I shared part one of this chapter yesterday on the blog. I apologize ahead of time for the cliff hanger.
Freshly showered and her hair piled back on her head ready to clean the cows’ stalls, Molly walked to the barn with trepidation. She had no idea how to act in front of Alex after their encounter a couple of hours earlier. She needed to find a way to get him alone and find out what he’d been up to.
What am I going to ask him? Hey, were you about to kiss me in there or am I just having some sort of out of body experience?
She looked inside the barn for Alex, but didn’t see him.
Molly inwardly groaned.
The brother with the worst timing ever. Similar to the mother with the worst time ever.
She could tell by her brother’s tone she was being given some kind of additional chore.
“Dad needs you and Alex to help us pick up some extra feed at Henderson’s.”
“Where are Tyler and Blake?”
“They’re down at the lower barn moving the cows back inside. So, you and Alex are up. Come on. Dad’s waiting in the truck and here comes Alex.”
Molly looked up to see Alex walking toward a truck she didn’t recognize.
Jason opened the front passenger side door of the large white pick-up. “Shotgun!”
Molly scowled. “What are you, 12?”
Her brother turned and stuck his tongue out at her as he hopped in the front seat. Alex shot her a lopsided grin and opened the back door of the extended cab of the truck. “Looks like it’s you and me in the back, my lady.
Molly quickly pulled her eyes from his, warmth rushing through her.
“Whose truck is this?” she asked, not moving.
Her dad leaned his head out of the driver-side window. “Jason Porter’s. He loaned it to me while my truck is being worked on at Bert’s. Can we end the 20- question and answer session now and just hop in so we can get this feed picked up and get back before milking?”
Alex propped an arm on the inside of the door and motioned inside with his other hand. “Shall we?”
Molly kept her eyes on him as she climbed into the cab and slid in. When he walked around to the other side and slid in next to her she quickly moved her gaze toward the front of the truck, her heart racing, wishing she could have talked to him before they’d left. She could feel him looking at her and when she glanced at him she saw his foot propped on the bottom of the door, his knee up and his arm casually laying across it while he watched her with a small smile.
She needed to distract herself.
She asked her dad how much feed he had bought, if it was new for the cows, and about some of the neighbors. Anything to take her mind off the way Alex was watching her. After the 20-minute drive to Henderson’s Hardware, listening to her dad talk about farming, they found their delivery and loaded it into the bed of the truck.
With almost all of it loaded, Jason started loading the last seven large bags himself, carrying two bags at a time, one on each shoulder. “I’ll put these extras in the back of cab.”
Robert walked back to the front door of the store to pay the invoice as Molly dragged her hand across her forehead, wiping at perspiration from the heavy lifting.
She glanced at Alex, leaning against the back of the truck, his hat pulled low on his head, his arms folded across his chest, the pose similar to how he’d been standing in the laundry room.
“You okay?” he asked.
“You’re something else you know that?”
“What do you mean?”
“You work as hard as any man I’ve ever met.”
Molly smirked. “Well, that wasn’t sexist at all.”
He swallowed a laugh and then stepped toward her, lowering his voice. “Hey, we need to talk about earlier. Can we —”
“Invoice paid. Let’s head on out, guys.”
Molly tipped her head to look at the ground and followed her dad. Oh my gosh. My whole family has horrible timing.
Walking to the passenger side of the truck and opening the door she glared at the feed bags piled in the backseat of the cab. She looked at the front of the truck and noticed there were only bucket seats, nowhere else to fit another person.
“Um, Jase? Where are Alex and I supposed to sit?”
Jason rubbed his hand across his unshaven chin and jawline. “Oh. Yeah. I guess I forgot we had to fit two people back there too.” He shoved the feed bags as far as they would go against the truck door. “It will be a tight fit, but I think you two can manage.”
Molly had barely gotten her heart under control from the ride to the store. Now it was racing again at the thought of having to sit even closer to Alex for the 20-minute ride home.
Her breath caught at the wink he gave her as he leaned on the open door. “Come on, Mol. I think we can manage. You first.”
Once Alex was inside, the door closed behind him, Molly couldn’t think of anything beyond the feeling of his side pressed into hers — she closed her eyes and drew in a breath slowly — the warm, solid, utterly masculine side of his body.
She shifted slightly so she was facing the front of the truck. No matter how much she shifted, though, his thigh was still pressed tightly against hers.
Alex’s hand shot up behind her to catch a bag of seed that slid toward her when her dad pulled out of the parking lot. He held it in place on top of the other bags and stretched his other hand in front of her to steady the bottom of the pile. Now she was not only pressed up against him but trapped between his arms, possibly for the duration of the drive.
He looked down at her with the cocky grin she’d once thought was obnoxious but had somehow become endearing to her recently. “That was close. You could have been crushed by that bag of feed.” His eyes sparkled with amusement. “And sorry. I’m probably smelling pretty bad right now.”
