Authors: Dallas Schulze
Tags: #Single mothers
This book made available by the Internet Archive.
Books by Dallas Schulze
Silhouette Intimate Moments
Moment to Moment#YT^ Donovan's Promise #247 The Vow mis The Baby Bargain #377 Everything but Marriage #414 The Hell-Raiser *462 Secondhand Husband #500 Michael's Father if^S^
loves books, old movies, her husband and her cat-not necessarily in that order. She's a sucker for a happy ending, and her writing has given her an outlet for her imagination. Dallas hopes that readers have half as much fun with her books as she does! She has more hobbies than there is space to list them, but is currently working on a doll collection. Dallas loves to hear from her readers, and you can write to her at P.O. Box 241, Verdugo City, CA 91046.
Jrle wanted her.
That was the first thing Kel Bryan thought when he saw the blonde walk in. And it wasn't the kind of casual desire that sometimes drifted through a man's head when he saw a pretty woman, an acknowledgment of her attractiveness, the vague question of what it would be like to take her to bed. This was a gut-deep hunger of a kind he hadn't felt in a long time.
His second thought was that a woman who barely topped five feet had no business having legs that long. They were the kind of legs that made a man think of hot summer nights and cool linen sheets. The kind of legs that made him wonder how they'd feel wrapped around his waist.
Kel shifted uncomfortably in the booth and forced his gaze upward from those legs. But the change of view didn't do anything to ease the sudden snugness of
his jeans. She was wearing a narrow skirt that stopped a few inches above the knee and a fitted jacket that ended just a few inches above that. The suit was a discreet pearl gray, but there was nothing discreet about the body underneath.
Kel usually liked his women on the voluptuous side, but this woman gave him a renewed appreciation for narrow hips and a small waist. Her breasts were a full rich curve. The modest neckline of her jacket exposed a triangle of creamy skin at the base of her throat, and Kel found his fingers itching to slide open the saucy brass buttons and bare more of that silky skin.
He forced his eyes away from her, aware that he was growing uncomfortably aroused. Annoyed with his reaction, he reached for his coffee and took a swallow, forgetting that the waitress had just refreshed the cup. He bit back a curse as the hot liquid scalded his tongue. The thick white cup hit the table with a thud and he reached for a glass of water to cool his burned mouth.
Maybe Colleen was right. She'd been telling him that he was spending too much time on the ranch, that he needed to get out more, meet some women. Of course, he could hardly tell his baby sister that he didn't lack for female companionship. There was a woman here in Casper whom he saw now and again when the itch got strong enough to warrant scratching. He'd been planning to give her a call once he'd finished his business today, but the idea sudd^y held less appeal than it had a few minutes ago.
Then again, maybe he should call Carla. God knew, he was reacting like a randy teenager, getting all hot and bothered over a pair of legs. Very impressive l^s, he admitted as his eyes drifted in their direction.
The blonde had stepped to one side of the doorway and opened the ridiculously small purse that swung from her shoulder to take out a mirror. Her expression was solemn and considering as she looked at her reflection. Kel could have told her that she had nothing to worry about. He guessed he'd seen more beautiful women, but she had something more than beauty. She had that indefinable something that made it hard for a man to look away once he'd seen her. He wasn't the only one, he thought, noticing the discreet and not-so-discreet looks she was receiving from half the men in the place.
Apparently satisfied with her appearance, she slipped the mirror into her purse and lifted her head to scan the restaurant. Obviously, she was meeting someone. Husband? Lover? Kel was surprised by how little he liked either possibility. He wanted to think that she was available, even if he couldn't pursue that availability. If he hadn't had other fish to fry this morning, he'd have been tempted to introduce himself and see if her attractiveness held up at close range.
But he hadn't made the trip into Casper for pleasure. He was supposed to be interviewing an applicant for the job of housekeeper at the ranch for the next few months. Considering he'd only had one applicant, he sure as hell hoped she turned out to be suitable, because he didn't have time for—
He'd been watching the leggy blonde with a sort of regretful acceptance of opportunities lost. He saw her stop one of the waitresses and ask something. The waitress was a tall woman in her mid-fifties with a brassy red beehive hairdo reminiscent of a sixties starlet. Next to her, the blonde looked as delicate as a porcelain figurine. Her hands filled with plates of ham and eggs, the waitress jerked her head toward the booths along the front of the restaurant.
