Thornton's Desire: Thornton Brothers Book Two
By: Carolyn Faulkner | Other books by Carolyn Faulkner
Published By: Blushing Books
Published: Jan 07, 2013
ISBN # 9781609685737
Published By: Blushing Books
Published: Jan 07, 2013
ISBN # 9781609685737
Word Count: 36,206
Available in: Epub, Mobipocket (.mobi), Adobe Acrobat
DescriptionBeau Thornton was going to die – especially if his larger than life, over-protective brothers continued to coddle him like a baby instead of expecting him to do as much for himself as he could.
But that wasn't what Beau Thornton wanted to hear from that little slip of a woman, Heather Dennison, even if she did think she was God's gift to physical therapy. And darned if she didn't get under his skin like no other woman ever had. She was strong – going toe to toe with him on more than one occasion about his older brother's care, but still, she was a skittish thing at times – like when he pulled her close for a kiss, or took her over his lap for a long overdue spanking...
Reader Rating: Not rated (0 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating: Not rated
Excerpt:Heather watched him as he walked towards her, her eyes drifting to half mast all on their own at the mere sight of him. Beau Thornton wasn’t aware of how attractive he was – at least, he certainly never let on. He was more at home on a horse, in worn jeans and a work shirt, than his obviously expensively cut suit, although he wore both so well that only a discerning eye could tell.
And hers was most certainly a discerning eye.
He was every inch a Thornton. It was in his genes. There wasn’t a wimp amongst them. Every single brother was disgustingly macho and masculine, and what was worse, used to getting his own way, one way or the other, thanks to their benevolent dictator of a father.
She’d been watching him covertly from afar for a very long time, and had never once tired of the view. However improbable it seemed, he had always had that dominant air about him, even when he was younger. His older brother A.J. was always out with their father on the range. A.J. was born an adult, but Beau had always been the one all the other kids in school followed. He was a born leader, with a no nonsense; take no prisoners air about him even at an unusually tender age.
And then he’d grown up and into the promise of that tall, lithe body, his chest and legs filling out nicely as he joined his brother and father in the family business. Running a ranch – running it well, anyway, and for a Thornton there was truly no other choice – meant getting more than just your hands dirty, and it was the perfect way to grow all the right muscles.
At least as far as Heather was concerned. He was one fine looking man, whether he was covered in dust and dirt and cow, or squeaky clean and smelling of some spicy, woodsy cologne that she automatically associated with him. As soon as that familiar scent wafted into her nose she became even more lost in him than she had been before, until that black velvet voice of his rippled over her.
“Are you all right?”
She looked up into his face and saw his deep frown of concern, bushy dark eyebrows drawn close over obsidian eyes. Beau had the usual Thornton almost overly full head of hair, but his leaned more towards a dark brown than black. More flustered at his presence than she wanted to be, by far, Heather reached for her water glass and promptly knocked over her wine glass. Thankfully, it was empty. She scolded herself inwardly for being such a klutz. No one would have believed at that moment that she was actually quite graceful in general. But not around him, apparently – the person in this world that she most wanted to impress, of course.
Although she had spent what seemed to be all of her life idolizing him, Beau had just barely started to take notice of her – most especially at his older brother’s recent wedding to Hope Granger.
Heather was beginning to realize that the old adage about being careful of what you wished for was right on the money. He set her on edge – uncomfortably so. She couldn’t relax around him – he was too sexually charged. Every bit of tiny, fine body hair she owned was standing at attention, as if he possessed some sort of electrical charge she was responding to against her will. Very against her will. He was the only man she’d ever encountered who made her feel much of anything at all. And what he inspired in her was so urgent and hot and prickly that parts of her just wanted to turn tail and run.
The majority of her, however – her already dewing body – kept her tight in her chair, despite the fear and uncertainty that had her heart banging so hard within her chest she was sure there was no way he could miss it.
Her will to resist him had already been largely subverted – and there was no way he could ever find that out. Beau wasn’t the type of man who needed to know that her heart – along with the almost painfully throbbing rest of her – was already lying at his feet to do with as he pleased. She needed to be on guard around him – more so than she ever had around anyone else before, despite her tender feelings for him. He didn’t have a reputation as a womanizer – in fact, it was just the opposite. But she couldn’t bear to think about what he could do to her heart if he had any inkling how completely she’d fallen for him without his ever having to so much as speak to her. He held her heart – her mind her soul and her body – in that big right hand of his.
