Hot Westmoreland Nights(12)

By: Brenda Jackson


“Yes.”

She looked at him suspiciously. “Did your other cook live here?”

“No. But then I didn’t have to worry about her getting here early enough to have breakfast ready for my men. Nellie and her husband have a house less than ten miles away. She arrived every morning at three and left in the late afternoon.”

He then lifted a brow. “Just what did that employment agency tell you? This is shearing time here at the ranch and it happens only once a year. I own over three thousand sheep and have only a two-week window to get the wool off. Unlike a lot of sheep ranchers who hire a sheep shearing crew from year to year, my men are trained to do all the job duties here. That means they will work around the clock. I have to make sure they eat a hearty breakfast and are fed a good lunch. I can’t wake up tomorrow morning and worry about whether you’ll show up.”

“I’ll be back in the morning,” she heard herself say. “I promise.”

Ramsey frowned. Hadn’t he made up his mind that they could not stay under the same roof? Wasn’t it his intent to talk to her about remaining as his cook only until he’d found a replacement? So why was he making a big deal of her staying over tonight? He should be overjoyed that she was leaving.

He inwardly shrugged and figured he only cared because of his concern that she would not be here on time in the morning to feed his men. “I’m going to need you here on time, Chloe,” he said in a voice that sounded pretty damn curt even to his own ears.

“I said I would be here, didn’t I?” she all but snapped back in a tone that said he would get just as good as he gave.

His glare locked on her face and then he nodded stiffly. “I’m taking you at your word. Lock the door behind you when you leave and I’ll see you in the morning.” He then headed for the door.

He turned and met her gaze one more time and she didn’t release her breath until the door had closed behind him.





Three




“Please tell me you’re joking, Clo.”

Chloe sat her luggage down near her feet and turned to Lucia who had a worried look on her face. Chloe had decided to return to Ramsey’s place tonight instead of trying to find her way there again in the early morning when it would still be dark outside. “Come on, Lou, it’s not that serious. I’m doing Ramsey Westmoreland a favor and in the end he will be doing me a favor.”

Lucia rolled her eyes. “He won’t see things that way when he finds out what you’re really about. You’re not only invading his privacy, but you’re also being deceitful.”

“I’m not.”

“You are, too, and all hell is going to break loose when he learns the truth. I live in this town, you don’t. You’ll be back in sunny Florida and I’ll be here feeling the heat of the Westmorelands’ wrath. When it comes to anyone messing with one of them, they all stick together.”

Chloe crossed her arms beneath her breasts and gave her best friend a pointed look. “And which Westmoreland are you concerned with pissing off, Lucia?”

Chloe knew she had hit the jackpot when Lucia dropped her gaze and began looking everywhere but at her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Chloe had no intentions of believing that. “Yeah, right. You don’t want to make waves with the Westmorelands for a reason, so fess up. Which one is it? Ramsey?”

“No,” Lucia said quickly. “It’s no one.”

Chloe didn’t believe that any more than she believed there was a lost colony off the California coast. “Okay, Lou, this is Clo. You can’t lie straight even on your best days, so I’m going to ask you one more time, who is he and don’t waste my time telling me he’s not a Westmoreland.”

Reluctantly, Lucia met her gaze and then in a quiet and flat voice she said, “It’s Ramsey’s brother, Derringer.”

Chloe raised a brow. Her best friend’s expression was filled with so much love it almost hurt her to look at it. “Derringer Westmoreland? When did all this take place?”

She had known Lucia since her first year of college and the man’s name had never come up, yet judging by the expression on Lucia’s face whatever she felt for the man ran deep and had been there a long time.