The blonde looked in the direction indicated, and Kel could have sworn she looked directly at him. When she started walking toward him, he felt his stomach tighten in anticipation. Of course, several of the other booths were occupied, it wasn't necessarily his she was heading for. But Kel knew it was. He felt his mouth go a little dry as he watched her weave her way between the tables.
She was wearing heels, not so high that she teetered but just high enough to put a very interesting swing to her hips. The shoes were the same pearl gray as her suit, with a little zigzag of red leather running up the side of each pimip, matching the red trim on her purse and the unexpected dots of red that were her earrings. Odd, how that little touch of color changed the gray suit from conservative to sexy.
**Mr. Bryan?" She'd stopped beside the table and was looking at him inquiringly.
**Yes." Kel sHd from the booth. He loomed over her. Even in heels, she was a good foot shorter than his six four.
"I'm Megan Roarke."
Her outstretched hand disappeared inside his and Kel felt a jolt of electricity at the Ught touch, an awareness that went straight to his groin. From the way her blue-gray eyes widened in surprise, he knew she*d felt the same thing. The knowledge did nothing to cool his suddenly overactive libido. His fingers tightened subtly as he considered the possibility of pulling her up against his chest and satisfying his curiosity about the softness of her mouth.
God, he had been working too many hours.
He released her hand abruptly but resisted the urge to step back and put more distance between himself and temptation. He was damned if he'd run from a woman whose head barely reached his shirt pocket.
"Have a seat."
He made the mistake of watching as she slid into the booth and felt his mouth go dry again as the movement made her skirt slide up, exposing a few more inches of slender thigh. He sat down abruptly, grateful for the shielding presence of the table.
"Would you like some coffee?" he asked politely.
"Fd prefer tea. One thing I've discovered is that Westerners tend to like their coffee a bit stronger than Fm used to."
"Good coffee should be strong enough to float a horseshoe," Kel said seriously. He Ufted his hand to signal the waitress.
"Some of the stuff Fve tasted could have floated a horseshoe with the horse still in it."
Her rueful smile wrinkled her nose and made Kel want to wrap his hand around the back of her neck and drag her across the table to kiss her.
*'Where are you from originally?" he asked after he'd asked the beehived waitress to bring a pot of tea.
**I grew up in Minnesota but Fve been doing a lot of traveling the last few years so Fve hved all over the country."
**What made you come to Wyoming?"
She glanced at the waitress with a smile of thanks as the woman set her tea in front of her. The brief pause gave Kel a chance to notice the way the simlight slanted through the window behind her and caught in her hair, making it gleam like spun moonlight. She'd caught it up in some sort of sleek bun at the back of her head, leaving just a few tendrils loose to tease her forehead and the nape of her neck. It was the sort of style that teased at a man, prim but with a touch of wildness, making him wonder how she'd look if he pulled the pins from her hair and spread it across his pillow.
"—loved the stories about outlaws and gunfight-ers," she was saying, and Kel realized that he'd lost the first part of her answer to his question about why she'd come to "^oming. **I always wanted to see the country where all the stories began."
"Has it lived up to your expectations?"
"And more. It's not exactly pretty country but there's a kind of wild beauty to it that's hard to resist." As she spoke, she stacked three packets of sugar together and ripped the tops off before dumping the contents into her cup. She glanced up and saw him watching her. "I have a terrible weakness for sugar,"
she said with the air of someone admitting a deep character flaw.
**I have a more than passing fondness for it myself." Kel wondered if her mouth could possibly taste as sweet as it looked. Damn, but he must have been spending too much time on the ranch. With an effort, he dragged his thoughts back to the matter at hand, which was hiring a housekeeper.
"Have you ever worked as a housekeeper before?"
