"Okay, so it's an abstract . . . definitely Post-Impressionist." Edward tilts his head, indicates the bold shape at the right of the canvas. "You can see strong influences of Cézanne here in the structure and colorful shapes . . ."
Ugh, Pablo can be so obtuse sometimes. "But what is it?"
He steps closer to the tree, and I move with him, lighting the painting from behind his shoulder with my phone.
"It almost looks like a figure," Edward says. "Wait, two figures . . . from the thick build, I'd say they loosely represent men?"
"You're getting warmer."
"But what's that white dish underneath them?"
"That's not a dish. Look closer!" I drag Edward forward and shine the light directly on the gold, three-toed foot. "What does that remind you of?"
"The golden retriever I had growing up?"
"For fuck's sake, Edward! It's a—"
"Clawfoot tub," he says, spinning in my arms to reveal a giant grin.
"You were fucking with me."
"Yes. And where did you find this rare objet d'art, may I ask?"
"I painted it."
I shrug. "It's not as hard as I thought. I borrowed some of Jasper's supplies and just painted what I saw in my head."
"I see," Edward says as if speaking to a mental patient. "So, you brought me out here at one in the morning to show me your new hobby? Oh! Wait! 'Emmett 3.0' is a painter?"
"Nope. I'm one and done with that. Try again."
Edward glances over his shoulder at the painting. "Hmm . . . oh! You're going to become a plumber!"
"Too bad," he says. "I was already fantasizing about your butt crack."
I aim my phone's obnoxious light directly in Edward's eyes, which he does not appreciate but most definitely deserves.
"Get that thing outta my face!"
I turn off the flashlight and slide my phone into my pocket. "Come on, Pablo. How about using your famous imagination for good instead of evil?"
His expression softens. Stepping closer, he cups my chin and sweeps his thumb across my lower lip. "I'm sorry, baby. I just don't get that many chances to tease you." He presses his lips to mine, and all is forgiven.
I spin him around to face the painting again, pulling his back to my chest and wrapping him in my arms. "I had planned to bring you here at daybreak tomorrow. We were going to ride Ruby bareback together. I was going to spread a blanket out over there . . . I even bought one of those big ol' sea sponges to help you visualize the tub."
"Mmm, sounds perfect."
"Yeah"—I chuckle—"too bad I have no self-control."
Edward reaches his arms up and around my neck. "Well, we both still have our clothes on, so that's something."
"Not much," I answer, pushing my hips tight against his ass and letting him feel just how little the shorts matter. "And hopefully, not for long."
"Help me out here, Hoss." Edward cocks his head to meet my gaze. "What do you want me to see?"
"All right. Close your eyes." Edward does as I've asked, and I reward him with wet kisses down the side of his neck. "Picture our very own clawfoot tub right here where we're standing."
"In the middle of—"
"Shh! No talking!"
He presses his lips together and manages to grin. It's distracting, but I'm determined to get this out.
"In the bathroom of our own, cozy little farmhouse"—he gasps and jolts as if to turn around, and I squeeze him tighter—"where you will have your very own light, airy studio to paint to your heart's content."
"Oh, Emmett." I allow Edward this little outburst because the next one is going to be so much more fun.
"And I will have a workout room, outfitted with a hardwood floor perfect for dancing."
His eyes pop open, and his smile explodes right off his face. "No fucking way!"
I have to loosen my grip when he spins around, or he'll break both my arms. "This is amazing! But how . . .?"
"Uh-uh. First, say yes. Say you'll live here with me."
"Of course I will!"
I pull him in for a long, slow kiss for saying yes without needing a single detail. "I want to tell you the rest, but I need us both naked, and we're not doing that out here until we have some walls. Come to bed with me?"
Our trip back to the house is more like a three-legged race against time with our sides pinned together and Emmett practically carrying me on his hip. He really doesn't do restraint; you won't hear me complaining. By the time we arrive at the picnic tables, even the stragglers have gone to bed.
Far from the highway and deep in the desert, the only sound inside the house is the hum of the air conditioning. Emmett turns with a finger to his lips to remind me to be quiet. As if I'd be the one to give us away. Even if my sister weren't behind one of these closed doors, Emmett's mother is. I've slept here occasionally when I needed my Emmett fix between his late nights and early mornings, but we don't make a habit of it.
He pulls me into his bedroom and quietly closes the door behind us. For a guy who loves to tease, Emmett can get undressed faster than anyone I know. His flip-flops and shirt go flying, and he whips off his shorts and briefs at the speed of light. I can't keep up, and his patience is shot. His hands are all over me, peeling away my clothes, pushing me toward the bed.
