Hot Westmoreland Nights(9)

By: Brenda Jackson

Another thing that had impressed him about Chloe Burton was the way she had set up the employee dining room. It was obvious she had taken the time to spruce things up a bit, changing the decor of the men’s surroundings. Changing the menu had also been a plus.

He had good men who worked hard. Moreover, they would be putting in long hours during the next two weeks. Most had been with him since he’d started the operation and were family men who went home for dinner and returned for work each day. After shearing, which occurred once a year, some of his men would turn their attention to lambing, while the others would resume their roles as sheepherders.

“I see you can’t keep your eyes off her either, Ram.”

Ramsey shot a sharp glance over at Callum Austell. When Ramsey had decided to become a sheep rancher he had flown over to Australia to spend six months on one of the country’s largest sheep ranches. It was there that he’d met the Aussie, who happened to be the youngest son of the ranch owner. Callum had agreed to come to the States to help Ramsey start his operation. Now three years later, Callum was still here with him. He was the one who’d basically taught Ramsey everything he knew about sheep. He considered Callum a good friend.

“You must be seeing things, Aussie,” was Ramsey’s reply, even though he knew Callum was right. Okay, so he was looking at her, but because he was her employer he needed to make sure she did her job right and that she conducted herself properly. He had twenty-five employees year round and not including Nellie, they were all men. And he was a hands-on boss, so he was familiar with everything that went on with his ranch and if needed, he could fill in for any of his men.

“I think not, but if you want to convince yourself of it, then go ahead,” was Callum’s comeback. “All I got to say is that you should be impressed with the way she handled Eric and Thel. I think she might have broken their hearts.”

Ramsey couldn’t help but snort at that. If that was true, it was about time some woman did. He glanced down at his watch. Lunch was almost over and the men, knowing his policy about punctuality, were standing to leave and were giving Chloe Burton all kinds of compliments. He stood as well, but unlike his men he had no intentions of going anywhere until he had a talk with his cook.

After grabbing his hat off the hat rack, Callum rounded the table and halted in front of Ramsey and studied his features. “I hope you don’t plan on ruining things for the rest of us. We like her cooking. And we like her. We would like to keep her around, at least until Nellie comes back.”

Callum had quietly spoken his words, just for Ramsey’s benefit. Without glancing over at Callum, Ramsey said, “We’ll see.”

And for now that was all he would say on the matter. Yes, the woman had impressed him and his men with her cooking skills, and yes, she had carried herself in a professional way. But Callum had been right. Just like his men he hadn’t been able to stop looking at her and that wasn’t a good thing. He had been sitting at the table eating his lasagna and imagining eating her instead. His mind was so filled with lust it wasn’t funny, and the flame that burned deep inside him wasn’t amusing, either.

He glanced over his shoulder and saw the last of the men had gone, all but Callum, who threw him a daggered look before walking out the door and closing it behind him. Ramsey pulled in a deep, frustrated breath. The impression Chloe had already made on his men was not a good thing. Even if she stayed for two weeks she would have to leave when Nellie returned anyway.

He heard the rattling of the dishes and glanced over at Chloe, watching her as she cleared the table. His gaze slowly swept over her figure, liking the way the jeans fit across her backside. He figured her height was probably around five-eight and he would bet all the wool his sheep would be producing this year that she had long beautiful legs. The kind that would be a killer pair in a miniskirt.

He shook his head thinking about his fetish for seeing women in short skirts. He was a leg man all the way. So why was seeing this woman in jeans having basically the same effect?

Really it didn’t matter because he planned to let her go as soon as he could get in a replacement. Temptation was temptation and he would hate to suddenly develop sleepwalking tendencies knowing she would be in the guest bedroom down the hall from him.