Billion Dollar Cowboy(7)

By: Carolyn Brown


“It is not! It’s pizza.”

She giggled.

He slapped the steering wheel. “That was sneaky.”

“I didn’t ask, so I still have five, but since I did trick you, you can have one more.”

“So what is your sister’s name?”

“Janet Elizabeth Baker.”

“Is she as pretty as you?”

“That’s question six, but I’ll answer it. Janet is much prettier than I am. Now it’s my turn for real. Do you pout when you don’t get what you want?”

He fought the urge to step on the brakes and ask her what kind of question was that anyway. Instead he thought about it and said, “No, I’m not the pouting type.”

“Did you have serious relationships before you got rich?”

Mercy! She was skipping the small stuff and getting right into the heart of the matter.

“A couple,” he answered softly.

“If you could go back and not buy a ranch but travel and enjoy life with your money, would you?”

He shook his head. “No, I’m doing exactly what I want to do. I wouldn’t change any of it, except maybe this problem I’ve got with women.”

“Well, you are sexy and you are a billionaire. That comes with the territory. Now what is it about ranching that you like?”

“All of it! I like plowing and cows and the smell of hay. I like finding a litter of kittens snuggled down in the hay barn. I like new baby calves and all four seasons on the ranch. So you think I’m sexy?”

She pointed. “There is the Bells sign. We are here and that was only four questions so I get another one sometime in the future. Right now I want to eat my first snow cone of the year and think about nothing but how good it tastes. And Colton, I may wear thick glasses, but I’m not blind.”

She’d popped those questions off so fast he scarcely had time to think. If they’d been playing poker instead of twenty questions she would have taken him straight to the cleaners.

He pulled up to the drive-by window on the side of the small snow cone stand and studied the list of flavors. “See something that you like?”

“I want a rainbow with cherry, banana, and grape,” she said without looking at the menu.

If there was a doubt in his mind that she was about to fleece him and Andy both, it disappeared when she ordered the snow cone.

“How did you know that?” He narrowed his eyes at her.

She leaned across the seat and looked at the chart. “Know what? It’s what I always order. Don’t they have those flavors?”

“I heard the lady, and for you?” the teenager asked from the other side of the window.

“The same,” he said.

“You are kidding, right?” Laura said.

“I swear it’s what I always get. Cherry on one side, grape on the other, and a thin strip of banana in the middle.”

He was onto her and she wouldn’t get away with it. She and her sister had cooked up something and dragged poor old Andy into the middle of it. There was no better way to get suckered into a first-class con than inviting it to come live in the house.

“So where to now?” he asked.

“To the school yard to eat them while we swing,” she said.

Yes, sir, that girl had done her homework.

Laura was cute as a bug’s ear and as unimposing as a child with those thick glasses and her big blue eyes, but there was no way that it was coincidence that she ate the same flavor snow cone as he did or that she liked to sit on the school yard swings while she did.

He drove to the elementary school and parked in the lot beside the playground, got out of the truck, and was rounding the backside of it when she opened her own door. She slurped up a mouthful of cherry syrup from the side of the cone-shaped paper cup and headed toward the swings.

Her lips and tongue were stained bright red from the cherry syrup. Colton kept stealing glances toward her full mouth after they’d sat down on the swings. Would they be warm and inviting or cold as the snow cone?

“I love rainbow snow cones even better than ice cream, and I really, really love homemade banana ice cream,” she said.

“Aha, and I didn’t even ask what your favorite dessert is.”

“That’s not my favorite dessert. It’s just something I like.”