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Lydia's Twin Temptation(Divine Creek Ranch 8)(7)

By:Heather Rainier

Chance’s hands tightened into fists when she struggled to keep from becoming emotional. She shouldn’t have to put up with this bullshit. She repeated his order back to him in a shaky voice and smiled at him, but the tears still showed in her shiny eyes.

Lydia turned in his order to the big man behind the window, presumably the cook, who spoke kindly to her as he slid plates under the heat lamps in her direction. She gathered them onto another tray and turned with the weight balanced over her head. Chance caught her and the tray as she wobbled slightly to give her a chance to gain her balance. She smiled at him and nodded, and then he allowed her to move off. He turned in the seat and caught the cook watching her in concern. The cook’s eyes shifted to Chance and they exchanged a look, and the cook shook his head in consternation.

The cook said something to the old man, and then Chance heard a door bang closed in the kitchen. When Lydia returned with a tray full of empty dishes to deal with, the cook motioned for her to come near. He held up a small plate with what looked like a breakfast sandwich on it, pointed at her, and gestured for her to come into the kitchen. She shook her head and looked around. The dining room was still full of people.

Chance heard the cook say, “Lydia, you’re about to pass out. Get yourself back here and eat before I come get you and force-feed you.” His eyes got big, and he looked serious. Chance decided he liked this big guy.

Lydia glanced at Chance, looking torn, and Chance whispered, “Baby, if you don’t eat you’re going to fall down. Go. We’ll be okay for three minutes.”

Biting her lip, she refilled his tea glass as well as the glass belonging to the customer sitting next to him. The older man smiled and thanked her, then gestured for her to go eat real quick. Chance looked down the counter, and all five of the men of various ages seated there were watching her with concern in their eyes.

She looked back at him and smiled. “I’ll be back in two shakes.”

Chance wanted to groan at her choice of words as she strode to the kitchen door. Despite the drab waitress uniform she wore, he couldn’t help but notice the sway of her curvy hips or admire the sexy shape of her legs as she walked away. She was as beautiful in body as she was in spirit. The cook brought Chance’s food and one other customer’s plates out to them and thanked them for letting her take a break.

He stopped beside Chance and quietly asked, “She tell you what happened?”

Chance frowned and said, “No, she hasn’t had a chance yet. What happened?”

The cook wiped his hands on a clean dish towel and said, “Lydia got robbed last night and someone slashed her tires. Took everything she had.”

Chance’s heart sank at the news. “That is a damned shame.”

“Yeah, including all the money she was saving, trying to get out of this place. ’Bout broke my heart when she told me. She covered for me this morning so she didn’t make squat but her hourly wage during those hours. Then Mr. Cortez tells her she has to stay when this big ol’ reunion   crowd shows up in town. She was willing because she wanted to make up the difference in tips she lost this morning.” He frowned and added, “Cortez has been after her all day.”

Chance sat up and asked, “What exactly do you mean?”

The cook nodded with pursed lips and said, “Been yelling all day. When I came in the back door this morning, I heard her tell him that if he touched her one more time he was gonna pull back a nub. He just laughed and walked away. I gotta get back to work. Here she is, looking one hundred percent better.”

Lydia grinned at him and thanked him as he slipped past her behind the counter and went back to work. Her color looked better, and her hands were no longer shaking.

“Did you finish eating?” Chance asked when she brought the pitcher to refill his tea again.

“I sure did. LaMont makes a mean ham, egg, and cheese sandwich. I feel better now. I meant to stop and eat before the dinner rush, but we got busy again.”

“Looks like you’re just about pushed to your limit for one day.”

She nodded wearily but then shrugged and said, “What else can I do?”

Come home with me! Let someone take care of you for a change.

In between customers she checked in on him, and he noticed each time she returned her smile would brighten and reach all the way to her greenish-blue eyes.

He lingered over his meal until the customers finally began to dwindle at the counter and then at the tables. The waitresses’ duties shifted toward cleanup, and eventually only a few customers remained. He’d decided he wanted to give her the gifts in private this time. His instincts were telling him to press for more than just seeing her in the café on this trip.