The Service Club, Book 3
by Tonya Ramagos
eBook ISBN: 1-61926-815-9
Mustang’s attempts at resisting the Rylon brothers are failing. These SEALs have an arsenal of toys and a determination to accomplish their toughest mission yet. Loving her is easy. Freeing the submissive vixen from the demons in her mind and those out to get her won’t be.
Erotic warning drifted into the room with the promise of dark pleasures and even darker desires. Mustang Ducote felt that warning seep into her fingers, sizzle up her arm, and explode in fiery embers of longing through her system. She stared at the paper in her hand, barely containing a whimper as fear collided with her tenuous resistance. Her nipples beaded at the mere sight of the name on the application. Her clit pulsed as the warmth spread, caressing a thin layer of wetness from between her pussy lips.
Her gaze flicked to the man behind her desk. Could he smell the arousal turning her panties wet? Did he know the images that sprang to her mind of being bound, blindfolded, and at the mercy of her most devilish needs?
She didn’t want to think he could, didn’t want to believe that he knew. The glint in his soft brown eyes confirmed her fears. She’d always known deep in her heart, in her very soul, this day would come.
She shook her head and squared her shoulders, preparing to defend what belonged to her, the Circle M ranch and her self-respect. “I won’t hire him.”
Chester Waverly regarded her with a steady expression of patience and way too damned much knowledge for a man of his sixty-plus years. “I already did.”
“You should’ve asked me first.” Mustang tossed the application across the top of the desk and turned, intending to walk right out of the office, conversation over.
“I never asked you about hirin’ a hand before.” Chester’s tone remained even and conversational as he pointed out a fact that made her stop in her tracks. “I didn’t see the need to start with this one.”
No, but he usually discussed it with her first. At the very least he informed her of his plans before he executed them. He pulled a fast one on her this time, knowing she’d never agree no matter how badly she wanted to.
“The last I heard, the hirin’ and firin’ of the cowboys on this ranch fell under my job description. Are you tellin’ me that’s changed?”
Mustang closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and slowly turned back to face her foreman. Her entire life, he had been as much of a father to her as her own. She couldn’t remember a day that Chester hadn’t worked alongside her father right up until the day heart disease took her father off the land of the Circle M and planted him in bed shortly before taking his life for good.
“No, that hasn’t changed.” The words shouldn’t have tasted bitter in her mouth, but they did. “Pa put you in charge of the ranch crew years ago, and you’ve always done a fine job of picking our employees.”
Except this time. Wasn’t it a father’s place to protect his daughter? Didn’t that responsibility fall to the father’s best friend of over fifty years after the father died? Didn’t Chester know the day he and her father had taken on Lucky Rylon five years before that they had blown their duty to protect her up in smoke? Now he wanted her to hire another Rylon brother. No, she simply couldn’t do it.
Chester nodded, tongue in cheek. “Still am, too. We all but doubled our number of cattle in the last year, took on more horses, and got more land to see after.”
“And I agreed to every bit of it.” Even pushed for it, she silently admitted. She had stayed up to the wee hours of the morning many nights checking the books, pondering scenarios, and working up the personal reassurance that, despite the flailing economy, expanding the Circle M was indeed a smart move.
“We also lost a helluva cowboy when Trevor quit,” Chester reminded her.
Not that she needed reminding. Trevor Bowden had been a valuable employee, and she’d hated as much as Chester to see the man go. She’d also understood the cowboy’s desires to make his own place in the world. She might have taken over the family ranch when her father died, but she’d spent her life doing exactly what Trevor set out to do, make her own place and earn the respect that went along with it.
“We did.” Even as she agreed, she knew what direction the conversation would take next. Trouble came in also knowing she couldn’t steer it any other way.
“Now I’m shorthanded.”
Mustang sighed. She couldn’t argue with that, but putting another pair of Rylon hands on the Circle M was not the solution to the problem. Especially when both Rylon brothers made it clear long ago that the Circle M wasn’t the only place they wanted to put their hands.
