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“Maybe he was. He’d had more than his share of beers.”

Thing was, it was the exact opposite. Yeah, Daryl had a few beers, but I’d added a couple shots to my beer consumption, it being the end of the week and all.

Daryl was practically stone sober, while I was already well on my way to needing a ride home.

Scotty stared at me again, not talking, just looking, making me squirm. I hated it when he did that. Everyone who knew him hated it. He’d put you on the spot, because he knew you were flat-out lying… which I fucking was.

I was about to dig the hole deeper when somebody knocked on the front door.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s Jimmy coming here to fire your ass for the fight,” Scotty said, not moving off his stool, sipping his coffee like it was the best thing he’d ever tasted. “You deserve that and worse.”

I slid off my stool. “He can’t. He’s family, and family stick together.”

“Tammy’s your family, and a distant cousin at best. Jimmy has no skin in the game. And besides, you know how much he hates bar fights. You can do almost anything else and get away with it, but fighting is like a monster sin in his book.”

“Whatever! I can always go back to bronc riding,” I told him, right before he laughed.

He knew damn well I’d almost killed myself trying that game and never rose up the ranks from the bottom. I had to be the worst bronc rider on the planet. The damn horses scared the shit out of me. You can’t be a good rider if you’re scared of the horse. That has to be rule number one. Rule number two… well, there was no rule number two if you couldn’t get past rule number one.

I swung the door open and stood there for a moment like you do when you can’t believe what you’re seeing. I think my mouth even hung open.

“Hi, Mickey,” CindyLou said, as she stood next to Colt, who looked as if he might punch me if I said anything even remotely stupid.

It was at that exact moment when I knew what a true asshole I’d been. Not only was I crazy for this beauty in jean shorts and a white top that showed off enough cleavage to cause my dick to react, but just like that night out in the parking lot, I wanted to run away again, as far and as fast as I could. I even reconsidered signing up for the rodeo circuit, knowing damn well I’d be dead by the end of the run.

Death by crazed horse seemed like the better option at the moment.

She was a sinful danger all wrapped up in the sweetest smile I’d ever seen.

Fuck me!

“Hi, CindyLou. Nice to see you again,” I said, trying my best not to react to seeing her again. The woman did something to me so profound, I could barely breathe, let alone think.

“Cut the crap, Mickey. We’ve got some real-life stuff to talk about,” Colt said, then walked in past me. CindyLou remained outside the door.

“Can I come in?” she asked, as if she needed an invitation.

“Yes, I mean, sure. You don’t have to ask. Come on in.” I stepped out of her way, trying like hell not to panic. “Can I get you a cup of coffee?”

I didn’t ask Colt about the coffee. He wasn’t a guest. He’d crashed on my sofa enough times that this was like his second home. Even though he had his own place in town, mine was walking distance to the Coyote.

“No thanks, but if you’ve got some tea, that would be nice,” she said, as pleasant as could be.

Why did she have to be so fucking nice? This would go much better if she were a bitch.

Of course, if she were a bitch, I wouldn’t be in this situation.

She followed me out to the kitchen, where Colt had already poured himself a cup of coffee. He pulled another black mug out of the cupboard and held it up. “Can I pour you a cup, CindyLou?”

“She wants tea,” I told him.

“All I really need is some hot water. I always carry my own tea bags,” she said. “Just fill that mug with water, and I’ll pop it into the microwave. That’ll do me just fine.”

“I can do that,” Colt told her.

I felt relieved that she knew exactly what she wanted. This was a coffee house. Not a tea bag or a tea kettle to be found.

“Hey, CindyLou,” Scotty said, and I could tell he was trying his best not to look shocked to see her. He ran his hand through his hair again, and once again, it just flopped back down on his forehead.