"For what?" Cam's brow furrowed. "I think it's obvious."
"It's not obvious to me, so why don't you explain it?"
An incredulous look appeared only to be replaced with an irritated one. "What? You expect me to grovel?"
"No. I expect nothing from you, which is why it's so ironic that I'm disappointed."
"Now wait just a damn minute-"
"Just go." Stupid chili pepper powder must've blown in her face; her eyes smarted with tears. She sidestepped him, muttering, wishing she was the type of woman who could rant and rave and throw things to relay her frustrations.
Cam wheeled her around, boxing her between his body and the steel door of the walk-in cooler. "Will you at least let me apologize before you storm off and start swearing at me in Ukrainian?"
"That was Russian."
"So I'm an idiot all the way around, okay? Look, I'm sorry…" His gaze lingered on her neck. "I'm so goddamn sorry I was such an animal and marked you last night. First thing. You deserve better than a man who mauls you."
Her stomach swooped at the self-recrimination in his words. "Cam-"
"This is why I stayed away from you, Domini. You're so soft and sweet. And I'm too-"
"-much man for me to handle?" she supplied.
Cam's eyes narrowed. "I'm serious."
"So am I. At any point last night did I say, 'Cam, you're hurting me.'"
"Do you think I am incapable of being honest with you? Do you think I am so desperate for your touch that I would allow you to…hurt me?"
"Dammit. You're twisting my words."
"No, I am being honest. And you still don't get it, do you?"
She searched his eyes. "The only thing that upset me about last night was that you left again."
He stared at her with complete confusion. But he didn't back away. "Really?"
"You know I'm not very bold, which means I've been waiting to see if you would make a move on me. And when you finally did, and I saw the passionate, demanding side you keep hidden because you think I can't handle it-"
"You can't handle it."
Domini snapped, "You haven't given me a chance to prove otherwise, have you?"
"Whoa. I didn't mean-"
"Yes, you did. You assumed. Did you consider I have needs and desires that you might not be able to meet?"
Cam's face slackened with shock. Then his male pride leapt to the surface all hot and dangerous and in her face. "Oh, princess, don't go there. I can satisfy all your needs and desires and then some."
A pause followed as Cam looked at her. Almost as if he was seeing her for the first time. Then Cam framed her face in his large, rough hands. "You deserve a man-"
"-who makes me come so hard I see stars?"
He muttered, "I'm so goddamn tired of fighting this."
"So don't fight it."
The soft brush of his lips over hers was in direct contrast to the heat in his eyes. "All right. You win."
"I think we'll both be winners, Cam."
"You're coming home with me right now."
Cam grabbed her hand and strode out the front door, towing Domini behind him. He opened the passenger side of his truck and loomed over her. "You're sure you want to get involved with me?"
"It doesn't sound like I'm the one having doubts."
"I'm not." He bent to kiss the hollow of her throat. "I still say you're too good for a broken war bum like me."
"Trust me, Deputy, I know a thing or two about being broken." Domini didn't wait for his response before she climbed in.
Domini mashed herself next to Cam in the cab. The air from the open window blew wisps of her silky hair across his cheek, teasing him with a reminder of her fragrant softness. It was damn close to heaven being alone with her, with dust kicking up behind them and miles of grazing lands on the horizon in front of them, beneath the cloudless Wyoming sky.
She hadn't said much on the drive out to his place. Most women would be compelled to fill the quiet with mindless chatter. Not Domini. Her silence wasn't unsettling. In fact, Cam found it comforting.
Cam parked on the concrete slab in front of the garage and shut the truck off.
Domini faced him and smiled softly.
Every time she gazed at him as if she could read his soul, his breath stalled in his lungs.
"Thank you for the moment to clear my head."
"Are we going to talk first? Or…"
"Or what? You think I'm gonna truss you up and fuck right out here in the truck? Give me some damn credit, Domini. I do have some damn restraint."
"Too much restraint sometimes."
In another bout of silence between them, his dog yipped along the fence.
"Gracie," he yelled out the window. "Hush. We'll be there in a sec so you can sniff her and make sure she's not a threat."
Domini's whole body went rigid beside him.
"Are you afraid of dogs?"
"Yes. You probably think it's silly-"
"Hey." Cam bent his head to peer into her alarmed eyes. "Nothin' silly about it. I'll keep her in the yard if it'll ease your mind."
"If you do that, the dog will have another reason to hate me."
"Luckily Gracie doesn't hate anybody." He smiled. "Just let me know when you're ready to meet her, okay?"
"You aren't going to assure me she is the best dog ever and I will immediately love her?"
"No. Although she is the best dog ever, I'm serious about not pressuring you about her. I know what it's like to have that 'just get over it' mentality thrust at you."
Cam's gaze descended to her lips. He couldn't resist stealing a kiss. Her mouth was so warm and supple moving beneath his that he stole another one. And another.
She sank into him, welcoming his attentions with a dreamy sigh.
After several long, deep, wet kisses, he playfully nipped her bottom lip. "Let's take this inside."
She paused at the base of the stairs. The bottom was divided into two sections. Half was a set of steps, half was a wheelchair ramp. "I've never seen you use a wheelchair."
"That's because I don't use one." Ever.
"Then why have a ramp?"
"It's a daily reminder I could end up in a chair if I don't work hard every damn day at staying out of one."
"Did you build it?"
Cam shook his head. "Blake did at Colt's request. Right after I got back to the States and was discharged."
"Did Colt think you wouldn't walk again?"
"No. But he knew I needed a place that was accessible just in case."
She curled her palm over the handrail. "It must be nice to have that kind of unconditional support from your family."
"I guess. But living around all of them can drive me nuts." Domini didn't avert her eyes as Cam ascended the stairs, and oddly, her scrutiny didn't bother him. He opened the door. "After you."
Domini ducked under his arm and stopped on the edge of the carpet, taking it all in.
Cam tried to see his refuge through her eyes. His cousins Chet and Remy West had gutted the inside of the house after he'd purchased it from Colt and Buck. Any resemblance to the infamous Boars Nest party house had been completely eradicated.
The structure of the living room hadn't changed much, besides replacing the sagging bay window with a newer, larger window. Modern track lighting ran along the center of the ceiling. The rectangular room was anchored at one end by a gigantic flat screen TV and a stack of audio/visual components, and on the other end by a fireplace. A wood coffee table was centered between reclining chairs and a plush, oversized couch the color of tobacco.
"This is awesome. Did you pick out the colors and the furniture and everything?"
"Keely helped. Said she didn't want me living in a man cave with white walls, a TV and cheap bean bag chairs."
"Come see the kitchen."
The wall between the formal dining room and the kitchen had been demolished, creating one large open space. New appliances, pine cabinetry, bigger windows and tile flooring showcased modern amenities, yet the eat-in breakfast bar uniting the two areas retained a rustic, country feel. A sliding glass door led to an enormous covered deck that wrapped around the entire backside of the house.
"Please tell me you use this fabulous kitchen for more than zapping microwave meals and cooking frozen pizza."
"Um. Not really."
She scowled at him.
"I wish you would've taken the cooking lessons you won. It would be a dream to teach you to cook in this kitchen."
Cam slid his hands around her hips to cup her ass and urged her lower body against his. "You really think we would've gotten any cooking done? Or maybe I just would've spread you out across my table and feasted on you. 'Cause princess, you look mighty tasty."
A shuddering breath left her lungs.
He kissed the corners of her mouth. "I want you like crazy. I wanna tie you to my bed for days. But before any of that happens, we need to get some things straight."
She nodded. "Can we sit outside and talk? It's such a beautiful day."