|Название||Wedding His Takeover Target / Inheriting His Secret Christmas Baby|
|Автор произведения||Emilie Rose|
|Серия||Mills & Boon Desire|
But that didn’t tell her why Gavin had come here and secluded himself in a room with her grandfather. Was Pops going to donate the inn to the historic preservation society or was he thinking of selling to the Jarrods? “He’s not here to buy the inn, is he?”
“He’s not interested in the inn.”
“Nothing you need to worry about.” But again, his gaze drifted away from hers.
She had to find out what was going on. The only way she’d get her answers was to get as wily as Pops. She wouldn’t tell him she’d already been coerced into lunch.
“I’ll go out with Gavin if you’ll agree to let me hire a handyman to get this place in shape. We’re booked solid beginning the Monday before Thanksgiving all the way through mid-March.”
His pride obviously ruffled, Pops puffed up his narrow shoulders. “I can handle the chores.”
“I’m sure you can. There’s not that much to do. But this way you can focus on the important items and let someone else sweat the small stuff.”
His eyes narrowed and his thumb jabbed his chest. “You got yourself a deal but only if I get to pick the handyman. And you’ll give Jarrod a fair shot. Y’hear?”
“I’ll go out with him once. It’s up to him to make me want more.” And she could safely guarantee that would never happen. She was through with love and all the heartaches that went with it. And she specifically wanted nothing to do with Gavin Jarrod.
The knock on the front door filled Sabrina with dread. She’d rather slam her thumb with the hammer again than go on this outing.
Determined to get this over with, she shrugged on her coat and zipped it to her chin, then marched across the foyer and opened the door. Gavin, wearing a black ski jacket that accentuated his broad shoulders, filled the entry. Her insides did an inexplicable gelatin jiggle thing, and the frosty air sweeping inside did nothing to cool her suddenly warm cheeks.
Okay, so he was attractive. But nothing was going to happen between them no matter what Pops hoped.
Gavin’s dark gaze skimmed Sabrina from her barely behaving curls to her scuffed boots. “Bring gloves and a toboggan.”
She glanced past him and spotted a Jeep with monstrously large tires in the inn’s parking lot. No luxurious Cadillac today. “Where are we going?”
“On a picnic.”
Was the man stupid or just into torturing her? “It’s forty degrees outside.”
“I won’t let you get hypothermia.”
“And how exactly do you plan to keep me warm? If this is some rich-boy ruse to get physically close you’re going to be disappointed.”
“It’s not. Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”
Trust him? Not on her life. She snagged her gloves and hat from the hallstand. “Let’s go.”
The gold flecks in his eyes glittered with amusement. “Said with the enthusiasm of a woman on her way to have cavities filled at the dentist’s office without Novocain.”
“Does your ego require me to pretend I’m eager to go out with you? You know I only agreed because you’re withholding information.”
His grin broadened—like a shark’s—at her sarcasm. “You won’t regret spending the day with me.”
“That remains to be seen. And it’s not the day. Just lunch. Two hours, at the most. I have chores to do this afternoon.”
His confidence—or was it arrogance?—came through loud and clear in the cocky way he indicated the four-wheel drive vehicle with a sweeping arm and a slight bow. Sabrina traversed the walk, conscious of him looming behind her. He reached past her to open the door. Avoiding contact, she climbed inside the Jeep.
She caught a glimpse of her grandfather’s face at one of the inn’s windows. Why did he look so serious? He was getting his way. She hoped he appreciated her sacrificing an afternoon of repairs for this. But he’d agreed to hire help, and that would make suffering through the next couple of hours worth it. Resigned to her fate, she buckled her seat belt.
Gavin slid into his seat and started the engine. He turned the car toward Jarrod Ridge. Sabrina sat back and took in the scenery of Aspen’s grid of streets. Art galleries, designer clothing and jewelry boutiques and famous chefs’ restaurants lined the sidewalks, alternating old-world charm with more modern architecture. For such a small city, Aspen’s downtown and the surrounding ski areas brought in a lot of tourists and generated a lot of jobs and revenue. She was lucky to be a part of it. And she didn’t want to lose it, but there was no way she could afford to live here without the inn.
All too soon Gavin turned through the resort’s arched entrance. She’d never had a reason to come down this road, and her curiosity got the better of her, but before she could catch more than a glimpse of the reportedly ultra-luxurious lodges, Gavin veered off the driveway and onto a dirt track.
“Where does this go?”
“My favorite spot.” He shot a short, stabbing, breath-stealing glance her way. She shut down her response. Charming or not, she wasn’t interested in him or a bored, rich guy’s flirtation.
The track grew rougher and steeper. She gripped the seat and stared out the window rather than at Gavin. The Jeep bounced along until he took a sharp turn around a boulder and stopped on the edge of a small clearing. “We’re here.”
She swept her eyes across the snow-dappled scene. No picnic tables. Nothing, in fact, except nature. Dirt. Rocks. Trees. “This is it? We’re in the middle of nowhere. How far are we from the lodge?”
“Not far as the crow flies, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to hike it unless you’re a seasoned climber. The terrain is pretty rough.”
She wasn’t an outdoorsman. She shoved open the car door and cold air gusted inside making her shiver. “Maybe we should eat in the car.”
“Coward.” He delivered the insult as a challenge, then climbed from the vehicle and walked to the back to retrieve a bulging backpack which he shrugged on. After tugging on her hat and gloves she followed.
When she reached his side he tossed a thick blue blanket at her. “Think you can carry that?”
“Sure.” She’d probably need to wrap up in it.
After locking the Jeep he headed down an almost indecipherable trail scratched through the low-growing junipers. Sabrina trudged after him, inhaling the crisp, clean air. This is what Gavin smelled like, she realized. Evergreens and earth and sunlight. An odd combination for a city guy.
“Watch your step,” he cautioned over his shoulder as the ascent steepened. “Do you need a hand?”
“I can manage.” She hadn’t been hiking in ages—not since the summer before she’d run away to get married. Back then her grandfather had had the energy to take her exploring in the mountains around Aspen, sometimes on horseback, but usually on foot. When the inn hadn’t been busy her grandmother had joined them. Those carefree days had been some of the happiest in Sabrina’s life.
Brushing off the sadness and worry, she studied the green firs, pines and bare aspen trees around her rather than the taut leg and butt muscles flexing in front of her. Gavin probably paid a trainer an obscene amount of money to keep him in shape.
For the next ten minutes she concentrated on her footing and her breathing. Just when she thought her lungs