“Hey, Miss Tara, I want to introduce you to my buddy, Travis.” Bryant gave a nod to the man eyeing her like a juicy morsel he had every intention of gobbling up.
“It’s nice to meet you.” Tara’s words came out in a husky murmur that betrayed the desire thickening within her veins.
It didn’t embarrass her, though. They were all on the same page. That became clear as Travis took her hand and brought it to his lips to brush a tingle-worthy kiss over her knuckles.
“The pleasure is all mine.”
“Check out Casanova.” One of the other deputies smirked, causing a hint of amusement to ripple through the group and a blush racing across Tara’s cheeks.
It was one thing to be attracted to the two men, but it was another for everybody to be aware of the tension thickening around all three of them. Neither Bryant nor Travis seemed to care. Both men simply ignored the snickering and smiled down at her.
“Miss Tara here is afraid she won’t make a good hostage,” Bryant informed Travis, pausing to add a sensual weight to the rest of his revelation. “She says she’s not much of a screamer.”
“Well then, I guess we’ll just have to work to prove her wrong.” Travis’s smile took on a wicked curl as his voice rumbled out in a soft, sexy whisper that left no doubt of his meaning.
Tara felt the heat in her cheeks spread across the rest of her face, but she didn’t let that stop her from teasing him back with a smile and a lift of one brow. “Yes, deputy, you’re going to have to work very, very hard.”
It was no doubt a dangerous thing to taunt these two men, but Tara was tired of living the safe life. She wanted to have fun, to have an adventure, and the matching smiles that Bryant and Travis wore assured her that she’d found one.
“Well then, maybe we ought to get to it, huh?” Bryant held out a hand to her. “Come on, beautiful. We’ve got to get you tied up and ready for action.”
As ominous as that sounded, there was no denying the thrill that shot through her as Tara slid her hand into his and allowed him to lead her across the field toward the old, run-down shack in the distance. It looked as if it belonged in a horror movie. Tara wasn’t much into horror movies, but she was into the big man explaining everything as they made their way toward the charred building.
“I don’t want you to worry or anything,” Bryant started, his words making her do the exact opposite of what he said. “But you are going to need to wear a bullet-proof vest.”
“Really?” That took the fun out of the moment in an instant. “They’re really going to shoot at us?”
“Not with live rounds, but that doesn’t mean that duds won’t hurt, and we don’t want to bruise any of your pale skin, do we?” Bryant cast her another appreciative glance.
This time the heat in his gaze did not burn away the sudden worry over what she’d just gotten herself into.
“What about my head?” Tara shot back, definitely not interested in breaking any of those bones.
“Nobody will be aiming for it,” Bryant assured her, though Tara was not comforted by that.
“Doesn’t mean they wouldn’t hit it,” Tara muttered back, earning a chuckle from Bryant.
“Trust me, sunshine. I’m not going to let anything happen to you. In fact, I’m going to tie you up and stuff you in a closet, so nothing bad can happen to you.”
“Gee, be still my beating heart.” Tara rolled her eyes as Bryant laughed once again. The man had a big smile and a deep chuckle that warmed her through and had Tara grinning despite herself.
“Come on. Let’s get you suited up.”
Bryant led her into the burnt-out building. The place was a real dump and full of equipment. There were doors and barricades and weapons along with life-sized dummies and furniture that had obviously seen much better days.
“I’m going to get you set up,” Bryant explained as he led her over to a rickety looking table that was loaded down with supplies. “Then I’ve got to get this place staged. So, the fun won’t begin for a while.”
“And I’m going to be stuck in a closet the whole time?” Tara asked, not thrilled by that idea.
“You can chill out here for a while, but you’ve got to put your vest on now.” Bryant lifted a heavy-looking, black vest off of the table and turned toward her.
Tara frowned, the situation really coming to light as she took in everything. As much fun as she had been having, she wasn’t sure that trend was going to continue. Of course, she could be wrong. Tara’s opinion of the situation shifted slightly as Bryant freed the Velcro straps and stepped up toward her.
“Here, I’ll help.”
By help he meant all but taking a free feel, though Tara didn’t mind. She stood still as he lowered the vest over her shoulders and adjusted the side straps. Apparently, that involved testing the fit, which had his big, thick fingers curling around the edges of the back to tease the sides of her breasts as he tugged on the heavy piece of armor.
“There you go,” Bryant murmured, a husky hint thickening his words as he tugged once more on her vest. This time he let his fingers spread out to brush over the heavy swells of her breasts, making her nipples harden in a rush as tingly pleasure spread out of her chest. ”A perfect fit.”
