Colters woman, p.22
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       Colters Woman, p.22

         Part #1 of Colters Legacy series by Maya Banks
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Page 22


  “I need to know if you see him,” Adam said. “Immediately. ”

  “Don’t want me to detain him?” Lacey asked. “You want to press charges?”

  “We don’t have proof. Yet,” he added.

  “You gonna hole up at the cabin then?”

  Adam nodded. “For now. Until we’re sure Holly’s safe. ”

  Something that looked remarkably like hurt flashed in the other woman’s eyes. Holly felt a pang of sympathy. It was obvious Lacey had feelings for Adam, and just as obvious that he didn’t return them.

  “I’ll keep my eyes open, and I’ll tell my deputies to do the same,” Lacey said. “But if he shows up, don’t do anything stupid, Adam. You call me. ”

  “We’ll do whatever it takes to ensure Holly’s safety,” Adam said evenly. “I won’t make any promises as to how that happens. ”

  “Good enough. I’ll check in on y’all when I’m up there next. ”

  “Thanks, Lacey. We appreciate it. ”

  He tipped his Stetson in her direction then turned to face Holly and the others. “Let’s get on home now. ”

  Holly glanced back at Lacey one more time before she followed the guys out. Unmistakable dislike glittered in the other woman’s eyes, and Holly didn’t look away, unwilling to be intimidated. Finally Lacey’s gaze fell, and Holly walked out.

  “We should stop by Riley’s and ask him to keep a look out as well,” Ethan said as they piled into the Land Rover.

  “Good idea,” Adam said. “I’ll stop and run in. You all can wait in the truck.

  Thirty minutes later, they drove out of Clyde after stopping at Riley’s. When they finally pulled into the drive of the cabin, Holly expelled a long sigh of relief. She’d never been so happy to be anywhere before.

  She walked inside with the guys and promptly sagged onto the couch. She reached for the afghan strewn to the side and pulled it up to her chin.

  “Cold, doll?” Ethan asked.

  She nodded and snuggled deeper into the couch.

  “I’ll build a fire. ”

  “I’ll case the perimeter,” Ryan said.

  “I’ll go with you,” Adam said. “I need to check on the horses anyway. ”

  Holly watched as they walked out the back door then she turned to Ethan and arched her brow. “Case the perimeter?”

  Ethan chuckled. “It’s Ryan’s way of saying he’s going to check out the property, make sure nothing’s been disturbed and probably set a few traps. ”

  “Traps?” she echoed.

  “He’s ex-military, doll. He thinks like a soldier. ”

  “Do you think he’ll come for me here?”

  His eyes softened. “I don’t know, but if he does, we’ll be prepared. ” He headed toward the back door. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to get some wood for the fire. ”

  She settled back against the sofa cushions and closed her eyes. She was home. She’d done it. She’d sought a divorce from Mason. The ball was rolling, and all she had to do now was wait until she was free. And then she could begin her life with three men she wasn’t sure she could live without.

  * * *

  Over the next few weeks, Holly became more convinced than ever that she had made the right decision. She was happy. Happier than she’d ever been in her life. As great as the sex was, there were plenty of nights when they just enjoyed each other’s company. Those were some of her favorite times.

  They played games. Talked about good times. Eased further into their lives together. Whatever reservations Holly’d had about committing to three men, they were fast disappearing.

  One day after a fresh snowfall, Holly went riding with all three brothers. They took her further up into the high-country where they hunted elk every fall.

  There on top of a plateau, Holly understood what it was that had drawn the brothers to the mountains here. She remembered Ryan’s statement that there wasn’t another place as pretty as the Rockies. He was right. If there was, she hadn’t seen it.

  Her life had taken such a drastic turn. Never would she have imagined that her spoiled existence would take her to a rustic cabin high in the Rockies. It was only now she realized how fake her entire life had been. Devoid of reality.

  She’d floated through her young adult life with no goal, no direction, no aim. Here, in the arms of three men, instead of feeling like she’d traded one dependency for another, she felt alive and free. Capable of making her own decisions. Encouraged to be strong and stand on her own.

  She sat on her horse, high above the valley and stared out over the horizon. Behind her, she knew Adam, Ethan and Ryan waited, but they didn’t rush her, and she wasn’t in any hurry to leave the magnificent view she beheld.

  There was no explanation for the change she felt blossoming within her. It surged and swelled until it was all-encompassing. It demanded release. Wanted acceptance. Wanted her to acknowledge it.

  For the first time in longer than she could remember, she felt completely at peace with the direction of her life.

  Adam exchanged looks with his brothers. They all wore expressions of satisfaction. Holly had greatly changed from the scared, wary woman he’d rescued from the ditch. In her place stood a strong, confidant woman.

  He was exceedingly proud of her. They all were. He couldn’t imagine a better mate for them.

  She turned around in her saddle, her brown eyes all soft and warm.

  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful,” she said.

  Her breath came out in a visible cloud in the cold air. He disagreed with her. He’d seen something more beautiful. He was looking at her.

  “I can’t wait to see it in the fall when all the aspens are in color,” she added.

  He smiled back at her. He got a ridiculous thrill every time she mentioned the future. He felt like an adolescent with a first crush. He knew his brothers weren’t any more immune than he was.

  She nudged her horse away from the ledge and drew abreast of him and his brothers.

  “I could stay here forever. ”

  He smiled again at her use of forever. He was turning into a goddamn pussy. And liking it at that. God help him.

  “You are staying here, forever,” he pointed out. “We can come up here as often as you like. ”

  She smiled sweetly at him, delight shining in her eyes.

