What the…Wait. Don’t leave!
Her mind screamed the words she didn’t dare shout in the crowded bar.
Confusion gripped her brain and sadness squeezed her heart as she gaped at Austin’s retreating body—all wide shoulders, narrow waist, and decadent muscles.
Why, or rather, how could he just up and walk away, leave her wet, wanting, and throbbing like this? His masculine scent—an intoxicating combination of soap and woodsy aftershave—stained her skin, her clothes, and her senses like it had two weeks ago.
What she’d thought had been her worst day ever—having to call an ambulance to take her sick grandpa to the hospital, then dealing with a pack of snarling coyotes—turned out to be the best night of her life. Though Paige had been terrified, she’d been determined to save her grandpa’s chickens. Then out of nowhere, Austin swaggered in, all tall, gorgeous, and manly, and saved her. Okay, so he might have startled her so badly she tripped, fell on her ass, and accidentally pulled the trigger of the shotgun. But he hadn’t killed him and he hadn’t run away. No, he’d charged in like the heroes from the fairy tales she read as a kid and slayed those nasty coyotes—after he’d held her while she cried like a baby and sent her inside to take a bubble bath.
She never had thanked him, had she?
As Paige watched the front door close behind him, her heart clutched.
After pushing off the bar, she hurried across the hardwoods. The little voice in her head warned she was being foolish and reckless, and likely backfire miserably since she had no idea what she was even going to say to him. Paige didn’t care. She couldn’t miss the opportunity to spend a few more precious minutes with the man.
As she stepped outside, relief washed through her. Except for the tall, drool-worthy cowboy striding toward his truck, Main Street was empty.
“Austin, wait. Hold up,” she called, hurrying after him.
Pausing, he slowly turned, pinning her with a narrow-eyed glare.
“What are you doing out here, little girl?” he bit out through clenched teeth.
His angry demeanor confused her but Paige didn’t let that deter her.
“I-I… You didn’t ask if I was able to convince Grandpa to join you and Colton,” she stammered, peering up at him beneath the streetlamp.
Though Austin was only five or six inches taller than her, his broad, rugged body made her feel small.
“W-well…no. Not yet,” she stammered as his gaze stalled on her lips.
When she nervously licked them, a muffled groan rolled in his throat. Inwardly cursing her lack of experience with men, she lowered her lashes and stared at the tips of his work-roughened boots.
An awkward silence hung in the air for several long seconds before Austin cupped her chin. Shivers slid down her spine as he gently tilted her head back and forced her gaze.
“Let me get this straight. You followed me out here to tell me you don’t have anything to tell me?”
His expression was so unreadable Paige didn’t know if his question was legit or if he was mocking her. When his lips twitched and he arched a brow…
With a defiant lift of her chin, she said the first thing that popped in her brain. “Not exactly. Since Grandpa thinks I’m still five and forbade me to talk to you, I thought I’d give you an update since I don’t know when we’ll be alone again.”
While Paige silently celebrated the plausible pile of bullshit she’d just spewed, Austin flashed a blinding smile, transforming his chiseled face into a panty-melting portrait of beauty.
Her sex clenched and her knees shook.
“Liar,” he murmured with a chuckle before eyeing the shadowy alcove of Budding Memories, Haven’s Taxidermy/Flower shop, now closed for the night.
Austin sobered, then captured her with the same smoldering stare that had nearly incinerated her on the dance floor before a knowing smirk curled his lips.
“We both know why you followed me out here. It wasn’t for some pretend update.”
Oh, shit. Busted!
Lost in his piercing blue eyes and the wet heat of his breath soaking her mouth, Paige couldn’t think of a pithy comeback. Hell, she couldn’t think of anything at all except the ache to kiss him.
“Christ, girl. Do you have any idea what you do to me?” he growled.