From New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Nicole Edwards comes the seventh book in her Alluring Indulgence series, erotic romances featuring the Walker brothers from Coyote Ridge, Texas, and their sizzling-hot love interests.
Sawyer Walker has never run into problems with women. The female population tends to swarm toward him, in fact, and he’s never had a complaint.
But there’s one woman Sawyer has always had his eye on. A woman who won’t give him the time of day. In recent months, it would seem that Kennedy Endsley is opening up to Sawyer, but she’s got a few surprises in store for him. Because, as hard as she finds it to resist the handsome Walker brother, she won’t give in easily. Not when her heart is on the line.
I knew that from the moment Sawyer put that ' sex for sale ' sign around his neck, that he was the Walker boy for me.
Sawyer (ALLURING INDULGENCE, 7) - Chapter One
“What’s up, bro?” Braydon’s deep, rumbling voice echoed in the small bar, a shit-eating grin plastered on his smug face.
Sawyer stared at his younger brother, fighting the urge to smile. It was a trained response, something he’d perfected over the years. He even had a smart-ass comeback hovering on the tip of his tongue, but he swallowed it. Tonight he just wasn’t feeling it. He couldn’t pinpoint exactly why his mood was sour, either. Maybe it was due to so many things going on at once. Or possibly it was a small amount of jealousy that was eating at him after spending so much time over Thanksgiving watching his brothers and their significant others together. Whatever it was, he knew he had to shake it soon or he was opening himself up for harassment from the whole lot of them.
As much as he knew his lack of response would only invite Braydon to give him nine kinds of shit from that point forward, Sawyer kept his smile to himself as he stared back down at his beer.
“Never figured you for the type to pout.”
Jab number one.
Braydon’s well-placed dig would’ve caught Sawyer off guard had he not known his downturned mood was so out of the norm for him. That, and he knew just what to expect from every single one of his brothers. And because Sawyer was so damn perceptive, he’d been able to brace himself for the verbal punch. But, rather than giving Braydon the pleasure of seeing him get riled up, Sawyer opted to continue drowning himself in his beer. Alcohol was much more pleasant company at the moment, thank you very much.
“Ah, so you’re gonna play like that,” Braydon nagged, obviously wanting to get a rise out of him. “How ’bout I join you then? We can wallow in your self-pity together.” Jab number two. “Got an extra Bud Light back there for me, Mack?” Braydon turned his attention to the big, burly bartender who’d been nicknamed for his likeness to the vehicle. He was as wide as he was tall, which was saying something, because Mack stood close to six feet. He had a barrel chest, but not an ounce of fat on his oversized frame.
Now that he thought about it, Sawyer wasn’t sure what Mack’s real name even was. Maybe it was Mack.
The bartender responded with a quick nod and then turned his broad back on the disgustingly happy Braydon. Sawyer knew he needed to say something to his brother or he’d invite all sorts of conversations he wasn’t up for. He couldn’t bring himself to do it, though.
It’d been a long week already, and quite frankly, he knew he should’ve just stayed home and enjoyed some peace and quiet rather than invite attention he wasn’t up for. After the short week last week with Thanksgiving and all, there’d been a shit ton to catch up on. Instead of opting for a good night’s sleep, glutton for punishment that he was, he’d ventured out to Moonshiners, knowing full well he would run into one or more of his brothers, and likely a few others who were interested in giving him hell.
“Not the life of the party tonight, huh?” Braydon asked him when Mack flipped the cap off the icy bottle he held in his hand and then set Braydon’s beer down on the bar.
“He’s become quite the bar decoration tonight,” Mack added, slapping his beefy hand on the bar top and then turning away from them. Jab number three—by Mack, no less.
Sawyer grinned. He couldn’t help himself. He’d never been the type who could stay down for long. But he had to admit, the life-of-the-party persona he’d perfected wasn’t making its presence known tonight. Not that he was going to let anyone know that just yet. After all, he still enjoyed the shit out of getting people’s attention. He was just so damned good at it.
“What’s goin’ on over here?”
Well, hell. With two of them, there was no way Sawyer was going to be able to wallow in anything. When Braydon and Brendon got together—which, until recently, was about ninety-five percent of the time—there was no chance in hell of walking away unscathed.
“Just sittin’ here tryin’ to help Sawyer dry his tears,” Braydon said with a stern face, and Sawyer damn near choked on his beer. Jab number four.
That one got a rise out of him. “Fuck off,” Sawyer grumbled on a laugh.
“See, all dry. My job here is done.” With that, Braydon actually stood from his stool, slapped Sawyer on the back none too gently, and headed toward the back where the pool tables were.
Shit, if Sawyer had known it would be that easy . . .
“Is he here by himself?” Brendon asked, taking his place in the exact same spot his twin had just vacated and jerking his chin toward Braydon.
“Guess so,” Sawyer answered, tilting his bottle to his lips and twisting on his stool to study the rest of the room.