Fingers of devious desire danced across her flesh, caressing her breasts, tugging at her nipples, and falling to torment her pussy lips. She damned herself long ago for wanting their hands on her, and not just their hands, but their youngest brother’s as well. The price she would have to pay to experience the pleasures the three Rylon brothers offered was entirely too great.
“Yes, we’re shorthanded, which is why we ran the ad in the paper.” It had run in Sunday’s classifieds, and she’d posted the announcement on the Circle M’s website complete with an online application the same day. “It’s been three days, and I know we’ve had at least five men apply.”
“Six,” Chester corrected, “and only one of ’em with the experience I’m lookin’ for.” He tapped the application she’d tossed on the desk. “Tell me the sense in hirin’ two of the others when I can have this one and guarantee you he’s a better cowboy and harder worker than the other five put together.”
There wasn’t any sense behind it, so she didn’t bother to try to tell him. “We’ll give it a few more days. I’m sure we’ll get more bites.” She prayed they did. Just one applicant with equal experience to Diek would save her. Hell, she’d even be willing to pay the cowboy more if it meant she could prevent having Diek on her ranch.
“I don’t need a few more days,” Chester said stubbornly. “I need another man out there, and I’ve got one right here. Diek is a helluva cowboy. There ain’t likely another man for three counties as good as him. Not one that doesn’t already have a job, anyhow. If I had the option, I’d be hirin’ Gunner, too.”
“I’m not hiring another Rylon brother,” Mustang said through gritted teeth. And she certainly wouldn’t hire all three of them! The expression on Chester’s face told her she was being unreasonable. She probably was, but damn it, didn’t he realize what having that man on her ranch would do to her? She spent enough time sidestepping Lucky Rylon on her own damn land. She didn’t need Diek trying to get under her foot and inside—She stopped the thought as a snap of lust shot through her channel and careened on a heated course to every erogenous zone in her body.
No, she didn’t need it at all, but she wanted it, and the truth of that made her madder than hell.
“You’re gonna have to stop fighting it one of these days, Mustang.”
His tone, his words sounded so much like her father it made her throat tight. “Who’s going to make me?”
“Ain’t gonna be me, but I know of three tough cowboys who’ve been workin’ at it for years.”
“They haven’t succeeded yet, and they won’t.” She wished she felt as certain of that as she sounded.
“They will.” Chester sounded just as certain and, blast the man, probably felt it, too. “And it’ll be good for you when they do.”
How could he say that? The Rylon brothers would break her. They wouldn’t stop until they owned her and everything she possessed. She’d lose everything from her honor and composure to her womanly self-worth, right along with her body and heart.
“I already hired him,” Chester said again just as calm and patient as the first time.
“Then fire him, for Pete’s sake,” Mustang shot back. She had to stand her ground on this. She might put on a strong front but, in truth, her resistance had been slipping for years. She managed to hold on only because she’d learned to keep a relatively safe distance from Lucky, and the other two Rylon brothers were hardly ever around.
“Give me one good, responsible, business reason why I should, and I’ll be happy to.”
Mustang didn’t miss the emphasis he put on the word business. She opened her mouth, ready to fire off a dozen and one reasons, and bit her tongue, knowing there wasn’t a one of them that had a thing to do with business.
“You think you’re slick, don’t you?”
Chester didn’t answer, but his wrinkled lips twitched. “You might want to hurry with that reason, seein’ as how he’ll be in here any second. Then again, I suppose you could wait and tell him yourself.”
The unmistakable low rumble of a Mustang Cobra engine joined the warning drifting on the air. Anticipation, completely unwanted and too potent to ignore, zinged through her veins, slamming into a fear that threatened to turn her blood to ice. She heard the engine shut off, the faint sound of the door closing, and the increasingly louder sound of footsteps as they moved up the front steps and right into the house.
She didn’t turn when he entered the office. She didn’t have to. Any woman with an ounce of estrogen in her veins would feel the man’s presence. It enveloped her, overpowering her senses and leaving her feeling drunk on sheer male power. She stared dumbstruck as Chester pushed himself from the desk chair, adjusted his blue jeans around his hefty waist, and walked around the corner of the desk.
