Matt Jackson cursed himself for every kind of fool as he traipsed through the field from his grandfather's huge modern house to the small wooden frame house that had once been the original settlement on the family ranch. The way his luck was going lately he would step in a cow pie or worse yet a gopher hole. Ruined boots or a broken ankle seemed just recompense for the nasty dreams he had been having about little Miss Melissa Guthrie.
It was worse than the summer he had come home on leave from the Rangers. It was the year that she graduated from high school, she had been just eighteen, but what he bothered him most was how much Little Missy had changed. Gone was the skinny, freckled, red-head. In her stead was a curvy strawberry blond that seemed oblivious to the havoc she reeked on male hormones, his especially. Almost a decade older than Melissa, it had seemed sacrilegious somehow to have those kinds of thoughts about her.
But this was worse, so much worse. For the past week, his brain could not focus on much other than the unusual proposal that Missy had made. Her twenty-eight birthday was just a couple of days after the New Year. Living in a small town like Tornado, Texas, her dating options had not improved since high school. So she found herself a virgin. A fucking virgin, he cursed.
Now this. They had all known that it was coming. Nana Guthrie was dead. After a two year battle with breast cancer the once formidable woman that had practically raised Matt and his six brothers and sisters as well as her own granddaughter was gone. He felt the pain like a punch to his gut, but he knew it was nothing compared to what Missy must be feeling. She was alone in the world now. Totally alone just as she had feared she would be when she pleaded with him to take her virginity and give her his baby.
And he was walking across the deserted field between the big house and hers with just that in mind. What was wrong with him? This was Little Missy, his baby sister Rahab's best friend. She was practically another Jackson. So what was he going to say and do when he got there? The thought was prophetic as he saw the porch lights glistening against the dark Texas skies.
Melissa wondered aimlessly about the tiny two bedroom house that had been the only home she had ever known. She had been just a baby when her parents were killed in a car accident. She had come to live with Nana then. And Tornado, Texas had become her home.
But would it be for much longer? Although she knew Thaddeus Jackson thought of her almost like another of his grandchildren, this house was one of the perks that went with the housekeeper position that her grandmother had held for over thirty years. Surely he would want her to vacate the premises for her grandmother's replacement.
She shook her head. So who or what would replace her Nana in her life? A couple of weeks ago when her Nana told her that Matt was coming home for the holidays she had thought she had it all planned out.
She had had a crush on her best friend's big brother for as long as she could remember. And while she recognized that the plain Jane librarian from Tornado, Texas had no real chance of attracting the attention of the former Army Ranger officer, police officer and now private detective. With his dark almost black hair and deep grey eyes, he had the looks of a Hollywood star to go with his intelligence and physical prowess. In short, he had all the best genes.
All right, so maybe she should have tried just getting the man drunk and taking advantage of him, rather than spouting her crazy plan like she had diarrhea of the mouth as Nana called it. But she had, just spilled everything. How alone she felt in the world. How she did not want to be the cliché old maid librarian, reading romance novels in her little house with two dozen cats. How she was tired of being the only twenty-eight ear old virgin on the planet.
She looked at Nana's grandfather clock on the mantle. It would be midnight in less than five minutes. And in she two days she would no longer be a twenty-eight year old virgin, she would be a twenty-nine year old one. Maybe it was best if she left Tornado. She could start over fresh somewhere else. Maybe with a new hair style and some makeup she could even manage to find a boyfriend. But of course, he would not be Matt. No one would ever be Matthias Jackson.
The knock on the door startled her. Who could that be? The women from town would not begin to bring in the food for the wake until at least eight tomorrow morning, probably later given that it was a holiday. Of course, perhaps Missus Martha had forgotten something when they spoke at the hospital. She sighed, certainly Mister Thad would not come by this late wanting to discuss the house?
But he was the last person she expected to see as she threw open the door. She felt the red spread from ear to ear and down her throat beneath the sweater that Nana had knitted for her last year. "What do you want, Matt?"
