Forbidden pleasure, p.18
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       Forbidden Pleasure, p.18

         Part #8 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
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Page 18


  Dark brown hair fell over his creased brow, nearly hiding his matching eyes. Everything about Wes was dark, from his hair to his sun-baked leathery skin.

  “I have a buyer coming in from Kentucky in the next few days to look at Storm Wind. He’ll want you to be available in case he has any questions. ” Wes had a bad habit of disappearing whenever buyers arrived.

  “I’ll have her ready. ” Wes shifted nervously as he usually did whenever he talked to anyone other than the horses.

  “Make sure you’re here with her, Wes,” he ordered. “Disappear on me again and we’re going to have words. ”

  Wes blinked back at him. “I’ll be here, sir. ”

  “Good. ” He nodded as he stared around the neat stalls and the glossy, well-cared-for animals.

  Wes was a stickler for keeping the stables in perfect condition. He frowned on anyone messing around in them, even Mac.

  “Is that all, sir?” Wes asked. “I was cleaning tack in the back room, if you don’t need anything else. ”

  “That should be all. ” Mac nodded shortly as he stepped over to the stall that held his favorite mare and rubbed her neck gently.

  Grace had been his first buy, and her first foal had made him a mint. She was graceful, fast as the wind, and as graceful as her name implied.

  “Mr. McCoy, have you noticed any strange goin’-ons around here?” Wes asked nervously as he started to turn back to the tack room.

  Mac paused, his palm pressing against Grace’s neck as he frowned back at the trainer.

  “Such as?”

  Wes scratched at his grizzled cheek. “Well, that dog of yours, Pappy?”

  Mac frowned. Pappy was the farm dog, a mutt of undetermined heritage who had made the farm his home just after he and Keiley had taken up residence. Mac suspected there was some shepherd in the rangy animal, but he couldn’t be certain.

  He glanced out the door of the stables to where he had seen the dog earlier. Pappy was still laying in his usual spot in the spot just outside the backyard.

  Mac turned back to the trainer. “What about him?”

  “Well, last coupla weeks, I’ve come in to find him cowerin’ here in the stables. Pappy’s always slept on the porch till daybreak, ain’t he?”

  That had to be the most Wes had ever spoken to him. But he was right; Pappy had always slept on the porch.

  “An’ I noticed, too, he don’t like being petted like he used to. Used to let me rough him up whenever I had time. Now he shies away from me. ”

  “I’ll check him out. ” Mac nodded in concern. “Thanks for letting me know. ”

  Wes shrugged. “Just missed having him trail after me sometimes. ”

  “Have you noticed anything else out of the ordinary?” Mac asked him then, feeling a warning tension growing within him.

  Wes paused again. “Well, Grace’s stall bein’ opened a time or two when I come in of the morning. Just little things that could be nothin’ other than that. ”

  Little things. Coincidences. Mac felt the hair on the back of his neck tingle.

  “Is there anything missing?” he asked.

  He had wondered where the stalker was now. He could be closer than Mac imagined.

  Wes shook his head. “No. Nothin’ missin’. Just the animals actin’ a little funny and Grace’s stall being unlocked. Just thought I’d ask about it. ”’

  Wes ducked his head and shuffled his feet again.

  “I’ll check Grace’s stall of the evenings before I go in. ” Mac nodded. “Let me know if you notice anything else. ”

  “I’ll do that. ” Wes nodded. “Gonna go clean the tack now. ”

  Mac frowned as he stared around the stables. Turning back to Grace, he let his gaze go over her carefully, looking for any signs of injury or distress.

  She snuffled and nudged his arm for attention, but nothing seemed out of the way. Patting the horse’s neck in farewell, Mac checked the lock on the stall before heading outside to the dog basking in the sun. But too many coincidences were suddenly beginning to add up.

  Pappy seemed well, eager for attention and as playful as always. Mac stared back at the stables, though, as he petted the animal, wondering if they were being watched now.

  Wes was a strange little person on a good day, but he had never seemed paranoid or forgetful in making certain the latches on the stall doors were secured.

  With Keiley’s lost comb earlier in the week, the rumors of a ménage no one should know about, and now this, he was starting to slip back into agent mode. And he didn’t like that. It had taken nearly two years for him to shake free of the almost paranoid suspicions that came with his job at the Bureau. But was it paranoia, or were he and Keiley being targeted?

  “Come on, boy, we’ll find you a treat. ” Mac patted the dog one last time before he moved through the gate and headed to the house, the dog trotting happily at his heels.

  Stepping through the backdoor, Mac pulled one of the store-bought dog bones Keiley kept on hand for the dog from a shelf and tossed it out to Pappy. He loped happily away, the smoked meat bone clutched possessively in his mouth.

  As he closed the door, he could hear the drone of the Harley in the front drive and grunted at the time. Jethro was back well before midnight. Mac was surprised. He had expected to have to collect Jethro, not to mention a mangled Harley. It wouldn’t be the first time he had done so. Jethro had totaled his own ride four years ago, and Mac had sworn he would never allow his friend on his own Harley.

  Moving through the house, he met Jethro as he entered the front door.

  “Your key, my friend. ” Jethro tossed him the key and a rakish smile. “That’s quite a little town you have. Lots and lots of scenery, if you don’t mind my saying so. ”

  “I don’t mind in the least. ” Mac pocketed the key as he motioned Jethro back to his office.

