Damn, he'd gotten a head start on her. Cinder ran as fast as she could manage after throwing on his shirt and some shoes over her panties but she couldn't find where Jared had headed. He hadn't said why he took off so suddenly leaving her in the lurch. He'd just sprinted off into the darkness disappearing in some brush.

She had hoped he would return while she'd been hastily finding something to throw over her body but he hadn't…only silence emerged from the darkness. What if something had happened to him out there? What if he'd been chasing after someone who had turned around and ambushed him or lured him into some sort of twisted trap?

All these thoughts ran through her head as she ran and she cursed herself for getting soft on the guy. She'd promise that'd never happen again…not after what had happened with Chad the cad not to mention some other losers that had preceded him. She ran faster when she neared the barn and heard something inside of it…creaking like a door had swung open and then the horses inside of it.


No one answered and she stopped wrapping her arms around herself wondering where to look next. Seriously where had he gone…what had happened to him? She looked around her in the darkness save for some areas illuminated by lights near the barn and the house.

Nothing emerged from the shadows let alone just over six feet of hunk of burning man who drove her crazy with lust…just lust because after all she could never fall in love again. Not after having been singed by men who hadn't been worth the love she'd given them.

"Jared where the hell are you?"

She started walking slowly to the barn and noticed the door was ajar. But then maybe it had been left open. Quietness met her save the sounds made by horses moving around in their stalls perhaps settling down for a night's slumber. Including that bronco that Jared had busted just to get into her panties…she smiled at that thought holding onto it as she pushed the door opened wider. She imagined for a split second that she was like Catherine or Caitlin not believing that danger lurked so close by to them when they'd been walking too. Believing like Cinder that they were invisible…that nothing could hurt them until they learned otherwise.

Cinder swallowed, her throat dry as she walked inside the barn and saw the stack of alfalfa bales looming in front of her. She smelled the sweetness of it and she reached for the light switch flipping it on and soon enough the barn lit up.

A couple horses whinnied in response and she walked over to look in on them. Brandy the buckskin mare and Chester one of the geldings looked over their half doors and she greeted both of them by scratching them behind the ears which she knew they'd like. Some people said that the way into Jared's bed were through being sweet to his horses but seriously she thought he was easier than that when it came to rolling in the hay. But the way to his affection…maybe…to where he'd trust a woman might take a lot more effort. She took it for granted, her close relationship with him because they'd known each other and been friends forever.

"Have either of you seen Jared," she asked the horses, "He seems to have pulled a disappearing act."

The horses just looked back at her and she started to turn to leave the barn and then she heard the creaking noise again. She froze and didn't move, retreating into a shadowy area to better look at who had just walked into the barn.

Because that hadn't been an animal, it'd been a person and if it was Jared, why didn't he say anything? But then maybe he didn't know she'd gone looking for him. She still didn't know where he'd gone; damn she hated when he did this to her.

Not that she was scared or anything.

"Hey Cinder…you in here?"

His gentle voice broke the silence and startled her. She turned around and saw him walking towards her wearing his worn jeans with no shirt on, just putting his magnificent chest on display. If she hadn't been so pissed off at him right now, her mouth would be watering at it.

Hell her mouth still watered. But first things first, she put her hands on her hips staring at him.

"Where the hell were you?"

His face turned serious.

"I thought I heard something," he said, "A coyote maybe."

"Bull shit Jared…why in the hell would you run high tail after some coyote?"

He rubbed the back of his neck eying her carefully.

"I thought it might be someone…but I didn't see anyone," he said, "Ran to the front gate and then just headed on back here."

Cinder relaxed a bit which meant only one hand remained on a hip.

"Jared…I was worried," she said, "You took off so fast and then you didn't come back."

He tilted his face.

"You really were worried? You…Cinder? I didn't think you showed that kind of emotion."

She glowered and yeah he hit a nerve but she wouldn't let him know that easily.

"No…I wasn't worried…just concerned," she said, "Suppose you tripped over your feet and hit your head in the dark. Or if there had been someone out there trying to hurt you…Jared that's something we have to think about because of what we do."

Meaning that both of them had received threats against them as a result of some of the cases they prosecuted…part and parcel of their careers. Cinder knew enough to take precautions and watch her back but she still lived her life. She knew that Jared practiced the same philosophy. Both of them had taken on high profile case. Hers the rape of a woman by a high profile member of society and he, a series of murders linked to one defendant.

"I didn't see anyone," Jared said, "I must have heard an animal."

"But you don't think so do you?"

He shrugged.

"We both have been down this road Cinder…when some nutcase has come after us over some case we're handling."

"I know that but I still…when you take off like that…maybe I do worry a little."

He approached her, waiting for her to lessen her defenses a little bit…damn he'd gotten to know her too damn well from their friendship…the downside to fucking her best friend. Still, she savored the moment when their bodies would touch again. He stood in front of her running his hands down her arms, making her shiver.

"I'm sorry Cinder…but I'm fine," he said, "though looking at you right now…I know what I want."

She arched an eyebrow at him.

"What is that?"

"You and that luscious body of yours…"

He swooped her off her feet in a flash and started carrying her and she knew it'd be to the tack room at the end of the walkway. The bed awaited them and as he lowered her on the floor in front of him, she started running her hands over his chest, toying with the whorls of hair that felt soft underneath her fingers. He groaned as she lowered her mouth to lathe her tongue around his coppery nipples.

"Cinder…oh god…"

She looked up at him, a smile on her face.

"I remember how sensitive you are there," she said, "Now if I had some tequila and I could lick it off…it'd be better but a girl's got to make do."

He growled and he grabbed her hands before they could do more mischief and lowered his mouth over hers, caressing her lips with his…softly at first and then he amped up the sensations…the pressure, the way he owned her mouth as she parted her lips to receive his tongue. He grazed her teeth with it before she opened up, suckling it inside her mouth.

God it was hot when he did that, hot and wet just like some other part of her that chafed her panties. As if he knew that, he released her hands enough so he could move them down, caressing her abs to relieve her of the silky fabric that clung to her pelvis sliding it down her legs. She arched her back in anticipation.

"Oh Jared…if you don't do me…and I mean right now…"

She pulled him by the belt hooks of his jeans as she backed up towards the desk and he hoisted her on it, bare assed then while she grabbed hold of him to kiss again, he managed to start unbuttoning his jeans. She pushed his hands out of the way and took that task over pushing his jeans down his legs like unwrapping the best kind of present. His muscular thighs made her weak and well, his briefs went too and she thought for a moment, if she didn't slide her mouth over his hardened cock tempting her with its closeness to her face…she'd go crazy. She wanted to suckle its head…tasting the musk of him drawing him slowly into her mouth while she gave him the blow job of his life.

But patience wasn't Jared's strong suit right now and he grabbed hold of her telling her urgently to wrap her legs around him which she did just before he bucked his hips, thrusting his cock inside the moistness of her pussy. She grabbed hold of his cock after he slid it inside of her and he groaned before he started thrusting harder and deeper into her while she held on for her life.

Afterward, they lay on the cot both buck naked, partly wrapped by an old blanket and she felt him relax against her, his soft breath caressing her face as he did what most guys did afterward which was drift off to sleep. Damn, it'd been hot between them as always but she felt the complications already. She knew the feelings that she'd tried to keep at bay when it came to her best friend wouldn't stay where she wanted them. She also didn't know how he felt about her.

If this was all casual…or just a game to him…well she'd treat it like that too…at least until she knew whether it was deeper than that for him. Then she might start showing him parts of herself she'd kept hidden so far.

If only she'd take that risk again…but she'd been burned. Better to play it safe for now.