Once Upon A Time…Has Never Been This Hot.
“Come on, Tayen. We’ve been asking you out for six months straight. Surely you know we’re serious.” Rogan James crossed his arms over his chest, hoping to use his height to his advantage. Hell, he’d use any trick in the book if it meant Tayen would finally say yes. “You’re running out of excuses. Either you’ll have to go to dinner with us, or move.”
Tayen laughed, her lilting voice sending shivers down his spine. God, all she had to do was smile or talk, and his heart jackhammered in his chest followed closely by a tight feeling in his groin. Thank God his ranger jacket hid the bulge in his pants that seemed to be a constant companion whenever the woman was in the same room.
Tayen stopped shifting papers and turned to look at him. “It’s not that I don’t appreciate the offer, it’s just—”
“Just what?” Rogan stepped forward, halting a couple of steps away. “You’ve got an animal in need of your assistance? You have some lab results that will go up in flames if you don’t read them in the next hour?” He fisted one hand at his side. “You’re washing your hair?”
Indecision flickered in her eyes, and Rogan nearly jumped for joy.
Tayen sighed and leaned back against the counter, her fingers twitching nervously. God, she was beautiful. With flowing, chestnut hair that cascaded down her back, and delicate features set in a perfectly shaped face, she was more than tempting. Her petite frame was accentuated by lean muscles and girlish curves, which gave the impression of tightly coiled strength just waiting to pounce. The entire imagery made him feel as if he was looking at a wild animal, whose beauty and grace hid lethal claws hidden beneath a tranquil façade.
She cleared her throat, swallowing uneasily. “You both know I’m technically on call until midnight. If there’s an emergency, I’d have to come back immediately. And I just got back the results from the blood samples I sent in regarding what kind of poison nearly killed the Mayor’s dog.” A smile tugged at her lips as she looked at him. “But if it’s any consolation, I washed my hair this morning.”
Rogan heard Quinn curse under his breath as the man joined them near the back of the clinic. His eyes were narrowed and Rogan sensed the man’s impatience.
Quinn stuffed his hands in his pockets, his gaze never leaving Tayen’s. “Okay, let’s cut through all the bullshit and get to the bare facts. Do you really think we thrive on asking the same woman out, month after month, only to get turned down? Do you think we’d keep asking if we didn’t believe there was something special going on?” He strode forward, trapping her between his arms as he palmed the counter on either side of her waist. “You can joke about this and hide from it if you like, but you can’t deny there’s a connection between us that doesn’t come along every day.”
Rogan watched as Quinn sighed and rested his forehead on Tayen’s, his breath fluttering the wisps of hair around her face. She closed her eyes, and for a moment, Rogan thought Quinn had finally broken through, but she snagged her lip instead and crossed her arms over her chest.
Quinn eased back, giving Rogan a pleading look as he moved beside him. Rogan didn’t need to say anything. He already knew what the other man was thinking. After years of fighting their desire to share women, they’d finally come to terms with their unique situation and had thought Tayen might be the one woman to fulfill both their needs. But her continual avoidance had just about destroyed any hope of convincing her they were worth the risk.
Tayen looked away before taking a deep breath and meeting Quinn’s gaze. She attempted a smile as she pushed herself off the counter and took a step toward them. “It’s not as simple as you think it is.”
Quinn motioned to Rogan. “Is it because there are two of us? Are you too freaked out to consider something others might consider...unorthodox?”
Tayen shook her head. “It’s not that.”
Quinn threw his hands up. “Then what?”
Tayen snorted in seeming annoyance and stomped one foot on the floor. “Let’s just say that things aren’t always what they appear to be.”
Rogan stepped forward, knowing it was now or never. “Then let’s make it perfectly clear. Quinn and I want to take you out to dinner. After that, we’re hoping that things will follow the natural progression. But make no mistake. We aren’t looking for a quick threesome—fuck you one night then forget your name the next. We want you...in our lives. Hell, after two years as friends, I’d like to think we’ve earned a bit more respect than thinking we’re out for a one-night stand.”
Something akin to pain flashed in her eyes, and an inkling of fear raised the hairs on the back of his neck. He eased forward and reached for her hand, relieved when she closed her fingers over his.
He smiled and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “We’ll take it slow, if that’s what you need. We’re talking dinner...you know, a burger and fries. Maybe some cheesecake for dessert. Then we’ll walk you back here, where we’ll see you safely inside before we go home. No pressure, no expectations.”
Tayen pursed her lips together, and he had to will his body to stay rooted to the spot and not leap forward to take those perfectly pouted lips with his. She must have performed some kind of surgery on an animal this afternoon because he could still smell the light scent of soap along her arms.
He gave her his best smile. “Come on, doc. Even a vet needs to eat.”
She cocked her head, glancing at Quinn over his shoulder. A long sigh filled the room and she shook her head, rolling her eyes in the process. “I suppose I could go for a burger and fries.” She squeezed his hand. “Just let me get—”
Her words were cut off by a blast of static from Quinn’s radio. Rogan cursed and turned to his friend, but Quinn’s face already spoke volumes. The man grunted then palmed the radio, speaking into the mic with a grating tone that was impossible to miss.
Another wave of static filled the room before a voice reverberated through the device. “Sorry to bug you boys, Quinn, but we just got a report of some explosions going off at Faller Creek. A recreational rider out on his ATV said he saw a couple of men down at the river. He thinks they’re setting off dynamite...in the river.”
“Oh for the love of God.” said Quinn. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“It could be those poachers you two have been trying to track down.”
Quinn sighed and looked at Rogan. Rogan could only laugh. They finally get Tayen to say yes, and they have to ditch her to track down a couple of wayward hunters. He gazed over at her, unsure if it was relief or disappointment in her eyes.
She gave them a sympathetic smile and motioned toward the door with her hand. “Go. You know your minds will be dwelling on the job if you think about doing anything else. I’ll take a rain check.”
Quinn slammed his free hand down on the counter as he pressed the button on the mic. “We’re on our way. Send the coordinates to the truck’s GPS and we’ll see if we can finally catch these creeps.” He was still mumbling under his breath as he stalked toward the door, pausing when he reached the threshold. He turned back, his gaze narrowed on Tayen. “Don’t think for one second this changes your decision. You said ‘yes’ and we’re holding you to that...dinner for three.”
Tayen nodded, though Rogan could see the apprehension in her eyes. He knew she was attracted to them, it was the one reason they’d kept asking her out, but there was something keeping her from jumping in. And he’d bet a month’s worth of pay it wasn’t her fear over a threesome. It was something much deeper...
He joined Quinn at the door, smiling back at her as he opened it. He’d already walked through when her voice stopped him.
Quinn nudged him in the ribs as they both stared at her.
“We will,” said Rogan before adding, “is that really what you wanted to say?”
She toed the floor, looking as if she couldn’t decide whether to say more or just dart away. Finally, her gaze met theirs again. “I’m not what you think I am.”
“Right. You’re not smart, funny, beautiful, charming, compassionate...you’re a complete mystery.”
“Not that, Rogan. I mean...I’m different.”
Rogan smiled. “Then I guess we’ll just have to discover all your secrets for ourselves.”
He saluted as he turned to leave. “Stay dry, darling. Looks like there’s another storm on the way...guess this month is living up to its name of Thunder Moon. We’ll be by tomorrow.” He blew her a kiss as he closed the door, the distant rumble of thunder mirroring his displeasure. He glanced at Quinn, knowing his friend was thinking the same thing—God help the poachers if they got anywhere near them tonight.