“Where’s Jess?” Brendon asked, referring to Braydon’s fiancée.
“Hmm,” Sawyer pretended to consider that for a moment. “I don’t think it’s my night to babysit her. Or did I miss a memo?”
“You missed a memo, bro,” Brendon retorted, smiling.
“Damn straight. The one that said you weren’t allowed to be a pussy.” Jab number five.
Sawyer laughed, staring at Brendon, trying to figure him out. For the last few months, Brendon had been a royal pain in the ass in every way possible. From his frequent shitty attitude to the accident that landed his ass in the hospital after he’d done the unthinkable and had too much to drink and then climbed behind the wheel of his truck, Brendon had been stirring up shit left and right.
Not that Sawyer had tried to get up in his business. He was more the type to watch things unfold. If his interference was necessary, he didn’t have any qualms about speaking his mind. But as far as Brendon went, Sawyer just wasn’t sure whether there was anything he could say to help him. Brendon was going to have to figure this out on his own.
“Me? You’re sayin’ I’m the one actin’ like a pussy? Sorry, I don’t think we’ve been introduced.” Sawyer held out his hand and watched Brendon stare at it. “Kettle. You must be pot.”
“Fuck off,” Brendon said with a strangled snort. The beer he inhaled probably hurt just a little.
Truth was, Sawyer actually felt a little better now that his brothers were there to give him a hard time. Especially Brendon. He’d missed the little twerp and his smart-ass mouth. Sawyer much preferred seeing him with a smile on his face rather than the damn frown he’d plastered there for months.
“Where’s Travis?” Brendon asked, taking the beer Mack delivered without even having to request it.
“Shit,” Sawyer grumbled before downing the rest of his beer.
“I forgot to call everyone and find out where they were, what they were doing, and when they’d be here. Sorry, bro. Apparently, I’m fallin’ down on the job.”
Brendon’s lips tilted into a genuine grin. “Shut the fuck up.”
Sawyer returned the smile, and then slapped Brendon on the back. “Tell ya what. I’m gonna let you take attendance tonight. So, as of right now, don’t you dare ask me where anyone else is.”
“Fine, grumpy ass,” Brendon said with a snort before sauntering off to the back of the bar to join his twin.
Not that he was interested in figuring out the location of his six brothers tonight, four of whom had not started off their Thursday night by giving Sawyer a hard time. But now that Brendon mentioned it, Sawyer was a little surprised that Jessie wasn’t there with Braydon. Ever since the two had hooked up officially—and by official, Sawyer was referring to the proposal Braydon had sprung on an unsuspecting Jessie back in September at a family dinner—they’d rarely been seen apart.
That was just shy of two months ago. Then again, every guy needed a little alone time. However, in their case, Sawyer could very well see Jessie shoving Braydon out the door so she’d have a little peace and quiet. Especially since they’d all just spent quite a bit of time together over Thanksgiving. Any holiday was a big deal at the Walker house, but Thanksgiving and Christmas were all-hands-on-deck-type celebrations. With Christmas coming in just a few short weeks, there wouldn’t be much downtime for any of them.
“Haven’t seen Travis in recently,” Mack offered when he joined Sawyer at the end of the bar.
“Knowing him, the old fart’s probably at home hovering over his wife, his hands out as though waiting to receive a football.”
Mack grinned, probably imagining the scene the same way Sawyer was. “Kylie’s gettin’ close, huh?”
“Close? That’s an understatement. The girl’s ready to pop. Her due date’s comin’ up in less than a week.”
“Making Travis crazier than normal?” Mack asked.
“I hadn’t thought it possible, but yeah,” Sawyer agreed.
It actually made perfect sense for Travis and Gage to be home with their wife. Who knew when she would go into labor, and Sawyer couldn’t imagine Travis finding out she was having the baby on the kitchen floor without him there. The guy would likely be declared clinically insane at that point.
“It’s a good thing Gage is there to keep him in line,” Mack told him as he wiped down the bar in front of Sawyer.
“He seems to be the only one who can,” Sawyer replied.
To Mack’s point, it was good that Gage was there for Travis. He somehow worked magic over the man, keeping him as calm as was possible for Travis. Legally, Kylie was Travis’s wife, but for all intents and purposes, Gage was also Kylie’s husband, as well as Travis’s husband, although gay marriage wasn’t legalized in Texas.
Then again, neither was a three-way marriage.
No one said Texas was perfect.
When Mack headed down to help another customer, Sawyer twisted on his bar stool and glanced around the bar, taking stock of who was there now that his brother had so kindly pointed out who wasn’t. Not that Moonshiners could ever be considered busy, but tonight there were more people than he’d thought there would be. It was Thursday after all. Went to show how preoccupied he’d been because Sawyer had no idea that they’d started attracting the riffraff during the week, too.
Giving the faces he recognized a quick once-over, Sawyer stopped abruptly on the one face he had a love-hate relationship with.
