“Willow gazed up at him, her silly grin still in place. "You know wha'? You're kinda cute when you crook your eyebrows down like tha'."
Rider muttered a curse, lifted her off the floor, and tossed her over his shoulder. "Juan, you and Hicks help Mrs. Brigham to her room. I'll take care of this little hellion."
Willow lifted her head from where she dangled over Rider's shoulder. "See yuh later, Mrs. B."
Miriam smiled and waved.
"i think Mrs. B is pickled," Rider's passenger said in a loud whisper as he hauled her out the door.
"No thanks to you,hellion," he growled, and smacked her bottom.
As he carried Willow into the house, Rider was hard pressed to quell a sudden urge to laugh. In her bedroom, he unceremoniously dumped her on her bed, but when he turned to leave, her pitiful sounding voice halted his exit. "Rider,come here a min-it."
"Oh,hell, I suppose you're going to be sick." Grabbing a basin off her dresser, he shoved it under her chin. "It serves you right, you know." He watched nervously as she knocked the bowl aside.
"Dun...don't be mad." She held her arms out to him. "Come closer. Gimme a kiss and we'll make up. I like your kisses so-o-o-o much."
This time Rider couldn't stall his grin and inadvertently leaned closer.
She was on him like a duck on a June bug. With two hearty handfuls of his shirt, she yanked him down on top of her and plastered her mouth against his.
Talking against his lips, the tipsy girl had the audacity to complain, "Not like this. Do it like before. You know, with your tongue."
Rider squeezed his eyes shut and groaned. This isn't fair, he bemoaned silently. He tried to rise but Willow held tight, squirming her voluptuous little body against his. Sweat broke out on his forehead. If he didn't put a stop to this soon...He lifted his mouth from hers. "If I promise to kiss you with my tongue, will you let go of me and go to sleep?"
"Uh-huh." Willow's eyes drooped, but the affect appeared more seductive than drunken.
Lifting her shoulders slightly off the bed, he wound his arms around her and covered her mouth with his. His tongue explored hers in a long, liquid kiss, tasting of wine and desire. Rider savored its promise, wishing just this once, he could be less a gentleman.
Willow wrapped one of her legs over his and shifted her hips, innocently aligning his swelling heat with hers. He started and bolted off the bed. "Holy hell! You did it again!"
"What?" Her voice was sluggish and sleepy now.
Disgusted with himself, Rider stomped to the door. "Sleep it off, Freckles."
Outside Willow's door, Rider slumped against the wall and shook his head. Willow Vaughn was a constant surprise, and he loved the girl so bad it hurt.”

Charlotte McPherren, Song of the Willow
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Song of the Willow Song of the Willow by Charlotte McPherren
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