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Lydia's Twin Temptation(Divine Creek Ranch 8)(4)

By:Heather Rainier

“LaMont knew you would be disappointed and said he would be in as quickly as he could. It will just be for the early morning crowd.”

LaMont had to take care of his aging, diabetic mother, and she didn’t hold that against him. She liked working with him, and he kept his kitchen spotless the way she would if she were the cook. But the tips she earned from waiting on the morning crowd represented a huge chunk of what she would’ve made for the day.

“It’s fine, sir. Did the supply truck come in?”

He waved his hand dismissively. “Yes, yes. They are unloading right now.”

That alone made her job easier. She hated making excuses to customers when menu items weren’t available. Mr. Cortez did not keep up with supply orders very well, and more than once she’d gotten an earful from a customer only to turn around and get the same from him if she placed an order for something else they were suddenly out of.

Chance had been witness to once such dressing down on her first day. She’d been able to tell he was concerned, and it had required determination to squelch her tears and the lump in her throat so she could pretend she was fine. She’d needed the job and so had pretended the mistake was hers. In reality, the blame for the shortage rested on Mr. Cortez’s shoulders.

“So what happened? I heard your name on the police scanner last night.”

Lydia bit her lip at the reminder. “My room was robbed.” She gritted her teeth and willed her quivering chin into submission. “They took everything I owned.”

Mr. Cortez gasped in shock. “Everything?” She glanced at him, not used to hearing him project concern for anyone. He tended to show anger more than any other emotion.

“Yes. Everything.”

“What will you do?”

“Start over. First I have to get my car fixed.”

“You know, you can come and stay with me if you want to.” His tone made her want to shudder but she suppressed the urge.


“I can even loan you money to get your car fixed. I’m sure we can come to a good arrangement.”

A chill crawled up her spine. What in the hell did he mean by that? Double fucking eww!

When he reached over for the first inappropriate touch of the day, she cringed as he patted her knee with his palm. He knew not to leave it there because she’d asked him before not to touch her, but he always claimed he forgot. He couldn’t help his “friendly nature,” he sometimes said, but lecherous nature was more like it.

He removed his hand and gestured out the window. “Fort Stockton is not so terrible. You could decide to stay. My house is bigger than your motel room and you might like it, too.”

She was sure that Fort Stockton was not terrible, but some of its citizens were downright awful. Lydia was one hundred percent certain that she would not like any arrangement they could come to. She was not so naïve that she didn’t know what he was hinting at.

Without answering, Lydia looked out the smudged truck window and watched the houses and streetlights fly past. Of all the places and situations she’d ever been in, this was so not where she wanted to be. She hadn’t trained at the culinary institute in Austin for this. The one thing she could say was that her speed had been honed by overwork and the need to be efficient in an understaffed café.

She knew the regulars could tell the difference when she was the one cooking, and even LaMont had complimented her abilities as a chef. He’d assured her she was doing the right thing by getting out of Fort Stockton to somewhere she could be noticed for her true talent as a Cordon Bleu-trained chef.

Fingering her handbag, she felt the outline of the silver bracelet safely zipped in the inner pocket. A pang of loneliness speared through her heart when Chance came to mind. Looking at her hands, she imagined his handsome, rugged face and startlingly bright blue eyes. She loved the lines that crinkled at the outer edges every time he smiled.

Chance probably wasn’t more than his early to mid forties, but spending his days outside had given him a slightly older, weathered appearance that she found incredibly attractive. She recalled the callused hands that had held the last gift he’d brought her, wrapped in pretty paper. They were strong, work-roughened hands. Hands capable of taking control of a situation.

Occasionally, his twin brother Clayton came on his cattle runs with him. When Clayton looked her in the eye and smiled, her heart did a little pitter-patter, but she attributed that to the fact that he was identical to his twin brother Chance. When they were there, he seemed to back off and let Chance do all the talking, but he was always friendly and just as generous with his tips as his brother was. The Carlisle men had done a lot to help build her “Get out of Fort Stockton” fund.