Did the woman really have no idea how beautiful she was? Hell, what was wrong with the men of Tornado? How could this sexy creature still be a virgin? He felt his cock thicken inside of his jeans. Would she still be after his free fall into complete madness.
"It's cold out here. Would you mind if I came in, Missy?" he smiled.
She shook head, but stepped back and let him enter. "Matt, if you don't mind, I'd just like to be alone for the next few hours. Once the ladies from church start to arrive this place is going to be completely mad until after Nana's funeral."
He nodded as he stuffed his hands deep into his pockets, just as he always did when the woman had caught him up to some mischief. "I just wanted to stop by. See how you are doing. Mama said you seemed too quiet at the hospital. She's worried about you, Missy," he stepped forward and put his hands on her shoulders. "I'm worried about you."
"Look, Matt, I know I made a mistake last week. I mean telling you all that stuff," she stammered as she stared at the buttons on his flannel shirt. Would it be as soft as it looked? She wanted nothing more than to lay her head against it and let all the tears that she had kept bottled inside of her just flow out. And that is exactly what she would have done, if she had not ruined everything between them with her crazy plan.
He sighed and drew her into his arms anyway. The shirt was soft but the muscles beneath it were solid steel. She brought her hand up to cover his heart. She could actually feel it pounding beneath her fingers. "I'm sorry, Matt," she blubbered as the tears began to flow.
"No, Missy, I'm the one that's sorry. Sorry, I haven't been here for you and Nana the way I should have been. Sorry, I let you down," he whispered as he pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head. She continued to cry for several minutes until the wetness spread across the front of his shirt. Then her world tilted on its axis as he lifted her in his strong arms and carried her down the hall to her bedroom.
He crossed the room and stood her next to the bed as he pulled back the quilt that Nana had sewn for her sixteenth birthday. Its pink and purple squares and triangles reminded her of the girl she had been. She knew that her grandmother had completed another quilt just days before her death. Two of them actually. A larger one that was folded in the old fashioned wooden chest at the foot of her bed and another much smaller one that rested on top of it. But those things were not to be as the bleakness of a life time alone stretched out in front of Melissa.
He took her hand and pulled her towards the bed, "You need some rest. You've been at that hospital almost every moment for the past week."
She shook her head in denial, "I can't sleep. I should do some cleaning, straighten the house before people start arriving. Nana would die if they saw it like this." Her tiny hand flew to her mouth as she sucked in a deep gasp at her words. Nana was dead. And she was alone. So horribly, totally alone.
His arms wrapped about her as fresh tears seemed to well up out of nowhere. She leaned her head against his chest and let them come. Then he gathered into his arms and lifted her once more, this time laying her in the center of her bed. She shook her head. "No, Matt, I don't want to be alone. Not now."
"I know," he replied as he slid into the bed next to her and pulled the covers up over them both. She made a pillow of his chest and fell asleep far easier than she had thought she would.
Sleep would not come for Matt. His mind raced in a million directions as his body thought of only one. Burying itself deep inside of Little Missy and claiming her as his own. Then she whimpered in her sleep, some nightmare invading upon the slumber that her body and fractured mind needed so desperately. He wanted to push it aside, slay every dragon. He wanted to hold her like this every night for the rest of his life.
But this was Little Missy. The freckle faced shy child that was his baby sister's best friend and partner in crime. It was wrong, so very wrong. But his hard cock did not seem to recognize any of that. It wanted just one thing, to bury itself deep inside the place that no other man ever had. He groaned and she shifted in his arms.
She lifted her head and sleepy eyes looked up at him. A slow smile broke across her face, "I must be dreaming," she whispered.
His thumb brushed slowly across her cheek, pushing a strand of hair from her face. "Were you serious?"
She frowned, "Serious about what?" She cuddled closer to his body and his cock throbbed painfully inside of his jeans. He breathed deeply trying to collect his thoughts, calm his raging hormones. But it only made things worse as the smell of her peach shampoo and woman overwhelmed his sense.
