Housekeeper to the Millionaire(8)

By: Lucy Monroe

Letting his gaze travel down her body, he paused at her breasts hidden behind the big white apron, before moving on. His leer sent her insides churning. She really didn’t want to have to deal with this. “Although, with the way you’re built, I bet you know plenty about fun, don’t you, babe?”

His head came down as if he planned to kiss her.

Enough was enough. Some guys just didn’t comprehend when a woman wasn’t interested. Lonny might be young, but he was old enough to learn this lesson. She’d worn a pair of her more conservative heels today, her body too used to spending hours on heels to be comfortable in her flat sandals.

She was glad she’d done so now. Using the short, but very spiked heel of her shoe, she came down with all her weight on the top of his boot. He grunted and stumbled back a step. Before he could steady himself, she’d curled her fingers into a fist and punched him right below his ribcage just as her self-defense instructor back in Texas had taught her.

Letting out a high-pitched curse that ended on a big oof, he doubled over.

She drew herself to her full five-feet-four-inch height. “I am not anyone’s babe, least of all yours. Do I make myself clear?”

He lifted his head, his arms still curved protectively around his midsection. “Yeah.”

She nodded. Good. “Though I may not be old enough to be your mother, I’m certainly too old to be your anything else. I can’t even be your friend because I don’t offer that kind of trust to idiots who don’t know any better than to make a pass at a co-worker on their boss’s time.”

He glared at her, but he didn’t argue.

“I work for the same man you do and I expect the same respect that you give any of the other hands. Is that understood?”

He finally stood up straight, but his breathing was still a little shallow. “Understood, but you don’t know what you’re missing.”

She let that slide. A man needed some pride, after all.

She had only one final thing to say to him. “As far as how I’m built having anything to do with my ability to have fun, I’m here to tell you that I’ve got all the same parts that other women do. Fun, especially the kind you appear to want, is a state of mind, not body. How I look has nothing to do with it, unless we’re talking how my brain works and then maybe you’d have a clue.”

Lonny nodded and sidled out of the kitchen without further comment.

Win came in the door as Lonny was leaving. “You forget what I told you to do this morning?”

Lonny shook his head. “Just needed to talk to Carlene about something.”

Win looked at Carlene and then back at Lonny. “Anything I need to know about?”

Lonny’s cheeks, which had taken on a slight pallor, turned red. “No, boss. Nothing important.”

Win looked at Carlene. “That true?”

Carlene nodded. “It definitely wasn’t anything important.”

It appeared as if Win wanted to ask more questions, but Lonny was already headed toward the stables. Win stepped completely into the kitchen.

“I’m going into town to pick up some things. Do you want to come along and get groceries?”

She took longer to consider his question than she was sure he expected. She did need groceries. Rosa, the previous housekeeper, had left some things well stocked and some nearly empty. The problem was going to town with Win. She avoided him and the intensity she experienced whenever he was around as much as possible. And after her little dust-up with Lonny, she did not want any more challenges from the male of the species.

He raised a mocking brow. “I didn’t realize it would be such a difficult question.”

She frowned. Why did she get the feeling that he knew exactly why she hesitated? Inexplicably, the thought stung her pride. “That would be fine, Win. Just let me get my purse.”

He shrugged. “You don’t need it. I’ll buy the groceries.”

“Don’t you know that a woman feels naked without her purse?” she asked.

His eyes took on a distinctly disturbing quality and she tensed in preparation for some ribald comment, but none came. He merely said, “My sister’s mentioned that a time or two.”

He led her out to the car and she said, “I didn’t realize that you had a sister. Does she live around here?”

Maybe Carlene had met her.

“No. She and her husband live in Portland.”

Carlene settled into the passenger seat of Win’s midnight-blue Ram pickup and buckled her seat belt. “Oh. What’s her name?”

If he thought she was nosy, he didn’t say so. He started the truck and headed toward the highway. “Leah Branson. Her husband runs Branson Consulting out of Portland. Maybe you’ve heard of it. They get their names in the paper from time to time.”

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