A Cowboy for Christmas

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde

Book: A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lori Wilde
Tags: Romance, Contemporary
finger against his thumb. “You’ve got dirt on your cheek.”
    â€œOh,” she murmured, and her hand went up where he’d just touched. “Thank you.”
    They kept staring at each other.
    â€œWe both need a bath,” she said, and even in the darkness of the cab, he could see her blush.
    â€œYeah,” he said, remembering what it had felt like straddling her in the muddy pasture. Rafferty felt himself grow hard and he quickly glanced away, grateful for Kyle, who whimpered again. “I’ll get him out of the car seat. You go on inside the house and take a shower,” he offered.
    â€œThat’s okay, I can handle it.”
    There it was again, her prickly pride. “You don’t have to prove anything to me.”
    â€œWhat does that mean?”
    â€œI know you can take care of your boy. If you let me help it doesn’t mean that you can’t take care of him on your own.”
    She ducked her head, stuck the truck keys into her purse. “I can’t afford to grow accustomed to having a man to depend on. I don’t want to grow accustomed to depending on anyone. Not anymore.”
    He barely caught what she said, decided to pretend that he hadn’t heard it. Ignoring her words seemed safer than exploring what they meant or how they made him feel.
    â€œGo on in the house,” she said, and opened the door to get out of the truck. “You can strip off in the mudroom—” She halted abruptly as the feed sack she’d been sitting on stuck to her backside and chunks of falling mud clattered against the floorboard. “Good grief, what a mess. I’m the one who needs to strip off in the mudroom.”
    Strip off.
    The words branded into his brain as his imagination spun pictures of Lissette in her yellow polka dot underwear. Rafferty moistened his lips, banished the image.
    Her feet touched the ground and she reached around to peel the feed sack off her backside and then with an unexpected chuckle, she tossed the sack into the corner of the dark garage. “I’ll deal with that tomorrow.”
    â€œGo on,” he said. “Get yourself cleaned up. I’ll give you a head start so you can leave your clothes in the mudroom, and then I’ll bring Kyle in and entertain him in the kitchen while you take a shower.”
    Shower.
    A vision of Lissette standing naked under steamy hot water replaced the polka dot picture. His throat tightened.
    â€œI really can’t let you do that. Kyle is my responsibility.” While she opened the back door to retrieve her son from his car seat, Rafferty got out and went around to her side of the truck.
    He noticed how her soft hair shone in the glow of the dim garage lighting. His gaze slid to the hollow of her throat. She was still wearing that pretty opal necklace. Had it only been since that afternoon that he’d first met her? Time warped and he had an odd sense that he’d known her for years. He was a practical man who did not believe in magical things like fate or destiny or soul mates, but this easy familiarity unsettled him.
    â€œYou know,” he drawled, slowing down his speech in the hopes of slowing his pulse. “Our relationship will go a lot easier if you stop fighting me on every little thing.”
    â€œWe don’t have a relationship.”
    â€œBut we will. I’m Kyle’s uncle. Now that I’ve met him . . . met you . . . I don’t want to go back to the shadows.”
    She opened her mouth as if she was about to argue, but shut it again.
    â€œI’ve been meaning to tell you that my ranch foreman is deaf. We’ve worked together for ten years. I might be able to offer you some insight into the condition.”
    â€œKnow a lot about deafness, do you?”
    â€œI’m proficient in sign language, yes.”
    â€œReally?”
    â€œReally, now say thank you, Rafferty, and go take a shower.”
    She looked like

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