And he could never know it.
Desperate to think of something – anything – else as he was staring down at her with that quizzical, concerned look on his face, Heather’s mouth quirked at the thought of her one brief relationship with Rick Matroni, such as it was. What brought him to mind she didn’t really know, but he certainly did suffer in comparison.
It never really got very far. Despite the occasional crush, Heather wasn’t sure that she would ever be able to let any man touch her, even Beau, should that pipe dream ever come true. But she had been on a “confronting her reality” kick, trying to come to terms with the fact that her crush on Beau Thornton was never going to go anywhere even if she stood in front of him stark naked. He was a scion of an upper crust family in the little town of Haverhill, Texas, and she was the daughter of a woman who was little better than a prostitute, drunk ninety percent of the time and unable or unwilling to care for her children the other ten percent. She didn’t even know who her father was – some fat wallet her mother had roped into paying for the booze that night in exchange for the use of her body.
Even though her mother had since straightened out her life, Heather felt that she had no right to imagine herself with Beau, no right to covet him as she did, no rights to anything at all in this world except that which she’d carved out of it herself. Despite her mother’s lack of interest in her sister and herself, Heather, as the oldest daughter, had assumed the maternal role and had gotten them both through school and even though college. She’d always had an interest in helping people and in biology, and those two interests had combined nicely when she’d stumbled on the idea of physical therapy as a career while carting Sarah, her sister, back and forth to the therapist after she’d broken her ankle badly.
Years later, she was now a part of a large sports medicine practice along with several other therapists who were interested in building both a solid business and a solid reputation for themselves. As a result of their dedication and successes, they regularly garnered referrals from some of the top doctors in the state.
Yet, the mere thought of being in the same room with Beau Thornton could still make her knees shake to the point where she needed to sit down.
Luckily, she was already there.
He took a seat and leaned towards her, taking her hand – the one that was frozen practically solid from nerves – into both of his, surrounding them with his warmth and strength, rubbing gently. “Are you sick?” One hand reached out to touch her forehead, assessing its temperature as if she was a child.
Although all the attention was flattering, it wasn’t what she wanted. At this point, with him so close and her nerves so frazzled because of it, she really wasn’t sure what she did want from him. But she knew it wasn’t paternal concern.
Extracting her hand wasn’t all that easy – he didn’t seem to want to let it go, but she persevered, taking it back and tucking it between her knees, saying breathlessly, “No, I-I’m fine, thanks.”
Beau leaned back a little, but not a lot. She looked so pale and fragile – as if she was going to break if he breathed too hard on her. And he knew damned well that that was most definitely not the case. He’d seen Heather Dennison at work. She was no frail, hothouse flower. She had muscles most women didn’t, that came from a lifetime of lifting and toting and manipulating people with the most severe of physical problems.
Like his older brother A.J. had had. He’d seen her lift him – when he was thinner than he’d ever been in his adult life but still no featherweight by any means – without so much as breaking a sweat. She was fit – probably fitter than he himself was, although punching cows for a living didn’t lend itself to lounging behind a desk all day.
Whereas A.J. oversaw all aspects of the Circle T’s investments – and they had diversified nicely under his watchful eye, Beau had never wanted to be anything more than what he knew he was – what their father had been: a rancher. It was damned hard, year round work that wasn’t for the squeamish. But he couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t felt more comfortable in the saddle than out of it. One of the biggest rows he’d had with his parents – which were few and far between anyway because if there was anything A.J. Sr. demanded of his boys, it was respect – was when he’d turned sixteen and technically didn’t have to attend school any more.
His father had set him straight right quick the morning of that eventful birthday, when he’d bounded downstairs to announce that he was quitting school to work on the ranch full time. The old man had looked shocked at first, then royally annoyed, but he hadn’t batted an eyelash as the rest of the family took their places for breakfast in a stunned silence – including their Mother, who had become teary eyed at his blithe statement. A.J. Sr. had stated that, if that was indeed his decision, that he would be expected to move out by sundown and find himself a place to live, as well as a car with insurance to get to the ranch in, and that he would be starting out at the basic pay for a cowboy – in other words, his last name and the fact that his boss would be his father wasn’t going to get him any favors.
Or, the elder gentleman continued, he could straighten up and fly right, finish high school and college, like his brother was, and perhaps he might one day have a hand in the running of the ranch. But not, his father pointed out as he got directly into his second oldest son’s face, if he made stupid decisions like dropping out of school.