“Well, now, sure is good to see our service boys back on American soil where they belong,” Chester commented, his lips stretching into a wide grin that deepened the wrinkles outlining his eyes.
“Chester, you haven’t changed a bit.”
Diek hadn’t either if the sound of his voice was any indication. Mustang’s heart thudded unevenly as his deep baritone voice rolled over her like hot oil, completely visceral and utterly undesired.
“Ain’t much changin’ you can do at my age besides getting older and uglier.” Chester chuckled.
“I could add a few things,” Mustang muttered before she could stop herself. More stubborn and nosier, in her opinion, would make fantastic additions to his short list today.
Chester’s chuckle morphed into a boom of laughter. “I expect you could. I feel it’s my civil duty to warn you boys, Mustang was just about to give me a good reason why I should fire you, Diek, before you even get started.”
Boys? Alarm danced across Mustang’s flesh. That was twice Chester put the word in plural form. She had been in sensory overload from the moment she heard the Cobra’s engine. So much so that she failed to separate the erotic sensations wreaking havoc on her mind and body. She had even failed to realize Diek hadn’t entered the office alone. The mistake would cost her, big-time. The primal, predatory heat oozing from Diek collided with an equally recognizable intoxicating dominance that could only belong to his younger brother, Gunner. Christ on a pogo stick! No wonder she felt like she was sinking.
“Was she now?” Diek sounded intrigued. “Well, go ahead, darlin’. I’m all ears.”
All arrogance, confidence, and authority was more like it, but Mustang thought it better not to point that out. She had one chance to keep her head above water here, and damn if she could come up with even a half-assed business excuse believable enough to fire him.
Mustang braced herself, taking a deep breath and doing a quick count to ten before she finally turned to face him. She could’ve counted to a trillion, and it wouldn’t have done her a bit of good. Her gaze slammed into Gunner’s first, and an all-too familiar hunger kicked up in her belly. A black Stetson hid his dirty-blond hair, resting low on his forehead and shadowing his milk-chocolate eyes. An olive drab T-shirt stretched over broad shoulders made for a woman’s nails to dig into and defined the muscles in his chest to pristine perfection. Camo BDUs hugged his narrow hips and long legs.
“I hadn’t heard you were in town.” Would it have helped if she’d known? Maybe. Despite her slipping resistance, she had always managed to keep a solid guard in place when any of the Rylon brothers were around, but it had been a long time since she’d had to arm herself against all three at once.
“I slipped in undetected.” Gunner’s tone held a hint of amusement and a buttload of supremacy.
“Somethin’ all that SEAL trainin’ taught you,” Chester commented.
Mustang knew from firsthand experience that no one had to teach Gunner Rylon anything about slipping in anywhere undetected. He’d successfully done it to her, stealthily positioning himself in her every fantasy and etching out a place for himself in her heart. Hell, all three brothers had done it, and she hadn’t stood a chance at stopping them.
“How long will the two of you be stateside?” She directed her question at both of them, but kept her gaze on Gunner.
“A few weeks.” He hooked his thumbs in the belt loops of his BDUs, drawing her focus down to the impressive bulge the camouflage did nothing to conceal. The sight acted like a whip, slashing at her channel and stinging her clit. “Maybe more.”
Diek’s response had her snapping her gaze his way. Her attention skimmed over another black Stetson hiding what she knew to be dark hair beneath and perched low over unreadable cobalt eyes. Her gaze lingered on the fading scar marring his left cheek, on the sensual shape of his lips, and on the masculine curve of his jaw. He wore combat boots with a black T-shirt and black BDUs that accented every hard-toned, roughened muscle and plane of his drool-worthy body to distraction.
“Define indefinitely,” Mustang said slowly. She was in over her head, always had been. It appeared after all these years, she was getting a true test of her defenses right here, right now, and she felt the wall crumbling piece by piece faster than she could think to stop it.
“I’m figuring Mr. Webster did a fair job of that back in the eighteen hundreds,” Diek drawled.
Mustang figured Mr. Webster did a fair job of defining doom back then, too. He’d only forgotten one thing, a big, glossy color photo of her right next to the word. She might not have been alive in the eighteen hundreds, but she reckoned any edition of the dictionary made within the last fifteen years could’ve included her picture and given a far more apt definition to the word.
