Billion Dollar Cowboy(6)

By: Carolyn Brown


***

Bells is six miles south of Ambrose on a little two-lane farm road. Colton could easily get there in less than ten minutes, but he poked along at forty-five miles an hour. Laura wore the same jeans and shirt she’d had on at supper. She had changed from boots to running shoes and had rolled the legs of her jeans up to right under her knees. Even with the glasses and the bandana tying all that blond hair back, she was still attractive in a hauntingly cute way. She reminded him of someone but he could not put his finger on it. Maybe it was a woman he’d seen in a bar.

He bit back a groan. Could she be running her own scam on him?

Andy said that she was his cousin and that she needed a job and a loan to get her sister out of gambling debt. She had worked in a greenhouse for eight years but got laid off when it sold; however, she was an expert computer geek just like him. Andy would never lie to him, not in a million years. They’d been friends since day one of kindergarten and Colton would trust Andy with his life. The cousin, not so much! At least not until she proved that she wasn’t pulling the wool over his eyes and poor old Andy’s!

“Look!” His forefinger grazed her breast when he reached across to point out a big buck and his harem of half a dozen does just over the pasture fence.

Heat shot from the tip of his finger through his entire hand. He slapped it back on the steering wheel. It didn’t look like he’d held it over an open campfire, but it damn sure felt like it. He’d been without a woman far too long, but hell’s bells, trusting didn’t come easy even for a casual relationship.

“Wow!” she mumbled.

She pointed up at a flock of ducks coming in for a landing on a farm pond. “They are so graceful. Janet says I was born with no grace at all.”

“Whoever Janet is, don’t believe her. You are very graceful,” he said.

“Janet is my sister,” she said tightly. “Yeah, right! I’m a nerd. I know it. I accept it.”

He changed the subject. “So you have a sister, you worked at a greenhouse, and you like snow cones?”

She continued to look up at the last of the ducks floating down from the sky to the pond.

“Yes, to all of the above.”

“Let’s play the old twenty questions,” he said. “I’ll ask five and then you can ask five. That way I’ll get to know who my best friend in the world has hired and you can get to know your boss.”

Her brows knit together and a veil dropped over her clear blue eyes.

“I thought Andy was my boss. And besides, it takes too long to play twenty questions so let’s just play five questions.”

“He is your immediate supervisor. I’m your boss,” Colton said.

Why didn’t she want to answer simple questions? What was she hiding anyway?

He looked across the cab of the truck at her. “Hey, it’s not bare-thy-soul confession time. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind. Favorite flower?”

“Daisies.”

“See? That wasn’t so hard. Favorite food?” he asked.

She smiled and the tension between them eased. “Breakfast. Love pancakes, eggs, gravy, sausage, biscuits, bagels, all of it.”

He grinned. “Three more and then it’s your turn. Favorite color?”

She asked, “For what? My favorite color is different for painting my living room than it is for what I would buy to wear or what I like in nature.”

“Nature, then,” he said.

“Emerald green.”

“Why?”

“Because three years ago my sister and I drove to Florida and spent two days on the beach and that’s what color the water was. It reminds me of peace and eternity.”

She sounded as wistful as a child with no money standing in front of the snow cone stand.

“Eternity?” he asked.

“Yes, and that’s your fourth question.” She nodded. “I sat on the beach and looked out across the water and there was nothing but water and sky. I felt like God lived way out there where the emerald green water met the sky. Your eyes are the color of that water, Colton.”

“Is that a compliment?”

“Number five, and yes it is. My turn. I already know that your favorite food is steak, so I don’t have to ask that.”