Smelling bad? Uh, no. He was smelling amazing despite the warm day and the fact they’d just been lifting heavy seed bags into the truck for the last half hour.
Molly shook her head, looking up at him, his face now inches from hers as he leaned against her to hold the bags in place. “You aren’t.” Her voice faded to a whisper. “At all.”
He kept his eyes on her for several seconds, one hand holding the top of the feed in place, the other the bottom and when he moved his thumb it grazed her side through her shirt. She drew her breath in sharply and held it. He dipped his head until his mouth was close to her ear, out of sight of Jason and her dad.
She closed her eyes at the feel of his breath warm against her skin.
“We need to talk about earlier.”
“Can we meet somewhere later?”
She nodded again.
“Is it bad I want to finish what I started earlier and kiss you right now?”
Molly glanced at the front seat out of the corner of her eye, grateful that the country music station was blaring so loudly from the speakers.
She shook her head slowly, gasping softly when she felt his mouth on her earlobe and his hand lightly touch her side.
“Sorry,” he whispered. “I couldn’t resist. Your ear was right there. Waiting to be kissed.”
Fifteen more minutes. Just fifteen more minutes and I can get out of this truck, clear my head, and make sense of all this.
Jason turned down the radio. “You two okay back there? Enough room?”
Alex lifted his head from where he’d lowered it to kiss her ear, his eyes on hers as a playful smile tilted his mouth upwards. “Yep. Little bit cramped but we’re doing just fine.”
Jason turned part way to look back at them. “Are you two whispering about something?”
Molly smothered a smile behind her hand. She knew she couldn’t answer without laughing and was grateful when Alex answered for them.
“Yes, actually. I was just telling Molly about how much you snore at night and she was just telling me she knows all about it. She was completely sleep deprived as a child thanks to your freight train impersonation.”
Jason scoffed. “Whatever. You should tell her what a pig you are to live with. Which reminds me, it’s your turn to wash the dishes and don’t wait a week like last time.”
“As long as you didn’t eat those disgusting tuna fish sandwiches again and leave the bowl in the sink.”
Molly looked toward the front of the truck, at the back of Jason’s head after he turned toward the front again. “You know, Jason, you wouldn’t have to put up with Alex as a roommate if you would just propose to Ellie already.”
Jason groaned to cover the nervous butterflies in his stomach. He and Ellie had agreed to tell their families about their engagement in a couple of weeks at the annual firemen’s fundraiser, which was the only barn dance in the area. Alex had agreed he wouldn’t tell anyone until the official announcement.
“Seriously?! What is with everyone lately?”
“We just want to see you happy, buddy.” Alex winked. “And I just want to sleep without hearing your snoring. Let Ellie deal with it.”
Jason turned to look at him. “You know I’m kicking you out when I get married, right?”
“Did you hear that, Dad?” Molly laughed. “There is hope, yet. He just said when he gets married.”
Robert playfully punched his son in the arm. “Hallelujah!”
Jason shook his head, laughing at what the good-natured ribbing.
Molly looked at Alex again, lowering her voice. “Jason’s right, though. He’ll probably move Ellie in with him. Where will you go then?”
He shrugged a shoulder. “Haven’t thought that far ahead. Never do. Planning makes my head hurt.”
He leaned his head close to hers again, his lips grazing her ear as he spoke. “Wherever it is, though, it won’t be far away from you.”
The truck swerved abruptly, and Molly fell against Alex, her hand falling on his knee to steady herself.
“Whoa!” Robert called from the front. “That was a huge deer! Everyone okay?”
Alex smiled at Molly, who realized her hand was still on his knee. “All good back here.”
Molly pulled her hand away quickly and propped it on her own knee, her cheeks flushed bright pink. She focused her gaze out the windshield, but she could see Alex watching her with a Cheshire Cat grin out of the corner of her eye.
Her heart beat faster with every mile that passed. Alex kept quiet for the rest of the ride, but his smile had faded and his hand slipped off the lower part of the seed bag pile more than once to graze her side. She was trying to control her emotions, but her thoughts were jumbled. There was also an insane urge pulsating through her to push him up against the inside of the truck door and press her mouth to his, ending this insane cat and mouse game he’d started. She was definite a move like that wouldn’t go over very well with her dad and brother, though.
Robert parked the truck next to the barn, near the back door. “Okay, kids, let’s get these unloaded and then everyone can head in for some lunch.”
Fifteen minutes later, when the feed was unloaded and stacked in the barn, Molly headed toward her truck.
“I’m going to sit up on the hill and read a book while I eat lunch,” she called over her shoulder. “See you guys later.”
“And I’ve got to run to town for some errands,” Alex called over his shoulder, walking toward his own truck. “Be back in a bit.”
Robert waved toward them on his way to the house, Jason falling in step next to him “Sounds good.” He patted Jason on the shoulder. “I guess it’s just you and me eating Mom’s friend chicken for lunch.”
Jason pumped his fist in the air. “Yes! More for me!”
. “Just save some for your poor, starving father, big boy.”