Read Christmas in Texas Online

Authors: Tina Leonard,Rebecca Winters

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fiction

Christmas in Texas (19 page)

“Hi.”

When Shaman heard the voice behind him, he knew at once that it
belonged to the sweet angel who’d ditched him.

“Easy, Candy,” he said, taking his time turning to face his
visitor. She was dressed in blue jean capris and a filmy pink top today, a sexy
dream destined to keep him sleepless. “Hello, Cupertino.”

She seemed surprised by what he’d called her. He shrugged. It
was her name, and he wasn’t much for anything fake. “What brings you out
here?”

She held up a picnic basket. It was high noon and hot; he was
sweaty and had been alone with his thoughts too long. “The rain check,” she
said. “I’m sorry I had to leave the other night.”

“No, you’re not.” He ignored the basket and gently tugged Candy
forward by the lead rope. The mare didn’t seem too disposed to be pliable, and
Shaman moved carefully so she wouldn’t shy away. “But that’s okay. I’m not much
of a guy for talking during meals.”

“So I’ve heard.”

He ignored that, too, drawing Candy in a circle. “What’s in the
basket?”

“Veggie wraps, made by Shinny and Blanche. Cheese and crackers.
Some white wine. White-chocolate pretzels and strawberries. They said you and
your family are vegetarian.”

He kept the woman waiting for a few minutes, drawing out his
surrender to her. Candy kicked up a hoof, trying to show him that she might be
on a lead, but that didn’t mean she was giving up any of her sassy spirit.

“Sounds good,” he finally said. “Why don’t you take it into the
kitchen, put it on the table and leave it for me?”

She stared at him. “I...know you’re not much for conversation,
but I’d really hoped...”

He looked at her directly, daring her to be honest. “Hoped for
what?”

After a moment, she said, “I’m not sure.”

She wasn’t being honest. And he demanded honesty. “Just leave
it in the kitchen,” he told her. “Tell Shinny and Blanche thanks. And I sent
your bag to Cat this morning, with Jonas.”

“Thank you,” she said. “I didn’t mean to leave it here.”

“Yeah, you did.” He wasn’t going to give her an inch.

She didn’t say anything, and he felt her indecision. After a
minute, the tall, gorgeous blonde carried the picnic basket to the farmhouse,
disappearing inside. He stayed outside with Candy, never looking toward the
house, yet listening for the sound of her white Land Rover to start up. After
thirty minutes, when he didn’t hear it, he put Candy away with a hose-down she
despised and a rub she tried to kick him for as her equine thank-you. Then he
let her go, after putting out hay for her to eyeball with wild eyes. She
galloped off to forage for herself—but he knew she’d remember that treats were
here and always available after training.

She’d remember, and she’d have to make up her mind to cool her
attitude just a bit, day by day.

He went inside the house, took off his boots. The picnic basket
wasn’t on the table. Instead, the table had been set, with white wine in the
glasses. Tempest was asleep on the sofa, her long, silky hair falling over her
shoulder.

He could stand here all day, doing nothing more than stare at
her.

But she hadn’t come here to be stared at.

“Cupertino,” he said, “wake up.”

She came awake, her big blue eyes widening when she saw him
standing over her. “Thanks for the grub,” he said. “Either you go now or you
stay. If you stay, know that I intend to love you like you’ve never been
loved.”

She didn’t move, but kept her wide eyes locked on his, with
that same angelic look she’d worn two nights before.

“Fair warning,” he said, taking her hand and drawing her from
the sofa. “Get the strawberries. I’m in the mood for something sweet.”

She made a move to do as he requested, but when he started
slowly undoing the buttons on her blouse, she didn’t pull away. Shaman kissed
her, ravaging her mouth, not bothering to hide the fact that he wanted her like
mad. She moaned, and he murmured, “Rain check later,” and carried her down the
hall.

* * *

T
WO
WEEKS
LATER
, Shaman waved to the demolition crew who’d
come to raze the barn, his brother Gage standing nearby to help oversee it with
him. Today was the day, a big day. Finally, they could begin the complete
rebuilding of Dark Diablo. Tearing down the barn and bunkhouse was necessary in
the vision Jonas Callahan had for his vast acreage.

It was good to tear down old and build new. Cleared out
ghosts.

“What is that?” Gage demanded, his vision not on the crew’s
heavy equipment, as it should have been, but on the fabulous blonde leaving the
farmhouse after a very satisfying night spent in Shaman’s arms.

