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Lydia's Twin Temptation(Divine Creek Ranch 8)(17)

By:Heather Rainier

Chance said, “If you have a hot-water bottle or a plastic Ziploc bag, I can run downstairs and get ice for an ice pack.”

“Um, here,” she said, handing him a Ziploc she had saved receipts in. After kissing the tip of her nose, which was red from crying, he went downstairs and found the ice machine. He sealed the bag up tight and took the stairs two at a time.

She thanked him for being so considerate and pressed it to her breast through the thin material of her pajamas. Her little whimper made his heart hurt for her, and he hoped she wouldn’t be in pain tomorrow.

Remembering the gifts that sat on the table, he said, “I’ve got something that will cheer you up and I also have a proposition for you.”

“You do?” she asked, her tired eyes brightening somewhat with curiosity. She sniffled and wiped another tear away.

Gifts first, I think.

He led her to one of the chairs and pulled the other chair closer so when he sat he faced her with their knees almost touching. He gave her the wrapped box first.

The gift was held delicately in her hand, and she caressed the bow and the paper almost reverently, like it meant a lot to her. He was glad that he’d let Summer talk him into something a little more extravagant. Suddenly, the timing seemed perfect. “You brought me another present?”

“I hope you like it.” She unwrapped the large rectangular box, glancing at him as she revealed the velvet beneath. She stroked it hesitantly then lifted the hinged lid on the box and gasped. Her jaw dropped, and she looked up at him in shock.

“Th–this is turquoise and silver, isn’t it?” She fingered the heavy pendant and earrings then put her fingers to her lips. “This is genuine turquoise. It’s huge. It must have cost you a fortune.” She lifted the wide cuff bracelet from its bed of velvet and looked at the smooth, inlaid stones. With expressive eyes, she looked up him. “Chance, I’m—I don’t understand. This was tremendously expensive.”

She was about to say more when he placed his fingertips over her soft, full lips. “I don’t care how much it cost. I wanted to make you happy. Will you try it on?”

“But, Chance…” She looked confused, and that was his fault. He’d walked in on her naked and embarrassed her, then she’d hurt herself, and now he was springing expensive gifts on her without preamble.

He lifted the necklace and carefully undid the catch. “Baby, let’s try it on you and see if you like it.” Wishing he had his reading glasses, he fumbled with the necklace, and the ends slipped from his callused fingers. She caught it and smiled at him as he muttered, “I’m going to make a big mess out of this with my clumsiness.”

Thinking that was true in more ways than one, he paused for a second, watching as she fastened the catch and caressed the pendant thoughtfully. He decided to go for broke.

“I wanted to give you something nice because I care about you, Lydia. Being around you makes me happy, but I don’t enjoy when it’s time for me to say good-bye to you. I want you to come back with me to the Rockin’ C Ranch. We have a huge kitchen and a bunch of hungry men who would love to taste your cooking, but more than anything else I just want you to come back to Divine with me.” Please!

“What about Clayton?” She looked really uncertain on that point. “What does he think?”

“I talked to him about it tonight. He wants you to come, too, if you’re willing. You want out of Fort Stockton. You want to be a chef. We want you—I want you with us, and you’d have lots of men who would be at your whim and beckoning once they taste your cooking. But more than anything, Lydia, we just want you to come to the Rockin’ C. See how it will work out.”

He rattled on for another minute while she listened, but she still seemed confused. He’d probably hit her with too much information all at once.

“Did you say Clayton wants me?”

Chance bit his lip, hoping he hadn’t just fucked things up royally. He could lie to her and say he misspoke, but he didn’t want to start off that way.

Nodding hesitantly, he watched her face. “Yeah. To be honest, he’s just as smitten with you as I am.”

He couldn’t get a feel for how she was reacting to that news. Her eyes blinked tiredly, and he suddenly questioned the wisdom of hitting her with that revelation in her present state.

“Why isn’t he here with you?”

That was the million-dollar question. “He was worried that it might overwhelm you, to discover out of the blue that we’re both attracted to you. He doubted that you’d be interested in both of us.”

Brushing her long, dark hair behind her ears, she said, “Let me get this straight because I’m a little punchy right now. You want me, and…Clayton wants me, too?”