Needless to say, Beau went to school that day, and every day after – including college. And it was a damned good thing. As much as he enjoyed working outdoors, especially on a spread he had a part of, as well as on his own, they had gotten so big that the brothers had had to entrust most of the day to day operations to their respective foremen, spending much more time than either of them liked dealing with the paperwork aspects rather than the hands on.
And when A.J. had had his accident, Beau had gotten a taste of what his big brother did every day, and he’d had to admit a grudging respect for someone who could rope a cow in record time yet handle the office staff with just the right touch. He wasn’t sure he’d ever get the hang of it. He preferred the cattle and the men who worked them around him. He guessed he wasn’t as polished as A.J., and he wasn’t at all sure that he wanted to be. It just wasn’t him.
His eyes lit on the woman who’d obviously had to work up a tremendous amount of nerve to ask him out, but frankly she’d done it just before he was about to do the same thing to her. He’d only been dimly aware of Heather in the background of his life. He’d been ahead of her in high school but had seen her at some parties, as well as the Thornton BBQ, which was held after roundup every year, when everyone had more time to spend on frivolities like eating.
But he was always too busy, too involved in work to pay much attention to her – heck, to anyone. He was the most monkish of his brothers, not having had very many girlfriends and not wanting that many. The younger brothers were more likely of all of them to play the field – Cade was still pretty reticent to get involved, but Dane and Eric, like all of them because they were all big, strapping good looking men, even in high school, were the closest to party animals of any of them.
He’d had one serious relationship in high school, and one in college, and since then he’d had several dates, but none of them had developed into anything. If he was going to have been interested in anyone, it might have been Hope, but there was no one in that woman’s eyes but A.J. She was the type of woman he was drawn to, though. Strong, competent, smart, but there was no doubt that she was a female, either.
It was partly because of Hope’s impetus that he was even here in the first place, beyond the fact that her hand prints were all over Heather’s back about asking him out. It was an interesting experience – he’d never had a woman ask him out before, and it was certainly from left field, considering what had gone on between them when she’d left as A.J.’s therapist. It was only since then that he’d begun to notice her, most definitely at his older brother’s wedding, especially since she’d caught the bouquet. The pale pink off the shoulder dress she’d been wearing had shown off her tight body to its best advantage, and he found his gazed drifting to her over and over all day. It wasn’t one of those awful poofy, garish dresses most maids of honor or bridesmaids found themselves in. Instead, it clung lovingly to her rounded figure at breast and bottom.
As he’d looked around the back yard, where the reception was being held, he could see that he wasn’t the only one doing the noticing. The two youngest of his brothers were giving her the eye, but he squelched that in the bud with two well aimed looks that threatened to knock them on their butts if they didn’t stop ogling Heather.
If that wasn’t enough, he’d appropriated her for the first dance after the newlywed’s first dance, tugging her into his arms and holding her there, not asking, just reaching out for her hand and guiding her firmly out into the floor, not taking no for an answer – just as he hadn’t when he’d spanked her all those months ago. He’d found her completely flustered reaction endearing, and the way her eyes skittered to his then quickly away several times endearing.
She was obviously nervous around him – with good reason – and he hoped he could settle her nerves before his body made him succumb to the urges he’d been trying to dampen – without much success since that fateful night.
While she’d been here helping A.J. on his road to recovery – both times – he’d noticed her more and more, but had been so swamped with work, his and A.J.’s, that there was nothing he could do about his growing attraction besides ache whenever he saw her, and whenever a vision of her popped into his head.
She wasn’t a frou-frou woman. She wasn’t the type who couldn’t leave the house without the right bag to match the shoes she was wearing. She worked in comfortable sweats or shorts, and as far as he could tell, beyond this evening and the wedding, she never wore makeup.
But then, she didn’t need it, either. Heather’s skin was clear and creamy, which only served to accent the varied shades in her russet and honey colored hair. Her eyes were a changeable hazel – sometimes a deep, moss green and sometimes a dark startling blue, but always captivating. She was calm, confident and capable around the house, even when A.J. had thrown that lamp at her. It had hit the wall next to the door jamb, which was a testament to the fact that A.J. hadn’t been trying too hard, since he had been an all star pitcher in high school and never missed what he threw at. It had been an expression of frustration in general, but not specifically aimed at Heather.
