The Humbug Man

Free The Humbug Man by Diana Palmer

Book: The Humbug Man by Diana Palmer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Diana Palmer
Christmas.” She showed him a computer game, one of the very expensive ones with graphics and three diskettes.
    He pursed his lips. “Very nice. I have a PC compatible, but I hadn’t realized that Blake had an interest in computers.”
    “You have a computer?” she asked with vivid curiosity because she was thinking up a present for Tate, since he was the one person she hadn’t foreseen a need to buy one for.
    “Sure. Over 600 kilobytes of storage space, double disk drive, with a modem and a daisy wheel printer.” He smiled at her fascination. “I keep my herd records on computer these days. It beats the hell out of having to handwrite every entry.”
    “Do you have a spreadsheet program?” she fished.
    “I do, indeed,” he said and named it. It was one of the more expensive ones, so that program was out.
    “What I don’t have,” he sighed, studying Blake’s disk, “is a good word processing program. I could use one of those to write letters with.” He glanced at her, noticing her rapt expression, and he grinned again. He had two word processors, but he wasn’t about to tell her. He’d rush home and hide those disks, fast!
    “My, my, they do come in handy, don’t they?” she mused and quickly hid the one she’d bought for Blake. Blake could wait another Christmas for a word processing program; he wasn’t getting this one.
    They loaded her packages in the car after she’d taken time to wrap them. “Tate, I never thought,” she said as they got into the jeep, “is there anyone you spend Christmas with? Your family?”
    “My parents are long dead, Maggie,” he said quietly. “I have no one.”
    “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.”
    He took her slender hand in his and pressed his mouth to the palm. “You and I aren’t going to have any secrets from each other,” he said tenderly. “I don’t mind telling you anything you want to know.”
    He let go of her hand and started the Jeep, and she thought about what he’d said all the way home.
    * * *
    Home
. It felt like home. She finished the last of the icing on the Japanese fruitcake she’d made, with its one mince layer and two white layers and exotic candied fruit icing with coconut all over it. It was like the cake her mother had always made back home. She wondered if she could ask Tate later about phoning her youngest brother Michael on Christmas Eve and charging the bill to her phone in Tucson. Oddly enough, she hadn’t missed having a telephone at the cabin, but she knew Tate had one because she’d heard him talking on it occasionally. Michael still lived in Tennessee, and he kept in touch with the rest of the family. Maggie wanted to know how Jack and Sam and their families were, and Michael was always good about passing messages along. Dear Michael, with his hair as dark as her own and eyes almost as gray as hers.
    “What are you dreaming about?” Tate asked, reaching past her to refill his coffee cup while he and Blake took a short break from one of the old computer games Maggie had brought over.
    “About Michael,” she said without thinking and looked up to see a flash of lightning in Tate’s black eyes.
    “Who’s Michael?” he asked tersely.
    “Oh, I like that,” she said softly and smiled up at him. “I like the way you sound when you think there’s another man in my life. But there isn’t, you know. Michael is my younger brother. He’s just twenty-two, and he looks like me, except in places.”
    He mellowed. His lean fingers brushed back her thick hair. “Does he?” He bent, nuzzling her cheek with his. “I’m getting possessive. Does it bother you?”
    “Look at another woman and you’ll see how much it bothers me.”
    He lifted his head, searching her eyes quietly. “I see what you mean,” he mused.
    “What?”
    He rubbed his nose against hers. “I like it, too.”
    His breath was on her mouth. “Like what?”
    “Having you get possessive. Open your mouth.”
    She did and his brushed against it,

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