Kiss My Boots(3)

By: Harper Sloan

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Nine Years Ago—Beginning of the Summer

“Damn,” a husky voice grits out. “It’s just not right how hot you look tinkerin’ around my truck, darlin’.”

I look up from the oil cap I just finished tightening and smile, wide and toothily, before giving him a wink. “Is that why you asked me to change your oil when we both know you’re more than capable? You’re lucky—I don’t normally make house calls.”

He reaches up, the material of his T-shirt lifting from his Wranglers, showing off the toned, rock-hard abs and that mouthwatering V at his hips. I let out a squeak when I feel the weight of the hood lift off my hand, looking up to see him gripping it, returning my wink with a smoldering gaze of his own.

“Busted,” he whispers, bending down to press his full, smooth lips against mine. The kiss is brief, but the butterflies that take up residence in my stomach whenever he’s around pick up their fluttering until I feel like they might fly right out of my mouth.

I move awkwardly out of the way while he slams down the hood on his brand-new Chevy. I busy myself with washing up, making sure to clean my hands thoroughly until not a speck of grease is left on them, even if my pretty manicure is blown to hell. The last thing I hope Tate Montgomery is thinking about is the chipped red polish adorning my nails. His grandparents are out of town at a craft show near Austin and my brothers think I’m at my best friend Leighton’s tonight.

We’ve got more important things to do than hold hands.

Tonight, I hope and pray that Tate makes good on all the promises our heated make-out sessions have been hinting at. I’m ready to give myself to him, pretty red bow intact.

“You hot, darlin’? I didn’t think it was that bad since the sun went down, but we can head on in if you want.” He points toward his grandparents’ house and all I can do is nod. I can see the questions in his eyes, but he doesn’t voice them as we make our way inside. “Paw said Gram left a fresh batch of chicken and dumplin’s if you’re hungry.”

He’s a few steps ahead—his back now facing me—when he speaks, so I take the time to take a deep fortifying breath before he turns back around. The last damn thing I want is chicken and dumplin’s, but how do you tell your kinda-sorta-maybe boyfriend that you would rather he eat you than dumplin’s?

“I’m good,” I whisper, my heartbeat roaring in my ears. God, Quinn Everly Davis, cowgirl up and take the bull by the horns . . . or the man by the balls, same thing.

“Darlin’?” he questions, heat pooling in his denim-colored eyes.

“Please,” I croak, the little badass that usually lives inside me long gone, made weak with hunger that has nothing to do with golden, fried buttermilk biscuits. “Please, Tate. We’ve been scratchin’ this itch for two years now, and every summer you say not yet. Don’t make this another summer where you leave without showing me how much you love me.”

“Quinn.” He sighs, taking off his white Stetson and running a hand through his chocolate waves. “Baby, you know I love you, but this isn’t just any other summer. I’m not goin’ back home when I leave this time. We’re both about to start the next chapter of our lives—you takin’ over the auto shop and me startin’ at Emory. Georgia is a long way away, and we both know we’ve never tried long distance for a reason. Not sure that’s somethin’ I can stomach, finally gettin’ to have you completely, only to lose you.”

His words are all it takes for my temper to snap. “We’ve never tried the long-distance thing because of you, Tate. Don’t put that bullshit on me.”

“Not because I didn’t want to, and you know it,” he growls in return. “Fuck, Quinn, you don’t think I’ve wanted to make you my girl since the first summer my parents shipped me off to Gram and Paw’s? You know damn well I have, but it isn’t that easy.”

“Because I’m not some high-society princess?”

He stomps the few feet between us and curls his fingers around the back of my neck with a touch that is gentle but unmistakably dominant. His thumbs, resting at my chin, give me a gentle push of encouragement to look up at him. I don’t even bother fighting him. My head moves, eyes traveling the strong planes and sharp features of his handsome face until I meet his pleading gaze.

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