not to move any part of my body, lest some of it get blown off, I tick my eyes up at the man—and goddamn, there is murder written all over his features.
“Back the fuck away from the girl,” he grits through his teeth.