Hot Westmoreland Nights(8)

By: Brenda Jackson

Chloe was going through her own issues as she studied the fierce frown on Ramsey Westmoreland’s face. She wondered what had him so uptight. She had been the one who’d spent the last two hours in the kitchen over a hot stove, so she saw no reason for what she perceived as an unpleasant demeanor. If he knew the real deal and how she had helped him out of a sticky situation he would be kissing her feet.

And speaking of kissing her feet…

Her mind paused, got stuck on that thought as a vision played out in her head of his actually kissing her feet before his mouth traveled upward to tackle other parts of her body. The very idea made her tighten her hands into fists at her sides at the same time a wave of heated desire suffused her senses.

Jeez. She had been dealing with all kinds of emotions and sensations since entering the man’s home, and for her misery he owed her big time.

Yet at the moment, Ramsey Westmoreland was more than a little intimidating. Chloe wasn’t sure if she wanted this man indebted to her in any way. He had the look of a man who shared humor only when it suited him. A man who wouldn’t hesitate to offer his opinions and not necessarily in a tactful way. He would tell you exactly what he thought. And she had a feeling that he was not a man who made foolish mistakes, or one who could easily be led around by a woman. The latter perversely bothered her because she was used to being in total control of any relationships she got involved in. But then, she and this man were not involved.

Deciding they had wasted enough time sizing up each other, she spoke up. “You were in such a hurry to leave this morning that I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself. I’m Chloe Burton.”

“You were late this morning.”

She couldn’t help the frown that settled on her face. Was he thinking of reminding her of it at every turn? Evidently he had very little tolerance for certain things. “No one told me that once I left Denver’s city limits that I would be headed for the boondocks, away from normal civilization. You’re lucky I made it here at all. So the way I see it is you really should be counting your blessings, Mr. Westmoreland.”

Chloe could tell by the way his brow lifted that he was somewhat surprised by her flippant tone. She noted his rigid stance and drew in a fortifying breath, thinking he really shouldn’t be so uptight. Life was serious, but there was no reason to take it to the edge. Her father had been that way until a heart attack brought on by stress had nearly done him in a few years ago.

“So when can I expect the other men? I made a feast,” she said, deciding to change the subject.

His gaze narrowed at her with shimmering intensity. “They’ll finish up and should be here any minute, so we need to talk before they arrive.”

Chloe decided then and there that she didn’t want to talk. His voice was just like the rest of him, sexy as hell. There was richness to his Western accent that caused a tightness in her throat. Being in his presence for the past few moments had frazzled her nerves, had blood pounding through her veins and had unceremoniously reminded her of the hormones he’d awakened since the first time she had set eyes on him. It also stirred warm emotions, confusing feelings she hadn’t felt in a while…if ever. That was not good.

“What do we have to talk about? You’ve made it clear I was late and my pay would be docked. What else are you out for? Blood?”

Ramsey tensed. Evidently at some point the woman had forgotten that she was the employee and he the employer. Maybe her past employers found her attitude amusing, but he didn’t. He opened his mouth to state such a thing, but closed it when he heard the trucks pull up, which signaled the arrival of his men.

“We’ll have to wait and talk after lunch,” he said tersely. And then without saying anything else, he turned and headed toward the bunkhouse to wash up for lunch.

Ramsey leaned back in his chair thinking he had eaten lasagna before but never this delicious. And from glancing around the room at his men, he figured they were thinking the same thing. And there had been more than enough, which was a good thing because a number of the men had asked for seconds.

And he hadn’t been able not to notice that he wasn’t the only one who enjoyed seeing Ms. Burton work the room as she made sure everyone had everything they needed. Initially he’d been amused when the guys first arrived and a number of them, once they’d noticed there wasn’t a ring on her finger, had tried their hand at flirting. But she had maintained a degree of professionalism that had impressed him. Even Eric Boston and Thelon Hinton, the two hard-core womanizers in the group, had pretty much backed off when it became obvious that she wasn’t returning their interest. That surprised him because those two had a reputation in Denver of being sought-after ladies’ men.