Fifteen years she’d been fighting to maintain her dignity, her self-respect, her resolve against these men. By all accounts, that should go in the record books as the longest war in American history.
And it ain’t over yet.
No, as she held Diek’s gaze and got lost in the confidence and desire swirling in their cobalt depths, she got an intense feeling the real battle was just beginning.
“Then you’re back in Horn Hill to stay this time?” No matter how good the dictionary definition of the word, she still needed clarification. Maybe he didn’t really mean indefinitely, but merely awhile, a week longer than Gunner, a month. Hell, she could even find a way to handle two months, but not forever.
Please God, not forever.
All her hopes died with the almost imperceptible nod of his head and those two words laden with erotic promises. Help me. She knew there wasn’t a soul on the face of the planet who could really save her.
The sound of the back door slamming shut, followed by rapid heavy footfalls, offered her salvation for now. Thomas Waverly came to a halt just outside the office door and peeked his curly red head inside. His gaze landed instantly on Mustang.
“Lucky sent me to find you. He said you wanted to know the minute Raven went into labor.”
Mustang’s heart skipped a beat as twin zaps of excitement and concern shot through her chest. She’d been reluctant to breed her favorite horse, worried that something could go wrong to harm the animal she’d had since she was a little girl. She likely wouldn’t have gone through with it if it hadn’t been for Lucky. She’d spent far less time sidestepping him on the ranch in the last eleven months simply because of his veterinarian abilities and his mutual love for Raven.
“Thank you, Thomas.” She cast a quick glance to each of the men in the room in turn as she headed for the door. “Gentlemen, we’ll have to finish this later.”
* * * *
Damn right they would finish this later and a whole lot more.
Diek barely let her get three steps out the door before he started to follow her. A quick glance at Gunner and Chester on his way by told him the other men would be close at his heels. His much longer strides caught him up to her quickly, but he slowed his pace, allowing her to stay in the lead in favor of admiring the view.
And what a view it was, he thought as his attention fell to her jean-clad ass. The woman’s hips rotated like a well-oiled metronome with each determined step. He wanted to feel that gyration as she sat on top of him with her hands bound behind her back, riding his cock while one of his brothers fucked her mouth and the other filled her ass.
“Who sired the foal?”
Her step faltered at his question, but she didn’t stop. She whipped her head around, casting him a look over her shoulder that had her long chestnut ponytail flying. Resignation moved through her large blue eyes. She obviously hadn’t realized he’d followed her, but Raven occupied her mind enough for her not to put up a fight.
Diek lifted a brow. Well, now. That came as a surprise. “Kinger as in Austin Roscoe’s prize Mustang?” He knew Austin had been after her for years to get the two purebred horses together and produce an offspring, but she’d always refused.
She reached the door to the barn, yanked it open, and only then did she stop. She turned half-around to face him, her expression daring him to comment. “Yeah, you got a problem with that?”
“I’m shocked you didn’t.” Something moved through her eyes at that. Fear that he realized why she’d fought it so hard, perhaps. It confirmed what he’d always thought. She hadn’t wanted to breed Raven with Kinger because, in doing so, she was offering her most loved mare to the stallion of a member of the Service Club. He knew the way Mustang thought. That simple act, even between horses rather than humans, created a link to her and the club, a club that would give her everything she desired and everything she fought so hard to resist.
“Kinger is a beautiful horse, as is Raven.” The defensive tone in her voice had Diek biting back a grin. “Both are purebred. They were a perfect match.”
“Your horse, your ranch.” Diek let the grin unfold on his lips, knowing it would get her back up even more.
“Damn right it is.”
Diek sobered. “Nobody’s trying to take that from you, Mustang.”
She blinked at him. A world of emotions flashed through her expression too fast to define. She cut them off, hardening her gaze. “It wouldn’t do anyone any good to try.”
She spun around and stomped into the barn, letting the door swing back. It would’ve smacked him in the face if he hadn’t been paying attention, which had likely been her intent. He chuckled as Gunner stopped beside him, leaving enough space for Chester to enter the barn first and waiting until the older man walked on before he spoke.