It hadn’t mattered. All the brothers had come running at the sound of the heavy pottery hitting the wall, worried that they’d be finding pieces parts of the therapist strewn into the hall. Instead, although there were shards of lamp on the carpeting there, Heather was just pivoting on one foot to return to the lion’s den, regardless of the fact that he had just made a failed attempt on her life, her face a mask of stubbornness and determination.
Luckily, Beau’d gotten there before she’d had a chance to get more than one step, grabbing her arm and dragging her back against him. His body had gone instantly, achingly hard. He could smell the sweet perfume in her gorgeous length of hair, which she kept in a ponytail that made her look like she was barely legal. He couldn’t count the times when he’d wanted to reach out and relieve her of that scrunchy, so he could see it down and free flowing, and imagine it cascading over his pillow.
The thought had shocked him. He was a man, and he noticed pretty much all women. But he’d never taken any particularly close notice of her – no interested notice – in Heather. But now that he essentially had her in his arms, he didn’t want to let her go.
To say nothing of the fact that she was unusually strong for a woman who barely made it to his mid chest. She was struggling against him so hard that she was both exacerbating his arousal quite considerably and annoying the piss out of him.
Beau had to using more of his strength to keep her from running back into that room than he ever usually did with a woman. One thing their father had drilled into his strong, strapping sons was that their strength was never, ever to be used against a female in any way. Rather, it was to be used only to protect. Well, he’d grimaced to himself, sometimes it needed to be used to subdue, too. She was like a bull that’d seen red. In his weakened condition, Beau was more concerned for A.J.’s health than Heathers, at this point, but in either case, he didn’t want them to collide any further, judging that it wouldn’t be good for either of them. “Heather, calm down.” He let a little warning slip into his deep, soft tone, but she didn’t act as if she’d even heard him, struggling just as energetically to get away from him and back to his brother.
“Let me go! I have to get back to him and let him know that trying to kill your therapist is not acceptable behavior.”
Beau snorted. “Believe me, he knows that.” He’d had to grab her other arm, and was now barely able to hold her back. He didn’t want to hurt her, nor did he want her to get away – the line was hard to maintain, so he just did what he thought was best and picked her up, carrying her back into the kitchen and simply removing her from the field of battle.
Heather had been incensed. She’d known since she’d decided to become a physical therapist that she was at a disadvantage in the heavily male field, because she didn’t have the upper body strength that men simply had the biological advantage in, plus she wasn’t a very big person anyway. But she’d done her best to build up her own strength, as well as making sure that the practice had whatever mechanical assistants they could afford to help her – if she needed it – with lifting patients.
Her full throated scream of “Put me down right now!” must’ve carried to the next ranch. It practically made all the brothers’ ears pop, it was so loud. The woman had an amazing set of lungs on her!
But Beau didn’t tip her feet onto the floor until they were well away from A.J.’s room, in his study. He’d closed the door behind them, shutting out the other brothers, who had followed them like puppies, curious to see how this battle of stubborn wits was going to end. But he’d shut the door right on their eager faces with a smug smile.
He wasn’t at all prepared for what she’d done then, straightening up and hauling back and smacking his cheek sharply. The woman packed a wallop!
And she was crazy if she thought he’d let her get away with that unscathed.
A.J. Senior had drilled into all of his sons that women were to be protected at all costs. But he’d also imparted to them that men were the heads of the household, and that there were some things that they needed to call their women to account for, with loving strictness.
The boys had known that their father spanked their mother. Rarely, but occasionally. None of them had ever worried that their mother was abused in any sense of the word, even when they grew older and it became more apparent. If anything, they knew that their father would hang the moon for their mother, and that she thought he made the sun rise and set. The look on their faces when they kissed, the fact that their father never left the house without first kissing his wife goodbye, and the way they so often held hands when they walked together was more than enough evidence for them to see that although A.J. was the undisputed law, neither of them had any problem with that.
Nor was Naomi in the least bit submissive. She said exactly what she thought at all times, and although, like Heather she was a petite little thing, she had no problem standing toe to toe with A.J. Senior, getting in his face if she felt fiercely about something – always respectfully, but not in what anyone would consider a submissive manner.
That was the crux of his parents’ marriage – respect, for both positions, man and wife, and between the two individuals.
And there was no way that striking anyone across the face could be considered respectful.
Even though he and Heather weren’t really even on the path towards a relationship yet, Beau knew he couldn’t just let that slap go under any circumstances.
He just couldn’t.
What’s more, he wouldn’t.