Utah Davies is a recluse by choice, shunning his family and denying the ranch that needs his care. His personal life is a broken fence-line of past failures, neglected relationships, and The One that got away. After his father’s death, Utah is summoned home and faced with a secret in the form of a dozen or so more siblings he—and the family—had no idea existed. A clause in the will states he must find the family scattered across the country and unite them all for the reading. Trouble is, he has no clue where to begin.
Until he comes face-to-face with the old flame that burned his heart to ash.
In the July of their love, journalist Caroline Wilks refused elopement with Utah. After that, she made a series of bad decisions starting—then ending—with a nightmare marriage to a drunk. But when hunky bad-boy Utah struts back into her life, the only peace from the soul-deep throb she’ll get is between him and a mattress. He refuses to believe she’s nothing more than a hard-nosed journalist known for digging up more dirt than the family coon dog, but she knows better—or does she? And how can Caroline take the time to help Utah find his scattered family when she has a feature story due by the end of the month? Maybe the human interest piece is standing right in front of her in the dark, brooding cowboy.
Need hummed in Utah’s veins as he walked Caroline backward into her house and kicked the door shut. She melted under his kiss, as sweet and sassy as ever. Damn, was that the smell of wildflowers clinging to her hair?
With a possessive groan, he swept the seam of her lips with his tongue, demanding entrance. She slipped her other arm around his neck and clung. A soft noise burst from her, and he took advantage by plunging his tongue into her mouth.
His balls clenched tight to his body, throbbing with fullness. His cock swelled two clicks past rock-hard in a blink. After a single flip of their tongues, his dick head wept pre-come.
Reaching behind him, he searched for the door lock. She smiled again and fumbled for it. Their hands met, fingers tangled, and finally he heard the snick of the lock.
He drowned in her flavors as he roved his hands over her tiny waist, the soft flare of her hips, and around to cup her firm ass. No wedding ring circled her finger, and he’d confirmed this information with her ma before coming here.
“Need you,” she moaned against his mouth.
“Not as bad as I need you, baby.” He sank his fingers into her ass and whirled, shoving her against the door.
She arched against him.
Utah rocked his erection against her lower belly, throbbing with the need to sink into her tight, wet sheath. Her femininity had always overflowed his palms, and goddammit, she was sexier, riper, and more delicious now.
She pushed into him, and he sagged at the knees, poising his cock right between her round thighs. They spent a dizzying moment kissing and grinding.
“Feels like old times.”
“I think it feels bigger than old times,” she panted, pushing her crotch down on his swollen cock.
He couldn’t stop the grin from spreading over his face again. It was so foreign it made his face muscles hurt. He nipped her bottom lip. “Which way’s your bedroom?” His voice sounded as if he’d drunk a mug of nails and chased it with something stronger than draft beer.
She stared at him, eyes like a blue denim sky, peaches in her cheeks, and lips swollen from his kisses. Before dawn touched the sky, he planned to mark every inch of her body.
When she didn’t respond to his question, worry settled in his chest. Maybe he’d misread her cues. She wasn’t going to let him past her living room. Wasn’t going to let him love her.
Hell, he had no right to try, did he?
He put an inch of space between them. “Caroline—”
She stretched on tiptoe and crushed her mouth against his. Desperation, desire, and pure female.
Growling, he plucked her off her feet. She wrapped her legs around him and angled her head to give him deeper access to her sweet mouth. Flicking his tongue against hers, his emotions mounted as he carried her through the house. A sofa that looked soft enough stood five feet away, but he didn’t want her on a sofa. They’d spent their youth making out, trying not to get caught by either set of parents.
Now Utah would claim her in a bed. And he planned to ruin her for all men who might come after him.
He bounced off a wall with her, and she giggled. Shooting a hand out, she pointed. “That way. Room at the top of the stairs.”
His pulse pounded in his ears as he tightened his grip on her ass and followed her direction.
“How’d you know I was at the bar?” She snaked out her tongue and traced his lip, making him almost come in his pants.
He stopped dead, battling for control. When the throbbing in his balls lessened, he placed a boot on the first step. “Didn’t. I came in for a beer.”
She raked her short nails over his shoulders. Fuck, he wanted this bad. The wildcat from long ago had transformed into a tigress. They were both older—knew what they wanted and how to get it. Again, the need to erase her past and any glimmer of a future with anyone but him fed into his veins.
“How’d you know where I live?” Dark lashes lowered over smoldering blue eyes. She oozed want. ’Course, she always had with him.
“Didn’t. I paid a visit to your ma. She wasn’t happy about the late hour.” As she let another giggle escape, he dipped his head and latched on to her earlobe. Her laughter faded on a gasp.
Worrying her flesh between his teeth filled him with memories of a porch swing on a hot summer night. The first time she’d let him get to second base.
She wriggled as he batted her sensitive lobe with his tongue. His hat had long ago fallen off, probably stomped underfoot, and he didn’t give a damn. He navigated another step while planting kisses down the golden column of her throat.
When he nuzzled the fragrant spot between neck and shoulder, he couldn’t take it anymore. He dropped to his knees and stretched her beneath him on the carpeted stairs. He cradled her spine with his hands.
“Utah.” She quivered.
He stared into her tumultuous gaze for a full minute. “I wanna make it clear this could never be a one-night thing.”
She folded her bottom lip inward. The strain etched on her features spoke of unhappy experiences with men since him, confirming what her ma had said. He didn’t plan to not only wipe that slate clean but to smash it to pieces.
When she didn’t speak, he nudged gently. “That clear, Caroline?” He leaned away from her, and she locked her muscles around his waist to hold him. He didn’t bother to fight his crooked smile.
Taking the squeeze of her thighs as agreement, he captured her lips. The first brush was tender, seeking. Passion and love that had never died rose in his chest. His nose stung with emotion, and he poured it into their kiss.
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