The bane of his existence.
When the hell had she arrived? And how had he missed it?
Not that he was watching for her.
Okay, that was bullshit. He was watching for her.
Since the very day she stepped foot back in Coyote Ridge eight years ago after going off to college for that same number of years, the woman had gotten under his skin. Then again, the nerdy girl who’d gone off to college certainly wasn’t the same one who came back. Not only had she degreed up and shit while she’d been gone, the girl who’d left had grown up. And by that, Sawyer meant she’d gone from four-eyed and mousy to smoking fucking hot. And since that first day he realized who she was, no matter how damn hard he tried, Sawyer could not stop thinking about her. On top of that, it didn’t matter how many attempts he made to ignore her or the effect she had on him, he always came back to one conclusion . . .
He wanted the one damn woman who wouldn’t give him the time of day.
That was all there was to it.
Rather than getting up from his seat—that would require far too much energy—Sawyer waited until her soft charcoal gaze met his and he nodded in recognition. Just as he expected, she pretended she was bored as she stared at him for a fleeting second before turning away. As much as he wanted that to piss him off, it didn’t. It actually amused the fuck out of him. He liked that she had to actually put forth the effort to pretend she wasn’t affected by him. Lord knows he had the same problem when it came to her. Although he didn’t pretend.
Sawyer never pretended. He was who he was and if people didn’t like it, well, they could . . .
Maybe that hadn’t always been the case, but it certainly was now. There had been a time in his life—namely high school—that he looked back on and felt a strange pang of regret. It’d taken him some time to realize that he’d been a complete asshole in high school.
Shaking off the thought with a forced smile on his face, he returned his attention to his now empty beer bottle and contemplated ordering another one. If he were smart, he’d just march his happy ass right out the door and go home. Sleep was actually in high demand these days, although he was getting very little of it.
With Alluring Indulgence Resort open and handling an influx of guests over the last few months, he knew he wouldn’t be getting much shut-eye in the near future either. But, he wasn’t going to go home. Not yet. Buster, his nine-month-old cocker spaniel, also known as the new love of Sawyer’s life according to his asshole brothers, would probably appreciate a little time to himself. As it was, Sawyer dragged that dog everywhere, including to the resort every day.
Other than Buster, there wasn’t a damn thing waiting at home for him, and as he stared at Kennedy, he had to wonder just when he’d wanted someone to be there.
Shit. He was getting way too melancholy in his old age. Then again, he was thinking of himself as old, and at thirty-four, he had some time before senility actually kicked in. If he was lucky, anyway.
And yes, his brothers would have a field day torturing him if they knew his frame of mind right now. He was the happy-go-lucky guy, the one everyone expected a good time from, and right now, he was having to put forth a little effort just to muster a smile.
Maybe another beer would help.
“Hey, Mack. Get another?” Sawyer called down to the bartender currently flirting it up with one of the regulars. “And while you’re at it, can I get one for Kennedy? Another of whatever she’s havin’. I’ll deliver it.”
“Right on it, boy,” Mack said with a smile.
Boy. Right. Then again, Mack was in his early fifties, had been in Coyote Ridge his entire life, and probably remembered Sawyer and his brothers when they were in diapers. So, technically, the man had earned the right to call him boy. He was one of the few.
“Thanks,” Sawyer told the bartender before turning back around. As if by radar, his gaze immediately landed on Kennedy once again. He took a second to admire her from afar. The woman was tall and curvy, just the way he liked his women. At six foot five inches, Sawyer couldn’t see himself with a petite woman, although his brothers didn’t seem to mind women like that. More power to them, but Sawyer preferred his women taller, and Kennedy was just perfect.
And the curves . . . damn, the woman could rock a pair of jeans and boots like no other. A picture of her ass should be classified as a modern marvel. Although he was pretty sure she wouldn’t be thrilled hearing that. Didn’t mean Sawyer wasn’t going to stare.
But what he liked most about the woman, aside from the fact that she was hot enough to keep his dick on red alert, was how she liked to play hard to get. After she left high school, she’d done a complete three-sixty, turning into one of those bombshells that drew male attention everywhere she went, but she pretended not to notice. Or maybe she wasn’t pretending, Sawyer didn’t really know.
Regardless, Sawyer saw the answering attraction in her eyes whenever she looked at him. She could deny it all she wanted, but it was there. According to her, she wasn’t interested, but Sawyer didn’t buy it. The heat in her gray eyes couldn’t be disguised, no matter how hard she tried.
Her gaze skimmed the room and he waited to see if she was going to stop on him again, and sure enough, he wasn’t disappointed. The immediate frown that tipped her pretty pink lips made him smile. With a wink and a nod, he turned to grab the beer Mack set down for him. When Kennedy’s drink was planted there a minute later, Sawyer decided to go pay her a visit.
What the hell, it wasn’t like his night could get much worse.
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