Authors: Honor James
She laughed and shook her head.
“Oh, God, don’t even get me started about salad dressings.
I’ve had to get to where I make my own
because I swear my fridge adds age to them if I leave them in there.”
“I’d do it but really, I’m not that good of a
Mom managed to teach me the basics
and with some cheater products on the market I get by where I don’t have to eat
beyond that I’m hopeless.
Apparently I can read a tractor manual and put it together blindfolded,
but give me a cookbook, and it’s all foreign to me.
Might as well be an alien or ancient dialect
for all I know.”
That had her giggling.
“And see, I’m the exact opposite.
I can cook like a pro, literally I really
can, but give me anything to do with the farm or ranch and I’m lost,” she admitted.
Shrugging, she realized just how they
complemented each other, but pushed that thought right out of her brain before
it took root.
He pulled down large bowls that looked a bit
like deep plates, and then a couple of smaller plates.
“Then you should take a look through the
cookbooks in the living room.
from my great-grandmother’s time.
least would know what to do with them.
Around here they collect dust and fill up the shelves.”
He was being awfully nice to her, and she
couldn’t figure out why.
lips, she frowned at him.
want to keep those for when you get married?
I’m sure that your wife would want to be able to fix you stuff from your
“Good Lord, now you’re sounding like my
mother,” he said with a glare in her direction.
“Besides, I didn’t say you could have them permanently.
If, God forbid, I take the plunge into
matrimony and the woman actually has a clue about anything beyond nail care and
the latest Paris fashions, I might get them back from you.
Until then, have at them,” he said, bending
to slide the French bread into the oven.
I think?” she added, because she honestly didn’t know if thanking him
would just piss him off again or not.
“Oh, God, please tell me that your momma isn’t working with the Bridge
Club to try to find you a perfect soulmate.”
“I feel your
Oh, God, I so feel your pain.” How
the woman could accomplish that from Florida where she lived half the year she
didn’t know, but one thing she had learned was that Grant Franklyn’s mother
could do just about anything when she and her Bridge Club got together and
began to plot and plan.
“She tries, but that’s easy enough to shoot
we came to an agreement that I have the right to refusal on sight.
She bitches and moans, but she can’t get out
I made her sign her name to a
very nice and legal agreement.
it will stand up in a court of law, plus if she breaks the agreement I get to
take out full-page ads in the various papers of Texas and Florida. With
pictures of her in the early years, all images she never wants another soul to
see but that I have safely tucked away where she will never get her mitts on
Jackie laughed. “Oh, God, that is priceless! I
I wish I could say it was Mom
doing it to me, but it’s the ladies of that damn social circle who think that I
need a man.
Dawn, another of their
ringleaders, asked me the other day if I was a lesbian.”
Because she hadn’t attacked
Oh, she had been
tempted, but the man would likely not appreciate it at all.
“The one in your salon who was eyeing me up
like I was a chunk of prime rib?” he asked as he straightened up.
Turning, he leaned against the counter to
look at her.
At her nod, he rolled his
“Why is it everyone assumes that
because you are single, you have to be miserable?”
I wish that they would realize that I’m simply not cut out to be in a
relationship,” she said as she set the plates on the table and went back for
“I mean, yeah.” She
“It would be kind of nice to
have someone in my life, but I’m not going to give up on what I need in a
relationship.” She needed someone whose beliefs were just as strong as hers,
someone she could trust, someone she could love.
As silly as it sounded, she refused to give
up on love.
“Married people just don’t get that some of us
like being single.
That having no one
moving our stuff around is important.
That being a slob over the weekend is awesome and not having someone nag
at you to pick up one lousy dirty sock is amazing.”
He reached over and stopped the beeping from
the crock pot.
“Yes, coming home to an
empty house sucks on occasion.
really, I can kick off my boots where I want, run around in my underwear if I
feel the need, and basically do what I want when I want, without having to
account for every second of my day to someone.
Though talking to
is apparently a sign
of the fact I’m going insane, so sayeth my mother.”
That had her laughing and nodding.
“I know the feeling.
It’s liberating to be able to do just
To be able to run around my house
as naked as the day I was born.
couldn’t very well do that with someone else around.”
Although if he wanted to run around naked,
she certainly wouldn’t stop him; she would instead want pictures for
For those long
dark nights alone.
would be nice to have someone to help shoulder the burdens, to be able to hold
you at night.”
Such is life.”
at some far-off point.
Then he seemed to
shake himself out of it. “Yeah, such is life.”
He met her gaze for a moment, and there was something there she just
couldn’t get a handle on before he moved at the ringing of a buzzer.
