The little log cabin on one side of the clearing was still standing but the small barn and lean-to at the edge of the woods on the other side were still burning, black smoke rising into the air with debris from the explosion scattered in a ragged semi-circle over the clearing, the trees behind splintered, branches broken and leaves, twigs and small, dead birds falling like strange rain.
The wagon was parked far enough away to be out of sight from the cabin and out of range if anything else exploded, the horses tethered to a fallen tree. There was no sign of movement, nobody running to put the fire out but they were being careful anyway.
Monroe handed Charlie the spare rifle from the back of the wagon, holding on as she tried to take it.
She looked up at him. ‘What?’ Part of her noted how small her hand looked next to his. She held on harder.
‘We could be walking into anything and I’ve been doing shit like this a lot longer than you.’
She shrugged, smirking. ‘Can’t argue with that, you’ve had more time to do shit like this.’ She pulled at the gun but he held on. The smirk faded. ‘But if you think I’m just going to salute and follow orders like a good little soldier, you’re delusional.’
He leaned closer, looming over her, ‘Charlie, you can either work with me or be a pain in my ass.’ His eyes gleamed, ‘which is it going to be?’
She glared up at him, adrenalin and a weird excitement burning through her, ‘if I say no will you chain me up again? Fuck you.’
He stared down at her.
She stared back.
His lips twitched and then his eyes got even bluer, closer, full of absolute and total intent.
She didn’t know if he moved or she did, or if both of them moved at the same time, didn’t care.
All that mattered was that he was finally, finally after all their dancing around pretending it wasn’t fucking happening kissing her, his lips soft and hard at the same time, his tongue thrusting, sucking, his scruff soft on her skin now but there’d be beard rash later because he was kissing her as if he’d never stop and that was fine because she didn’t want him to, because she was kissing him back the same way.
Somehow her free arm was around his neck, the gun wedged between them, her hand and his wedged too, neither of them letting go of it even in the middle of…whatever this was.
She chuckled against his mouth, pulling him closer, one of her legs sliding between his thighs, her hip pressed up against something long and very hard. ‘Is that the gun or are you just really happy?’
His free hand grabbed her ass, yanking her even closer, his chest rumbling. He laughed, the sound full of masculine triumph, his breath hot on her face. ‘Honey, that’s not the gun.’
She looked down, somehow he’d moved the gun away from their bodies so it was pointing at the ground and not their feet. She grinned and looked up again, meeting that hot blue gaze. ‘Prove it.’