Wedding His Takeover Target / Inheriting His Secret Christmas Baby. Emilie Rose

Читать онлайн.
Название Wedding His Takeover Target / Inheriting His Secret Christmas Baby
Автор произведения Emilie Rose
Жанр Контркультура
Серия Mills & Boon Desire
Издательство Контркультура
Год выпуска 0
isbn 9781408922989

Скачать книгу

She cringed.

      “Coffee’s ready, girlie. C’mon in,” her grandfather called.

      Ugh. Trapped. She debated ignoring the summons, but she’d be darned if she’d let Gavin Jarrod think her a coward. Squaring her shoulders, she fluffed her damp hair, took a deep breath and marched forward.

      The men sat at the table, her grandfather with his paper, Gavin with a mug cradled between his big hands. He looked good in a white turtleneck that showed off his tan. His light brown hair looked like a snowboarder’s after a lightning-fast run down the mountain. The mussed strands seemed somehow sexy.

      No. Not sexy. Messy.

      His gaze drifted from her eyes to her mouth and her stomach did a swan dive. Knowing how he kissed and how he tasted changed everything.

      No, it didn’t. She still wasn’t interested.

      She gulped. “Good morning.”

      He nodded. “Morning.”

      She forced her attention to her grandfather. “You’re up earlier than usual for a day when we have no guests.”

      He shrugged. “No point in lying abed when there’s so much to do. You’ll want to go over the repairs with Gavin before the two of you head to the builder’s supply center.”

      Aghast, she stared at Pops. “I thought you were going with him.”

      “Storm must be brewing. M’bones are aching this morning. I’ll take it easy today.”

      She worried more than a little that his aches and pains had worsened in the past year, making it impossible to ignore his physical slowdown. Was he also losing his mental acuity?

      All the more reason for her to make sure Gavin Jarrod wasn’t trying to pull a fast one on her grandfather and cheat him out of the mine and/or the inn. Hadn’t Pops groused on more than one occasion about Gavin’s dad, Donald, being a greedy, land-hungry bastard? Were all the Jarrods a bunch of swindlers?

      She could feel Gavin studying her and headed for the coffeepot to avoid letting him see he’d unsettled her. She wanted to escape this excursion, but if she did then Pops would go. A no-win situation. She didn’t want to go, but she didn’t want Pops and his checkbook alone with Gavin either.

      She focused intently on the dark brew streaming into her favorite mug and tried to pretend she couldn’t feel Gavin’s gaze boring into her back like twin laser beams. The way he always watched her—as if she were a puzzle he couldn’t quite figure out—made her nape prickle. She turned toward the sink, reaching for the faucet.

      “You won’t need to water down your coffee,” Pops said. “Gavin made it instead of me.”

      The territorial invasion made her hackles rise. The man had been messing with her coffeepot.

      The perfect excuse to avoid Gavin came to her as she stirred sugar into the liquid. “Your joints are a pretty accurate weather gauge, Pops. Maybe we should postpone repairs until after the front passes.”

      “No, ma’am,” Pops snapped. “You’re the one all fired up to get through this list. Best to start now and have spare time at the end than to be pushed to work ‘round the clock before our guests arrive.”

      True, but that didn’t make it any easier to work with her new handyman.

      “I can go with you,” Pops offered grudgingly, “if you’re afraid the job’s too big for you.”

      Her spine snapped with indignation. She was practically running the inn single-handedly now. “Do you really believe I can’t handle the shopping?”

      “I don’t know, girlie. The maintenance on this place is a daunting job.”

      She didn’t like the sound of that. “It’s a job I love and do willingly. I lack a few skills, but I’m learning every day.”

      Gavin rose and crossed the kitchen, invading her space and making her move out of the way. He casually refilled his mug as if he weren’t a guest. Pushy bastard. “I borrowed a pickup truck from The Ridge, but it’s a single cab. The bench seat will hold the three of us, but it’ll be a tight squeeze.”

      And she’d be sandwiched between the man she loved the most in the world and the one she wanted to avoid at all costs. One who’d stirred up all kinds of dormant feelings she’d prefer to leave sleeping. No more passion for her. No passion meant no pain. She liked it that way.

      She tipped her head back to glare at Gavin. “I can do the shopping. In fact, I don’t need your help.”

      “Your van isn’t going to carry twelve-foot timber, and I can’t loan you the truck because of liability issues.”

      She clenched her teeth in frustration. Did he have to be logical? “I’ll have the order delivered.”

      “You’d lose several days’ work time waiting for the materials.”

      He had an answer for everything, she fumed silently, and it didn’t help that he was right. “Fine. I’ll ride with you. Pops can stay here.”

      Instead of returning to the table, Gavin leaned a hip on the counter right beside her. She scalded her tongue on her first, hasty sip of coffee.

      “Did you know our grandfathers were friends?” Gavin asked.

      “Best friends,” Pops added. “‘Til your grandpappy stiffed me with a bum mine. He claimed he’d found silver chunks the size of a goat’s head in there, but that was bull.”

      “I’ve never found anything that large,” Gavin confirmed, “but I still do a little digging and look for a vein each time I come home.”

      The comment instantly carried her back to the seclusion and intimacy she’d discovered in the mine—not a mental journey she wanted to revisit. She pivoted away. “What would you like for breakfast today, Pops?”

      “Y’might want to ask our guest that since you’re gonna put him to work.”

      She bit the inside of her lip. Gavin wasn’t a guest. He was a temporary employee and a pain in her backside. “Gavin?”

      “Henry’s been bragging about your blueberry pancakes. Might as well see if he’s all talk.”

      “And bacon,” Pops added without a trace of guilt. “Crisp.”

      She glanced from man to man. They’d been discussing her? Why? Surely her grandfather wasn’t matchmaking? He knew better. And he knew what kind of man she preferred—one like Russell. Generous, smart, loyal and fearless, as an army medic her husband had been willing to put his life on the line and even die for any member of his unit—a point he’d proven by throwing himself on a grenade to save his team.

      Egotistical jerks who swaggered around being excessively bossy and sneaky did nothing for her.

      She narrowed her eyes on Gavin. He gave her a half smile. “If you don’t have the ingredients, I could always take you to breakfast at Jarrod Ridge.”

      No way. She’d walk barefoot over broken glass to get what she required before she’d have breakfast with him on his turf. It was bad enough he’d forced his presence on her for the shopping trip and chores, but if she wanted to keep her life flowing in the comfortable groove she’d carved for herself since moving to Aspen, avoiding additional one-on-one time with Gavin was a necessity.

      “I have everything I need. If you’ll excuse me …?” She made a shooing motion with her hand and waited for him to return to his seat at the table before she pivoted back to the pantry.

      She’d made the recipe a hundred times, and she assembled the ingredients by rote. But this time felt different. Her hands were clumsy, her movements awkward as she furiously whisked the egg whites. She realized her frenzied actions were probably giving away more than she intended and deliberately slowed her strokes. She folded the froth to the flour mixture, egg yolks and