He shut off the harsh sound then bent to pull
the loaf of bread from the oven.
scent of garlic and cheese reached her nose as he pulled the slices apart and
set them on a plate.
Inhaling the scents, she felt her mouth
“Oh, that smells so good.
Are you sure that you have enough to share
She didn’t want to take his
He worked hard and likely had a
massive appetite, and she was, after all, pretty much landing at his place
without an invite.
“I always make a large batch of chili so that
I can freeze some for quick meals.
the bread is better eaten fresh and hot so, yes, there is enough.” He handed
her the plate and then, with the aid of a couple of pot holders, lifted the
inner lining of the crock pot out and headed for the table.
Setting it down on the ceramic piece inlaid
in the middle, obviously for hot dishes, he pulled the lid off.
Handing her the large ladle that had been on
the table long before she set it, he waved a hand.
Water, milk, juice or beer to drink?” he asked, moving toward the
I usually would have milk, but I just had some brandy, so I think I
will take a beer.
So, that okay with
you?” she asked and spooned herself a large helping of chili and simply inhaled
When he sat down at her side, she
looked to him and smiled.
She took another bite.
“You are really very good.
Why haven’t you entered any of the chili
He passed her a bottle of beer and
“Where would I find the time
for that? Besides, it’s passable but not really award winning.
As long as it’s edible it serves its purpose
Though Mom does offer up
advice now and again.”
He’d thrown in
some air quotes around the word
and rolled his eyes for extra effect.
“Well, I think that it’s really very
It’s more than passable.” She
snorted. “Yeah, your momma offers up advice to me too.
She’s been trying to fix me up with one of
your ranch hands.”
She shook her head. The
phone calls from his mother had become more and more frequent as of late, which
was wearing thin on her nerves. Between his momma and the Bridge Club Brigade,
she was sure she was going to lose her
mind one day on those sweet, loving but interfering old ladies.
“Swears she will find me
made her roll
her eyes. “No offense.
I love your momma, but goodness gravy, it’s exhausting.”
To have everyone trying to
fix her up just because she hit the big three-oh this year.
“I doubt you will ever have trouble finding
someone,” he said.
Taking a long drink,
he set his bottle aside and then began to eat his bowl of chili.
For a time, it was quiet as they ate, just
the clink of their spoons to the bowls or slight clunk as they set their beer
bottles down on the table.
curiosity and the fact we’re now snowed into the same house together, why
haven’t you found the perfect man and had a passel of kids?”
“No one has ever been right,” she admitted
with a shrug.
“I don’t know.
I just…” She lifted her hands.
“No one has ever filled the hole that I have
in my heart.
I’ve never found someone
who gets me.”
Add to it that she had a
crush on one Grant Franklyn since she was little.
Yep, it sucked to be her.
He didn’t say anything, just watched her with
a question she couldn’t quite figure out.
They’d done the dishes, sat in front of the
fire roasting marshmallows and kept all conversation to the mundane or on pure
And, four hours later, she was
more than ready to hit the sack.
have seen it because he pulled her up from the rug and tugged her down the
“Bed,” he told her, pushing her gently into a
It was done in warm earth
tones with splashes of red and orange.
“Bathroom is through there. It’s got its own bath and shower, so if you
want either, go for it.
I put in a
tankless system so don’t worry about running out of hot water.
Did you want a shirt or something to sleep
in?” he asked, moving around collecting a couple of towels and a face cloth for
“A shirt would be nice if you don’t
Wasn’t like she had packed for a sleepover
“Because I think
if I started running around naked in your house you would dump me outside in
And since she preferred to be
naked as opposed to having clothes on, that just wasn’t a good idea at all.
“And on that note, I’m going to go and find
you a shirt.” Spinning, he took off out of the room awfully fast, slightly
A couple minutes later he came back with a
t-shirt and a pair of shorts.
the shorts, he shrugged. “Figured you might not want to dress in your dirty
clothes so you can wear
these first thing
We’ll do a load of laundry in the morning,
and then everything should be nice and clean by the time everything melts
enough for you to be free of this place.”
A little drunk from all the brandy, she
grinned. “Now, Grant Franklyn, if you wanted to get me into your shorts all you
had to do was say so.” As soon as the words had spilled from her lips she
realized that she spoke them aloud instead of the internal monologue she
typically had going when she was anywhere near this man.
“Crap, I mean.”
Her face likely flushed redder than a summer
tomato, and she felt the heat rolling off her skin in her embarrassment.
Crap, she did it this time!