Cowboy Bred, Cowboy Born(6)

By: D Ann Lindun


“Straight? Or on the rocks?”

“Ice, please.” She drew close and peered at him from behind a long strand of hair she’d left loose. Her updo was streaked silver and gold. Artfully done. Again, he wondered if she were a natural blonde. He had a sudden urge to find out.

“Anything for a lady.” He poured the drink and, when he handed it to her, deliberately allowed their fingers to brush.

She flinched, spilling a little of the drink.

He hid a grin. Not as unaffected by him as she’d like him to believe. “Are you feeling better?”

“Much.” She lifted the glass to her pouty pink lips.

“Nice dress.” He let his gaze linger on her small breasts for a half beat before dropping across her stomach down the long line of her legs. When he raised his gaze back to her face, her cheeks were rosy, but whether from his inspection or her hours in the sun, he couldn’t say.

“I didn’t know if you dressed for dinner—”

“Not usually. It’s casual around here. Jeans and a jacket at most.” He shrugged. “No point dressing up to impress Lupita.”

“I can change—”

“No. Don’t.” He waved his drink. “It’s rare I get to see a pretty lady wearing a dress.”

“Lupita had on a dress.”

His lips curved up. “Not the same at all.”

She smiled, too, and his pulse kicked up. “Are you the epitome of the lonely cowboy? Singing to his horse around a campfire at night, keeping the doggies in check?”

“Something like that.” It had been almost eight months since Mindy packed up, saying she couldn’t take the solitude any longer. Since then, he’d gone out with a lady friend a few times, but it wasn’t serious. She understood—and liked—their no-strings arrangement.

“You don’t kiss and tell?”

“Nope.”

Alannah walked to the same window where he’d just been standing and looked out. “It’s beautiful here. Must get lonely, though.”

“I like it.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him. “You don’t miss concerts, museums, people?”

“Nope. Got my fill of those things in college.” He walked across the room and stood beside her. “Don’t want to go on cruises or trips to the big city to get cultured. I have everything I need right here.”

“I’m told cows don’t make great conversationalists,” she teased.

“I don’t have much to say, so it works,” he countered.

She raised her glass. “Touché.”

He grinned, saluted her with his own glass, then drained it. “Dinner should be ready. Shall we?”

“Yes.” She carried her glass with her, walking ahead of him in the direction he indicated, toward the dining room. The sway of her curvy ass under the soft material whetted his appetite for something very different from food.

Not an option. A spoiled city girl wasn’t someone he would ever tangle with. He wouldn’t risk losing his head over a woman who wouldn’t fit into the life he’d made for himself here on the ranch.

Gentry’s father had made that mistake, and he didn’t plan to repeat it. His mother had made it a whole five years before she took off and refused to ever come back. It had been years before she visited the ranch, and only for a day or two, when she made one of her rare appearances.

He’d forgiven her years ago because he didn’t want to live alone and bitter over a woman until heartbreak eventually killed him like it had his father. He longed for a woman like the one his buddy Aron McCoy had found. Libby was just about perfect in his mind. Too bad she didn’t have a twin.

He pulled out a chair for Alannah, and after she sat, he pushed her back in. “Beer?”

“Please.”

He poured them each a glass of Corona, but before they tasted it, Lupita carried in their dinner. The mouth-watering scents of beef, peppers and warm tortillas filled the air. With a flourish, she placed everything on the table. “Bueno?”

“You’ve outdone yourself, Lupita,” Gentry told her.

“Gracias, patrone.”

For a minute, he wondered if the old woman planned to curtsy. What had gotten into her? She’d never acted like this with Mindy. In fact, she’d barely been able to tolerate the woman.

Gentry held the heavy platter for Alannah. “Ladies first.”

She served herself. “This looks wonderful.”

“It is,” he said. “Dig in.”

He didn’t have to ask twice as she began eating like one of his ranch hands after a hard day’s work. Hiding a smile behind one of Lupita’s homemade tortillas, he watched his guest fill up on tender Gentry beef.