Bound, Branded, & Brazen(3)

By: Jaci Burton

He didn’t say anything for a few seconds, then, “So you’re finally a doctor. It’s been a long time for you.”

“Yes it has.”

“You worked hard for it. I guess you’ll get exactly what you wanted, won’t you?”

Not everything. “Yes, I will.”

They used to be married. She used to throw her arms around him whenever she saw him, kiss his neck, feel the beat of his heart as he pressed against her. She loved when he held her. It made her feel safe.

She’d never have that feeling anymore, would never feel his body slide against hers in the darkness, would never see his naked silhouette walk across the bedroom at night.

Funny that she never had to think about those things, never had to miss them—until now. Which was why she avoided coming home. Too many memories. Too much pain here. Too much Mason. She inhaled, the scent of leather and horses and him filling her, reminding her of what she’d walked away from.

She shouldn’t have come. She was weak where Mason was concerned, always was. And the way he looked at her. She knew he hated her for what she’d done, for walking away, and yet passion raged in his eyes as he bore down on her.


He took another step closer. She laid her palm on his chest. The contact was electric and her knees went to jelly. “Mason. Don’t.”

He slid his arm around her and jerked her against his chest. “Don’t what? Don’t hate you for leaving me? Don’t hate myself for still wanting you? You swore you’d never come back, but here you are, and I see the look in your eyes. You want this as much as I do.”

His mouth came crashing down on hers and she whimpered, didn’t so much as offer up a weak resistance. Her hand curled around the nape of his neck as she fell against him, opened her lips to him, found his tongue and nearly wept with the joy of it. Every single damn reason for how wrong this was fled, replaced by need and rampant desire for the man she’d hungered for these long two years.

His hand found her breast and latched onto it, tweaking her nipple through her shirt and bra. She damned her clothing and moaned against his lips, arching against his hand, aching for his touch. His erection, hard and insistent, pressed against her hip. She slid her hand between them, palming his cock until he groaned and slid his hand under her shirt, under her bra. And when his fingers found her nipple she cried out against his mouth.

“Yes,” she whispered. “Yes.” She wanted them both naked. She wanted him hard and heavy and thick and pounding inside her right now.

“Goddammit, Valerie.” He was panting as he dragged her over to the bed and threw her on it. She’d always loved his passion and his driving, can’t-wait-for-it need for her. She pulled off her T-shirt and swallowed as he reached for his belt buckle.

A door slammed downstairs, and like a cold bucket of water thrown over her, it slapped her back into reality.

And he knew it. His hand stilled. She scooted back on the bed, put her shirt on.

“No. I can’t do this.”

Mason’s eyes drifted shut for a fraction of a second, and when he opened them again, fury blasted her.

“Did you do this on purpose?”

Her eyes widened and shock spread through her. “Are you serious? Why would I do that?”

He grabbed his hat and took a deep breath. “I don’t know, Val. I’ve never been able to figure out why the hell you do anything. But it wouldn’t surprise me for you to throw yourself at me, fire me up, then douse the fire just like that.” He snapped his fingers.

“Oh! Are you out of your friggin’ mind? Or possibly just plain stupid? Couldn’t you feel my reaction?”

He shrugged as he reached the door to her room. “Hell, for all I know you always faked it.”

Fury made her blood boil. She grabbed a pillow from her bed and threw it at him. “You son of a bitch.”

His lips curled. “That’s more like it. Welcome home, Val.”

After he left, she stared in shock at the closed door, unable to fathom what had just happened.

Passion had always flared hot and heavy between them. But so had anger. And now she was riled up, horny and felt wretchedly guilty for having stirred up the hornet’s nest.


She knew she should have never come home. This was going to be a disaster.

mason parks let the screen door bang shut behind him, the sound echoing in his ears as he hopped on his horse and rode the pasture, letting the cool spring breeze clear his head.

Stupid move.

He’d been riding near the fence line, had seen the car pull up. His horse just found its way to the front of the house. He should have known better than to go in, to walk up those stairs, to go into her room—what had once been their room.

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