Feet shifted in front of her, and the heat of the sheriff’s body surrounded her. Not able to resist, she looked back up only to find him staring at her, too, his eyes hooded and intense. Rainey felt her cheeks heat. Damn, those eyes could be her undoing if she let them.
Not wanting to look like an even greater fool, she cleared her throat and thanked him again.
“Thanks, Sheriff, umm, for b-bringing me here and for the tissue. I’m Rainey.”
“Smith,” she answered without thinking. Shit. She should have made something up. Having him know her last name could cause major problems. She definitely had to leave now.
“No problem, Rainey. And the name’s Mick.”
Warmth spread throughout her body at his use of her name. His voice was like velvet, dark and rich. He never broke eye contact with her, and she could feel her blush spreading. She hoped that her bruises hid her reaction to him because this was ridiculous. What was coming over her?
“How’s she doing, Doc? Can I take her home?”
“Home?” The word got Rainey’s full attention. There was no way she was going back to New York. Oh shit, was he one of Bobby’s men? Was he going to take her from here and deliver her back to Bobby? Hell no, she was not going back there without a fight.
Before she could push Mick away and make a run for it, his voice penetrated her panic.
“That’s right, Rainey.” Mick smiled as he explained, “Ruby told me you were looking for someplace to rent, and the ranch that my brothers and I own happens to have a small cabin for rent. It’s much more comfortable than a hotel room. Although I think it would be best for you to stay in the main house until you’re all healed up.”
Relief coursed through her, and she didn’t know what to say to the sheriff’s offer. She had to leave Caston Springs. She knew that was the best course of action, but his offer was so tempting. A cabin did sound a lot nicer than a dingy hotel room, but leaving was for the best.
“I don’t think it would be wise for me to stay on your ranch, Sheriff. Thanks for the offer though.”
He didn’t need to know that as soon as she was released, she would be hitting the road.
Doc Baird cleared his throat and directed his next comment at Rainey.
“If I may interrupt, it might be best for you to stay on the Hayes’s ranch for a couple days, Rainey. Just until you’re more mobile and can take care of yourself. No matter what the X-rays say tomorrow, I’m going to recommend you take it easy on your foot for a week. I’ve also prescribed some pain pills so that your ribs don’t pain you too greatly and you can get some sleep.”
With that said, the doctor turned away and once again began to scribble something on his notepad.
Damn, she hadn’t thought about her injuries, totally caught up in Mick and his strange effect on her. Gently flexing her body, Rainey tested just how tender she was. Everything hurt. There would be no way she would be able to walk out of here by herself with the discomfort she was in, let alone get on another bus and risk all the bumps and cramped spaces.
Looking at Mick again, she weighed her options. Could she trust him? Could she trust the strange feelings this man caused? Her reaction to him was strong, and she had a feeling when it was time to leave she wouldn’t be leaving whole. But staying on protected land with him for a couple days didn’t seem like a bad plan. She would hide herself away, get well, and then leave without anyone having to know she was here. But she had to be smart about this. She knew nothing about this man…and her current financial situation may also deter him from his offer.
Rainey looked over at the sheriff. He did look sincere in his offer to help her. Too bad her next comment would probably be a deal breaker.
“I don’t have the money to pay for rent, Sheriff.”
For a moment, anger crossed his features at her comment, but the look was gone before she could question it.
“You don’t need to worry about that right now, Rainey. In Caston Springs, we look out for our own. And the name’s Mick,” he repeated sternly.
One of their own. The phrase almost brought tears to her eyes. She had never really belonged anywhere. She was always too busy after her mother’s death to truly fit in and develop lasting friends or to make her crappy apartment a home. But here in Caston Springs she was already being welcomed, and all she had done was faint in a diner. She must be more exhausted than she thought if such a simple phrase could affect her like this.
His refusal to take money from her confused her. She’d never had anyone offer her something for free—everything came with a price. For the moment though, she wouldn’t question his generosity. Only time would tell if he was telling the truth.
A tiny flicker of hope she couldn’t press down came to life. Maybe life here could be different. Maybe she could actually have a life and find some happiness, even if it was only for a little while. She wasn’t dumb and thinking she could stay here forever. Sooner or later her past would catch up to her, and she would have to be on the move, but staying with the sheriff would be the safest bet if she was going to rest up for a while. She would keep her eyes and ears open though.
