Billion Dollar Cowboy(14)

By: Carolyn Brown


“I don’t take sides,” Ina Dean declared. “But if I was a bettin’ woman, which I ain’t, I’d bet you dollars to corn puddin’ that something fishy is goin’ on and I intend to get it out of his momma before the day is done.”

“Maudie ain’t his momma,” Cynthia said.

“She raised him from just a little boy. Only momma he’s known since his folks died in that car crash, and besides, she’s his granny,” Patsy said.

“Well, we ain’t gettin’ the dinner on the table in here. Y’all ready to go play nice? He says she came from out in west Texas, but with that blond hair and blue eyes I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t buy her from Russia or one of them foreign places. I haven’t heard her say a word. Just mark my words, I bet she’s got a foreign accent. And if she doesn’t work out, he’ll just send her back and buy another one.” Cynthia sighed.

“Guess we ain’t got a choice. But you mark my words, something ain’t right. There’d be a lot more fanfare if he was really involved with a woman. She’s just a play toy to him and he’ll be done with her soon enough. He’s got too much money to be getting involved with a plain woman, even if she does have big breasts,” Ina Dean said.

“But she was sittin’ with him, and Maudie looked like she was pleased as punch, and Roxie was smiling too. If Colton wasn’t involved with her they’d have different expressions, I just know it. If he sits by her at dinner, I swear there is something going on.” Cynthia sighed.

Laura waited until she was sure they were gone before she peeked out. She checked her reflection in the mirror before she pushed out into the hallway and headed toward the noise coming from the fellowship hall. It was either that or walk home and it was still raining. Besides, she had a big bone to pick with Andy. That’s what they were talking about the night before when they said they could set it in motion and it would all work out.

They’d planned for her to sit by Colton and to share a hymnbook with him. Did they finagle that snow cone trip too? She was so pissed, she had red dots in front of her eyes. Damn that Andy Joe!

She made it inside the fellowship hall just in time to see the tall brunette make her way through the circle of cowboys, bat her eyelashes, and kiss Colton on the cheek, letting her lips slide over to graze the corner of his mouth. “So tell us more about your assistant.”

“She’s not my assistant. She’s Andy Joe’s,” he said.

Cynthia winked. “Sure she is. If she was Andy Joe’s she would have been sharing a hymnbook with him, not you. I’m hurt that you didn’t tell me you were looking for an assistant. I could have filled that job very well for you.”

***

Colton looked over Cynthia’s shoulder and there was Laura not three feet away. From the look on her face, she was not a happy woman and in a sudden flash of understanding, it dawned on him what had happened that morning.

Damn that Andy Joe! He’d fire him, but he’d never find another financial advisor like him; besides, the whole bunch of them had to be in on the deal to pull it off so smooth right under his eyes. That’s why Granny and Roxie were both whispering the whole way to the church. Just when did they cook this little fiasco up anyway? And why?

The night before and because he’d gotten drugged was the reason. One question remained: Did Laura know about it and had she instigated the snow cone trip someway? No, she couldn’t have because he invited her, and her expression said that she’d just figured out their shenanigans too.

They were all in big trouble when he got home. He couldn’t remember the last time he was so pissed. If he hadn’t spent a whole day in bed after being drugged, he’d have realized that he was being set up. There wasn’t a thing to do at this point but let it play out. There was no way he was going to hurt Laura’s feelings by causing a big stink in the church fellowship hall, but there was also no way Andy and the rest of them were going to get away with the stunt.

She crossed the rest of the space between them and asked, “Where’s Andy Joe?”

Cynthia stuck out a hand and looked down at Laura. “I’m Cynthia Talley. Colton and I went to school together and we’ve been friends forever.”