Yes, they were going to be. Tara smiled and stepped slowly back, enjoying this exciting game they were playing. More than that, she was enjoying the roll of the flirt as she lifted her gaze to meet and hold his, the truth of their attraction clear between them.
“Maybe,” she countered before putting it all out there. “I guess we won’t know until we try it out.”
That wasn’t the smoothest line, but it still drew a smile from him. “We’ll get there, sunshine. Don’t you worry.”
Worry? How could she not? Tara was way out of her league.
Right then, Travis was thinking he wanted another round with little Miss Tara. Maybe two. Maybe three. Maybe more. They’d sort that all out later once he caught up with her and explained a few things. Like she’d run off, but she hadn’t been dismissed.
Of course, Travis had to find her first. It seemed obvious where to look, and all it took to confirm his suspicion was a quick call out to the mayor’s place. The maid answered and informed him that Miss Tara was not available at that moment. He didn’t know what the hell that meant but still suspected that she was out there. That left him two choices. Pull on a suit and head on out there for a formal call or put on his camis and lay siege to the mayor’s house.
There really was only one right choice, which was why he got his camouflaged gear out. It was probably overkill. After all, the mayor didn’t have a gate, a fence, or even a dog to overcome, but Travis had fun anyway. He scurried through the yard, ducking behind bushes and hiding behinds trees as he circled the pool to the guest cottage.
Travis knew the layout of the mayor’s place by heart, having been invited to enough employee Christmas parties at the large, brick mansion. The guest cottage was much smaller and very quaint. It was the perfect place to stash a niece. He knew he was right on the money with that thought as he pushed up the bathroom window and lifted himself through it.
Almost instantly he was engulfed in the sweet scent of feminine products that blended together into a unique fragrance that he recognized instantly as Tara’s. He took a moment to sniff his way through her lotions, perfumes, and other assorted toiletries, admiring just how neat and perfectly she kept her bathroom.
A sound from the main room drew his attention away from all the various and sundry products every woman seemed to need and toward the door, which he cracked open to spy Tara in the little kitchenette area prepping what looked to be a sandwich on the counter. She had her back to him and was singing a little song to herself that disguised the slight sigh of the door as he eased into the room. He crept silently across the tilted floor to come up right behind Tara.
There he hesitated, waiting for the moment she turned around. When it came, she didn’t fail to react with a startled fright that had him laughing. Tara shrieked, her whole body jerking with the motion and causing her sandwich to go flying. Bread, lettuce, tomatoes, and an assorted mixture of sliced meats splayed across the floor as she panted for a breath that Tara recovered rather quickly.
“What the hell are you doing?” Instantly halting her momentary retreat, she straightened back up to glare at him. Travis didn’t even try to hide his smile as he eyed the thick robe she was wrapped up in.
“Stalking you,” he answered honestly. “You got anything on under that?”
“Stalking me?” Tara repeated, easing around him with her scowl still firmly in place. “Why in the world are you doing that?”
“Because I’m horny.” Actually he was several degrees hotter than that, and he really wanted to know what she had on under that robe, but Tara didn’t appear interested in answering his question yet. She was still stuck on confused.
“I would think you would know enough women who would gladly handle that problem and that you wouldn’t have to resort to stalking after me.”
Travis shrugged, unable to deny that’s just what he was doing as he followed her through the swinging door and back into the living room. “Yep, but it’s you I want.”
That was a line that normally worked like butter for him, but Tara was different from the women he normally used it on. She didn’t melt. Just the opposite. She retreated farther back and away from him.
“Deputy,” Tara pointedly repeated. “I’m not looking for…more than a little fun.”
“I take exception to that,” Travis cut in as he began to pace after Tara, crowding her back toward the sofa. “We had a lot of fun. Not a little.”
“We had a one-night stand,” Tara insisted. “And now that night is over.”
“Let’s call it a fling instead and keep the party rolling,” Travis suggested as Tara came to a stop, her knees pressing into the edge of the couch as he closed in on her. “What do you say, sunshine? Wanna fuck?”
Tara licked her lips, the scent of her arousal thickening in the air as she stared up wide-eyed at him. She wanted him—Travis was sure of that—but he wasn’t sure what would come out of her mouth. He shouldn’t have been confused. If Tara had proven one thing in the past twenty-four hours, she was honest.
”But nothing, sunshine.” Travis had the answer he wanted, and he didn’t plan on slowing down to hear any kind of objections. Instead, he reached for her terry cloth belt as he offered her a smile. “Let’s get this robe off you and back to having some fun.”