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We decided to never go down that path again, yet here we were. On the same damn path, only this time, the woman had taken hold of our hearts a long time ago. I couldn’t see a good outcome if we chose to pursue a polyamorous relationship again.

Then there was always the fact that CindyLou might hate the idea. That would be the end of it.



Over and out!

Over the next half hour, the dance hall got so busy, I had no choice but to focus on my job rather than a chance with CindyLou… not that it would matter, considering she was moving in with Colt. He wanted a steady relationship with a woman more than his next ride on his favorite horse. He usually did everything his latest crush expected of him and then some. Colt talked a big game and planned for the long-term right from the get-go, but he could no more hang onto a woman than he could hang onto his heart. He’d gotten burned so many times, his heart should be cinders by now.

Still, we all knew CindyLou was different. She actually had a heart, and if I had anything to say about it, Mickey would step up to that baby daddy plate, or I would. Either way, now that CindyLou had moved into town, the three of us would make it right, even if I had to get Daryl to knock some sense into Mickey all over again.

Only this time, he wouldn’t do the knocking inside Dirty Coyote, and I wouldn’t get in his way.

I DIDN’T SEE her right away. As a matter of fact, Colt spotted her first. She’d been hidden under a new-looking gray cowboy hat that gave her an entirely different look. By the time I walked over to CindyLou, she already had a margarita down in front of her at the bar. Hot Sugar was on a break, and Tammy was also helping out behind the bar. Something she enjoyed doing on occasion, at least when most of her regulars showed up. It gave me a little more time to be with each of the customers who’d taken up residency on the barstools, but right now, I wanted to spend more time with CindyLou.

“Nice hat,” I told her.

“Just got it today. Do you like it?” She pulled it down lower on her forehead and I wanted to die right there. I loved a woman in a cowboy hat, especially when that hat made her look as sexy as this one did on CindyLou.

“It suites you,” I said, trying to sound casual about it.

“Thanks. I wasn’t sure.”

I changed the subject. “I thought you’d be over at Colt’s, trying to settle in,” I said, as I walked in closer, grinning like a kid. She looked beautiful, as always. Her coppery red hair surrounded her face, and she wore a smile that could bring me to my knees.

“I’m all settled in, well almost, thanks to you. Aunt Donna offered to babysit tonight, so I thought I’d stop by to see what my night will look like once I start working here,” she said, sounding a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.

“That’s tomorrow night, right?”

“Yeah,” she answered, then she took a sip of her drink, and I could tell the whole idea of stepping behind this bar was freaking her out.

“For one thing, it won’t be nearly as busy. Hot Sugar packs the place, but tomorrow night, we have a great band, but they’re not anywhere near as popular. They still bring in a crowd, but not like this. I’m surprised you were able to get a seat at the bar.”

“The only reason I got it is because some good ol’ boy offered it to me when his date showed up. They’d reserved a table upstairs. My timing was perfect.”

“As always.”

She looked so hot tonight I was sweating from just being around her. Her crimson hair surrounded her face like a halo, and her black shirt was cut low enough to give me a peek at what had to be spectacular breasts. If I chatted with her for too long, I knew I’d be wasted for the rest of the night. How I was ever going to work with her seemed impossible at the moment.

“Thanks, but we’ll see how my timing goes tomorrow night. I haven’t been pouring for months. I’m probably a little rusty.”

“No worries. You’ll be working this bar with Colt and me. We’ve got your back. Besides, more than half of what we serve comes in a long-neck bottle and the other half is a shot of something, straight up. Wine is another standard. These folks don’t usually go for anything too fancy.”

She grinned, and my world blew up. I had it bad for this sweet mama, and I hadn’t even kissed her… yet. The way I saw it, Mickey didn’t know his next step with her, and Colt was simply her landlord. Yes, they’d had sex, but so far, I didn’t see any sparks flying. If I wanted this woman, I’d have to make a play for her and fast. Plus, I could see how the other cowboys in the room were already checking her out. There was a shortage of women in these small towns, and once a single woman took up residency, the single men pounced faster than a bull could throw its rider.

“Thanks,” she said. “Is Mickey here tonight?”

My heart sank with the question. He was still reeling from what she’d told him earlier today, and he’d tried his best to back out of playing tonight, but he knew if he kept pressing it, Jimmy would fire his ass.

“Yeah, he’s playing with Hot Sugar. He knows most of their songbook, so it’s easy for him to fill in. He won’t admit it, but he loves being on that stage more than anything else.”

Mickey was one of the best musicians I knew and could have his pick of bands, but every time he went on the road, he never lasted more than one or two concerts, and he’d be on a plane, heading back to Sweet Whiskey.

“Then why isn’t he with a band, touring the country?”

“He can’t commit.”