Bri curled her arms around his taut neck, moving her body closer to him, against him. His arms circled her waist, drawing her closer still. Something seemed to sizzle through every cell of her being as he ground into her, making her all too aware of his erection.
Good heavens! She had never been kissed like this. At the time she had believed Mr. Smooth and Charming had been good, but he was a novice compared to the man she was now clinging to as tightly as ivy clings to a brick wall.
She wanted to cry out in protest when he lifted his head. She swallowed to keep it inside. “That was some kiss,” she said, striving for normal, attaining something similar to a croak.
“Yeah, it felt like more.” Releasing her, he stepped back, shaking his head. “But I’m not that much of a fool…I hope.”
Bri didn’t know whether to feel insulted or flattered. She felt confused. Who wouldn’t be when a man called himself a fool for kissing her? Numb, she allowed him to lead her into the house.
From then on he was all business—except for the occasional brush of his arm or his hand against her. Bri had reached a point in her life where she believed there were no accidents. She knew his touches were deliberate.
But why? That was the question nagging at her tired and befuddled mind. Nevertheless, she and Tanner went through their gear, deciding, along with the occasional suggestion from Hawk and nose nudge from Boyo, what they should take.
Bri was relieved to learn they were taking a pack animal, which allowed her to take a few items more than the absolute essentials. One of those items was a bag of dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses she had stashed in an inner pocket of her backpack.
“You can’t have any,” she murmured to the curious dog sniffing at the pack. She ruffled his wiry coat, lowering her head to whisper, “They can make you very sick, and that would make me very, very sad.”
The gear packed and ready for an early departure, Bri had excused herself and gone to her room, Boyo at her side. Once in the room, the dog again stretched out on the foot of the bed. Yawning, Bri curled under the plump comforter, as the night had grown much cooler.
Though it had been a long day, she couldn’t go to sleep. Her mind was restless, repeating the same thoughts over and over.
Could she handle Tanner Wolfe?
Did she want to?
Damned straight, she wanted to.
Tanner couldn’t sleep. Even with his eyes squeezed shut, an image of Brianna shimmered before him, teasing his mind, tormenting his libido. That kiss, that blazing, scorching kiss. Would he ever get the memory of it out of his mind, his senses?
“Damn,” he muttered, tossing aside the comforter to allow the chill night air to cool his overheated body. “Stop reacting like a damn fool nineteen-year-old kid,” he grumbled, shifting position. “You’ve got a job to do. Get your mind off the woman and onto controlling your imagination and your hormones. There’s a lot of money at stake here…if she even pays you more than the original ten thousand posted.”
That last animal-like growl silenced him. Money?
He hadn’t really given a thought to the money since explaining his situation to Hawk. When had the money become secondary? Secondary? Tanner’s now-overactive mind repeated. Secondary to what?
“Brianna.” He whispered her name like a prayer. Brianna. Her name echoed inside his head like a mantra. She was the most unlikely woman. A gun-toting librarian. A woman of privilege who knew how to shoot and ride and track. Not at all the type he normally consorted with, he reminded himself, let alone fell for.
Jesus. When had she become so important to him? Not simply her safety but her, the woman? The woman he wanted more than he had ever wanted any woman before.
In that instant he knew without a doubt he would spend the rest of his life hunting down that killer, if necessary. Not for the money, Tanner thought, deciding then and there not to accept any, but for Brianna, for her peace of mind.
He would do it even at the loss of his own peace of mind…not to mention his sanity.
Tanner knew Brianna would not be there when he returned to Durango. He knew, as well, that she would never want to see him again.
Still, he ached for her, ached to be with her in the most intimate way a man could be with a woman. Tanner pulled the comforter around his body, which was both shivering and burning for Brianna.
Damn. What was the matter with him?
Tanner snorted. As if he didn’t know. Still, he wouldn’t admit it, not even to himself.
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