Home > The Gamble (Colorado Mountain #1)(10)

The Gamble (Colorado Mountain #1)(10)
Author: Kristen Ashley

“I’d have to practice,” she declared.

I thought of a bright, cheerful, bouncy American cheerleader going to England and practicing an accent. Then I tried not to wince.

“I’m gonna get my boots,” Max said and I saw he was rounding the counter.

“Max,” I called but he didn’t stop.

“Be back in a sec,” he said, not even turning.

“So are all the clothes in England as cool as that top?” Becca asked me.

“Um… not exactly,” I replied then asked, “Can you hang on a second?” I had one finger pointed up then I jumped off the stool and hurried after Max who’d disappeared up the spiral staircase.

When I made it to the bedroom he was sitting on the bed tugging on a boot.

“Max –”

He cut me off. “Extra sheets in the closet.”

“Okay, but –”

He tugged on the second boot. “I don’t know how long this’ll take, make yourself at home.”

“I’m leaving,” I said quickly, his head arched back and he looked at me.


“I’m going to Denver.”

“No you aren’t,” he replied and his answer, which was firm, unyielding and also surprising, made me blink.

“I’m not?”

“Nope,” he said as he stood and he seemed very tall and very big. He was, of course, very tall and very big in the kitchen too but the kitchen was a brightly lit open space. The loft wasn’t a brightly lit open space. It was more like a brightly lit, intimate cocoon. His very tall, very big body seemed to fill the loft, leaving very little room for me.

“But… I am.”

He walked to me and I resisted the urge to retreat mainly because the spiral staircase was behind me and I’d already spent two days sick in his house, I didn’t want to break my neck there.

He stopped a foot away from me and said, “You aren’t.”

I shook my head and asked, “Why?”

“You need to rest.”

“I’ll rest in Denver.”

“Drivin’ to Denver isn’t resting.”

“Okay, then I’ll get a hotel in town and spend the night there, drive to Denver tomorrow.”

“You aren’t doin’ that either.”

“Why not?”

“Because you aren’t.”

I was beginning to get angry. I didn’t often get angry mainly because I’d made my life so that not much happened to me to get angry about. But I was definitely beginning to get angry right then.

“Why?” I asked.

“Nina, I gotta get this done, I don’t have time for this.”

He didn’t have time for this? Time for what?

“Time for what?”

“Time to spar with you.”

Now I wasn’t angry, I was confused. “We’re… sparring?”

“You’re off, you were better the other night.”

“Better at what?”

He didn’t answer me, instead he repeated, “I gotta go.”

“Max –” I started but he began to walk around me so, instinctively, my hand shot out and my fingers curled around his bicep.

He stopped but my body had frozen and my eyes had dropped to his arm.

My fingers were there, holding what felt an awful lot like steel. Niles didn’t have steely biceps. Niles had soft, fleshy biceps. One would think steely biceps didn’t feel nice but they didn’t only feel nice, they felt nice.

“Nina,” Max called and I jumped and yanked my hand away.

“I want to thank you, for being so nice about me being… sick and, um… everything, but really, I have to go.”



“Yeah, why?”

“Well, because.”

“Because why?”

Was he crazy?

I didn’t get it. Why did he want me to stay? Two days ago he didn’t want me to stay. Why were we even having this conversation?

“You’re home,” I reminded him.


“And, well, we can’t share the house.”

“Why not?”

I didn’t have an answer for that because it was such a bizarre question, I figured there was no answer.

Then I did, so I said, “I don’t know you.”

To that, he grinned and it was a grin that made me highly uncomfortable but in a weirdly good way.

“Duchess, I’ve seen you mostly naked.”

At his words I still felt uncomfortable though no longer in a good way, weird or not. I also felt my eyes get big, I felt my cheeks get hot and I felt my heart start pounding.

Then I felt my blood pressure rise.

“Yes, this is true. You’ve seen that against my will,” I reminded him.

“It wasn’t against your will.”

I leaned forward and snapped, “I was unconscious!”

“There she is,” he muttered but he looked bizarrely pleased.

“Who?” I snapped again.

He ignored my question and informed me humiliatingly, “Last time I saw that body of yours, baby, you lifted your arms for me yourself.”

I did do that, I remembered.

“I did not,” I lied.

“You did.”

“I was in the throes of a fever!” I said, my voice getting loud.

“You still did it.”

I threw a hand out. “Okay, fine, you’ve seen me naked. That doesn’t mean we know each other.”

“Slept with you too.” My mouth dropped open and he asked, “Do you remember that?”

“No,” I whispered but I did.

“You wouldn’t let me go.”

Oh my God. I remembered that too.

“I will repeat, I was in the throes of a fever.”

“Don’t care what you were in the throes of, you take care of a sick person, you sleep with someone, you get to know them.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yeah, you do.”

“You don’t!”

He rocked back on his heels and told me, “You got a borin’ life so you got a wild hair up your ass, you’re out here on some adventure, timeout, because you got a fiancé at home who doesn’t give a shit about you.”

My head jerked and I stared. I didn’t remember telling him that. Any of it. Most especially about Niles.

“He gives a shit about me,” I whispered.

“Then why hasn’t your cell rang in two days?” he asked.

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