The Renegades: Nick

The Renegades: Nick by Genell Dellin

Book: The Renegades: Nick by Genell Dellin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Genell Dellin
boy’s trusting blue eyes or get to know his face. “Callie can ride with me.”
    Nick sidepassed the Shifter to Fast Girl’s side and plucked Callie from the saddle.
    He realized that second that he’d made a terrible mistake. All he wanted, fire or no fire, was to pull her into his arms and kiss her again.
    For comfort. Only for that. It must be that he needed the comfort of her closeness, because he was trapped in this situation he’d sworn would never catch him again.
    Now how weak and stupid was that?
    “Ride behind me,” he said, and helped her get settled astride on the blanket while the Peck boy clambered up into the saddle she’d just left.
    She didn’t put her arms around his waist or hold onto him at all. He glanced around as he smooched to the Shifter and saw she had hold of the cantle board with both hands.
    “Straight south of here,” the Peck boy shouted, and Nick rode out to lead the way.
    He would’ve sworn he was in hell long before they rode anywhere near the smoke and the flames of the fire. The whole way, Callie kept sitting like that behind his saddle, trying to hold herself away from him. And that was good—since if she had her arms wrapped around his waist and her breasts pressed against his back, he would’ve felt wilder inside than he already did.
    Something about it made him fighting mad, though. It seemed like a gesture of distrust or prissiness or some such damn thing. After she’d kissed him right back with a passion not half an hour ago!
    It was his own fault. He should’ve taken the Peck boy up on his horse with him and left her on the mare. Now she’d probably fall off the Shifter after staying on Judy and Fast Girl, too. Well, it’d serve her right for being so schoolteacher-prim about not touching him.
    “Hold on,” he called irritably over his shoulder, without looking at her. “And keep your feet out of his flanks.”
    The Peck boy, riding Fast Girl beside them, looked over at Nick as he smooched to the Shifter again.
    “Lope on,” Danny yelled. “This mare can stay with you.”
    Nickajack ignored him. One thing he
didn’t
have to do was buddy up to the neighbor kids.
    “Yes, she can,” Callie called back, “she creates such a wind, I almost blew off her back.”
    The boy laughed and Nick’s tension eased just a little. But it was a mistake to ask the Shifter for more speed, Nick realized, for it jerked Callie back and then forward, into him. She bumped him again and then finally, at long last, laid her arms around his waist.
    Instantly, he wanted to turn and hold her. But at the very same time he wished he could push her away, set her onto the mare, and leave her behind. What the hell was happening to him?
    He’d better get his mind off women and onto fires, if he was racing to this one as the savior of the Chikaskia settlers. His mind and his instincts had to be free to guide him right, or he was liable to have sodbusters with nothing but the clothes on their backs camped all over his place.
    Now,
that
was a thought that should be sobering enough to do the trick.
    About three miles later, they smelled smoke. The Peck boy stood in his stirrups a few yards ahead, waving to three riders galloping toward them from the east.
    “There’s my brother,” the boy shouted, as Nick and Callie caught up with him. “He’s brought some neighbors.”
    They all appeared to be greenhorns, by the way they were dressed. Nick nodded and waved for them to come on.
    “Let’s get to it,” he shouted, as the newcomers rode within hearing distance. “Follow me.” He lifted the Shifter into a long lope again.
    At the wagons on Peck’s claim, a small crowd was gathered. How many were Pecks, how many were other neighbors, Nickajack neither knew nor cared. All he wanted was for this fire to be conquered and the lot of them to be scattered to the winds.
    Callie let go of him, slid to the ground before he could hand her down, and started helping Mrs. Peck untie the sacks on both

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