"Scoot back," he whispers urgently, climbing on top of me as I skitter backwards to the pillows. It would have been a hell of a lot easier without his ass in my lap but not nearly as much fun.
Emmett truly is a wizard when it comes to adapting our choreography to the mood of the moment and whatever physical space we happen to be inhabiting, whether it's my townhouse, a hotel room, or the hayloft. I might have his Chippendales training to thank, but then his natural instincts might just explain why he's such a damn good dancer in the first place. I've stopped trying to figure him out and learned to go with his flow. Tonight, it's the only way I'll survive. There is no stopping the man when he gets like this—breathless, hungry, demanding.
He cradles my head from behind before crushing me with a hard kiss. His erection skims against mine, and I wrap my palm around both of us. Emmett breaks away from the kiss, panting hard and whispering, "Fuck, feels so good," into the crook of my neck.
I burrow my face against his chest to muffle my response. My other hand slides down Emmett's back, and he raises his ass off my thighs in invitation. Oh, I know what you like, baby.
I glide my finger down his crack, still pumping our joined cocks. His hips start a steady thrust. We're both perilously close. I'm usually the one who slows us down, but I'm loving Emmett's needy grunts and being mashed together like this, and I'm ready . . .
I feel his hand fumbling between us until he finds my wrist. "Wait . . ." He rises onto his knees with significant effort, pressing his forehead to mine. "I want you inside me."
He stretches across my lap to reach into the nightstand. I brush my fingertips along his abs and obliques as they flex, drawing a soft hum from Emmett. He eyes me hungrily as he holds out the lube and condom, waiting for my open palm. Yes, I will take care of you.
"Lie back," I tell him with an edge that makes his eyes narrow for a flicker of an instant.
He rolls back, dragging his palms along my legs on either side of him. I watch the shallow rise and fall of his chest while I squeeze a stripe of lube into my hand.
"Grab your knees."
He swallows hard, then bends his legs, grasping his knees and pulling them toward his ears. His gaze doesn't leave mine until my fingertips meet his hole. His eyelids drift closed as his mouth drops open. If there's a more glorious bottom than this man in this moment, even I can't imagine it.
Emmett's soft whispered fucks turn into low moans.
"Shush," I remind him without letting up.
He winces, bites his lip, throws his head back, and whimpers. It's probably wrong how much I enjoy making him suffer.
His eyes open wide with desperation, and he croaks out a gruff, "Pillow! Quick!"
As much as it pains me to cover Emmett's face, especially while he's so gloriously keyed up, the man is not quiet about his pleasure. We would never live it down if we woke the whole house tonight with a loud, screaming orgasm.
"Promise not to suffocate?" I wait for his tight nod, then fling a pillow over his face.
Giving him a few seconds to muster his control, I start in again, stretching and teasing his hole until his hips lift and pump toward my hand. Time to quit.
I give his ass a friendly smack, and he releases his tight grip on his knees. Emmett's legs fall heavily to the bed as he throws the pillow off his face with an exasperated sigh. Yeah, he was close.
I manage my condom while Emmett rocks forward and stands up on the bed, his swollen cock pointed ramrod-straight at my face. I open my mouth to take him in, hands finding the firm cheeks of his perfect ass to draw him forward.
Emmett shakes his head, places one hand over the top of the headboard and the other in my hair while he sinks onto my cock. A soft grunt escapes him when he gets fully seated. Even after all this time, I can't help my Hoss fan-boy moment: I am about to get lap-dance-fucked by an honest-to-god professional. But here's the best part: Emmett loves every second as much as I do.
He waggles his eyebrows as he wraps his legs around my back and prepares to ride me. "Save a horse . . ." he whispers with a grin, then leans in to kiss me.
My hands move to Emmett's thighs so I can feel the cords of muscle flex and roll beneath my fingers. This position requires enormous strength; most guys wouldn't last more than a couple of minutes on top. For Emmett, this is child's play . . . and he is most definitely enjoying himself.
"Like that?" he asks. Mr. Coy.
"You know I do."
"Yep," he answers, adding an extra grind as his ass meets my thighs.
"This is exactly why I tease you every chance I get."
He chuckles. "I know, baby." He tightens his grip on my hair, then kisses me again, harder this time.