"About you know. Wanting me to," he blushed this time as he stammered over the words. "Wanting me to be your first."
She stiffened in his arms, "I was, but you turned me down. So now I need to regroup. Figure out what I'm going to do," he heard her voice crack as she finished, "without Nana."
"And what have you come up with, Missy?" he asked as he drew lazy circles on her bare stomach where her sweater had ridden up in sleep.
She shook her head against his chest, he felt the warmth of her breath through his shirt as she sighed heavily. "I don't know. Dallas maybe? Find a job as a librarian there. Get a studio apartment. Maybe even join one of those dating sites?"
His gut tightened at the thought of her dating some unknown guy. He doubted any of them would be good enough for his Missy. Hell, he was far from good enough for her but at least he knew one thing. If he did this thing, it would not be on her terms.
He had seen the pain that his older brother went through, finding out that he had a daughter, when the girl was three. All that he had missed. No, if he did this, then Missy needed to understand it was going to be on his terms. And he knew one thing Nana would have his worthless hide if those terms did not include a ring on her granddaughter's finger.
"Is that what you want?" he asked as he whispered into the sweetness of her hair. Her happiness meant more to him than what he wanted, what his god damned cock wanted. And if she had come to her senses, decided that he was not what she wanted, then he would get out of this bed and never look back. Well, maybe not, he would check up on her occasionally make sure that the lucky bastard was doing right by Missy.
He could almost taste the sadness as she sighed, "Sometimes it isn't about what we want in life, but about making lemon-aid out of lemons. I'll be all right."
He was not sure if she was trying to convince him or herself. His fingers moved under her chin, lifted her face to look into his. "And if I changed my mind? If I was willing to," he swallowed the lump in his throat. "If we make love, Missy, you need to know that things are going to change."
She chuckled, "Of course, they would. I wouldn't be a virgin." Her tiny fingers brushed back and forth across his chest until he thought he would explode in his pants from just her innocent explorations. "If I'm very lucky, there might even be a baby. My best Christmas birthday gift ever," she blushed.
He groaned at the idea. His cock went into overdrive. It could have holes in the artic ice. Making love to Missy was hot enough, but the idea of his child growing inside of her was more than he could take. His finger lifted her chin higher as he bent slowly. "There's no going back, Missy. If we do this, things will never be the same," he whispered the warning as his mouth covered hers.
The sweetness burst like a dam over him as his tongue invaded her mouth. When she moan and arched up against him, it was almost his undoing. He had to get this thing under control. Had to get his hormones under control. He wanted this night to be unforgettable for Missy, wanted to replace some of the pain of the past few weeks and months with pleasure, wanted them to start off right.
He drew back slowly and smiled at her. "Then we do this my way," he said as his hands found the edge of her sweater. He tugged it over her head and tossed it on the floor. His hands cupped her breasts, kneading them softly until her moans told him all that he wanted to hear. His fingers slipped behind her back and found the clasp as his face nuzzled in her neck, licking and kissing her. Then she was arching up against him, rubbing against him like the kitten that he had given her the Christmas she was six.
"Slow down, baby. I want to make this good for you," he whispered as his hands moved to hips trying to still her movements.
"Don't want slow. Want you. Wanted you so long. Don't stop now, Matt," she pleaded as he felt her tiny hands reaching between their bodies.
He sucked in a deep breath as her fingers found the buckle of his belt. He cursed when he felt it and the button of jeans spring free. He reached for her hands but he was too late as he heard the zipper of his jeans give way and felt the warmth of her hands wrapping around his throbbing erection. "Missy," he pleaded.
She was frantically pushing at his jeans, trying to work them over his hips and down his legs. He saw the panic in hers, felt it mirrored in his soul. She was right. They had waited too long. Needed too much. Denied the truth until they could not anymore. He captured her lips at the same time he did her hands. He poured all he felt into the kiss, hoped it said what he could not find words to.
