The Texas Cowboy's Triplets(4)

By: Cathy Gillen Thacker


Delicate hand flying to her heart, Kelly took a step back from him. “Goodness, yes! I would never ask you to do anything illegal.”

Famous last words, Dan thought, wondering if she had any idea he’d heard them before in a very similar situation. “Or even look the other way if I suspect a crime is being committed,” he added brusquely.

Pink color dotting her high, sculpted cheeks, she carefully set the still-unopened water he had given her on the porch railing. “I understand.” She ventured closer. “But, on the other hand, if there is a personal problem you could perhaps help with, would you be willing to do that?”

This sounded a lot like his ex. Telling himself there was no way that Kelly could be that conniving, he said, carefully, “I would.”

“Good.” Her shoulders relaxed. “Because sometimes things aren’t what they might seem on the surface.”

She looked surprisingly vulnerable now. Subdued. Aware he might have misjudged her—without meaning to—he asked, “Like this conversation?”

Kelly paused for several long beats. Finally, she said, “I have a student in my class I’m worried about.”

He squinted at her. “I’m guessing there is a reason why?”

“There is.” She paused and took a deep breath that lifted the lush fullness of her breasts. “But I’d rather not divulge that just yet.”

As he stood there, inhaling the sweet fragrance of her perfume, he realized he kind of liked her coming to him for help. Assuming, of course, it was all on the up-and-up. “Have you told anyone else of your concern?” he asked kindly. “The school director? Another teacher?”

Her delicate brow pleated. “I spoke with Cece Taylor, another teacher at the school.”

“And…?”

Kelly raked her teeth across her lush lower lip. “She thinks I’m overreacting. Which is why I wanted you to come and speak to our two three-year-old classes at the preschool. I know you’ve worked with at-risk youth, both in your early days at the Chicago Police Department and as a volunteer at the boys’ ranch here in Laramie, so I thought if there was a problem with this particular child, you’d be able to spot it.”

“Why not just get social services or the school counselor—if you have one—involved?”

“Because,” she said, her expression becoming troubled, “then it becomes a whole thing. And if I’m wrong, as I very well might be, then I’m needlessly putting the child and their family through an ordeal that never should have been.”

She spoke as if she’d endured a similar contretemps. “Are there any bruises or signs of physical abuse?”

“No.” Kelly ran a hand through her hair and began to pace. “Nothing like that. Just…something feels off. And I wanted another opinion.” She swung back to face him, more composed now. With a beleaguered sigh, she added, “One not likely to be anywhere near as overly emotional as mine.”

His heart went out to her because she really did seem to care about whoever she deemed potentially at risk. He strode closer. “Is it a girl or boy?”

“I’d rather you not know. That way, you won’t be predisposed to see something that may or may not be there.”

Made sense, he thought, continuing to study her. “You really want to be wrong about this, don’t you?” She looked so distressed. He wanted to pull her into his arms and hold her close. Instead, he touched her arm.

Kelly sighed, and just for one second leaned into his touch. “Cowboy, more than you could ever know.”





Chapter Two

As Kelly had hoped, the two three-year-old classes at the preschool were completely mesmerized by Dan McCabe’s talk on his work at the sheriff’s department. With the exception of little Shoshanna Johnson, who never really seemed to get involved in any class activity, they sat raptly gazing at him as Dan explained how law enforcement was there to help them. And how not to be afraid to approach one to ask for help if it was ever needed.

Kelly stared, too, for a completely different…extremely inappropriate…reason.

When he concluded his short but very informative talk, she stepped to the center of the student circle and, studiously ignoring the lawman’s sexy, virile presence, took charge once again. “Would anyone like to ask a question?” And get my mind off just how hot Dan McCabe looks in uniform?

To her relief, Brian Alderman’s hand promptly shot up. “Do you sleep at the station, like the firemen?”

“No.” Dan smiled kindly, the glance he directed at Kelly letting her know he realized just how, um, unusually attentive she had been during his speech.