As Gavin heaved the barn door open, Holly bounced on her boot heels, eyes closed beneath the white eyelet blindfold that matched her knee-length wedding dress. Goodness knows she wasn’t used to waiting for sex, and he had been making her wait ever since their arrival at his family’s ranch the week before. She needed the grind of his hard body against her soft skin. Scorching or sweaty, she didn’t care. She just wanted him. He was finally hers to have and she needed him now.
The floor had been swept clear, and sprawling, colorful woven carpets were scattered all around. Lanterns, mounted on posts and hanging from beams overhead, cast soft light over the cavernous room, and a king-sized wrought-iron bed, the posts draped with twinkle lights, occupied the long far wall.
“They’d do anything for you, wouldn’t they?”
He shrugged, and smiled. His brothers must have busted their gorgeous asses setting up this place exactly as big brother Gavin instructed.
“Yes, ma’am. I believe they would.” A huge cut of an old cedar tree served as the bedside table, and was covered in candles big and small. No fancy hotel honeymoon suite could ever compare.
“You’re lucky I met you first.” She winked.
“Oh yeah, Mrs. Cameron?” Gavin grabbed her by the waist and twirled her around to hug her from behind. Her eyes fluttered closed at the enveloping warmth of his chest against her back and his breath on her neck. “Which one would you have picked if it hadn’t been me?”
“Gavin!” she elbowed him lightly, giggling. “I could never pick just one.”
Gavin went quiet and released her. Uh-oh. Her heart sank. What a thing to say to her husband on their wedding night! He knew which country stars she had the hots for and never minded her panting over them. It only ever made her hotter for him. But there was such a thing as sibling rivalry, and if she’d grown up with any family of her own she might have been more sensitive about it. Holly turned to face him.
“You know you’re the only one for me, Gav,” she said softly.
He shook his head and smiled.
“I’m just happy to be the one you love best, is all.”
As Holly twirled around the space, Gavin rolled the door closed with a thud loud enough to make her jump. She squealed and, scooping her around, Gavin planted a deep, warm kiss on the side of her neck, followed by a trail of smaller kisses to her lips. She laughed into his mouth and they hugged each other. She loved the smell of him, earthy and rugged, as if growing up on a ranch had permeated his skin and remained there, despite the fact he was a city boy now.
Gavin slipped his hand into Holly’s and her limbs, tired from boot stomping with every last male in the Cameron family all night, became warm and languid, melting for him. Her heart beat a slow, sultry rhythm that pulsed lower and lower as she turned into her new husband’s broad, warm chest, seeking a thorough, you’re-all-mine kind of hug. She had only ever had that kind of embrace from one man in her life, and that was him. Her Gavin. She wanted to meld with him and fall asleep in his arms in this magical place.
“One of your brothers messing around?” Holly laughed, noticing the soft cotton rope wound into a neat cone at the foot of the bed.
“Oh, I assure you,” he said, taking her around the waist. “It’s no joke.”
There was a flicker of something dark in his eyes. She’d seen it before but could never draw its meaning from him in words. It rattled her now, needy as she was to join their bodies, having been deprived of that soothing melt of connection for days. She sucked in a deep breath to calm her nerves. Maybe he was nervous too?
He lifted her high to wrap her legs around his waist, his belt buckle pressing against her, cold metal catching a slip of exposed skin. She ground her hips for a better position and found the sweet spot, a laugh bubbling up as he carried her to the bed.
Gavin threw her down and raised the hem of her short dress with one hand while pulling her panties aside with the other. His fingertips barely brushed the softness there, as he bit his lower lip. She watched his chest rise and fall, quietly at first, then with a low growl that resonated in her own body. He slid a hand up her belly and squeezed her breast through her dress.
Gavin touched her slowly, gazing intently at the bare, shiny creases between her legs.
“Like what you see, cowboy?” she said in a sweet, breathy drawl to match his own.
“Indeed I do.” He bent to sniff between her legs and her skin heated all over, puckering her nipples. Though his lips barely grazed her exposed flesh, the fog of his breath made her bite her lower lip and whimper.
“P-pull off my boots?”
“Everything you want and more, darlin’. I promise you.” There went the dark flicker again. Holly’s stomach tightened with anticipation as Gavin grasped her boot by the heel and dragged it off slowly, not losing eye contact. He did the same with the other.
He released her, pulled her knees together and ran his rough, warm hands along her thighs when she scooted back on the bed. Holly smoothed her hands over the bedspread. It was a fine, well-preserved quilt, made a long time ago by the looks of it. He watched her carefully as she ran her fingers over the pattern.