“Some homecoming reception she’s giving us, huh?”
“What? You were expecting her to get all doodied up in a fancy dress and invite us to a home-cooked dinner?”
Gunner barked a laugh. “Hell, no. I’d have turned her down if she’d tried that.”
“Yeah, so would I.” Diek liked her better this way. Feisty, stubborn, and sexy as sin, with a tank load of wants and more ammo than any woman had a right to possess. She knew how to use it, too, securely holding her line of defense as she kept herself from giving in to her own desires.
“She’s doing fine.” Lucky’s gentle tone drifted from the horse stall inside the barn.
Diek motioned for Gunner to enter first, following his brother as they walked softly to the small group peering over the stall door. Mustang stood ramrod straight next to Lucky, his hand splayed on the small of her back as he leaned in close to whisper in her ear. Diek struggled to tamp down the jealousy that rose in his gut at seeing his middle brother snuggled so intimately with her. He doubted she even realized how she seemed to be melting into his touch the longer he held her, the longer his undertone delivered the words she needed to hear. Diek noticed, though, and he enjoyed watching her resistance slip even that least little bit despite the twin demons of envy that reared their ugly heads inside him.
He shared women with Lucky before, shared with both his brothers. As a trio, they could bring a woman an explosion of ecstasy that would leave her shaky and mindless upon full detonation for hours. Diek wanted nothing more than to watch Mustang’s eyes roll back in her head, to listen to the amazing sounds she would make as he and his brothers pleasured her beyond her wildest imaginings.
“Raven is strong, tough, just like her owner.”
Diek turned, finding Thomas Waverly standing less than a foot behind him. The younger man didn’t meet his gaze, but kept his trained on Mustang. Diek studied him, saw the yearning in his eyes, the grim set to his lips. He supposed he should’ve expected the man to fall for Mustang. They were the same age and had been brought up together. Thomas’s mother had died when he was a toddler, leaving Chester with the responsibility to raise his grandson. Chester chose to do that on the Circle M.
Diek supposed he should’ve expected Thomas to be jealous of Lucky’s affection toward Mustang, too. He shifted his attention back to Mustang. To the best of his memory, she’d always been friendly with Thomas, treated him almost like a brother, but never once had he ever seen her get close enough to touch as she was right now with Lucky.
“I see the feet.” Mustang’s face lit up like the sky on the Fourth of July, and Diek couldn’t help but grin. The woman might not be conventionally beautiful, but everything about her, from her slightly crooked nose to her tiny feet, had the ability to drive him wild.
Gunner moved to her opposite side, his hand coming to rest on her shoulder as he peered over the stable door.
“It’ll take about fifteen to twenty minutes before Raven’s through,” Lucky told her as Diek walked closer. “We’re seeing the feet, and that’s the important part. It means the foal is positioned properly and Raven shouldn’t have any troubles.”
“I’ve seen foals born before, Lucky. She’s not out of the woods yet.” Despite the excitement on her amazing face, her voice rang with concern.
Diek stopped behind her, catching her ponytail and letting it glide through his hand. He needed to touch her. The thought of her warmth, of her sweet flesh had kept him going for more months than he’d bothered to count. He had given up trying not to love her, had given up attempting to find another woman to take her place. She belonged to him, and nothing would change that. He skimmed the backs of his fingers down her spine, loving the way she shivered at the touch even if she pretended not to notice he stood behind her.
“This is going to be the longest fifteen to twenty minutes of your life so far, darlin’.” He knew that from experience. Anticipation could make time seem to stretch to infinity.
She glanced at him then, nearly brushing noses with Gunner as she turned her head to look at him. Her expression softened, and if he didn’t know better he would’ve sworn he saw a hint of tears glistening in her eyes. “Not quite, but it’ll probably come close.”
* * * *
The moment the words left her mouth, Mustang knew she’d made a mistake. She knew what she said didn’t give her away as much as the damn tears she felt burning her eyes. She could easily remember the longest twenty minutes of her life so far, could easily feel the shadow of the terror those minutes had wound through her soul.