"Yes. I worked for a family in San Francisco two years ago." She set her spoon down and lifted her teacup, sipping the steaming liquid.
"Weren't you a little young for a housekeeper?"
"Twenty-three. I learned how to scrub a floor when I was ten so I'd had plenty of experience."
"How long did you work for them?" The tea had left a faint sheen of moisture on her mouth, and Kel had to struggle to keep his eyes off her lips and his mind on the business of conducting an interview.
"Do you have a reference?"
Soft color rose in Megan's cheeks and she set her cup down abruptly. "I'm afraid not."
Kel didn't say anything but simply raised his brows in question. She hesitated a moment and then shrugged.
"I had some problems with the man of the house. He seemed to feel that a housekeeper should have... duties that I didn't think were a part of the job description."
"But you stayed for four months," Kel pointed out.
"I needed the money," she said simply. "And aside from his rather clumsy attempts at seduction, I liked the job. They had two children, and I was very fond of them. I might have stayed even longer if Mr. Jefferson hadn't had too much to drink one night and decided that I'd just been playing coy and that I was really desperate to become his mistress."
There was more remembered exasperation than fear in her voice, and Kel couldn't resist asking what had happened.
**I smacked him with a frying pan."
**A frying pan?" One dark brow rose in silent comment.
"I wanted him to know I was serious," Megan said.
**Did he get the message?"
*'I think so. He fired me the next morning." There was no rancor in her tone.
**You could have sued for sexual harassment," he pointed out.
Distaste twisted her mouth down on one comer. **I suppose. But it would have been hard on his wife and on the children. Besides, hitting him with a skillet was a great deal more satisfying than facing him in court"
Kel asked another question, though he knew it was a waste of time to do so. He wasn't going to hire her. He didn't need or want the temptation she provided. Running the ranch took every bit of his time and energy. The last thing he needed was to hire a long-l^ged blonde with hair the color of moonlight and skin like silk.
"What made you think you wanted to work as a housekeeper again?" Kel asked. "Your last experience didn't turn out so well."
"I can't imagine I'd have that kind of problem working for you, Mr. Bryan. You don't seem the type to chase your employees around the kitchen table."
Actually, Megan couldn't imagine him having to chase any red-blooded female around a table. The cliche tall, dark and handsome could have been invented to describe him. Over six feet of muscle and sex appeal, with hair so dark a brown that it hovered on the edge of being black. His features were strong, square-jawed and quintessentially masculine. A thick dark mustache framed his mouth. But it was his eyes that made her feel weak in the knees. Deep-set and brilliant green, they seemed to see all the way to her soul.
It was an effort to drag her attention back to the conversation.
"I'll take that as a compliment," Kel said, thinking that her confidence might be misplaced. True, he hadn't chased anyone around a table lately, but then he'd never had an employee who tempted him the way she did. Chasing Megan Roarke around a table or anywhere else didn't hold much interest, but catching her... that was a different story.
He dragged his eyes away from the soft coral of her mouth and reached for his coffee. It was time to tell her that he didn't think she'd work out—at least not as a housekeeper. If he hired her, he'd be spending the summer in a state of semiarousal. Hell, trying to ride a horse in that condition was likely to endanger his
chances of ever fathering children, he thought ruefully.
**You're not going to offM* me the job, are you?" The blunt question surprised him. It deserved an equally blunt answer.
**No, Vm not."
That soft mouth twisted shghtly and she lowered her eyes to the table. **Vd do a good job."
**I believe you."
"But you're still not going to hire me?" She sounded only mildly curious as she drew one fingertip through a few grains of spilled sugar on the table.
"No." Looking at the curve of her cheek and the delicate line of her collarbone, Kel wondered how she*d respond if he suggested that they find a motel room and spend the rest of the afternoon in bed.
It took Kd a moment to realize that she was asking why he wasn't going to hire her to be his housekeeper, not agreeing to spend the afternoon in bed with him. His mouth tightened with annoyance at his wayward thoughts.
"You're too young," he said blxmtly. "And you look as if a stiff breeze would carry you off."