“Why did you stop?” Her words were breathless, like a child with her playmate, as she rode up beside him on the horse.
“I wanted to give Gypsy a breather and have a smoke.”
Dawson eyed Catherine and consciously laid one arm across his lap to hide his arousal though it was too dark for her to see. He watched her circle him with Willow, her eyes burning into him.
“Oh, come on, old man. That mare has more energy than you do. She’s prancing. She wants to run wild and free, too.” Catherine chided him and threw her hair back off her shoulder. Indeed Gypsy pranced, antsy for motion, to barrel down the beach and let loose.
“That’s quite all right. She can stand still for a moment. It won’t kill her.” Dawson cleared his throat and drew on his pipe before he continued. “As for me being an old man, you would be wise to watch your tongue, young Miss. I could turn you over my knee without difficulty and spank you for that sassy mouth of yours.”
He wasn’t sure where the threat came from. Catherine’s reaction equaled his surprise at the reprimand.
“Turn me over your knee?” Catherine laughed aloud, the sound like tinkling bells. “You would have to catch me first, old man.”
He could not resist the challenge.
He tapped the embers from his pipe onto the ground and nudged Gypsy. Catherine regarded his every move as she took note of his intention and prodded Willow’s sides to gallop off.
Dawson gave way to the chase and followed her down the shoreline and out of the alcove. He came up on her left with lightning speed and grabbed her reins, pulling both horses to a sudden jolting halt.
Sliding off his horse with one smooth fluid motion, he snatched Catherine down from Willow as he did. Her laughter peeled away into the night.
His arms stole around her waist as his lips came down upon hers. Though the most fleeting of kisses, it was enough to make his blood boil when she didn’t fight him. Instead, she kissed him back with sweet yielding lips that tasted of honey.
When her arms encircled his neck and her delicate fingertips moved up into his hair, it was all he could do not to lay her down on the sand and have his way with her right there.
Dawson backed away with haste and shoved her backward in the process, almost knocking her to the ground.
Oh boy, you’ve done it now.
“Dammit, Catherine…” Dawson drew a ragged breath and walked a few steps away from her. He ran his fingers through his hair. The sensation of her fingers lingering where she had massaged the nape of his neck.
“Did I do something wrong?”
Even with his back turned he heard the quiver in her voice, the beginnings of tears.
You want the wrong brother. Dawson wanted to scream, but he would be damned if he would ever speak those words aloud.
What kind of fool am I?
He swore he wouldn’t, not after what happened to Lucinda.
“Get on the damned horse. You’re going home.”