Home > Bounty (Colorado Mountain #7)(9)

Bounty (Colorado Mountain #7)(9)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Deke, now leaning into a forearm in the bar, torso turned sideways, feet in motorcycle boots crossed at the ankles, profile expressionless (from what I could see), clearly not moved even to show interest at whatever random person just walked into the bar. Definitely not sensing that random person was his soulmate, lost in Wyoming, found in Colorado seven years later, turning to me and rushing me, sweeping me off my feet, begging forgiveness and then handing me a new world.

The world where I was meant to be.

“Yo! Free People! We got a show-at-the-bar, set-your-ass-down, buy-a-fuckin’-drink policy. Not a stand-inside-the-doors-and-stare-at-fine-male-ass policy.”

I felt my body jerk as did my eyes to a petite woman behind the bar who had ebony hair, long, the ends flipped in a style that screamed 70’s jack-off poster, the tips of the flips flaming red.

She was also glaring at me.

Unbelievably (because I couldn’t remember the last time it happened), I fought the heat in my cheeks. At the same time I fought the desire to turn on my sandal and flee (and not just because I was embarrassed but also because it was clear the bartenders in this joint were cool with being unbelievably rude) as I forced myself to make my way to her. And as I did, I forced myself to look left first, to see bikers and other patrons hanging at tables and playing pool, before I looked right.

The right sweep included seeing Deke had turned toward me. His eyes were making a descent of my body, and as I walked, they hit the bottom and came back up.

He looked at my face.

Then he turned to the guy with the ball cap.

My stomach sank, and not for the first time I cursed the poet’s soul my father gave to me because this didn’t feel like that guy who you were attracted to not being attracted to you.

For a poet, something like that happening with a man like that was the end of the world.

I looked different, it was true. It wasn’t just that seven years had passed (though they had). In that time, I’d embraced a variety of fashion options before I settled on the one I liked (or, I should say, my mom and I settled on it, since Joss was my stylist and this not just because she was my mom who would naturally have input into that kind of thing, but because she was my stylist).

Now my look was one that was not like the miniskirt, tank top, teased-out hair, rocker/biker vixen version of me Deke had met.

This meant I was in a long, flowing slip dress embellished with matte gold sequins in zigzags and diamonds, back gone completely to my waist, held up by double straps on each side that crisscrossed. The back of the dress was hot, though, but the front gave awesome cleavage.

My dark brown hair was mostly down, some of its thick curls loose and hanging to my waist, some hanging in braids, the top front twisted back in a messy way from my forehead.

I had on lots of jewelry, mostly necklaces, bangles at my wrist, earrings in the five holes I had curving up the shell of each ear, and also a jingling ankle bracelet.

Last, on my feet, flat gladiator sandals.

70’s pinup was right.

I looked like an advertisement for Free People clothing.

Which was how I liked it.

So I looked different seven years down the road.

But it still hurt he didn’t remember me.

I got to the middle of the bar, the only place with stools available that was far from Deke, and I slid up on one. I dropped my phone and fringed suede bag on the bar in front of me.

When I did, I was surprised to see petite 70’s pinup with the loud, foul mouth was standing in front of me wearing her tight Harley tank over large breasts and a big pregnant belly.

“Yeah, I’m pregnant,” she announced tetchily and my gaze shot from her stomach to her eyes. “Lexie poppin’ out kids here, there and everywhere. Faye doin’ it. Emme knocked up, though I got there before her. Bubba caught the bug. What am I supposed to do?” she asked belligerently—seriously and visibly pissed at me even though I hadn’t said a word. “I love the guy and he melts like a pussy the instant he’s in an infant’s presence. Forget about it with a toddler he can actually play with. He’s gone. Always volunteering our asses to babysit. Up in my face, ‘Please, my cloud. I’m beggin’ you, Krys. Let’s make a baby.’ So tell me. I love him, what do I do?” she demanded to know.

“You get pregnant,” I guessed hesitantly.

“Yup,” she snapped, leaning in. “Knocked up. Too fuckin’ old to be luggin’ this around.” She circled her belly with a hand in a way that was vastly different than the bewilderingly honest, deep and pissed-off ranting she was aiming at me. “Barfin’ mornin’, noon and night. My tits hurt. My head hurts. My feet are swollen. Gotta pee all the time and that includes gettin’ up from the toilet after just peein’. Hadta get an entire new wardrobe I’m never wearin’ again ’cause once this kid slides outta me, they’re goin’ right back up there and tyin’ my tubes.”

Having taken in the Harley tank, I was wondering what her old wardrobe consisted of when another voice sounded.

“Krys, no. Baby, what you talkin’ about?”

My startled gaze slid up to a man who was suddenly there. He was as big as Deke, not as solid, a little bit older, light-brown hair, good-ole-boy eyes, thus a lot more jovial looking.

He was rounding the petite “Krys” with both arms from the back and curving his body at his height to disastrous levels in order to shove his face in her neck, his hands spanning the sides of her protruding belly.

Even with his face in her neck, I still heard him say, “We can’t have just one kid. She’s gotta have a brother or sister. Least one.”

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