Learning to Ride

Learning to Ride by Erin Knightley Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Learning to Ride by Erin Knightley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Erin Knightley
let her leave things as they were.
    An apology was one thing, but jumping into his truck on a whim, sans purse and phone, was another thing altogether. She wasn’t the impulsive or adventurous type—slow and steady won the race, and all that—but here she was, bumping along a dirt road in a truck that was probably older than her preschool diploma, trusting a guy she’d known less than a week with not only her reputation but her well-being.
    She pressed her lips together, keeping her eyes on the rugged landscape ahead of them. Even though she didn’t regret it—yet—she had to wonder what had possessed her to do such a thing. His honest eyes? That crooked grin? Perhaps she’d just gone ab-blind after catching glimpses of his impressive bare torso all day, and hadn’t quite regained her senses.
    Whatever it was, she couldn’t even bring herself to be chagrined by it. She really did trust him, no matter how illogical that sounded. For all his flirting and sparring with her, he was a good guy. He had a truck bed full of lawn bags and an entire town’s devotion to prove it.
    As they crested a small rise, she caught sight of a quaint log cabin up ahead. A pair of rocking chairs sat on the wide covered porch, and flowers spilled from a half barrel at the foot of the stairs. Red-and-white gingham curtains fluttered in the open windows while a few metal whirligigs spun away in the garden. The sweet whimsy of the place made her smile.
    Farther past the drive sat a picturesque red barn, with a circular paddock on one side. Wide-open pastureland extended as far as she could see, with a smattering of long-horned cattle grazing the scrubby grasses. The whole place looked timeless, as though it could have been built anywhere from five to a hundred years ago.
    Tanner slowed and turned into the driveway, and she couldn’t help but glance at him in surprise. He caught the look and grinned back. “Welcome to Casa Callen.”
    “You live here?” She didn’t mean to sound incredulous, but the place was so homey. She pictured a sweet old grandmother baking pies in the kitchen while her suspender-wearing husband tended the garden.
    “I live here,” he confirmed as he put the truck into park and killed the engine. Even with the windows down, the quiet was profound. It had been at least five minutes since they’d passed another house.
    A wry grin came to her lips as she looked around at the wilderness surrounding them. “No wonder you weren’t concerned for my reputation.”
    His chuckle was rough and warm. “Well, the cows can be damn nosy sometimes, but other than that, you could run buck naked for miles and no one would be the wiser.” Tossing her a wicked grin, he added, “So feel free.”
    “I’m good, thanks,” she said with a lighthearted roll of her eyes. Normally she’d hate being so far from civilization, but there was something thrilling about being out here with Tanner, completely alone. She swallowed, keeping her thoughts in check. She was here for dinner, nothing more. No matter how sexy the man was, she couldn’t afford to get involved with him. Eventually her fluttering stomach would remember that.
    She hoped.
    “Come on, I’ll give you the grand tour.” He unbuckled his seat belt and hopped out of the truck. By the time she undid her own seat belt, he was at her side, pulling the door open for her. “Careful now,” he said, holding out his hands. “The running board on this side is a little rusted.”
    Swallowing, she set her hands on his shoulders and allowed him to lift her. He set her down just a little too close to him, and for a moment she feared—hoped?—that he would steal a kiss. Memories of his hands against her bare skin in her motel room made her breath catch, and she glanced away, afraid he would see the flash of attraction in her eyes.
    Thankfully, he was a perfect gentleman, stepping back and sweeping his hand toward the house. “After you.”
    They made their way down the flagstone

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