Nearly a year had passed since the night Lucky had received word that Diek had been injured on an op. It had taken twenty minutes that night before he’d been able to find out if Diek was still alive. She’d spent those twenty minutes pacing the floor, fear racing through her veins and hope swelling in her heart. The relief she’d felt when Lucky finally confirmed that Diek would pull through the injuries he’d sustained had driven her straight to Lucky’s arms. She’d almost lost it that night, almost threw every bit of her caution to the wind and given in to what she wanted most.
Somehow, she’d made it through. She’d never admitted to Lucky how close she’d come, but he’d suspected. She’d felt it in his touch, seen it on his ruggedly handsome face. And he’d know it for certain now after she’d all but admitted it point-blank.
Damn it! She couldn’t think, surrounded by the Rylon brothers. She knew they weren’t the only ones in the barn. She’d spotted Chester when he’d walked inside and heard Thomas say something mere seconds before Diek came up behind her. Their presence seemed superfluous though. Having them here wouldn’t help her. If anything, it made it worse because others saw, others heard. If she had been sinking in the office when Diek and Gunner arrived, she was definitely drowning now with all three Rylon brothers next to her.
Not just next to her, touching her. Lucky’s warm, soothing whispers fanned the fine hairs on her ear every time he spoke. Her mind tried to play tricks on her, too, hearing that voice but altering the words to ones of sultry commands and blunt appraisals. His hand on the small of her back sent excited shivers up her spine. They were shivers Diek’s touch only accentuated, igniting a firestorm in her system that raced through her bloodstream. Gunner’s hand on her shoulder shouldn’t have felt anything more than casual. It wouldn’t have if it had belonged to anyone else. But it didn’t. It belonged to Gunner, and that single contact, coupled with the rest, sent her head racing with ecstasy.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Lucky said softly, breaking the sexual-tension-charged atmosphere between them.
Mustang slid her gaze over him before locking her attention on Raven once more. The quick image of him standing beside her stayed in her vision for several hormone-stroking minutes. He was beautiful indeed. A black Stetson she’d often thought of as the Rylon brothers’ trademark sat over dark, collar-length hair. He’d tipped the brim back on his forehead, exposing eyes the color of autumn grass. It had been at least two weeks since he’d shaved. She knew because his mustache and close-cut goatee were back around his pale pink lips.
She nodded her answer, forcing herself to watch as Raven completed birthing her foal. It gave her time to adapt to the thickness of the air around her, to absorb the primitive possession she felt from each of them and find her resistance once more. They gave her that silence, everyone watching and waiting until the foal was born. When Raven rose to lick her foal clean, she pushed a hard sigh of relief from her lungs.
Gunner squeezed her shoulder. “Looks like Raven has a colt on her hands.”
“And a very healthy one at that,” Lucky added as the colt stood on shaky legs within minutes and began to nurse from his mother. “How about we give them some privacy? I’ll keep watch on them through the day.”
Mustang nodded, wanting to be the one to watch over them, but knowing she had other work to get done. “I can’t move till one of you backs off.”
“Well now, you trying to say we finally got you where we want you?” Dierk’s syrupy tone moved over her like warm molasses. His fingers grazed up her back, dipping beneath her ponytail to tickle her nape.
Mirroring fingers of desire stroked her nipples to beaded points. Her belly fluttered as a thicker arousal seeped from between her pussy lips. She only had to give in, and they would really and truly have her. Trouble came in knowing if she did that, she would be putting herself in a position to offer them far more than she would willingly give.
“I’m trying to say I’ve got work to do, and you cowboys are keeping me from it.” She started to turn, one hand somehow finding itself on Gunner’s chest. Muscles flexed beneath her palm as his chest rose and fell in steady breaths. A hot thrill skated straight to her pussy.
“Not so fast, darlin’.” Diek’s fingers tightened on her nape even as Lucky’s hand stretched to cup her side. Gunner’s hand fell from her shoulder to cover the one she’d placed on his chest. Each of them applied just enough pressure with their grips to prevent her from moving further. “You need to finish what you started in the office.”
