Sheltered by the Lawman (Lawmen of Wyoming Book 5)
CULL WANTED TO comfort her, wanted to hold her in his arms and never let go. Since they’d already kissed, doing it again would come so much easier and the way she looked at him, wearing invitation in her expression, it would be a hard task to turn away. So, he didn’t bother. He was tired of denying himself the pleasure of her lips. He pressed a quick kiss to her mouth, then another and another, each one hungrier than the last. “I can’t resist you,” he whispered.
He looked down into her face in the light of the sun, desire shining in the green depths. He could lose himself right there—right here with her, forgetting all the hurdles between them. He lowered his mouth to hers again, gently, a gentleman’s kiss to test the waters.
She responded to him, opening her mouth and he met her tongue with his own. Needing all access, he pressed her against the fence, pinning her between the rail and his body. He wanted this as well as needed it. Their mouths melded together, and everything seemed perfect.
A soft moan bubbled up her throat and he swallowed the sound. He loved to hear those sweet little sounds of pleasure. If he had his way he’d be hearing screams of erotic desire before it was all said and done. But for the moment, he needed to take things slowly, enjoy the journey in getting to know her body.
He reached his hand up to her breast and cupped the firm mound, caressing the slender curve of her side and flared hip. She grabbed his hand, lifted it back to her breast and pressed the back of his hand, sending him a silent message. He kneaded her womanly flesh as her hips gyrated against his, triggering a sensation so powerful to his groin that he was knocked into space.
Cull lifted his head, looking down at her, trying to manage his breathing. Even as he held her hips aligned with his, he needed to be sure they were doing the right thing. Mostly that she wouldn’t regret what they were about to do.
Would she forgive him for not telling her everything he knew? Would she understand that he was doing it for her best interest? He started to open his mouth, possibly he would tell her the truth, but she placed her finger over his lips. “Please don’t deny me, Cull.” She pressed her chest against his and he could feel her firm mounds against the solid wall of his chest.
“Maybe we should talk,” he said.
“We will. After.” She smiled.
Cull closed his eyes. The temptation was strong and dragged him toward a no end path. Although he hadn’t always been a saint, not even close, he didn’t want to take advantage of her. When she touched her lips to his, the last thread of his control unraveled. He eased his fingers into her hair, loving how soft the strands were, then moved his hands to circle her neck, teasing her with his thumbs brushing her satin skin.
“Come here,” he said next to her ear, took her hand and led her into the stables. They were alone here and less chance of someone seeing them. He found the hem of her shirt and pulled it up and off, exposing her voluptuous, amazing breasts in the pink bra. Any other time he’d find the lacy getup sexy as hell, but now it was an obstruction for his hungry eyes. Cull easily reached around and popped the clasp loose, causing the material to fall away from her body.
The best tits he’d ever seen. That was among the description that came to mind. She had the curves of a goddess and he’d gladly take on the role as her sex slave.
Take it slow, man. Take it nice and slow.
She kissed his neck, then suckled lightly and his muscles tightened. He was overwhelmed with the need to lower her right here on the straw strewn floor and sink his cock into her body, to love her with that of a starving man.
Her lips followed the natural trail to his collarbone, kissing along the neckline of his T-shirt, leaving a damp path with her tongue.
“We shouldn’t do this here,” he groaned.
“I don’t mind.” She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him with those full, plush pink lips.
Every taste, every sample made him go insane for more. He gently raked her top lip with his teeth, then licked the plump morsel, only to nibble again. She let out a moan and he loved the sound of her giving in to desire.
He had no doubt she would be an amazing, giving lover, offering his body release while finding her own. He could feel her moist heat through the barrier of their jeans. She must be so damn slick and hot.
“Tell me you want this, baby. Tell me now because I’m so freaking close to sinking into you.”
She laid her cheek on her shoulder and looked at him through the thick hedge of her eyelashes. “I want you and I definitely want this. Don’t deny me…”
He brought his hands up and cupped her face, staring down into the mesmerizing stare of her eyes. “What if…what if there’s someone else? What if you do belong to another man?” The strain of his cock against his zipper made talking almost impossible, but he needed to know what would happen on the upside of what they were about to do. “This could get messy.”
“I told you. My heart knows what it knows, even if my brain doesn’t.”
“I haven’t told you everything.” And there it was. He’d started a conversation he couldn’t back out of, but suddenly he knew he needed to be completely honest with her before he lost himself to the sensation in his body. “I lied.”
Her eyes went wide and her leg dropped to the floor, her bottom lip quivered. “What are you talking about?” She covered her bare breasts as if suddenly she was unprotected.
“I didn’t tell you everything and now I know there’s not time like the presence. If you still want me then nothing will stop me.” He tore off his hat, tossed it to a bale of hay and tore his hand through his hair.
She reached for her shirt and dragged it on, inside out. He didn’t think she cared. “You’re scaring me, Cull.” Her brows scrunched.
“You were seeing someone before the fire.” Although he felt a sense of relief that he was baring his soul, he knew there would be repercussions for the truth. He was strong enough to get through this, but would she?
“Wait…how do you know this about me?” Her eyes narrowed. “And why are you just now telling me this?”
“Have a seat. This may take a while.”
She gave her head a quick shake, sending pieces of hair bouncing around her flushed cheeks. “I think I’ll stand.”
“I only know a little about you, and I didn’t show up at your apartment the night of the fire by accident. I was there to see you.”
“To see me? Why? You said we didn’t know each other.”
He didn’t find it easy telling a woman of her destructive history. His tongue became thick and his head throbbed. Out with it, Cull. He swallowed hard. Why did he think telling her was so important? “We didn’t know each other, but…”
“Come on, Cull. Just blurt it out,” she encouraged.
