For His Brother's Wife(10)

By: Kathie Denosky

“I guess it’s coming early this year.” She closed the oven door and shrugged one slender shoulder. “But you know how it is around here in the spring. We’ll probably have nice, sunny mornings and a pop-up thunderstorm just about every afternoon or evening.”

It was all Cole could do to keep from groaning aloud. Due to the unpredictable Texas weather, this two-week job had every chance of becoming a month-long ordeal. At least for him. His work crew would reap the benefits in travel pay and overtime when the weather did let up. But he was going to face a lot of long hours confined to the house with the most alluring woman he’d ever known. His only consolation was once his men got the roof put on the barn, there was a little work they could do on the inside—rain or shine.

He supposed he could make a trip into town to see how Aaron and his crew were progressing on the hospital wing. Or he might stop by the TCC clubhouse to have a beer with one of his friends. But checking on the hospital rebuild would only take up an afternoon, and he’d never been one to start drinking in the middle of the day. What he needed was another project to keep him and the crew busy for several days—maybe even a week or two.

“We might be able to work around the rain,” he said as a plan came to mind.

She looked skeptical. “How?”

“We could work on the barn and outbuildings when the weather permits and on your studio when it’s raining,” he said, hoping it would reduce the amount of time they’d spend alone.

“That sounds very efficient,” she agreed. “Are you sure you don’t mind the extra work? You were only supposed to take care of rebuilding the barn and repairing the outbuildings before you go back to Dallas.”

He shook his head. “It will probably take a little longer to get the office converted to your studio because we’d only be working inside when we couldn’t work outside,” he warned. “But it would keep the work crew from being idle when it rains.” He wasn’t going to mention that part about cutting down on the amount of time he spent alone with her.

“I don’t mind it taking longer at all,” she said, smiling. “That room already has an outside entrance to the patio so it will be easy access for them, and since it’s on the far end of the family room, it won’t disrupt the rest of the house.”

“Have you given any more thought to what you want done to the room?” he asked, warming to the idea more with each passing second.

“I really haven’t had the time,” she admitted. “Maybe we could go over some possibilities after dinner.”

“Sure,” he said, nodding. When she reached for a couple of pot holders on the counter, he stepped forward to take them from her. “Let me lift that out for you.”

“Put it on the island,” she said, pointing toward the marble top.

He set the cake pans where she indicated. When he turned back around, he found her staring at him. “What?”

“Nothing.” She shook her head. “I was just thinking about possibilities for the studio.”

Something told him that wasn’t the reason, but he wasn’t going to press the issue. Some things were just better left as mysteries of the universe.

“If you don’t mind, I think I’ll go upstairs for a quick shower and some dry clothes,” he said, deciding to make a hasty exit before he did something stupid like wrap his arms around her and kiss her senseless.

She smiled as if she might be happy to have him out from underfoot. “Take your time. Dinner won’t be ready for another hour.”

“When I come back downstairs I’ll help you finish up,” he offered.

“That would be nice, but don’t feel that you have to,” she said, sounding a little breathless.

He nodded and, without another word, walked down the hall, climbed the stairs and entered his bedroom. With his pulse hammering in his ears, Cole made a beeline for the shower, stripped off his clothes and stepped beneath the refreshing spray.

As the warm water washed over him, he scrunched his eyes shut, let his head fall back and tried to come to terms with what he’d just discovered. Staring into Paige’s crystalline gray eyes, he had detected the same awareness he was certain was reflected in his own. And if he’d had any doubt about what he’d seen, the breathlessness he had heard in her voice convinced him that she was feeling the same magnetic pull he was.

So what was he supposed to do? How was he supposed to resist that? After all, he was a man with a man’s needs, not a hapless eunuch. But giving in to his feelings wasn’t an option, either. He and Craig might not have gotten along in life, but Cole was determined not to denigrate his brother’s memory by putting the moves on Craig’s wife such a short time after his death.

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