God, he had the straightest, whitest teeth. He spread out the blanket, opened the bag, and handed her a sandwich, then poured coffee into a couple of Styrofoam cups.
“So tell me a little about you. I know you worked for an ad agency. How’d you happen to get into that line of work?”
Kate shifted on the rock, the bite of sandwich she had taken suddenly feeling a little too big. This was the reason she hadn’t wanted to come. Talking about the past wasn’t something she was ready to do.
“I was a business major at UCLA. I was solicited by Menger and Menger during my senior year. What about you?” she asked, hoping to get him talking about himself instead. “Did you go away to school?”
“I went to the University of Montana down in Missoula. My father passed away two months before graduation. I dropped out to run the ranch.”
“Two months and you didn’t go back and finish?” It seemed
impossible after the struggle she’d gone through to get her degree.
Chance just shrugged those incredibly wide shoulders. “I
always knew what I wanted to do. The Running Moon was all I ever thought of. I didn’t need a diploma for that.” He took a bite of his sandwich, chewed and swallowed. “So why’d you come to Lost Peak? I know you were worried about your son, but you could have sold the cafe and the land, taken the money and gone somewhere else. There are lots of other places, slightly bigger towns that could have offered more of a life for a single woman.”
Kate carefully wiped her mouth with the napkin he had pulled
from his brown paper lunch sack. She thought of the shooting that had driven her from L.A; thought of Chet Munson and the articles he had written in the newspaper; of Tommy and the divorce, of Nell Hart and the mystery that had compelled her to come to Lost Peak.
But none of those were things that she could risk telling Chance. Her hand faintly trembled and she was no longer hungry. “I wanted to get away from the city. When Nell died and left me the cafe it seemed like the perfect solution.”
“I would have thought you’d have picked a town that at least
had a theater and–”
“Well, I didn’t,” Kate snapped, setting her unfinished sandwich back down on the piece of wax paper it had been wrapped in and coming to her feet.
“Listen, Chance, I really appreciate your showing me around,
but I need to be getting back home.”
Chance said nothing for the longest time. “All right, Kate. Whatever you say.” Wordlessly, he tossed the last of his sandwich into the sack along with hers, cleaned up the mess they had made, and screwed the lid back on the thermos of coffee.
Kate felt a little guilty for ruining such a perfect morning,
but maybe it was better this way. She shouldn’t have weakened, shouldn’t have come with him in the first place. With her ex-husband stirring up trouble, Chet Munson sniffing around, and her son to think of, she didn’t have time to get involved with a man.Especially not this one.
She knew the kind of man Chance was. It was written in every line of his handsome face. Just yesterday she had overheard Bonnie Delaney, one of the waitresses at the café, talking about him.
“Chance’s a real heartbreaker,” Bonnie had said to one of the female customers. “He’s left a string of crying women all over Silver County.”
One look at the heat in those sultry blue eyes and Kate was sure it was the truth.
When they pulled up in front of the house, he turned off the engine and Kate cracked open the door, ready to jump and un like the little black snowshoe rabbit they had seen. Chance caught her arm before she could leave.
“Listen, Kate. Whatever your reasons for coming to Lost Peak, it’s your business not mine. I won’t pry into your affairs again, but I’m not letting you run from me any longer. I want to see you again.”
She shook her head a little too fiercely, moving the curly dark red hair around her face. “It’s not a good idea.”
“Because I’ve got a son to think about and a cafe to run.”
“Sorry–not good enough.”
“Because we have nothing in common. I’m from thecity. You’re a country boy.”
He only shook his head. “Try again.”
“Because I’m just plain not attracted to you.”
“Bullshit.” Grabbing a fistful of her sweatshirt, he hauled her half way across the front seat of the truck and captured her mouth in a scalding, mind-numbing kiss. She struggled for an instant, her fingers pressing into the front of his sheepskin vest, but the heat was too much, the fire too unbearably hot. She had never felt anything like it.
Chance kissed the corners of her mouth, kissed her lips again, and she opened for him, letting his tongue slide in, feeling the hot,wet silkiness, desperately wanting the kiss to go on. She was trembling all over, damp in places that hadn’t been damp in years. She heard herself whimper when Chance pulled away.
Long dark fingers caught her chin. “Listen to me, Kate. I don’t have the foggiest idea what’s going on between us, but something damned well is. I didn’t plan for it to happen. I know you didn’t either, but I mean to find out what it is. I’ll be in town on Thursday night. Don’t eat before you close. We’re going out to dinner.”
He didn’t give her time to argue, just climbed down from his side of the pickup, rounded the front, jerked open her door, and lifted her down.
He walked her to the door and waited while she unlocked and shoved it open.
“I’ll see you Thursday,” he said and then he was gone, leaving her staring dumbly after him.
Kate watched his big silver Dodge pull out of the driveway, feeling as if her world had somehow shifted.
All she could think was Oh, my God, what have I done?
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