Deciding that it was about time she took control of her own life, Rainey smiled at Mick.
“Sounds like a plan…Mick. Thanks for the hospitality.”
He smiled back at her.
“All right. Now that that’s taken care of, Sheriff, would you mind moving back so I can check her ribs?”
She could still feel Mick’s eye on her even as he moved to the back of the room near a hanging curtain, giving her privacy so the doctor could lift her shirt. His presence was so commanding, Rainey bet she would be able to sense him in a crowded room.
When Rainey woke the next morning, it was to find herself snuggled tight to Mick’s side and surrounded in his warmth. They were both on their sides facing each other. He had one hand firmly around her waist, and she had her head on his other arm. Her hands were wedged between their bodies, and she could feel his chest move with each breath.
Not wanting to lose this moment, Rainey pretended she was still asleep. Feigning that she was cold, she snuggled closer until her hands could touch the heat of his chest. From beneath her lashes, she studied him.
Even in sleep Mick still had a stern look to his features. Trailing her eyes downward, Rainey pressed her lips together to keep from making a sound. He was a fantasy come to life. Lean but strongly built, Mick’s body begged to be petted and explored. His arm muscles bulged even in rest, and his chest was defined and solid. She wished she had a better angle so she could run her hand down his drool-worthy, chiseled chest and explore each ridge of his body.
She gave up the act of sleeping when she ran a hand over his shoulder, her need to touch him overwhelming. Slowly she placed one hand over his beating heart and gasped when he moved at her touch. In his sleep, Mick pumped his hips against her, and there was no ignoring the hard object that brushed against her. Her body instantly reacted.
Their bodies were close now, pressed together in delicious places, and a feeling of empowerment consumed her as his cock twitched against her.
Wanting more, she began to rub her hands over his muscles, touching every part of him she could without disturbing their current position. When her hands rubbed low on his abdomen, Mick groaned. Taking encouragement from that noise, she trailed her hand lower. A hand reached out and halted her descent.
She giggled as he brought her hands up to his lips and kissed them. Smiling up into his face, Rainey boldly thrust her chest forward so her breasts were flat against his chest.
She watched his eyes flair with heated interest as she rubbed against him. His cock twitched again, and she couldn’t contain her smile. Oh yeah, she was loving the effect she had on him.
“Honey, this is the sweetest and cruelest wake-up call I have ever received.”
She had mischief in her eyes as she stretched up to give Mick a morning kiss. Instead of it being the quick and simple kiss she had intended, he slipped his hands into her hair and held her in place, driving his tongue into her mouth and prolonging the kiss. Her body pressed tight against his.
It was deep and slow, but its effect on her was like a flash fire. She was about to combust if she didn’t kick things up a notch. She was trying to seduce him after all!
Pushing gently against him, she rolled on top. Her aches and pains were gone this morning. Only a little twinge in her ribs bothered her as all her weight rested on Mick. But it was quickly forgotten when his hands roamed and rested on her lower back.
She was only wearing a shirt and panties, having removed her sweatpants in the middle of the night, so every movement to get closer exposed more skin to explore. She could feel every solid ridge beneath her.
Electric waves carried through her body at the intimate contact. She wanted more.
Wiggling her ass, she encouraged his hands as they drifted downward, exploring her inch by inch. His hands dipped lower, tracing patterns on her skin. Tingles followed in their wake as she breathlessly waited for him to slip his hand under the band of her panties.
Their bodies rubbed together and hands grabbed for bare skin, the heat of the moment taking them over. Rainey felt like she had fallen through the rabbit hole. This was such a new experience for her that all the signals and sensations her body was giving off were bewildering and addicting at the same time. She was free-falling, but she knew she was safe in Mick’s arms.
She wanted him. It was as simple and complex as that. She didn’t want to deny herself something that felt so natural and right with him.
Coming up for air, she twisted her body weight to the side and took him along with her until he was the one on top. Her body gave no protest at the delicious weight.
With a wicked smile at him, she caressed his nape and brought his head down for another soft kiss.
“Rainey, if we don’t stop soon I don’t think I will be able to,” he whispered against her lips.
“Then don’t stop.”