“My mother’s wedding gift.” Gavin swallowed. “She made one for each of us boys before she passed. This one’s ours. Yours and mine, Holly.”
Her own mother couldn’t even be found, let alone invited to the wedding, and she’d never known her dad.
Tears welled up and she choked a little. “I don’t want to cry, not now. Not yet! Maybe after my first big orgasm as your wife…”
“I love you, Gav.”
As he nodded slowly, deep in thought, the smile faded from his lips but lingered in his eyes.
“I need to ask you somethin’, Hol. It’s a serious question.”
She sucked in her lips and raised her brows. Couldn’t it wait?
“Did you ever wonder if maybe there’s more ways to love people than the usual?”
The question confused her. She had said her vows only a few hours before, a perfect declaration of her feelings. Being the wife of Gavin Cameron and a full on, card-carrying member of a real family was everything she’d wanted since she was a kid. She belonged to one person who wanted only her. Wasn’t that the kind of love everyone hoped to find?
“I’ve never loved anyone more than you.”
“That’s not...exactly what I meant. Look, the boys forgot somethin’. I’ll be right back.”
“We ain’t having none of that anymore. Not between us, anyway.”
Before his comment registered on her dreamy, newlywed brain, Gavin walked away, leaving the misty heat between her legs. He rolled the door open along the track, wide enough to slip out and for her to see a hint of stars in the night sky outside the barn. She sighed deeply, covered her warmed-up pussy with her hand and lay back to wait for him.
This was Holly’s first time in Montana. Her travel schedule for work in the past year had made it impossible to visit before, though she had video chatted with his family. Luke and Travis took her on a virtual tour of the ranch, his dad Hank showed her the garden and McKenna asked ever so quietly if she wanted to watch a foal being born, all to teach her a thing or two about their way of life. Maybe to lure her to it and bring Gavin back home.
Holly’s job as a corporate trade show organizer was so different from ranch work, she could scarcely imagine what she’d do in Montana besides ogle the tantalizing cowboys she was forbidden to touch. She’d never cheat on her husband, of course, but what if she started to fantasize about his brothers? Doing that while she was in bed with Gavin wouldn’t be fair. Holly winced at the thought and rolled over onto her side, briefly averting her eyes from the open barn door, as if Gavin would catch a guilty glint if he walked in at that moment.
In the week leading up to the wedding, she’d spent time with each of them, alone and as a family. If Holly had to give it a name, she’d say it was relief she sensed most, a familial sentiment she couldn’t quite wrap her head around. Gavin wasn’t exactly the kind of guy you’d worry about finding a bride. Holly had stood at a distance many an evening, watching women of all ages approach his booth at the farmer’s market, buying more Cameron Ranch grass-fed sirloin than they probably needed. They’d walk off swaying their hips, each giving him a wistful, over-the-shoulder glance as they left.
The Camerons were close, no doubt, and wanted to see Gavin happy. Perhaps it was the simple joy of having him back, feeling whole as a family again?
No, that just…wasn’t it.
When they arrived in Montana, Holly had thought he would keep her close but, instead, he let her loose, confident she would acclimate to the rhythm of the ranch. For the first few days, she felt more like an outsider wishing she had a place, wishing she had something meaningful to do, as they worked in steady concert around her.
On the morning of her third day, Holly stood on the small step leading to the back door of the main house, sipping a cup of Seattle’s Best in a mug with a big “R” on it. It had been Gavin’s mother’s cup, but McKenna chose it, filled it and handed it to her, so she didn’t refuse.
The only other person around had been Travis, hauling a huge coil of barbed wire into the bed of a beat-up old truck, catching a glimpse of Holly as he did. He gave the wire a big shove, then turned to look at her full on. First the mug in her hands, then her eyes, then a hungry sweep across her breasts and down her whole body. He licked his lips as he looked away, and Holly had frozen, wanting to pretend she didn’t know what that was. Even worse, she felt butterflies. She turned to go into the house, but Travis called out to her.
“You coming, Holly?”
Travis cocked his head and squinted into the sun.
“Naw, that sexy thing behind you.”
Holly choked on air.
“If a woman is going to stand around on my ranch lookin’ as tasty as that, you can’t expect me not to look. Now come on, let’s put you to work so you don’t cause a total work stoppage when the rest of them get back from checking cows.”
Holly laughed, as he walked slowly over, looking up at her from under his lashes. He took the empty mug from her and returned it to the kitchen.
“You know how to drive four-on-the-floor?”
“You know, manual transmission…We do everything by hand around here.” He winked and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, leading her to the truck.
She reached up and removed his hand.