  “What do you say we head back?” Ethan spoke up. “I’ll make us some hot chocolate, and we can play Monopoly. I want revenge for the last time Holly cleaned me out. ”

  Holly’s laughter rang out over the mountainside. White flurries began drifting downward, and Holly’s eyes lit up in delight.

  “More snow!”

  They all smiled indulgently at her and turned their horses back toward home. As they continued, the snow began to fall harder. They’d get several inches before it was over with. Added to the six they’d already received, they’d get quite the dump before the night was over.

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  It had the makings of a perfect evening. The snow had finally stopped falling, leaving the landscape covered in a fresh blanket of white. A fire blazed in the hearth, and Holly sat on the floor playing Monopoly with Ethan and Ryan. Adam shut down the computer and ambled over to sit behind Holly.

  He stroked her hair, enjoying her interaction with his brothers. Yes, it was a perfect night. So it shouldn’t have surprised him when the phone rang.

  He sighed in disgust and dropped his hand from Holly’s hair.

  “Don’t answer,” she said huskily, turning to smile at him sweetly.

  For a moment, he almost heeded her request. But it could be Cal calling with news, or it could be Mom and Dad. “I’ll be right back,” he said, dropping a kiss on her upturned lips.

  He shoved himself from the floor just as the phone quit ringing. Before he could settle back down, his cell phone started buzzing.

  Fuck. Whatever it was, it must be important.
  He walked over to the computer desk and flipped open his cell phone.

  “Adam here,” he said shortly.

  “Adam? It’s Lacey. Look, I need your help. All of you if you can swing it. I’ve got a missing kid. Fresh snowfall’s made it impossible to pick up any tracks. I could use you. ”

  Adam sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Damn. The last thing he wanted to do was trek out into the cold, but he couldn’t very well leave a child out to freeze to death.

  “Where do we need to come?” he asked in resignation.

  “Meet me in town. We’re organizing our search here at headquarters. And listen, Adam. Bring your rifles. We have reason to believe this is an abduction. ”

  Adam shut the phone and looked up to see three pair of eyes watching him.

  Holly uncurled her legs and stood up. She walked over to him, worry creasing her brow. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

  Behind her, Ethan and Ryan also stood, their attention focused solely on Adam.

  “That was Lacey,” he said. He glanced down at Holly to gauge her reaction.

  She frowned slightly but didn’t say anything.

  “What did she want?” Ryan demanded.

  “She needs our help. Got a kid gone missing and with the fresh snowfall, they can’t get any tracks. ”

  “Man…” Ethan said.

  “You have to go,” Holly said softly. “I mean, you have to find the child. ”

  Adam nodded.

  “You go on. I’ll be fine,” she said, hugging her arms around her.

  “One of us should stay,” Adam said, looking to his brothers for confirmation. “Holly shouldn’t be alone. ” He didn’t want to alarm her, but there was no way they’d leave her unprotected with her husband out there. The incident in Denver was still too fresh in his memory.

  “I’ll stay,” Ryan said. “You and Ethan go on. ”

  Adam nodded. “All right. ”

  He enfolded Holly in his arms. “We’ll be back as soon as we can, baby. ”

  She reached up on tiptoe and kissed him. “Bet your ass you will. ”

  He grinned. Then he turned to Ethan. “You ready?”

  Ethan brushed his lips across Holly’s hair then hurried over to the closet where they kept their gear.

  Five minutes later, they walked out the door and got into the Land Rover. As he backed down the drive, heaviness settled in his chest. He couldn’t explain the feeling, but worry nagged at him.

  * * *

  Holly turned to Ryan as the door closed and spread her arms out. “Just you and me. ”

  He grinned and sauntered over to her. “I can think of worse things. ”

  Her heart turned over in her chest.

  “Oh, the things I’m going to do to you,” he said wickedly.

  She smiled and shoved him playfully. “Oh no, bad boy, what I’m going to do to you. ”

  He raised a brow. “I think I like the sound of that. ”

  She fluttered her eyelashes. “Meet me. Bedroom. Five minutes. ”

  He reached out to grab her, but she darted from his grasp. She ran for the bedroom, shrieking with laughter. “Five minutes!” she called back.

  She shut the door behind her and headed for the closet where she’d hidden the sexy lingerie she’d bought in Denver. She pulled the silky, peach camisole top from the tissue where it was wrapped then snagged the matching silk shorts.

  Quickly shimmying out of her jeans and shirt, she danced out of the closet on one foot as she thrust the other into the shorts. She tossed her hair with her hand and headed into the bathroom for a quick check.

  The smiling, laughing girl in the mirror was a long way from the tattered, scared rabbit who’d run for her life just weeks ago.

  She picked up a brush and ran it through her now light brown hair. She only had about one minute before Ryan would break down the door. She dropped the brush and scurried out of the bathroom and headed for the bed.

  To her surprise, Ryan was there waiting for her. Naked.

  “Oh, you’re bad,” she scolded. “You were supposed to wait five minutes. ”

  He grinned sheepishly at her. “Telling time has never been my strong point. ”

  She stood there, hand on her hip.

  “Come here,” he ordered.

  “I ought to make you wait,” she grumbled as she crawled up the bed.

  He curled an arm over her waist and rolled her underneath him in one smooth motion. His lips rested an inch above hers, and he lowered them until they brushed across her mouth.

  “You look hot in that outfit,” he rasped. “It’s a damn shame I’m going to have to take it off so quickly.

  She laughed. “A terrible shame. ”

  He pulled at the top until it bared one breast.

  “I love your nipples. They’re perfect. Pink. So feminine. ”

  He rolled his tongue across the puckered tip. “They taste as sweet as they look. ”

  “You’re such a miserable tease,” she groaned out.

  He tugged at the camisole top until the straps fell down her shoulders. He continued to pull at it until it gathered around her waist.

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