  He could hear Keiley back upstairs, the sound of the vacuum cleaner droning down the stairs.

  “Were you able to find out anything?”

  “Only that Delia Staten hates Keiley with a passion that most women reserve for loving men,” Jethro grunted. “She has a hard-on for your marriage, Mac. That’s a dangerous thing. ”

  “I already figured that one out, Jethro. ”

  “Well, figure this one out. What little bit I was able to charm from a few of the ladies I talked to in town, it seems Delia Staten is the one spreading the rumor that we’re sharing your pretty wife. But no one knows how she found out I was here so quickly. ”

  “One of the farmhands, no doubt. ” Mac grimaced, trying to push suspicion aside. “There’s not a whole hell of a lot that you can keep secret here. For Keiley’s sake, I had hoped to keep this a secret, though. ”

  Mac raked his fingers through his hair as he paced to the wide window and stared out at the stables. Wes was still down there, closing up the stables for the night, making certain the horses were comfortable before he left. Suspicion hell.

  “How did she hit upon the truth, though?” Mac murmured. “I told Keiley it was coincidence, but that doesn’t sit well in my gut, Jethro. She knows something she shouldn’t know. ”

  Jethro shrugged easily. “She could have friends in Virginia. It’s a small world now, Mac. ”

  “Then the rumors would have begun sooner. As you said, Delia has a hard-on for my marriage. ”

  “What do you want to do? I could take a room in town—”

  Mac was shaking his head even as the words were coming out of his friend’s mouth.

  “This is my home and my life,” he growled, restraining the anger beginning to build inside him. “I don’t mess with their sex lives and they will stay out of mine. Period. I’ll make certain of it. ”

  Jethro winced. “Cowboy tactics aren’t going to work here, Mac. ”

  “I was raised in this town, Jethro,” Mac pointed out savagely. “Born and bred here. I know how
to handle them. You don’t. ”

  Some people understood only one thing. Fear. He might not have been back to Scotland Neck in the fifteen years before his marriage, but he had made a point to learn everything he could before he returned.

  He had to admit, he hadn’t expected Delia to throw a wrench in the works. But he would take care of her through her husband and her mother-in-law. He knew where to strike that viper for the most effect.

  “That doesn’t solve where the information came from,” Jethro pointed out.

  “I’ll find that one out as well. ”

  His head lifted as a knock sounded on the door. A second later Keiley stepped into the office.

  Mac almost grinned at the way she was dressed. He hadn’t seen her covered so well in their home since he had married her. Not that the summer soft cotton pants and loose shirt detracted from the lush curves beneath them. The buttoned top draped over her breasts with a soft touch, inviting a man to find out what lay beneath it. The pants were just loose enough to hide her rounded thighs and hint at the soft cleft between them.

  “I’m putting dinner on,” she announced. “Is there anything in particular that you have a taste for?”

  From the corner of his eye he caught the sudden flare of lust in Jethro’s expression and the unusual tightening of his lips as his friend held back what Mac was certain would be a less-than-decent suggestion. The sight of the heated blush rushing beneath her cheeks assured him that Keiley hadn’t missed it, either.

  “Pervert,” she muttered under her breath.

  Wicked amusement lit Jethro’s eyes as he turned to her more fully. “I resemble that remark. ”

  She rolled her eyes before turning back to Mac. “Restrain him. ”

  Mac arched a brow. “I’d much rather restrain you, but only after dinner. ”

  “Fine, you can eat whatever I fix. ”

  “Keiley. ” His voice was harder, darker, as she turned to leave, and he knew it. He heard it in his own voice, but her reaction was much more telling.

  She froze, an almost imperceptible shudder working up her spine before she turned back to him.

  Her expression had his balls drawing tight in his jeans. Her lashes had drifted lower, her lips appeared fuller, and a flush that had nothing to do with embarrassment darkened her cheeks.

  “What?” A little frown also creased her brow as he stared back at her.

  “Come here. ” It wasn’t a request.

  Her eyes narrowed as she glanced between him and Jethro.

  She gave him a ladylike snort and said, “In your dreams. ”

  With that she turned and closed the door firmly behind her nicely rounded little rear.

  Mac almost jerked from the sudden tension that tore through his body at her deliberate challenge. His teeth clenched with an arousal so hot, spiking so hard, that he swore he was on the verge of release.

  He stood slowly from the chair, staring at the door with a sense of anticipation.

  “I want all the blinds closed through the house,” he told Jethro softly. “Then join us in the kitchen. ”

  His entire body was tight now, his control fraying by the second. All he could think about was holding her, restraining her, controlling that sweet, hot little body while he and Jethro worked her toward a pleasure she couldn’t imagine. Keiley wasn’t going to cook dinner tonight. They could order out later. Much later.


  Keiley sensed she had just offered a dare that there wasn’t a chance in hell Mac would refuse. She had seen it in his face that second as she glanced back before closing the door. In an instant the taut, savage angles of an expression tight with lust was clearly revealed.

  He had warned her not to awaken the animal inside him, but she had done it anyway. Deliberately? She couldn’t say. She knew her nerves were stretched to the limit, and her awareness of the two men in the same room had heightened the nervous arousal building within her all day.
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