“You’re trouble, Travis.”
“Nah, I’m just honest. Could use a hand, though. You get out and open and the gates, then I drive through and you close ’em behind me, alright? I’ll show you what to do.”
After that, they’d just gone to work, with Travis thankfully treating her more like a new ranch hand than what he’d implied earlier. He was only testing her mettle, she decided. The Camerons were easily the sexiest set of cowboys she’d seen in one place since Gavin took her to the Professional Bull Riders event in Seattle last March. Like those bad-boy bull riders, they were probably used to having their pick of women. It wasn’t like Travis needed to steal his brother’s girl.
She’d have to toughen up, in more ways than one, to deal with this family.
With the exception of Abel, who kept his distance, they started to include her in everything and, as her first days on the ranch wore on, Holly’s impression of the men as sexy, love-’em-and-leave-’em types changed. Even Travis had regained his composure with her, after his one flirtatious outburst, and had been a complete gentleman since. She loved Gavin with all her heart, but she had met and grown to love him in a vacuum, without having been around his family. Now that she was here, she began to wonder if that unique something she loved in Gavin was in the rest of them too. Maybe it was a Cameron thing.
The thought caused some previously unknown fear to break off inside her and drift. She had just chosen a life with one man, and the last thing she needed was to doubt her own ability to remain faithful to their vows.
Holly lay back again, hands splayed across her nervous belly, then propped herself up and ran her fingers over the quilt. It was an intricately woven pattern of rings with tiny, almost even stitches done by hand. Wow. Thank goodness they lived in the city, where no one would expect her to be able to sew a quilt. She felt a twinge again. She’d never measure up on the ranch. If these men could use a woman out here, it wasn’t her. She traced the stitches with her finger. Well, maybe she could learn to sew something.
Holly knew Gavin loved her, right from the start. He was in charge of outside sales for the ranch and, although most of his customers were high-end stores in Washington, Oregon and California, he kept a booth at the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market to stay in touch with his real customers. She approached him at the market one Thursday evening, trying not to stare too long into the golden-brown eyes locked on hers. He talked her into some very expensive steaks, then forced her to take them gratis on the condition he could come over and grill them for her.
She was surprised it took him as long as six months to ask her to marry him. Their sex life was amazing. They shared almost everything. Almost, because on more than one occasion Gavin had said there was more to what he wanted, more to what they would share, but it could wait. They had a lifetime to explore.
Holly had been so thrilled by his reference to a future for them, she ignored the small tweak of anxiety it gave her. But this afternoon, when the pastor asked if anyone objected, she had felt it again. A quiet, urgent tug that said Gavin had kept something important from her.
Lying back on the bed, Holly covered her eyes and prayed it was something she could handle. She was determined to have a normal, stable family life, unlike the one she had growing up. She drew long, misty breaths into her lungs, listening to the quiet, wondering where her husband had gone anyway. The barn door stood open, and she listened for footsteps, but all she heard were crickets. She wasn’t used to this kind of quiet and her mind continued to swirl with memories of her wedding day.
At the reception, Holly had danced with one Cameron brother after the next. Abel held her a bit snugger than a brother-in-law should but, like her experience with Travis, she dismissed it as good-natured, meant more to tease Gavin than anything else. Abel was gorgeous, black haired and blue eyed, though his name evoked visions of some patrician biblical character who could not be trusted with a modern woman’s happiness. He came into the family as a foster child but was every inch a Cameron, she was told. Holly had a soft spot for him, having been a foster child herself for a while.
Gavin had tugged her away from Abel and twirled her into a two-step, as the band transitioned to a George Strait song they both loved. Abel stared after her, unsmiling, and Holly stumbled.
“Quick-quick-slow-slow,” Gavin murmured, meeting her eyes, his hand pressed firmly to her back, righting her, guiding her into the steps again.
“Why did you leave here?”
“I needed to go to the big city to find you, didn’t I? But I have to say, being here now, with you, makes me want to stay.”
I’d be useless out here.
Holly had taken a full month off for her wedding and honeymoon. He would get his fill of Montana and be ready to get back to Seattle by then—wouldn’t he? The question rose to her lips, but he twirled her under his arm and caught her back into a kiss, silencing her response. Deprived of sexual intimacy for days, the kiss distracted her completely. She dragged her lips over his, soft and slow, capturing the tender flesh between her teeth, not caring who saw. He had to know what he did to her.
“Take me out back,” she breathed into his mouth. His eyes said no, and Holly’s chest burned with need and a pinch of humiliation. How could he stand it?