If it takes Emmett's kiss to distract me from my average-sized thoughts, it takes an acrobatic, mind-numbing fuck to keep my questions about our new, cozy, customized farmhouse at bay. Lucky for me, my extremely flexible boyfriend is more than happy to oblige. He finds a rhythm and picks up his pace, carefully focused on my response.
I forget myself when I get close; if not for Emmett yanking my head against his chest to muffle my outburst, I might've been the one to wake the whole house. As the stars settle again, I lift my gaze to his beautiful face—so etched with need it makes me ache.
I circle Emmett's cock with my hand. He moans, then buries his face in the crook of my neck. He grips my shoulders while I slide my palm up and down his shaft, drawing desperate whimpers and causing him to tighten his grasp around my neck. He sucks in a tight breath, groans, and releases with a wild spasm—a rare, raw moment lacking all of Emmett's usual grace and all the more spectacular for it.
We're both too tired to move beyond gentle strokes through each other's hair, soft kisses left against hot skin, and shared, quiet breaths in the still air of the sleeping house.
I wake up some time later, stiff from having fallen asleep sitting up with a large man attached to my penis. I give him a nudge, and he lifts his head from my shoulder.
"Hmm? What time is it?"
"I don't know, but can you get off me? I can't feel my legs." Or my dick, for that matter.
One eye pops open, and he remembers we're tangled together. "Sorry," he mumbles. He grabs onto the headboard and hoists himself off me with some whispered curses along the way. He rolls off the bed and finds his shorts across the room.
"I need water. Want anything?" A huge yawn escapes him, and he pushes his fingers through his hair as if his bed-head look was anything less than sexy as fuck.
"A towel would be nice."
He sniggers, then rummages through his closet for a few seconds and tosses me a hand towel. He stands at the foot of the bed, watching with a little smirk while I tie off the condom and mop his cum off my belly. Too tired to play Guess What Emmett's Thinking, I climb under the covers and plop my head onto the pillow with a contented sigh.
Emmett pats the blanket over my feet. "Hey! Don't fall asleep while I'm gone," he says. "We have to finish that talk."
Oh yeah. Little House on the Ponderosa. "Better hurry back." My eyes close.
A cool bottle pressed to my bare back wakes me with a start. Emmett's hand clamps over my loud gasp. Seated on the bed, legs crossed, Emmett looks way too wide awake. "Hi."
I flop onto my back with a groan, hands locked behind my head. "What time is it?"
"2:42." He says this as if it's perfectly reasonable to start a life-changing conversation at this hour, which tells me exactly how important this is to him.
"I'm listening, and why do you have your shorts on? I thought this was supposed to be a naked talk."
He shimmies out of his shorts almost as quickly as he did before we fucked. The boy is excited.
"So you know how I've been trying to figure out what I want to do next, but I'm attached to the ranch, so I have to work around that?"
"I had a little chat with Mom last week. We need to let Seth go."
"You're firing your brother? Isn't that kind of harsh?"
Emmett rolls his eyes. "No, we literally need to let him go so he feels free to pursue his poker career. He's been away half the time anyway these last few months, and if he wants to get anywhere as a pro, he needs to be able to play on the European circuit—"
Ahh, I had a feeling. "And Macau."
"And Dubai. And here. Poker players keep even crazier hours than Chippendales. It's not practical for Seth to have to drive back here from the Strip after he's up till all hours playing, then get up early to work the ranch and try to fit in some sleep during the day so he can function again the next night. It's time to pursue one or the other, and we don't want to make that choice painful for him."
"I'm sorry, Emmett."
"Don't be," he says. "Now take Jasper. His painting is really taking off, thanks to you."
"Thanks to Jasper," I say.
"Okay. Whatever. It's happening for him. You probably know better than I do about the need to paint when inspiration strikes. He can't be a full-time cowboy and a successful painter any more than I could sustain two full-time jobs at once."
A sinking feeling in my belly pulls me to a sitting position. "Emmett, what are you saying? Are you thinking of single-handedly taking over all the duties of the ranch now?"
"Nope. That's not practical. To keep running the ranch the way we always have, we'd need to hire at least two full-time cowboys. Mom doesn't want to put two strangers in charge of the family business. So, we started looking at different business models and talking really honestly about what each of us wants."
"And what do you want?"
"I want to honor my promise to my father. I'm not going to abandon my mom if we can find a way to make something work here, but I also know I don't want to just work with horses all day. If there's one thing my time with the Chippendales taught me, it's how much I need to be around people. And obviously, I want to be with you, and not just a few nights a week."
"Okay." I'm starting to like the way this sounds. "What does Bridget want?"