“Looks like a woman to me,” he said. “Focus, bro. We’ve got a
job to do here.”

“I know it’s a woman. In fact, I know
who
it is.” Gage stared at him. “What I want to know is why she’s
here.”

Shaman shrugged. “Cupertino hangs around on occasion, brings me
a meal or two.”

His brother was agog. “Not you.”

He shrugged again. “Guess so.”

They watched the blonde get in her Land Rover and drive away.
Shaman always hated to see her go. He never knew if she’d return. She usually
came around dinnertime, and stayed through the night, letting him worship her
between the sheets.

Sometimes she didn’t return for a day or two, and that always
worried him. One day she’d get tired of him, a simple man with not much to
offer, and he would never see her again. Whatever demons she was exorcising out
of her soul were nothing she cared to talk about. In fact, the two of them
didn’t do much talking.

“Listen,” his brother said. “Tempest is not someone you just
toy with. That is a very kind woman. Cat and Chelsea consider her a friend.”

“Yeah.” Shaman liked her, too. His gaze went back to the giant
bulldozer about to push into the enormous old barn. “She’s real nice.”

“No, no.” Gage shook his head. “You don’t understand. Tempest
is a good woman.”

“I got that. You’re getting twisted up for nothing, bro.
Listen, Cupertino brings me dinner. I guess she thinks I’m starving. And I say
thanks, because the truth is, she’s a darn good cook. And I like to look at
her.” He shook his head. “You can’t expect me to turn that down.”

Gage was clearly astonished. After a minute, he said, “You call
her Cupertino?”

“That’s her name.”

“But do you know who she is?” he demanded.

“She’s a woman who grew up in Tempest.” Shaman didn’t see what
the big deal was. It wasn’t like he was sending out engraved invitations begging
her to come by. She showed up when she wanted, she left when she wanted.

“She’s in negotiation right now for a starring role in a major
Broadway production that might be turned into a movie, for one thing,” his
brother told him.

“Is she?” Shaman watched the bulldozer tear into the first
wall, collapsing it. Dust and bits of wood flew everywhere.

“If you’d read the newspaper, you’d know that,” Gage said. “The
New York Times
publishes a Sunday edition that’s
really quite informative, if you cared to learn about the world around you.”

He laughed. “The paperboy must have left me off the route.”


Online
Times
is just fine. You can read it every day. Takes very little
effort. You get twenty free articles the first month, and if you decide you like
being informed about the world outside of your shell, you can subscribe. It’s
great.”

“Yeah, well. There’s no internet here. If you haven’t noticed,
we’re miles from civilization.” And Shaman didn’t really care. He liked the
setup just the way it was. He didn’t want to know more about the woman than he
did. Whatever it was that she wanted from him, it suited him well.

“There is internet,” Gage stated. “In fact, the internet is how
Cat found Tempest in the first place.”

That caught Shaman’s attention. “Our niece wrote her?”

“Yes. Cat wanted Tempest to come home. She thought my wife’s
writing creativity would get a boost if she met Tempest. Cat had other reasons
for choosing her for pen pal status, but that’s the main idea. So don’t tell me
the internet doesn’t work. It’s what brought her all the way from Italy.”

“Doesn’t matter. She’ll go to her gig when she’s ready. In the
meantime, she doesn’t look like she’s suffering, does she?” Shaman asked,
crossing his arms. “I mean, if you’re trying to infer that she can do better
than me, I’ll be the first to admit I’m no prince, bro.”

Gage shook his head. There probably would have been more
discussion of the wonders of the woman who seemed to want nothing more than
nights in Shaman’s arms, but two walls collapsed on the barn, and workers
started yelling and running around, ending the debate.

Thankfully. Because if he heard any more about what a goddess
she was, he was going to have to tell her to take her picnic basket and hit the
road. Shaman knew that, like the beast in the fairy tale, you should just
appreciate the pretty things in life—while in the back of your mind you heard
your mother saying, “Don’t touch anything in the store! You might break it.” You
heard your father say, “A woman only wants a man with money and power.”

One day it’ll be over.

Right now, I just try to make her
happy.

ISBN: 9781459245228
CHRISTMAS IN TEXAS
Copyright ©
2012 Harlequin Books S.A.
The publisher acknowledges the copyright
holder of the individual works as follows:
CHRISTMAS BABY
BLESSINGS
Copyright © 2012 by Tina Leonard
THE CHRISTMAS
RESCUE
Copyright © 2012 by Rebecca Winters

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are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and
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