She couldn’t. Not here, not now, not with their hands on her this way. The time they’d given her during the colt’s birth, the resistance she’d managed to rebuild shattered the moment all her awareness centered on their touches.
“I believe Chester said you were about to give him a reason to fire me.”
Mustang glanced frantically to where she’d last seen Chester standing, only to realize he and Thomas had left the barn at some time during the last half hour. They left her alone, trapped by her worst nightmares and the products of her darkest fantasies.
Gunner’s thumb traced lazy circles over the back of her hand. “I’m betting she can come up with a number of them.”
“I’m figuring she can, too, but they’ll be personal reasons. She’d never fire a man for that.”
Diek knew her too well. They all did. “I might fire one for continuing to talk about me as if he’s not staring at my back right this moment.”
They moved like a choreographed line dance. Gunner released her hand on his chest. Lucky’s arm fell from her side. Diek’s right hand stayed on her nape, while his left arm snaked around her waist. He whirled her around to face him, her front slamming into the hard wall of his body. The move surprised a gasp out of her. The feel of his rigid muscles against her pliant curves had a whimper bubbling in her throat.
Mustang looked up at him, licked her lips, and watched as his gaze dropped to her mouth, and followed the path her tongue took. Insatiable hunger turned his cobalt eyes dangerously darker. She felt the clear outline of his hard, thick cock against her belly, and an echoing craving rumbled through her body.
“You want a reason to fire me, darlin’, I can give you one.”
Pain she’d never thought to see in this man’s eyes took her breath away.
“I’m injured. My right shoulder is shot. I might go days where it doesn’t give me a minute’s trouble, but it doesn’t happen often. Most times I can’t lift with it. Hell, I can barely fucking move it without cursing a blue streak.”
He stopped, and Mustang simply stared at him, her throat tight. It tore her apart to hear him speak that way, knowing what it cost him to admit he was less than his best. Still, she wouldn’t let him see how much his pain affected her. She couldn’t. One ounce of weakness and he’d have her. They all would.
“Did you tell all of this to Chester when he offered you the job?”
“Yes ma’am. Stubborn old bastard kept interrupting me. He didn’t want to hear it, but I managed to get it all out anyway.”
“He won’t settle for hiring anyone but you.” If she pushed it, forced Chester to pick another cowboy, she could very well be in danger of losing her foreman. She wouldn’t put it past the old man to go on strike or even quit if he didn’t get his way on this.
“Your ranch. You said it yourself. Chester doesn’t need an ole beat-up cowboy on the land. He needs one that can hold his own.”
Mustang lifted a brow. “Are you telling me you can’t?”
“I’ve never told a soul I can’t do something.”
“You left the teams, didn’t you?” Her gaze slid from his to the scar on his cheek. His shoulder hadn’t been the only thing injured. She wondered if there were more scars, other signs left by the explosion that had nearly taken his life. “You retired from the SEALs, from the Navy.” And, in doing so, gave up the one thing he’d worked the hardest for in his life. She knew that. She’d watched him struggle to achieve the impossible just as Gunner had done. She’d watched them fight to become the best of the best against every obstacle thrown in their paths including the death of both their parents and the loss of their own family ranch.
“Mark that as the first time, the only time.”
The first and only time he swallowed his pride and admitted he could no longer perform the job his country entrusted him to do. Mustang nodded slowly, her heart breaking for him. She wanted to comfort him, to utter those nonsensical words about everything being okay. She swallowed them because she knew it wouldn’t be. She also knew stroking his ego was the last thing a man like Diek Rylon needed right now. He was giving her the perfect out, the business excuse she’d prayed for, and yet she couldn’t take it. Not in good conscience anyway. Injured or not, she knew he was still one of the best damn cowboys in three counties, just like Chester said. They could wait a few more days, even a few more months, and they wouldn’t find anyone better for the job.
“I’ll inform Chester that I’ve agreed to hire you for a probationary period of three months.” That meant three months of hiding for her. Three months to build a sturdier defense to face him and Lucky on the Circle M on a daily basis.
“I can live with that.”