The barn door rolled closed again and Holly was shaken from her memory of the dance floor. Surprisingly, Gavin had a handful of condoms and a small box, which she took from him. Chalk. The man was a mystery, but she loved him deeply and wanted to trust in his love for her.
“Baby, I need something from you,” he said, unbuckling his belt. Holly scrambled off the bed and onto her knees, grinning up at him. She loved how he tasted but, even more, she loved how open they were with each other. They were perfectly matched, and he never judged her for the kinky things she liked to do.
Holly licked her lips and the sweet flesh of his penis pressed like a kiss to her mouth. She opened and sucked at the tip, then took him all in as he angled his hips forward with a deep sigh.
“Mmmm-hmmm,” she hummed, closing her eyes to shut out the confusion that nipped at the corner of her mind. He let up on her, his hand sweeping from the back of her head to her jaw as his cock slid out. She caught it in her hand and kissed the tip, then he lifted her chin and smiled.
“You will have everything you’ve ever wanted, and nothin’ you don’t. Do you understand me?”
Holly nodded, but the flicker in his eye was like a crack of lightning this time. It seared the air around her, made her heart beat faster, her skin feel both clammy and flushed.
“You have nothing to fear, baby. I’ve got this.” He took her hands and lifted her, his stiff cock poking out of his open jeans, his shirt unsnapped all the way, leaving the shadowy, taut planes of his chest exposed.
What was happening? She wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night, but she was starting to feel like one. The ground slipped out from under her as Gavin swept her up and onto the bed. He kissed her, but her lips were tight.
“I will always take care of you, Holly.” He opened the box of chalk and slid one out, teasing her as if it were a piece of candy. His dick was still hard. She knitted her brows.
“I hope you’re not expecting me to insert this somewhere.”
“Of course not, silly.” He kicked off his boots and hauled up onto the bed, standing on the mattress. High on the wall behind the headboard he wrote their names in a heart.
“Oh,” she breathed, her shoulders sagging. “I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. Sorry.”
Below the heart, he wrote the number one, then looked down at her, an eyebrow raised. As he turned back to write the numbers two through ten, she watched with curiosity.
A list. Okay. A list of hopes and dreams?
“Tell me what turns you on the most. What you love to do or have done to you.”
“Your absolute top ten favorites. Go.” Gavin turned back to wait for her answer, chalk poised on the wall. Was he going to do everything she loved in one night? Best honeymoon ever.
“C’mon now.” The corner of his mouth curled up. He said nothing more, only waited.
“Ummm...okay. I love...when you pull out right before you come and rub yourself at the entrance to my pussy.”
Gavin stilled and wiped his brow with his sleeve. “That’s a good one. Not what I expected for number one, but we’ll go with it.”
“Well, I don’t know! I’ve never played this before.”
He turned back to her. “Keep going.”
They continued like this for a while until Holly finally got to ten. Leisurely blowjobs, which Gavin called ‘cock worship’ because of the beatific look that came over her when she did it. (No use trying to deny it, sucking cock had a calming effect on her.) Next was having her cheeks spread and asshole played with, and getting licked in one long, thick stroke of the tongue from her butt to the spot on the back of her neck that makes her shiver. Gavin’s handwriting was neat and precise, despite the rambling nature of her responses. He plopped back down on the bed, smiled at her, mussed her hair and then kissed her. As they sat there, exchanging silly grins, there was a knock at the barn door.
“Oh, shit! Cover it up! Cover it!” Holly covered her mouth with a squeal. “What do we do?”
Gavin didn’t seem surprised. He took her hand from her mouth and kissed the back, then held it in his lap, lightly touching his penis.
“Nothin’. They’ll go away.” His voice got louder at the last and she giggled.
What if I don’t want them to?
The thought gave her a jolt. Thank goodness she didn’t say it out loud. Her earlier comment about which Cameron brother she would pick was insensitive enough. She had crossed a line and wouldn’t do it again.
“Lift your hair.” Gavin kissed the words onto her shoulder and she shivered.
Holly did as he asked, and he unzipped the back of her dress and slipped it from her shoulders. Shimmying out of it, she tossed it over the foot of the bed.
Gavin scooted off and picked up the coil of rope, then nodded to her to lie back against the pillows. She presented her wrists to him, together, as if he was going to handcuff her.
“Not like that.” He took her left hand and secured it to the post on the bed. She rested her arm awkwardly against the pillows until he pulled tight, letting the rope do the supporting. She happily gave him her other wrist but, just as he finished tying off the knot, leaving her with arms suspended, wide open and vulnerable, there was another knock.
This time, Gavin said nothing. The door slid open and Holly shrieked.
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