Thunder Mountain

Book 10

Say Yes to the Cowboy

When trick roper Zeke Rafferty sees Tess Irwin standing on his front porch, memories of two unforgettable days--and nights--come flooding back. But when the pretty schoolteacher reveals that one plus one will soon equal three, Zeke is stunned. Then he remembers his manners. And asks Tess to marry him.

If you turn down a handsome cowboy's proposal, is it okay to still want to kiss him? Wait, no! Tess doesn't want a husband. Besides, she's holding out for love. A man has a right to know he fathered a child, but beyond that, Tess is raising this child alone. Zeke proved he can make a baby. But can he make the grade as a loving husband and dad?


“When you told me that you were pregnant with our son, I spent the rest of the night thinking. I asked myself if I regretted being with you in Texas considering the outcome. Well, I don’t.” Zeke's gaze darkened. “You were incredible, Tess. Warm, responsive…lovely.”
She should break eye contact. That look, that simmering intensity, had been her kryptonite back in April. Still was now. Her heart pounded as a different kind of hunger, one that had nothing to do with food, begged for satisfaction.
His soft voice wove a seductive spell as he gently stroked her arm. “I don’t regret that we made a baby, either. But I think you have regrets.”
“No.” Her vocal cords felt tight. “I want this child.”
“I know you want him. But you don’t want me.”
Crazy laughter threatened to bubble up. She’d never wanted any man more than she wanted Zeke at this very moment.
He covered her hand with his and held her gaze. “But be forewarned. I’m not going anywhere.” Then he gave her hand a squeeze and pushed away from the table. “Time to make meatloaf.”
She took a steadying breath. She’d almost expected him to invite her into his bedroom. God help her, she would have gone, and that would have sent a terrible message. She couldn’t agree to sex and yet refuse his help with parenting their son.
While he got out a bowl to mix in the ingredients and a pan for the meatloaf, she closed up the box of crackers and carried the cutting board and the empty olive bowl over to the sink.
“Something almost happened just now.” He crumbled hamburger into the bowl.
“It did?”
“You know it did.” He kept his gaze on the bowl as he shredded two slices of bread into it.
“I suppose so.” She watched him tear up the bread. He had great hands and long, nimble fingers. Those hands could work magic with a rope and they could work magic on a woman’s body.
“I said you’d be in charge of it.”
“I know.”
“I almost didn’t let you have the decision. I was seconds away from making a move.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“A couple of reasons.” He glanced over at her. “Does slicing onions bother you?”
He tilted his head toward the one sitting on the counter. “If you’d chop, I’d be much obliged. Knives are in the—”
“Knife block. I see it.” She rinsed off the onion and the cutting board. “What reasons?”
“First off, would sex hurt the baby?”
A flush of desire made her lady parts tingle. “Not unless it’s of the ‘swinging from the chandeliers’ variety.” She started cutting up the onion.
He chuckled softly. “We had that kind a time or two.”
“I remember.” She sniffed.
“Are you crying?”
“Nope. Just a slight reaction to the onion. I’m fine.”
“Want me to take over?”
“Absolutely not. I’ve got this.”
“If you’re sure. Your eyes are watering.”
“Potent onion.” She sniffed again and laughed. “Really. I’m not getting emotional.” She finished chopping the onion.
He washed his hands and pulled a bandanna out of his back pocket. “Let me wipe your eyes. You have tears running down your cheeks.”
“I know, but I promise you I’m not crying.” She put down the knife and lifted her face.
“I believe you. I can tell the difference. Hold still.” He leaned in and carefully wiped away the tears. “So I have to ask. Did you research the subject of pregnant ladies having sex?” He dabbed at her eyes with the bandanna. “Because if you did, I can’t help but be curious as to why.”
“Obviously because I’m planning to take a lover.”
He sucked in a breath. “Please tell me that’s a joke.”
“It’s a joke. Although you and I have no commitment to each other, so if I wanted to then—”
“Let it be me.” He took her by the shoulders. “Please, Tess. I know I have no claim, but the thought of you with some other guy makes me crazy.”
She looked up at him. “That’s a very strange statement for you to make.”
“Judging from how you described your love life when we were in Texas, you have a new girlfriend in every town. Yet you expect—”
“Whoa, whoa. Where did you get the idea I have a new girlfriend in every town?”
“You said you never wanted to be tied down and you’re a highly sexed man. So, logically that adds up to lots of casual encounters with different women in different parts of the country.”
He smiled. “That would make me quite the Romeo, wouldn’t it?”
“Aren’t you?”
“`Fraid not, ma’am. When you and I got together, I hadn’t enjoyed that particular activity in at least six months. Let me think. No, it was seven. And there’s been no one since our little episode.”
“Why not?”
“Let’s just say that I wanted a little longer to savor my memories.”
“That’s very sweet.” Her image of him changed yet again. “I guess I just assumed, because you’re so good at it, that you’ve had a lot of practice.”
His smile widened. “It’s like riding a bike.”
“With some guys, yes. With you it’s more like painting a picture or singing a song.”
His gaze held hers. “I don’t know how you can say a thing like that and not expect me to kiss you.”
Her pulse rate shot up. Once he kissed her, the game would be over. They’d never stop with a kiss.
“But I won’t kiss you, much as I’d love to.” He let go of her and backed away. “I didn’t tell you the other reason we’re not in the bedroom right now.”
She swallowed. “Which is?”
“You might think I seduced you just so I could get what I want.”
“Meaning sex?”
He shook his head. “The chance to be our baby’s dad.”


Copyright 2001-2021 Vicki Lewis Thompson