“I’ve told you that I was a fugitive recovery agent—”
“Oh my gosh! Were you there to arrest me?”
“No, but—” he growled. “I was taking you in for questioning.”
Her gasp echoed off the walls. She fell back onto a bale of hay, shock turning her skin pale white. “You were coming to arrest me and you’re telling me now?”
“Not to arrest you. Only to take you in for questioning.”
She blinked rapidly. “If you were coming to get me to take me in, then why am I here, at your family ranch? What did I do?”
He squeezed the bridge of his nose and dropped his hand to his side. “You were wanted for questioning in the death of a man. An attorney. He was found dead in a motel room in Cheyenne and you were the last one to be seen with him.”
If it were possible, her face paled even more. Would she pass out from shock? Hell, he didn’t know how to tell her the truth without being blunt.
Her irises darkened. “A man is dead? Did I kill him?” Her voice broke up. Moisture filled her gaze.
“No. Maybe. Hell…” He tore his hand through his hair again. He’d end up with a bald spot if he wasn’t careful. “I don’t know all the facts, but I’d be willing to bet my life on the fact that you didn’t kill him. And because you were struck over the head and wanted dead tells me you know something that someone wants to keep quiet.”
She stood, wobbled, and he started to go to her, but she held up a hand to stop him. “Everything in my brain is lost,”’ she said in an eerily low voice. “I could be an evil person.”
“I’ve been investigating the case, looking for the man who started the fire and trying to find the answers to questions. I feel like I’m closer.” There were so many things he wanted to say, but without proof and just a theory, he didn’t want to confuse her. It was still important that she remembered what happened that night. If she could identify the intruder the case would be solved.
She brought her chin up and looked at him, her bottom lip quivering. “Aren’t you afraid I’ll run away? Or does this mean you’re planning on taking me in?”
“Maybe I was afraid you’d run at first and that had something to do with why I didn’t tell you, but I know you now Monica. I know that you would never hurt anyone, man or woman.”
“You didn’t seem so confident about my innocence a few minutes ago.”
“In truth I have no clue how much you know about the killing.”
She threw up her hands. “That makes two of us.”
“I want you to help me with the case.”
“How? I don’t remember anything.” Moisture filled her eyes. “Wait…I’ve been having visions of a tall man, but I have no clue who he is. I feel sick when I think of him. Could he be the killer?”
“It’s possible. I think it’s time you took a look at some pictures. I believe you saw the man who wants you dead. If you can identify him, that’ll be a step in the right direction. It’s worth a try.”
“This man who was killed, was I involved with him?” She must have sensed his hesitation. “You can’t hold back now, Cull.”
And he agreed. “You were having an affair. He was married. His late wife has offered a reward.”
“There’s more. Isn’t there?” Her eyes pleaded for answers.
“You were an escort. He had your card in his wallet and that’s how police connected you.”
She dropped back down to the hay. “An escort? A prostitute?” She buried her face into her palms.
He forced his feet to stay still when all he wanted to do was go to her and hold her. He knew she needed a moment to gather her thoughts after an explosion of facts.
Minutes passed and finally she looked up at him, dark circles under her eyes. “You and your family have been so kind to me, so please I couldn’t bear if they knew the lifestyle I lived.”
“Monica, they won’t judge you. They like you.”
Her eyes turned cold. “They like sweet and innocent Monica. Not the prostitute Monica who probably killed a man.” She stood and swiped a tear that fell to her cheek. She met his gaze and the warmth that was there earlier when they’d been a stitch away from making love had vanished. “I’ll help you with whatever you need from me, but then I will go with you freely to the authorities. After all, isn’t that why I’m here? For the money I’m worth?”
What could he say? She was right, at least partially. When he started this, he’d wanted the money.
Monica opened the door and Cull stood on the stoop, a stack of papers in his hands. He’d given her the night to wrap her brain around the truth, but even a century wouldn’t be enough to help her absorb that she was neck deep in trouble. She’d wanted her memory to come back and now she wanted to go back to not knowing anything.
They stared at each other, the tension could have been scraped with a shovel. She swore she could still feel the draw between them as if the knowledge of who she really was didn’t make a difference, but it certainly made a difference to her. Even if she could get past the truth, why would he still find her attractive, let alone want to take things to the next level?
It was as if a dream had been smashed by a giant’s foot. There was no chance that she and Cull could ever be more than what they were at the moment. A lawman and a criminal. My God, I’m a criminal.
Feeling the sting of tears in her eyes, she refused to weaken in front of him again.
He cleared his throat. “I hope I’m not too early. You said you’d be ready to look through the paperwork this morning.”
She nodded. “I just started coffee. I think I’ll definitely need some.”
He moved through the door and his large frame seemed to take up all the oxygen, but it was comforting. She was always comforted when he was near, but she needed to get it through her head that for him she was a money sign.
“Before we start, I think we need to clear the air.”
“Didn’t we already do that in the stables last night?” She tried her best to be flippant when all she wanted to do was be weak…in his arms. Her world turned upside down, again.
“I feel like scum at the bottom of the pond.”
“Really? If there’s a layer below that there’s where I’d be.” She closed the door with her foot.
“A lot has happened since you walked into my life, Monica. I’m as confused as you are.”
She crossed her arms over her chest wanting her heart to stop pounding. “Makes me even more confused wondering where the kisses came into play? Doesn’t that break some law?”
He pursed his lips. “Yes…and no. You’re only wanted for questioning.”
“The widow must believe I’m a killer for her to put a number on my head.”
“Everyone’s guilt must be proven.”
She turned because she couldn’t look at him without allowing her emotions to swarm. “If that’s what you say.”
“You didn’t do this. We’ll prove it. There’s something I need from you.”