“Good, then it’s settled.” Mustang tried to pull away, but his hold around her waist remained firm. She needed him to let her go, needed to put distance between herself and all three of them fast. Gunner and Lucky might have released their holds, but she still felt them on either side of her, the desire and authority pumping off of them so thick she could hardly breathe.
Diek slid his hand from her nape and grazed his thumb over her cheek. It was all she could do not to lean into that touch. She closed her eyes, needing a nanosecond to gather her senses. He didn’t even give her half that long.
His nose brushed hers, and her eyes popped open. When he spoke, his breath fanned her lips and the warmth did an exotic dance straight to her core. “There’s a meeting tonight. We’d like to see you there.”
“Like hell.” She wished the words came out with as much conviction as she felt. Instead, they sounded breathless and betrayed every bit of her longing to attend. She had spent far too many nights over the years standing at her bedroom window, daring to use a set of binoculars so she could watch from a great distance as the members of the Service Club grouped together in the woods of the Circle M. Every one of those nights, she had settled into her empty, lonely bed with her vibrator and the images of what she had seen planted in her fantasies.
The exclusive club of men referred to as the Service Club had two things in common. They all worked in a public service profession and got off on the BDSM scene. Some of the men enjoyed sharing their women with other club members. Others liked to make their women perform in front of the men in the club.
A devious thrill skated from Mustang’s breasts to her pussy, putting her on the very edge of an orgasm with the mere thought of fucking one or all of the Rylon brothers in front of an audience. An even darker electric shock pulsed in her core to be bound, blindfolded, and fucked by whomever they allowed.
“Wear one of those denim skirts that show off those amazing legs of yours and that green tank top Lucky bought you for your birthday.” Diek’s tone left no room for argument. The warmth and authority in his husky words sent slivers of stimulation whipping through her womb.
“No panties and no bra,” Gunner added, gliding a hand down her left arm and adding to the invigorating sensations already galloping through her system.
“Let your hair down, too,” Lucky ordered, giving her ponytail a tug that sent her mind scrambling with even more wild arousal.
She couldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it. She hated herself for wanting to. Wetness seeped from her pussy lips as the pressure for release built almost painfully in her channel. One touch from either of them to her throbbing clit and she would explode. She wanted all the dirty, unspeakable things she knew they would make her do and do to her. She couldn’t allow herself to give in, couldn’t let anyone know the devilish desires that coursed through her mind and body.
“Forget it.” The words came stronger this time, despite the needs wreaking havoc inside her. “I won’t be there. Now let me go.” She pushed back, managing to flatten her hands on Diek’s chest in an effort to free herself. It didn’t do her any good. Before she could utter another word in protest, he crushed his mouth to hers.
The kiss bruised even as it threw fuel to a fire that had been burning for a decade and a half. His tongue drove between her lips, taking possession of her very soul through the recess of her mouth. She’d never kissed him, never kissed any of them. She’d come close many times, but always managed to get away. Not this time. He took her mouth with the predatory claiming she’d always known he would, and the certainty that she was losing her long-fought battle began to settle in her soul. She tasted every dark promise and wicked intent she’d ever sensed from him, coupled with a bold, wild arousal that made her feel drunker than any alcohol she’d ever consumed.
He wrenched his mouth from hers, breaking the kiss and startling a breathless gasp from her. He licked his way from her mouth to her cheek, trailing his tongue to her earlobe and drawing it between his teeth for a light nip.
“You’ll be there or you’ll be punished.” His husky tone rang with a conviction that made his threat all the more exotic and exhilarating. “We’ve waited long enough, darlin’. You belong to us. You’ve always known it, and we’ve given you more than enough time to accept it. Keep fighting if you like, but I promise we’ll win in the end.”
He released her so abruptly she stumbled back against the door to the horse stall.
“He means what he says, love.” Gunner leaned in, brushing his lips to her temple before he stepped back.
“I can’t wait to finally see you in the tank top I bought you.” Lucky trailed a finger from her throat down the valley between her breasts. “It will be even better when I take it off of you.” His finger traced a slow circle around her left breast before he stepped back, too, and all three men walked out of the barn.