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Branding the Virgin(9)

By:Alexa Riley

Every time he touches me, I feel my body come alive. At first I tried to break away from some of the touches, shy and unsure of what they were making me feel. But as the day wore on, I found myself leaning into them, wondering when I’d get another. It was becoming addicting, and that was another thing to add to my scary list.

It would not be good to fall into something with Ty and have it blow up in my face. It was already going to be hard to split my time with a child if I had to, but what if I fall for Ty and it doesn’t work? One’s heart could only take so much loss. To watch the family I’ve always wanted slip right through my fingers would break me.

“Dinner will be done in just a little bit,” I tell him, not looking back at him. I can still feel the blush on my cheeks. He’s been getting me to do that all day. It was even worse when I met some of his hands on the ranch. He was very territorial of me, and I’m not real sure what to think about that, but at least he wasn’t snapping at me anymore. That was a nice change. I’d even caught his dimple out a few times when I was looking at him. His eyes would go soft and his smile would lighten his face.

“It smells real good, darlin’. Haven’t had a home-cooked meal since Dolly took off to college,” he says. I take the chops out of the frying pan placing them on the plate next to the stove. Picking it up, I take it over to the dining room table, and notice his eyes follow me the whole way.

“She seems sweet.” I hope Dolly will be around more. She’s the only other woman I’ve seen here. And I like the bite back she gave Ty this morning—something I’m probably going to have to learn to do myself. It’s one of my flaws. I have a problem with being snippy back. It’s just not in me. It isn’t my nature. I go back to the kitchen, grabbing the mashed potatoes and rolls I made, and bring them to the table, too.

“She’s a handful.” The way he says it makes it sound like that doesn’t bother him. It’s light, and I can tell he loves her.

“First year of college?” I ask, motioning for him to take a seat at the table, but he comes over and pulls a seat out for me. I take it, and he sits in the seat right next to mine. Then he starts putting food onto my plate. I look over at him. It’s a sweet and intimate act that I wasn’t expecting.

“Yeah, her first year. It was a fight to get her to go.” He turns to look at me and catches me staring at him. “She didn’t want to leave. This kind of life is bred into your blood. If it was up to her she’d just stay here and train the horses.”

“Then how’d you get her to go?”

“I bark and people tend to jump to.” He raises his eyebrows at me teasingly.

“I noticed,” I laugh. He’s barked a few times, which made me jump. “What about your parents? Did they want her to go?” I see something flash in his eyes and I know what’s coming. “I’m sorry. My parents are gone, too.”

He reaches out, tucking a lock of hair behind my ear. He’s done that a million times today. I’ve never had someone touch me so easily. It’s like he’s been doing it forever. Everything he does kind of seems that way, and I wonder if that’s just how he is. If I had to guess, I’d say yes. Ty seems like a man who just does what he wants.

“I’ve been looking after my family for a while now. I’m not real sure what Mama would have wanted for her, but I want to make sure she has options. Shit.” He leans back in his chair, taking a breath. “I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing or not. To be honest I have no fucking clue, but I’m trying.”

I smile at him. A warm feeling settles deep because Ty just gave me so much more than he knows. He might come off hard and a little cold, but he cares about his family. Wants to make sure that his sister has everything she might need. He’d have to be the same with a child that’s his, right? Or maybe he already has too much on his plate. I push that thought aside, wanting to grab ahold of this little spark of hope.

I find myself leaning into him. Then his lips are on mine.



I can’t help myself as my mouth molds to hers, my hands going to her waist and pulling her closer to me. I feel myself pull her from the chair as her mouth opens in surprise, and I sweep my tongue in, taking advantage. I have her in my lap at the table, and I feel her curves against me. My hands move up and down her back as if to push her against my chest so tightly that we become one.

“Mary-Jane,” I whisper and go back to kissing her like I’m desperate for it. And I am. From the second my lips landed on hers, I’ve been lost to the sensations that are running through my body.