“So, Raven, have you seen them today?” Emeline Newsom, who worked as a caregiver to one of the older citizens in town, leaned closer. Her long, copper-colored hair shifted over her shoulders as she drilled her bright blue eyes into Raven.
Raven’s blonde locks were from a bottle. Next time, she just might try going red. The color definitely worked for Emeline, especially with her blue eyes. At least Raven wouldn’t have to fake those. She had already had the blue eyes.
“Who are you talking about?” Like she didn’t know.
Heather Dill, the resident artist, laughed. “Oh, come on. You know damn well who we’re talking about.” Nothing about Heather was fake or from a bottle. Not her short brown hair that framed her oval face so well, not her big brown eyes, not her generous bosom, and certainly not her wind-chime giggle.
Yeah, she knew who they meant, but she didn’t like talking about them. Thinking about them made her hot enough. If she started telling the girls how much she wanted them, she’d melt into a pool of lust.
The Hardwick men. Damn, if there were any hotter men on the face of the planet, she’d be shocked as hell, and she’d definitely want to meet them. All three of the Hardwick men stood well over six feet, and had broad shoulders, callused hands, and seriously mesmerizing eyes.
Drake was the oldest of the three gorgeous brothers. Although all of the men worked the Hard Luck Ranch, Drake was also the sheriff. As such, he took care of any problems around Fate and a few of the other small towns in northern Georgia. He was one of those calm, cool, and collected men who could, if needed, unleash a firestorm of fury when pushed past his limits.
Maybe he’d honed his calm resolve during his time as a Special Ops soldier in the Marine Corps. Or maybe he was just made that way. She’d seen him in action only once when a couple of outsiders, young men looking for bad fun, drove into town and started shooting up the place. Drake had walked into the danger, ignoring their threats to plug him full of bullets, like a man who knew no fear. He’d nearly broken their arms bending them behind their backs to get them to drop their guns. Surprisingly, he let the assholes leave and didn’t throw them into the small jailhouse at the end of town.
Harrin Hardwick was the middle man in more ways than just his birth as the middle child. He spent most of his time at the ranch, handling the cattle and the horses they raised. He was known to be as good with a gun as he was on a horse. Unlike Drake, he was more interested in taking care of his brothers and their ranch than worrying about everyone else. Still, he was likeable and often joked around while sharing a beer at the local bar called the Wolf’s Den. He seemed more relaxed than Drake and showed it in his easy-going walk and the way he kept his thick brown hair long enough to curl around his earlobes.
I’d like to chew on those earlobes.
Raven checked around the table. Thankfully, she hadn’t spoken out loud. She had no business thinking about the Hardwick men, but that didn’t keep her mind from shifting her thoughts over to Dugan Hardwick, the youngest brother at thirty-one, with Drake being thirty-five and Harrin thirty-three. Dugan was the shortest of them, but was still at least a couple of inches over six feet, and just as solidly built. It was obvious that he idolized his older brothers, especially Drake, since he often served as a deputy whenever Drake needed an extra hand.
Still, after what she’d been through, the last thing she needed was to get mixed up with three cowboy Romeos, no matter how damn sexy they were.
“She wants us to coax it out of her. Like she’s pretending she doesn’t think about them night and day.” Betsy Cramer, the self-proclaimed “big, beautiful woman” of their group, arched an eyebrow and flipped her rich chocolate hair over her shoulder. Her green eyes sparkled with mischief. “Spit it out, girl. You know damn well if Drake and his brothers walked in here right this minute, you’d jump to your feet and ask them what they wanted. Hell, if they ordered you to hop on top of the table and spread ’em, you’d shove us out of here so fast we’d think a tornado had barreled through the store.”
Betsy was right, of course. Not that she’d admit it.
“Can we talk about something else? Anything else?” She forced her mind off the brothers which was, in all honesty, a minor miracle. “Does anyone know anything about Pearl Witten?” It was a last-ditch effort to divert the conversation away from the Hardwick men.
“What about Pearl?” asked Heather.
Shit. She’d forgotten that Heather and Pearl were close friends. She and Heather seemed to have a special bond. As yet, the rest of them hadn’t gotten to know Pearl well.
She and the other three women had arrived in Fate around the same time, about two months earlier. They’d found each other in The General Store and then again in the market one day while they were doing their grocery shopping. After a brief moment exchanging information about each other, it was easy to tell they’d become fast friends. Each of them had come from somewhere else and had, through fate or blind luck, wound up in Fate, population six hundred and eighteen. They hadn’t shared the reasons they’d ended up in an out-of-the-way town that wasn’t even noted on a map, but Raven was willing to bet they were running from something as much as they were coming to something.
