Friday afternoon Brandt came into Sky Blue daycare to pick Landon up for the weekend. They’d already loaded Landon’s paltry amount of stuff in Brandt’s truck before they started their respective workdays, so the kid handoff was all that remained.
“Is there anything else?”
She snagged the last bottle out of the fridge and jammed it in the diaper bag. “No. That’s it.”
“We’ll get outta your hair then.” He hefted Landon onto his hip and slung the diaper bag over his shoulder.
“What are your plans?” she asked. How was it that Brandt looked masculine even carrying a quilted diaper bag printed with yellow duckies?
“Nothin’ big. Dalton suggested we test Landon’s rodeo skills on the back of a bull first thing in the morning. Tell thinks Landon is built more like a saddle bronc rider. While I’m leanin’ toward blowin’ off all them rough stock events and teachin’ him bulldoggin’. Naturally the afternoon will be devoted to getting Landon used to his very own dirt bike.”
Jessie laughed. “I’ll bet Landon would look cute in teeny tiny chaps and a little hat.” She reached down and snapped the bottom button on Landon’s coat. “Tell and Dalton are spending the night?”
“Yeah. Chores don’t stop because it’s the weekend. Thought we’d do the minimum tomorrow and take Landon with us.”
“Sounds like you guys will have fun.”
“What are your weekend plans?”
“Depends on the weather. Might work the horses. I’ll probably just stay home.” Like usual. She used to go out with Keely at least one Saturday night of the month, but after Keely and Jack got engaged, Cowgirls’ Night Out stopped.
“If you get bored or need anything, or just wanna hang out with us guys, call me, or just show up, okay?”
Brandt was so damn sweet. She couldn’t help reaching out and running her hand up his arm to let him know she appreciated his offer. “Okay.”
How did Brandt respond to her show of affection? By brushing his lips over her cheek. “See you Sunday night, Jess.”
About thirty seconds after Brandt exited the main door, Simone barreled into the empty daycare room. “Omigod. How did I miss cowboy hottie again?”
“Gotta be quicker.”
All five feet eleven inches of Simone perched on a mini plastic chair. Long arms and longer legs akimbo, she resembled a praying mantis about to strike. “So, is cowboy hottie quick on the trigger too?”
Jessie rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t know.” But it wasn’t like she hadn’t been thinking about it. Nonstop. In vivid detail.
“I hate it when you get all quiet and introspective. We need to go out and get you loud and rowdy. Get you riled up, dishing on the slim pickins on men around here.” Simone held up her hand when Jessie started to decline. “No arguing, no excuse. Because I saw cowboy hottie sneak out with the young’un.”
“The cowboy hottie has a name,” Jessie retorted. She faced the wall, wiping off the letters from the white board.
“Oh. So you’re not denying he’s hot?”
“Hell no. I’ve got eyes. Brandt is unbelievably hot. That body…” Jessie whistled and winked over her shoulder. “World class, my friend.”
“How do you know?” Simone asked with a lifted brow. “Has he been running around your place buck-assed naked?”
“No. But last summer? I saw him wearing a pair of board shorts and a really great tan.”
Since Simone had started at Sky Blue six months ago, she wasn’t aware of Jessie’s history with the McKays, Brandt in particular. Which hadn’t been all bad, because Simone saw her as Jessie, her work pal, her sometime barhopping buddy. Not as that-poor-young-widow-Jessie-and-isn’t-it-a-shame-her-husband-ran-around-on-her-all-the-time phrase the locals used to describe her. She shuddered to think what other description had been added since Landon’s appearance.
“That’s it? No shirt?”
“No shirt. And if you think he’s drool-worthy in Wranglers? You oughta see that perfect butt and those muscled legs in the flesh. Not to mention how awesomely buff his chest is. Totally lickable. I’ve known him for four years and I had no idea the man had pipes like that.” This was the fun part hanging with Simone; she could say whatever popped into her head and Simone didn’t judge her for it. Simone didn’t consider Jessie too sweet or too innocent looking to have such lewd thoughts or call bullshit on Jessie’s opinion.
Not that what she’d just said about Brandt McKay’s slamming body was bullshit. It was all too real and all too close.
“I oughta slap some sense into you, Jessie girl.”
“Because to hear you talk about cowboy hottie, you’ve been paying very close attention to him a lot longer than you’ll admit to. Which means you want him.”
Duh. But she couldn’t have him.
Because I fear he’s a package deal and he wants more than I’m willing to give him.
Two raps sounded on the door. She and Simone whirled around to see…Brandt McKay lounging in the doorway.
Holy freakin’ crap. Had he heard their raunchy girl talk, with him starring front and center?
“Hey, cowboy hottie. We were just talking about—ow! Jessie, what the hell?”
She’d pelted Simone with a marker to shut her up. “Sorry. It must’ve slipped.” She ignored the wash of humiliation and focused on cowboy hottie. Dammit. Now Simone even had her calling him that. “Brandt. I thought you left?”
“So I gathered,” he said dryly.
So he had heard them. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothin’. I realized I forgot Landon’s snow boots.”
“Oh. They’re in his cubby. I’ll grab them.”
“I know where his cubby is.” He crouched and pulled the boots from the bottom shelf. “I figured he might get a little muddy this weekend.”
“With all that rodeoin’ and wild McKay man time.”
He stared at her quizzically, which made her curious about which part of the conversation he’d overheard.
“What?” she asked, a little testily.
“Just wondering where you ladies were headed to tonight?”
Simone shrugged. “Wherever, whenever and whatever.”
“Which is Simone’s way of telling you she doesn’t have a freakin’ clue what we’re doing.”
“Well, wherever you end up, if you have a little too much liquid fun and need a ride, just call. I’d be happy to pick you up and take you home.”
She knew Brandt meant both of them, but he didn’t look at Simone even once. “Thanks, but—”
“We’ll keep it in mind,” Simone inserted smoothly. “It’s always good to have a man on standby.”
Brandt’s intense gaze never strayed from hers. “That’s something I’m very familiar with, isn’t it, Jessie? Bein’ on standby.”
Her mouth became desert dry and her tongue useless.
“Later, ladies.” And he was gone.