Wyatt stared at the door Nancylynn had disappeared through several minutes earlier, his brain exploding with images he didn’t want to see.
Bunny costume. I’m a dead man.
It wasn’t that Wyatt had a weird bunny fetish. He didn’t even have a Nancylynn fetish—not one that he’d ever realized, anyway. Hell, she’d been fifteen to his twenty-one the last time he’d seen her in the flesh.
But now…shit. When he closed his eyes, her flesh was about all he could see. And she sure as hell wasn’t fifteen anymore.
She was still inside changing into clothes that would save his sanity, but the sight of her was so vivid she might as well have been standing in front of him. When she had angled away from him to mediate an argument between the two women who’d hired him for the weekend—using fake names, apparently, since he recognized them now—his stupid gaze had instinctively dropped to check out her ass.
She had a tail.
He would never pry that image out of his mind. Two nights in the woods with Nancylynn? Engaged Nancylynn? Engaged Nancylynn in a sexy bunny costume?
Yep. He was a dead man.
“So, Mister Mountain Man,” Polly Parker purred as she leaned into his side and stroked his biceps, “do you have a license for those muscles?”
Seriously? She was a client, so he didn’t want to be rude, but damn it was a struggle not to roll his eyes. He forced himself to give her a polite grin. “I do, but it’s back in the office.”
“Maybe you could show it to me sometime.”
The thought of TV starlet Polly Parker hitting on him would’ve once fueled his fantasies. Her doing it in person? Not so much. Before he could think of a way to discourage her, Nancylynn walked out of his store looking even cuter than she had as a bunny. The shorts were modest, and she was probably a little less than average height for a woman, but they still seemed to leave miles of leg bare. She wore the fleece jacket zipped nearly to her neck. It swallowed up her not-very-curvy body, but thanks to the damn bunny costume he knew the curves she had were far too tempting for his mental health. Her dyed blond hair shifted in the breeze as she made her way through a group of customers heading for the store, and he wondered why she’d changed its color. Naturally, it was a deep, dark red that had always made her stand out in a crowd. He could still remember spotting her hair as she hid in a hayloft as he made out with a girlfriend in one of the empty stalls below. These days her hair would blend in with that straw. For some reason, that struck him as a shame.
She joined them and drew in a deep breath as she clasped her hands in front of her. “We just need to wait for one more person, and then we’ll be ready to go.”
Polly’s eyes narrowed. “Who?”
“Faye. I invited her to come, and she can’t wait.”
Ruby let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, good. I thought you were going to say Jared was coming, and I was about to put my foot down.”
Wyatt screwed up one side of his face. “Why would Jared come?”
“Because he can’t let Nancy out of his sight.”
Nancy’s face flushed. “Of course he can. Do you see him here now?”
Ruby held up her hands. “All I’m saying is he tried to find out what we were doing this weekend, and he was pissed that I wouldn’t tell him.”
“Isn’t this a bachelorette party?” Wyatt asked.
Why the hell would any man crash his fiancée’s bachelorette party? That time was sacred, just as a man’s last time going out with his buddies as a single man was. Wyatt kept the question to himself, but the conversation made his uneasiness grow. “Well, I’ve got a six-person raft tied to the trailer, so one more is no problem. You could even invite someone else, too.”
“No, just Faye,” Nancylynn said decisively.
They only had to wait a few more minutes for Nancylynn’s assistant, a dark-haired pixie wearing retro glasses and purple eye makeup that would do interesting things once they hit the water. As soon as she arrived, Wyatt hustled the women into his van. Most of them climbed into the back, and Nancylynn hopped up into the front passenger’s seat. He’d already hooked up the trailer with the boat, and soon they were on their way.
“Where are we going?” Nancylynn asked.
“Where’s that?” Ruby asked.
“Just north of Yellowstone,” Nancy replied.
“Wait,” Ruby said, “I thought we were rafting in Yellowstone.”
“There’s no rafting in the park itself,” Wyatt explained, “but we’ll be on the Yellowstone River going through Paradise Valley. And it’s as spectacular as the name suggests. I’ll go over a full briefing when we get there, so for now feel free to enjoy the scenery and keep an eye out for bald eagles. We grow ’em big around here.”
Polly gasped and pressed her face to the glass. They drove nearly an hour before arriving at the spot where they would put the raft into the river, and they all clambered out of the van. “I’m going to unload the boat. You guys should load up on sunscreen and put on these wetsuits. Water’s colder than it looks this time of year.” He handed them each a Farmer Jane and got busy. Laughter bounced off the rock walls either side of the river, and he couldn’t help but smile. Women always seemed to take the Farmer Janes in stride, laughing at how they looked in the sleeveless wetsuits, while men usually grumbled about their Farmer Bills. Of course, men’s bodies looked pretty ridiculous in them, while women’s bodies had one great advantage.
“Holy cow! My boobs look amazing in this!” Polly shouted.
Yep, that was it. With their front zipper, the tight suits held in all those areas women seemed to think of as problems—and Wyatt thought of as assets—while pushing their breasts up and out. Even women with modest cleavage ended up with great racks.
He tried not to look at Nancylynn as he unloaded the gear. It annoyed the hell out of him that he’d been set up like this. So far, he’d managed to avoid the endless hassle her wedding had caused various businesses in town. Everywhere he went he heard offhand remarks about her changing her mind about music or flowers or whatever the hell else. As much as he admired her for wanting to promote local businesses, she hadn’t seemed to grasp how much a big wedding could throw a little town into a tizzy.
He’d thought he was safe, since his business had nothing to do with weddings—well, except for that one with the bride and groom who’d met while fly-fishing and wanted him to outfit all their guests with rods and reels. Now that was his kind of wedding, not the frou-frou Hollywood affair that hemorrhaged money as a way to avoid focusing on the detail that mattered most—preparing for a lifelong marriage, not an hour-long ceremony.
But whatever. Nancylynn wasn’t his responsibility and hadn’t been for a long time.
When he had the boat and gear out and had parked the van where one of his staff would pick it up later, he called the women over to the edge of the water, where he held onto the raft. “First order of business is our safety briefing. We’re going to have a lot of fun and see some incredible wildlife, but my most important job is keeping you guys safe. At all times, you need to listen to me. If I tell you to paddle hard, you paddle hard. If I tell you to sit down or lean a certain way, you do it. I want us all to have a great time this weekend, and it would really suck if someone drowned.”
Nancylynn pressed her lips together as if trying to suppress a smile.
“There’s very little chance of the boat flipping, but if it does and you end up in the water, hold onto your paddle and float on your back with your feet facing downriver. I’ll climb onto the raft and flip it over, and then you can swim toward me and I’ll help you onto the raft.”
“What if we lose our paddles? Will we drown?” Polly asked.
“Your life vests will keep you afloat—”
“So will your boobs,” Faye muttered. Nancy elbowed her ribs, and she shut up.
“But you need to hang onto your paddles because if we lose them, we’ll be up a shit creek without a…” He looked at them expectantly.
“Good. So don’t lose them.”
An uncomfortable heat generated around his crotch, the same kind of prickly, hair-raising sensation of being watched without his knowledge, and his gaze shifted across the four women. Sure enough, Ruby’s stare was locked on his groin like a starving rottweiler eying a kielbasa. He fought the urge to cover his junk.
This was going to be the longest two nights of his life.
End of Excerpt