Tossing her keys on top of the kitchen counter, Raven opened the refrigerator and took out a bottle of water. She needed to cool herself down, but chilled water wasn’t the answer. After checking around to make sure all the windows and doors were still locked, she went into the bedroom and stripped off her clothes.
By the time she’d turned on the water, she was naked and knowing what she had to do. A girl had to find relief somehow. She stepped into the shower, adjusting the temperature to suit her.
“Come to Mama, you hunk of hard metal.” Taking hold of the shower head, she pulled it out of its holder and stretched out the tube. She placed one foot on the built-in seat, then positioned the shower head between her legs.
The water beat against her already raging pussy. Flattening her hand against the tiles for stability, she moved the water closer.
Pounding relentlessly, the spray struck her in just the right spot. A rush of excitement coursed through her with the water surging into her and shooting upward. She moaned, wished she had three hands so she could play with herself without falling down, then carefully spread her legs farther apart.
She pretended the men were there and the memory of Drake’s mouth on her nipple came rushing back. She could still feel Drake’s tongue as it slid over her taut bud and the sting of his bite. Once he’d exposed one of her breasts, she’d ached to have him expose the other.
The way Dugan’s hands had felt against her butt had been amazing. She’d enjoyed the hell out of his slipping his fingers under her panties and had tried to convince him to add his tongue to her ass hole by thrusting her butt toward him.
If only Harrin had joined them. She’d thought he would when she’d looked at him, putting all her desire into drawing him closer. Was he the one who wouldn’t want her?
She shoved the heartbreaking idea away.
Even if everyone at the club had gathered around them and watched, she wouldn’t have stopped. Hell, she hadn’t even heard the group that had come outside until the men had moved away.
She twisted the dial on the shower head, changing from a steady stream to a pulsating one. The burn in her abdomen burst into a higher heat. It was almost painful, but it was a pain she loved.
She brought the stream of pounding water closer still.
Her legs shook as her pussy throbbed. Her juices mixed with the water, sliding along the inside of her legs.
Pulse. Pulse. Pulse.
The feeling of the water beating against her for a second, then leaving only to return with another lashing, echoed as a chant inside her. If she didn’t sit down soon, she’d collapse. She’d been on the edge of a climax since coming home. It wouldn’t take much longer.
Hoping the shower seat would hold her weight, she pushed the bottle of shampoo off and lowered her ass to the platform. Again, she spread her legs, pointing the hard spray back to her pussy.
The water pressure was good, but if she could’ve made it even stronger, she would have. Instead, she put a finger to her clit, adding her own kind of pressure.
Her orgasm exploded, the force of it driving outward like the plume of an atom bomb racing across the innocent land. Her body shook and she tightened her grip on the hose. Her mind swam, going along on the torrent of the climax’s wave. She cried out, closing her eyes as her body went through spasm after spasm, her legs shaking as her release took control. Try as she might, she could no longer hold onto the spray. It dropped to the shower floor, twisting like a freed snake and shooting blasts of water around the shower stall.
By the time her body stopped convulsing, the painted wall above the shower was wet. Grabbing hold of the tubing, she pushed herself off the stool and placed it back in its holder. She studied the water-soaked wall and smiled. Even if the landlord made her pay for any damage, it would be well worth it.
She stepped out of the shower, realizing only then that the towel was on the other side of the room. The chilly air swept over her still-wet body as she passed by the window.
She would’ve sworn the hair on her arms stood on end. Slowly, she turned and stared through the thinly curtained window at the woods beyond.
Three large wolves stood at the edge of the line of trees. She didn’t know for certain, but she had the feeling one of them was the wolf from the other night. Relief took her as she realized that she hadn’t seriously hurt him. Had she wounded him at all?
She stayed immobile as their yellow gazes locked on to her. How long had they been there? Were they really watching her, or just the house?
And yet, she knew without a doubt. They were watching her, but why? Why would three amazing, large wolves watch a human?
Their eyes brightened, suddenly making her all too aware of her nakedness. It was as though they weren’t looking at her like the animals they were, but as more. More as though they were each a combination of animal and—
She frowned, surprised at where her thoughts had taken her.
More as though they were each a combination of animal and…man.
Stunned, she spun around, grabbed the towel from the holder and wrapped it around her. By the time she looked outside again, the wolves were gone.
A shiver ran down her spine as she pushed the curtain aside and pressed a hand to the window. Her breaths rose and fell as a flurry of emotions came. Heat sprang alive and renewed inside her, surprising her.
Did I just get turned on by wolves?