“You’ve improved my Saturday night a whole lot, too.” He liked the feel of her, his hand warming the cool skin through the thin blouse she wore. “It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about anything outside of work.”
Her eyebrows lifted. “Leading me to wonder what you could be thinking about right now.” Her lips curved. “Admiring the Wrangler’s decor? Or maybe remembering how much you like a good George Jones tune?”
He laughed appreciatively. “I do respect a bar that still plays a classic. But the vinyl upholstery in the booths isn’t doing much for me in the decor department.” His gaze skated over her features; he was looking forward to making her blush again. “And I was thinking about you more than anything else.”
His directness might have caught her off guard. She nibbled her lower lip briefly before meeting his eyes. “I haven’t been the center of anyone’s attention in…a long time.”
There was a story there. He heard it in her voice. Saw it in her eyes.
“You aren’t involved with someone else?” He needed to be sure before he let this go on any longer. But his pulse was already thrumming.
“I don’t see a ring, but I have to ask.”
“I am very much unattached.” She shook her head, red curls catching the overhead light as she moved. “What about you? No one waiting at home?”
“The only ones who might be missing my presence right now are a couple of rowdy shepherds back at my ranch who would have preferred the night off.” He swayed with her. Her knee brushed his now and again in a way that fired right through him. “But no girlfriend. No wife.”
He respected that she asked, even though she was clearly feeling the same spark as him. And now that those formalities had been cleared away, he could simply enjoy the moment. The completely unexpected pleasure of having a beautiful stranger in his arms. He didn’t want to let go of her now. He wanted to take her outside into the fresh, rain-cleaned night and kiss her. See if she tasted as good as he imagined.
“The stars are aligning for us so far, aren’t they?” She peered up at him with something like wonder in her eyes. He couldn’t remember a woman ever looking at him quite like
that. As if he was the answer to a question. An answer that pleased her.
“It feels that way.” He didn’t want to scare her off with empty pickup lines, or come across as some lowlife playing games with a woman in a bar. But as the music shifted again—this time to an even slower, modern country love song—Cody wondered if he could convince her to let the spark between them run wild. To follow the heat wherever it led.
“And since the stars aligning would be a first for me, I wonder if can ask you just one thing.”
He halted them in the middle of the floor, now that the two-step was done. Bringing her fractionally closer, he swayed to the slower tempo in a barely moving lovers’ dance.
She followed him seamlessly, her gaze never straying from his. She was fully focused on him. Framed by dusky brown lashes, those green-gold eyes reminded him of new grass and spring.
“Sure. Ask away.” Her voice had a sweet-sultry quality that made him want to listen to her speak more.
“Don’t you ever wish you could forget about the expectations of the world around you and just…choose your own adventure?” He remembered books like that when he’d been a kid, where you could test out different endings to a story. For someone who’d always taken the safe route in real life, he had liked the option of seeing how another choice played out. At least in a book. Cody couldn’t do that with ranching. Or his family. But he could take a chance here. Tonight.
Her lashes swept down for a long moment, hiding her expression. But when she tilted a glance up at him again, there was a new curiosity there.
“Are you asking to share an adventure with me?” She sounded disbelieving. But maybe a little intrigued.
“I suppose I am.” He would never have made such an outrageous suggestion to a local—a woman who knew him or his family. But she had “tourist” and “temporary” written all over her. Surely there couldn’t be any harm in drawing out the flirtation? “What would you say to throwing away the rule book for a little longer?”
He let go of her hand for a moment to tip her chin higher, to see her face in the dim overhead light of the dance floor. Feminine interest flickered in her eyes. He inhaled as she released a pent-up breath. He could almost taste her in the space of silence between them. Then he leaned closer to press his cause. “Choose me tonight.”
Oh, I love this series. Now we are dealing with the Wyoming side of things and I will admit, I miss my other boys. But I digress. This side is going to be a doozy for sure. Between Scarlett, the youngest and my absolute favorite so far, their mom and her secret, the dad being so obstinate and the other twin brother, this one is going to be awesome.
Jillian is one of my favorite female characters that Ms. Rock has written to date. A survivor but doesn’t play the victim, she is going after her own life on her terms. Being a location scout affords her the luxury of traveling and having her adventures. Plus, she just has that spunk that I just love. She went after a McNeill, okay the “wrong” one but it turned out fine, right? Pregnant by one of them? That should have made her happy but considering what her health issue is/was, Ms. Rock handles it very, very well. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Cody in a sense reminds me of Gabe. I know, I shouldn’t compare but being the “quiet” one, he doesn’t trust people like his siblings. And don’t even mention the other branch of the family tree. That’s like treason for his siblings to embrace their grandfather. I was happy to see him and Rosa back for a bit. He really is trying. Cody’s being just brought a smile to face throughout the whole book. He’s loyal, the quiet observer but fiercely protective of the people that he loves…including Jillian.
I loved how Cody and Jillian’s relationship had all an equal amount of push and pull. Ms. Rock treats them as equals and it shows. Cody isn’t over the top when it comes to Jillian and knows when to back off. Jillian, on the other hand, lets him know how she feels and what she wants to do with her life and the pregnancy. They talked and acted like adults. 🙂
Overall, this is another winner in the McNeill’s saga. Oh and Scarlett…I just can’t. I have no words. She is a hoot and I have the strangest feeling that she is going to get herself into a situation that even SHE can’t talk her way out of. 😉