Heiress and the Cowboy (Justice Book) - Page 23

A wide grin spreads across Sterling’s face. “We’ve got a nice fire pit in the back. I’ll invite some people over, and we can see who has the best scary tales.”

“You Americans have no chance.” Maria tilts her head up. “I will make friends with the ghosts and bring them with me to your party.”

“It’s a deal.” Sterling practically skips off.

I’ve never seen the kid so happy. Cam smushes her lips together to hide her smile.

“You have my number, so text me if you need anything,” she tells the young girl. “I’m only a golf cart ride away.”

Maria grabs Cam’s wrist, her confidence suddenly gone. “A golf cart? You don’t live at the main house? Don’t leave me. Take me with you.”

“I stay with Tucker, and he lives in his own place. It’s still on the ranch,” Cam reassures her.

The younger woman isn’t convinced, and she doesn’t look like she wants to release Cam’s arm. “This place is enormous, though!”

“My place is dry, dusty, and old,” I say. “The main house is a lot nicer.”

“I like dry and dusty. I live in a villa that’s five hundred years old. Dry and dusty is my favorite,” the girl exclaims.

Maria is a nice girl, but Cam and I have stuff we need to sort out, and another person will only complicate things.

“My place isn’t set up for guests, Maria.”

“How about I stay here for the night?” Cam suggests. “There’s another guest quarters upstairs, isn’t there?”

I give a curt nod. Cam smiles at Maria. “Good. It’s all settled. I need to unpack too. Why don’t you rest up until dinner?”

“Yes. I’ll do that. Thank you so much, Cam and Mr. Justice.”

I hold my tongue until we reach the upstairs guest room. “You doing this to run away from me or because you really think Maria needs you?”

“How can I be running away from you? I’m still on the ranch.” Cam shakes out one of her pretty dresses and hangs it in the closet.

“But out of my bed.”

She picks up her toiletry kit and goes to the bathroom. I follow her and watch as she lays out her bottles and creams as if she’s moving in for a long visit and not just an overnight stay.

“You can only make love at your cabin in the woods? I hardly believe that’s true.” She slides me a sardonic look before brushing by me to retrieve more clothes from her suitcase.

I squeeze my neck so I don’t say something I’ll regret, like if she’s planning to break it off, do it now rather than later so I can go about fixing it somehow. “Me not liking parties doesn’t mean I’m trying to keep you from your friends.”

“I know that, Tuck. And I’m not staying in this room like it’s some kind of punishment because you didn’t enjoy the wedding. Maria’s eighteen, and she’s suffering a trauma. I can’t just abandon her to cavort with you at your retreat.” She sets down a stack of sweaters and comes over to plant her hands on my chest. “I’m an adult, and we will work through these things. You just have to meet me halfway.” She rises on her tiptoes and plants a soft kiss on my lips.

My hands automatically encircle her waist to pull her close. The bed in here is a king size one. I’m sure the mattress is sturdy enough to hold us. I don’t give a shit who hears me making love to my woman. I start to back her up to the bed when she pulls her mouth from mine. “Not right now, baby.” She pats me on the chest. “It was a long flight, and I need my beauty rest, too. I’m sure you have horses to see and deals to close.”

In short order, I find myself out in the hall with the door closed gently, but firmly, in my face. Horses to see? Deals to close? What in the hell is going on?

“You look lost, Tucker.”

I turn to see Calder strolling down the hall. There’s a familiar smug look on his face. I’ve seen it in my own mirror after having a little bed play with Cam. Sure enough, two seconds later, Birdie appears, patting her hair.

“Oh, Tucker,” she says in surprise. “Did the plane land? I didn’t hear anything.”

“That makes sense because jet engines are so quiet,” I drawl.

Calder smirks. “Guess we were distracted.” He slings an arm around Birdie’s shoulders. “Good to have you back, though. Got some new business I want you to look at.”

I jerk my chin in acknowledgment and then address Birdie. “I brought a girl back from Italy. She’s in the Widow’s Chambers. Maria’s her name.”

“What about Cam? Does she know?”

“Yeah. It was Cam’s idea.”

“Cam’s idea?” Birdie repeats. “As in a”—she lowers her voice—“threesome?”

“Hell no. It’s just a girl in a bad situation, and Cam figured the ranch would be a good place for her to hang out.”

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