Snowbound Sweetheart. Judy Christenberry

Snowbound Sweetheart - Judy Christenberry

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not supposed to hit until tonight, so I didn’t think there’d be a problem.”

      “That’s what I thought, too,” the man said, his voice deep and rich. “But the plane I’m on originated in Minneapolis. It’s stuck there.”

      Lindsay could sympathize, but she figured he’d just catch the next one out. “Well, I hope you get out before the storm.” She turned to Kathy. “Here’s the key. And I just watered the plants, so probably watering them on Saturday will be enough.”

      “Aren’t you going to call and check on your plane?” Kathy asked. “Maybe you and Gil were on the same flight.”

      Both she and Gil spoke at once. “I’m sure we’re not.”

      Then they stared at each other.

      “But aren’t you from Oklahoma?” Kathy asked.

      “Yes, but—” Lindsay stopped and stared at the man. “You were flying to Oklahoma?”

      “Yeah, the three-thirty flight.”

      “Oh, no! No, that can’t—well, I’ll find another flight.” She turned around to head for her apartment and the nearest phone.

      “Won’t do you any good,” his laconic voice informed her.

      She spun around to stare at him.

      Kathy answered her unspoken question. “Gil’s called every airline he could think of. They offered a flight tomorrow morning…if the storm hasn’t closed the airport.”

      The weather forecasters were expecting a huge snowstorm this evening, but Lindsay hadn’t really been concerned. After all, they were usually alarmists. And it was early for a snowstorm, even in Chicago.

      The panic filling her had no basis. Missing Thanksgiving with her family wasn’t the end of the world.

      Except that she was homesick.

      Extremely homesick.

      She instantly formed a new plan. Nothing was going to stop her from getting home. She smiled at the other two. “Then I’ll drive.”

      “I already checked. There aren’t any rental cars available. I guess because of the holiday,” Gil said, watching her.

      Aha. She had him there. “I have my own car. I can load up and be out of here in half an hour, long before the storm hits Chicago.” With a smile of triumph, she spun on her heel and was out in the hall when he called to her.

      “Could I buy a seat in your car?”

      Lindsay turned to stare at him. Her imagination immediately pictured the two of them enclosed in her tiny car, practically on top of each other. Heat pooled in her stomach. Which was ridiculous. He was Kathy’s brother. The way her friend talked about him, he was a saint.

      “Uh, my car is small.”

      “I could spell you on the driving.”

      That offer made her reconsider her decision. After all, she had at least fifteen hours of driving ahead of her. It was after one o’clock now. She’d need to drive straight through to get home by tomorrow morning.

      Kathy spoke before Lindsay could, a disturbed look on her face. “Gil, I wish you’d stay. Brad and I would love to have you here for Thanksgiving.”

      “Sorry, baby, but I promised Rafe I’d be back tonight.”

      His calling his sister baby might have been thought endearing, but not to Lindsay. She’d grown up with five brothers and a father watching her every move, trying to direct every step. The phrase “baby” always grated on her nerves.

      The man turned back to Lindsay. “I’ll certainly be willing to pay all the expenses.”

      She gave him a long look. He was a stranger. But she’d known Kathy a year and really liked her. And Kathy adored her brother. That should be reference enough. Her family certainly wouldn’t object. They’d probably approve of her having a man to “protect” her. How irritating!

      Even so, she made her decision. “All right, Mr. Daniels. But I’m leaving in half an hour.”

      “I’m ready. Are you going dressed like that?”

      She stiffened. Although she hadn’t really thought about it, she probably would’ve changed.

      Now she wouldn’t do so for any amount of money.

      Knee-jerk reaction, she knew. But she’d come all the way to Chicago to get away from men who thought they knew better than her.

      “I don’t think that’s any of your business.” She didn’t wait for his response. She crossed the hall, unlocked her door, entered and slammed it behind her.

      “Men!” she exclaimed under her breath. She could do without them.

      “Oh, dear. I hope she doesn’t go without you, Gil. I think you upset her.”

      “Good guess, baby,” he said with a rueful grin. “City girls can be touchy, can’t they?”

      “But if she’s from Oklahoma, she can’t really be a city girl.”

      “Oklahoma City’s bigger than you think, Kathy. They’ve even got some decent restaurants there. You’ll have to come see me in the spring.”

      “Yes, of course, if Brad wants to.”

      Gil pressed his lips tightly together. He’d flown up because his sister had called yesterday crying. When he’d arrived this morning, she’d assured him she was just a little blue. Everything was fine.

      He didn’t believe her.

      “Listen, Kathy, I want you to take this.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He took a plastic card from inside and gave it to her. “Put it away, and don’t mention it to Brad. If you ever need money or…want to get away…for a visit or something, you can use it.” Were his reasons tactful enough?

      “Brad and I don’t have secrets,” Kathy assured him, looking at the card doubtfully, her hand creeping across her stomach.

      “Are you all right?” he asked, watching her.

      “Yes. Lately my stomach’s been a little unsettled. But I’m just not sure about—”

      “Just for once, do what I ask. It won’t hurt anything to have a resource Brad doesn’t know about. If you don’t ever use it, it won’t matter. But I’ll feel better. Do it for me.”

      He breathed a sigh of relief when she finally took the charge card.

      “Do you have a place to hide it?”

      “I’ll just put it in my billfold.”

      “No! No, let’s find another place.” He took her into her bedroom. “How about taped to the bottom of this mirror thing,” he suggested, pointing to a mirror tray on her dresser.


      She got some tape and did as he requested. Then he asked to borrow a couple of pillows and several blankets. “Just in case we run into bad weather. And maybe a jug of drinking water.”

      He hoped distracting her from what she’d just done would make her forget her objections.

      Half an hour later, Lindsay rapped on Kathy’s door again. Because she wasn’t an idiot, she’d exchanged her heels for loafers. But she carried her heels with her, in a tote bag, so she could put them on before she got out of the car when she got home.

      Her suit, a fashionable teal green with gold buttons, didn’t wrinkle, and though the skirt was narrow, it was short enough for her to maneuver stairs. She’d be fine in it.

      The cowboy didn’t know what he was talking about. Just like her brothers.

      The door opened and the man in her thoughts stood

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