Plots and Pans

Free Plots and Pans by Kelly Eileen Hake

Book: Plots and Pans by Kelly Eileen Hake Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kelly Eileen Hake
Tags: Fiction, Romance, Christian
window before straightening up. After going to such lengths to be sure Desta wasn’t frightened by any unwelcome visitors, it would be a fine thing if he fulfilled the role himself by looming at her window. The thought made him pause before knocking—he’d raced up here to make sure the young grub-line rider hadn’t broken in or caused mischief. Instead he’d found a beautiful woman visiting with Desta.
    A few things didn’t sit straight, and the possibilities didn’t explain them away.
    Had the youngster followed the lady to the Bar None? If so, why? And where was he?
    How had a lady sashayed onto the property—even in the midst of a storm—and not caused an almighty ruckus among the men? Why hadn’t Desta sent him word and let him know who’d arrived? Come to think of it, there weren’t any other new horses in the stables and Tucker knew no carriages or coaches rolled up to the ranch with visitors. How had the woman gotten here at all?
    Water rolled from the brim of his hat to drip on his nose. Tucker shook his head, hoping to dispel the annoyance and redirect the course of his thoughts. No such luck. He couldn’t reject the one explanation to account for this scenario, no matter how deeply it pricked his pride.
    It’d been dark and raining this afternoon. The young cowpoke sheltered behind hat, bandanna, and jacket. Tucker didn’t make much of it when a man didn’t waste his words—he valued peace and quiet and thought more of folks who didn’t speak unless they had something to say. But now looking back, he realized that the youth uttered no more than two words, a single syllable each. For pity’s sake, one of them might not even be a word—just a letter! “J.”
    I’ve been duped
. Tucker gritted his teeth and drew in a cold, rain-scented breath. If word got out that a gorgeous woman rode up to the Bar None and fooled him into seeing a tired cowhand, he’d never live it down. A small, honest part of him thought he probably didn’t deserve to.
    Any boss who required instant, unswerving obedience from his men had to earn their respect. Every hand on the Bar None needed to trust Tucker’s judgment because a moment might be the difference between life and death. They followed him now because he made solid decisions and his instincts provided reliable warning in dangerous situations, much as they had tonight.
    So what happened this afternoon?
He scowled. The only thing he could figure was that his senses didn’t see mistaking a woman for a ranch hand as a dangerous situation. Stood to reason. History showed that if there was one thing to throw off a man’s primal instincts and interfere with his God-given good sense, it was a woman. For the first time, Tucker felt sympathy for Adam.
    Privately, he’d always thought the first man fell embarrassingly short of the mark. Adam knew better than to eat the fruit. He’d walked into sin with his eyes wide open, so in Tucker’s book, the man should’ve owned up to his share of the blame. Instead he pointed at Eve as the instigator. Now Tucker reconsidered. Maybe his forbear wasn’t just pointing at Eve. Maybe the world’s first hapless male had been trying to explain that his good sense misfired when confronted with a female. Adam made the first mistake, and men had been falling for women ever since.
    Too bad that didn’t make the impact any less painful. Or any less embarrassing.
He’d
fallen for the little lady’s trick. Tucker raised his hand and rapped on the door. But now
she’d
be the one standing her ground and offering an explanation.
    When Desta opened the door, he brushed past her into the welcome warmth of the kitchen. He ambled toward the interloper, never letting his gaze leave her face. Not that it wanted to—up close the woman made an even prettier picture than he’d expected; all big brown eyes and rosy lips softly parted in surprise. She’d risen to her feet before he’d crossed the threshold, and Tucker noted she stood unusually

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