"The house is too big for Mom alone, and let's face it—I'm getting a bit old to live with my mother." I don't respond though I wholeheartedly agree with him there, especially since Emmett is more than capable of supporting himself. "She isn't ready to consider selling the ranch to anyone outside the family, and she doesn't really want to leave."
"Wow. I sure hope you came up with a better solution than I can think of 'cause I got nothin'."
"To be fair," he says, "it is the middle of the night, and I kinda fucked your brains out."
My guffaw is so loud, he covers my mouth with his hand again, but he's laughing too. I swipe his hand away. "Yeah, you did. So? Where'd you come out?"
"We're planning to convert the house into a bed and breakfast."
"Yeah. Mom misses cooking meals for a crowd and making people feel at home. She likes the idea of creating a homey alternative to the big hotels and casinos on the Strip."
"Are you talking about running a dude ranch?"
"Not really. The guests will be able to ride if they want, but the horses will be more of an amenity than a focus. We're not going to have guests mucking out stalls or driving cattle across the desert."
"That would be kind of difficult without cattle."
"Just making sure you're paying attention," he says with a sly grin.
"Always! So, Bridget is going to cook the meals and provide the general hospitality. What's your role? Wait! Don't answer. Let me just fantasize for a second that you're the chamber maid."
He crosses his arms. "Finished?"
"Not yet . . . okay. Go."
He shakes his head and laughs. "Oh, Pablo. I might have to pass that one on to the Chippendales' choreographer. Someone should really be paying you for those fantasies."
"Now that would be a great job!"
Emmett snaps his fingers. "Can we get back to my life, please?"
"Sure. You were saying . . . your role in all this?"
"My mother has decided she wants a certain type of houseguest."
"What type is that?"
I can't tell if Emmett's scowl is intentional, but there's no question about the eyeroll as he delivers the answer. "Female."
"Oh boy." Just when we both thought he'd put the hoardes of female admirers behind him.
"So we're going from Bonanza to Bridget McCarty's Home for Wayward, Single Women?"
"They don't have to be single . . . or wayward. She says she's tired of testosterone and smelly socks. Thinks it would be fun to have some female companionship around here for a change."
"Something tells me we're getting closer to your role now."
"Assistant to the General Manager, naturalist, handyman . . ."
"Aha! So, you are the plumber!"
"Plumber, electrician, carpenter, mechanic . . ."
"Well, whatever you're fixing, mine's definitely going to be broken a lot."
His gaze runs along my covered body and settles near my groin. "Actually, I just checked out all your equipment, and everything is in perfect working order."
"Thanks." All I can do is shake my head. "Does this mean you're going to build our little Ken-and-Ken Dream Cabin with your own two hands?"
"I definitely want to do as much as I can myself, but I'll obviously bring in experts for the tricky stuff."
"That sounds wise," I reply, picturing burst pipes and electrical fires.
"Yeah, the main house is going to need a lot of work, too. There's a big difference between a teenage boy's bedroom and an elegant guest suite."
"That sweaty sock aroma, for example."
Emmett picks up the towel by the corner and dangles it over my head. "Not to mention the spunk."
"Yes, let's not mention that."
He tosses the towel away and nestles in beside me against the headboard. "So, what do you think?"
What I think is that my next Emmett series is definitely going to involve a pair of Timberlands and a tool belt, but this is no time for sharing my frivolous mental detour. Those baby blues of his are wide open. My opinion matters to him, especially since I might be the only person close to him who can help him make an objective decision this time.
"This sounds like a win all around. Your mom gets to reinvent herself. Your brothers get the freedom to follow their dreams. I get my clawfoot tub with you in it, and you get to play Bob the Builder for a while. Assuming the business model works, the B and B will add value to the land and the structures, and you can always sell down the road if that's what you and your mom decide to do."
"No down side, right?"
I place my hand on his thigh. "I heard you say you wanted more interaction with people. Do you think taking care of the property is going to fill that void?"
"No," he says, "which is why I'm planning to lead trail rides and nature walks." There's something other than innocence in the way Emmett delivers this information, and that's when the last puzzle piece falls into place.
"By chance, will you be leading these rides for the female guests in sexy cowboy attire?"
With his winning smile locked in place, he drawls, "Is there any other kind, pardner?" A tip of his imaginary hat takes me right back to the infamous lap dance that started everything.
"Oh Lord. This is starting to sound like the Bunny Ranch in an alternate universe—Vegas-verse."