"All right, Missy, you win. This time. But after all those old ladies leave tomorrow you and I are having a nice long talk, then I'm soaking you in Nana's big tub and making love to you properly," he saw her frown.
"Not tomorrow. Now," she whimpered as she fought to free her hands from his.
He released them and used his own to free her from her own jeans. In only seconds, she was naked in his arms. And he was throbbing in her tiny hands. He pushed at his own jeans, pushing them down to his calves and pulled his legs free of them. They joined the growing pile of clothes on the floor.
He sucked in a deep breath and his hand covered hers once more, "Woe, Little Missy. You keep doing that and your going to stay a virgin another night."
She frowned at him, "But you promised, Matt."
He kissed the frown from her lips, "And I mean to keep that promise, sweetheart. But if you keep petting that little traitor like that, he's not gonna wait for the grand prize." He chuckled as her frown deepened, "Missy, that feels so fucking good that if you keep it up, I'm going to come in your hands."
Her innocent eyes widened at his honest words, "Really? You like it? I'm not doing it wrong or anything?"
"Missy, this is insane. What do you want, baby? You want to try your feminine wiles? Work up slowly to things?" He murmured as his hips pumped against her soft hands.
"No, Matt. I meant it. I don't want slow. I want you. All of you," she whispered as her hands drew him closer to her. She shifted and her thighs fell open.
Matt swallowed hard as he rose above her. He looked into her eyes as he felt her tiny hands guide him, rubbing his throbbing erection across the hottest, slickest thing he had ever felt. "You sure, Missy?" he asked one more time as he cupped her face tenderly.
Her only answer was to arch her hips up, impaling herself in a single stroke as she cried out in pain. He bit his tongue, hard, to keep from following the lead of his body, taking up the ancient dance that it wanted. Instead he forced himself to hold perfectly still. His lips softly brushing kisses across her forehead as she began to slowly relax beneath him.
"Why did you do that, Missy? You should have let me. Taken it slower. I wanted to make it special. make it good for you," he whispered.
"I was afraid you would change your mind," she whimpered. "That you would leave me."
The lonesomeness in her words captured his heart as nothing else could. He knew the feeling. Even in a large family, Matt had always felt alone. But not now. Not with her. He would think more about this new sense of belonging later, but right now all he wanted was to make her feel safe, happy. Loved.
"I'm not going anywhere, Missy," he smiled at her as he withdrew just a bit. She whimpered but he could tell it was not in pain. The frantic way that her tiny hands clutched at his waist, drew him closer told him that she was feeling something besides just pain now. He inched slowly forward and watched as her eyes widened with wonder. "That's it, baby. Feel how good it is. How much I want you."
"Yes," she cried out as she arched into his thrust. "More," she whimpered as she pawed at his sides like that kitten had when it wanted his attention. And he gave it to her. All of it. He slowly began to move inside of her, retreating and thrusting forward. Allowing his body to lead them on that ancient mating dance that was as old as time.
When he heard her quick intake of air, felt the tension strum through her, her body gripping and milking his, he gave into his own needs. He pushed deeper and harder into her welcoming flesh as she cried out her release. His name had never sounded so sweet as he gave into his own release. It built from deep inside of him, seemed to rise up from his toes as he poured himself into her.
He wanted to draw her into his arms, shelter her close, reassure her that everything would be all right, but he could see the early morning sunlight streaming through the curtains. So he bent and kissed her softly as he drew back out of her. "Missy, I mean it, when everyone leaves tonight, you and I are going to have a nice long talk, figure out where we go from here. But sweetheart, I have to go now. It'll be daylight soon and I won't have those narrow minded bigots talking about you behind your back."
Her eyelids were closed and her breathing told him that she was already asleep as he gathered his clothes from the floor and slipped into them. He stood over her for a long moment, watching her sleep. Battling with the less noble side of his brain that begged for him to climb back into that bed, hold her tight and never let her go. But this morning nobility won out and he made his way back across that field as the sun rose on a new dawn. A new day. A new year. And a new life for them all.