Circle Eight Book 7
The moments that define us are the ones we least expect to happen.
James Gibson spent his life trying to find his place in the world. The child of a feckless mother, abandoned as a boy, he was raised by his grandfather, only to lose him when he most needed him. Angry at the world, he struggles to find his path. Then he meets Catherine Graham.
Catherine "Cat" Graham is the hellion of her family, the youngest sister of eight children. She has bucked tradition all her life, riding horses like a man, wearing trousers, and refusing all femininity except for her long blonde locks. She isn't impressed by cowboy James Gibson, no matter how he made her toes curl when he kissed her.
When danger threatens both the Gibsons and the Grahams, James and Cat have to set aside their acrimony. Together they fight for those they love, and in the process find the other half of their souls.
Also In this Series:
James shouldn’t have watched the sisters as they shared a private moment. However, he’d been there first, finding a quiet place to think. It wasn’t his fault they didn’t see him. That didn’t mean he shouldn’t have made his presence known, but they started talking before he’d decided to speak. Then it was too late.
The obvious love and affection between Catherine and Rebecca surprised him. He knew the Grahams were close knit, but these two were more than sisters, they were friends. He was envious of that. While he and Tobias had tried to mend the broken trust between them, they hadn’t yet gotten past all of it. There was still an awkwardness that hung in the air, unspoken and unacknowledged, but still present.
Now to witness what true sibling devotion was between adults, James was a little humbled. He wanted that between he and Tobias. Will would be forever a child and his affection was something to cherish, but he would never be able to talk about anything other than what young’uns found interesting. Frogs, bees nests, mud puddles, climbing trees.
James loved both his brothers, no matter what had happened in the past. Pops had raised them to rely on each other, but things had gone sideways after he died. It was up to James and Tobias to make their family whole again. They just hadn’t gotten there yet. Now that his older brother had found the woman of his heart, they could focus on repairing what had been torn.
Catherine and Rebecca showed James a glimpse into what he could have if he kept at it. Now she was angry at him, which he supposed was better than following him around and annoying him.
She frowned at him. “I asked you a question, Gibson. What the hell do you want?”
“I don’t want anything from you. I was fixing to leave and thought I’d be polite and say goodbye.” A lie, but he had no other excuse he wanted to share with her as to why he was in the backyard at the Circle Eight. Particularly considering he’d eavesdropped.
Her gaze narrowed. “Seems to me you were here spying on me and Rebecca.”
True, but he wouldn’t admit it.
“I did no such thing. I’m a guest, is that how you treat guests at your house?” He was stepping deeper into the shit of his own making and he couldn’t seem to stop his forward momentum. Foolish man.
She huffed out a breath. “I think I like you better when you’re ignoring me. Or running away.”
Catherine turned to leave. For some perverse reason, he reached out and grabbed her arm. It was the first time he’d touched her since the kiss. The fateful moment a month earlier when he lost his sense of reason and given into the primal urge to mark her.
He could still feel her lips against his, soft and surprised. She’d kissed him back, albeit with virtually no skill whatsoever. He’d been pleased to think he was the first person to kiss her. Then he’d remembered who he was kissing.
Catherine set him on edge, made him feel uncomfortable and off balance. Today was no different, but the sight of her in a dress had made things worse. Even now being within a foot from her lush figure, he fought the impulse to kiss her again. Or possibly run for his horse and get the hell out of there.
She blinked. “What are you talking about?”
He took hold of her other arm, turning her toward him. Her form was lush, but lithe and muscled from years of hard work on a ranch. A conundrum of raw sensuality and rough rancher. Innocence and experience.
Her gaze dropped to his lips and he knew she was remembering their kiss. His body hardened with an instant heat that flamed through him. He leaned toward her. She should knee him in the balls and run, but she didn’t.
She licked her lips.
James covered her mouth. His body screamed at him to take, take, take, but he resisted the howling wolf in his chest and gentled his movements. He moved with care, soft kisses from one side of her mouth to the other. She made a sound of impatience in her throat and he smiled against her lips.
He lapped at the seam and she immediately opened her mouth. His tongue ventured into the sweet recesses of her mouth. She followed his lead, dancing and moving with him. He groaned and pulled her flush against him.
That was a mistake.
James thought looking at her in a dress was difficult. Pressing against her perfect body turned him into a molten mess. He was hard as a stone behind his buttons and damned if his dick didn’t push against the fabric, howling to be released.
He slowed his movements and pulled away a bit at a time until he kissed hr forehead and stepped back. His breathing was as ragged as hers.
Her blue eyes were wide with surprise. He expected an identical expression on his own face.
“You kissed me again.”
“And your dick got hard.”
His cheeks cheated. “It did.” He sounded like an idiot.
“My nipples did too.”
He couldn’t help himself. His gaze dropped to her amazing tits and sure enough, twin points peaked beneath the blue fabric. His hands itched to cup them, his mouth to taste them, tease them.
“I’m all achy too.”
“So am I.”
She frowned. “I’ve had my education in the doings between men and women, but it didn’t include how I’d feel.”
He didn’t know how to reply to that.
“I didn’t think you wanted to kiss me.”
He snorted. “I didn’t.”
Her scowl returned. “Then why did you?”
“I couldn’t stop myself.”
“I liked it. I don’t understand why you didn’t.”
He blew out a breath and yanked off his hat. “I didn’t say I didn’t like it. You confound me, Catherine.”
“I don’t know what to do with you, Catherine.”
They stared at each other, their bodies still humming with arousal. He would do well to stay in town at the livery, away from temptation. For once he was glad she didn’t wear dresses every day or he would have to move to Oklahoma.
“What happens now?”
He shrugged. “I go home. You stay here.”
Her mouth twisted. “What if I wanted to do more than kiss?”
He almost jumped a foot in the air as the shock rippled through him. Damn but she was temptation in human form, tugging him toward a mistake he would regret. No matter how attractive she was, he needed to keep his distance from Catherine Graham.
“We can’t. Besides the fact your brothers would tear me limb from limb if they knew what you just asked me, I got responsibilities and so do you.” He kissed her quick. “As tempting as you are, this is the last kiss we got.”
He forced himself to walk away. His back burned with what he knew was a scowl from the ferocious blonde. If he were a bigger fool, he’d turn around and return to her arms.