"Easy, Pablo. I'll be dressed. I mean, sure, I might have to take off my shirt if it's a warm day."
"Of course you will. And it's so rarely warm in the desert." I huff; he shrugs. "You sure you can handle all these women by yourself?"
His nod tells me he's proud of me for finally catching up with the class. "A couple of the guys might be game for an unofficial 'Chippendales Trail Experience.'"
"Haha! Yes, I tried that 'unofficial Chippendales' experience once upon a time. Remember how that worked out?" I rub my belly where his big ol' buckle left its mark that day.
Emmett reaches over and tweaks my nipple. "Not so terrible?"
He's got a point. "Please promise me you'll get a good lawyer to write up your Terms of Agreement."
"Mom's got a guy. No worries."
"Sounds like you've got all the bases covered."
"Mmhmm. And no more lonely nights apart, masturbating in the shower and crying yourself to sleep."
"Yeah . . . I don't do that."
"Who says I was talking about you?"
It's not my style to pounce, but I can't help it. His eyes go wide as I lunge. The bed lets out an awful moan as I take him down hard, but that's nothing compared to the laughter neither of us can stifle.
"Pablo! Hush!" he whisper-yells.
He throws his leg across my hips and climbs on top of me. "We should've slept in the barn."
"I don't think sleeping is the problem. You got any more surprises for me, Hoss?"
"You mean, besides this?" he asks, poking his erection into my thigh.
"That doesn't surprise me."
"Hmm." His gaze moves past me as if he's hammering out a tough problem. "Did I happen to mention I'll be installing hardware for aerial silks into the ceiling of our new house?"
"No, you did not mention that." If he had, I would've already been waist-deep in my fantasy of Emmett as the bathtub dancer, a glorious routine we've witnessed twice in person and too many times to count on YouTube.
"My bad," he says, eyes gleaming with mischief.
"Just to be clear, we are talking half-naked, twisting and flipping, bathtub guy silks, right?"
"Yep, that kind," he answers. "But not over our tub. I'm crazy but I'm not an idiot."
"You better not be fucking with me right now!"
"Would I do that?"
I eye him hard. "Definitely."
"Okay, I would, but I'm not. Aerial acrobatics is becoming very popular. It's also a fantastic workout, and I want to give it a try."
"As another, ahem, amenity for the guests?"
Emmett drops forward, pressing his chest to mine and pinning my hands over my head. "Nope." The p makes a pop inside my ear. "Just for you, stretched out on the floor underneath me—"
"Something soft to break your fall?"
He chuckles into my neck. "You're not that soft."
"I was before you started climbing all over me."
"Aww." He covers my pout with a playful kiss while his hand slips around my cock. "I love you like this."
"Obviously! You've kept me in a perpetual state of arousal since the first time I saw you!"
Emmett doesn't even attempt to look remorseful. He trails kisses from my neck, swirling his tongue around my nipple as he slides his body lower until his hips are settled between my legs. "Then I guess you don't want to hear about the stripper pole I ordered today."
It's a struggle to keep my voice down. "Oh my God, Emmett! Are you serious?"
"Shh!" He laughs even louder than I yelled. "Hell no! I'm way too big for that shit!"
"Hmm . . ."
"I know that look," he says. "You're painting me right now, aren't you?"
"Yep. I've got a Cirque de Hoss series going in my head, thanks to you, and it would serve you right if you had to pose for me with a pole between your legs."
"Now that I can do"—Emmett shimmies up my body and straddles my erection with his powerful thighs—"but I can't imagine where you're gonna put your easel."
A/N: Welp! Another Edward/Emmett story is in the books, as they say. Happily, outtake possibilities abound with these characters. Riley, Alec... Bella and Jasper... I never know where my next inspiration will come from, so stay tuned here or in Facebookland for the next adventure, and let me hear your ideas!
Thank you to my awesome support team, starting with that fateful trip to The Chippendales Show in Vegas with my then-pregnant-with-twins-but-didn't-know-it, sweet Meredith. With the help of TheUnderstudy's amazing memory of that show's routines, Ladyeire's plot consultations (and gorgeous banner!), SagaDevotee's careful reading/cajoling/suggesting improvements and Chayasara's usual razzamatazz, this story underwent so many course corrections, both large and small, along the way. I thank you all, so much, for helping me shape this story into its final form. By the way, any errors are on me, and most of them are intentional.
And thanks most of all to you, dear readers, because it's so much more fun with an audience. Wouldn't Hoss agree? *wink*