Snowbound Sweetheart. Judy Christenberry

Snowbound Sweetheart - Judy Christenberry

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duffel bag would fit.

      “Aren’t you taking any luggage?”

      She sighed. “I’ve already loaded my things.”

      “I would’ve been glad to carry them for you.”

      She wanted to go ballistic on him, letting him know that a woman could manage on her own. She didn’t need a Neanderthal following her around, using his muscles on her behalf. But she realized he was just trying to be polite, even if stereotypical, and instead, she simply said, “Not necessary.”

      Kathy was just behind her brother. “Gil, be careful, please, and call me after you’ve gotten home.”

      “I will.” He hesitated, then said, “Say hello to Brad for me. Sorry I couldn’t stay to visit with him.”

      Kathy turned a bright red. “I—I’d rather not say you came. If I do, I’d have to tell him you came because I cried, and he’ll be upset.”

      Lindsay watched the interplay between brother and sister with curiosity. Kathy’s words didn’t please Gil, but he didn’t argue with her. “Your decision.”

      “Thanks, Gil. Have a happy Thanksgiving.” Kathy hugged her brother’s neck, almost dislodging everything he carried. He kissed her cheek and turned to Lindsay.

      “Let’s go.”

      Like he was in charge.

      “Bye, Kathy. Thanks for taking care of my plants.”

      “I’ll see you in a few days,” Kathy agreed with a smile, but the others noted the tears in her eyes.

      Lindsay pressed the elevator button, hoping one would arrive quickly. Prolonged goodbyes were difficult, and Kathy seemed to be having problems with this one.

      “Go on back in and get some rest, baby. We’re on our way,” Gil insisted.

      “No, I—”

      The dinging of a bell signifying the arrival of an elevator stopped her. Lindsay waved and quickly stepped on, followed by Gil.

      “Aren’t you taking a coat? That jacket doesn’t look heavy enough to keep you warm.”

      Lindsay waited until they reached the lobby. Once she was out of the elevator, out of the confined space with the man, she turned around and faced him. “Let’s get something straight before we start. I am not your sister. Nor do I need a keeper. This is my car, my trip. You can come along, as long as you understand I’m in charge! Got it?”

      Gil squared his jaw and considered walking away from this stubborn woman. He could take a hotel room and wait out the storm.

      But he really wanted to get home.

      Before he made up his mind, she spoke again. “I’m sorry if that sounded rude, but I don’t like someone hovering over me. If we’re going to be in a car together for fifteen hours, I thought it would be better to clear the air now.”

      In even tones, hiding his irritation, he said, “Fair enough.” Then he stood there, waiting for her to lead the way.

      It seemed to take a minute for her to realize he was waiting on her. Snapping her chin into the air, she turned and headed through the door that led to the parking garage.

      Again he reconsidered his decision when he saw her car. A Miata. He was going to be trapped in a small car for fifteen hours with a feminist—a touchy feminist—which was like a cowboy being cornered by a bull with a hatred for humans. Unmanageable.

      “The trunk is full,” she muttered. “But I think all your things can go in the back seat.”

      What back seat? There was a narrow ledge behind the front two seats. But he wasn’t about to argue. He stuffed everything where she said. Then he pulled off his denim, fleece-lined coat and laid it on top. It occurred to him again to ask where her coat was, and whether she shouldn’t put it inside the car, too. But there was no way he was risking another pithy lecture.

      Then he squeezed himself into the passenger seat. Damn, he was going to feel like a pretzel by the time they reached Oklahoma.

      “Please fasten your seat belt,” she reminded him.

      Oh, yeah, he didn’t want to forget that little thing. A woman driver who had taken an instant dislike to him? No, he didn’t want to take any more chances.

      The minute they pulled out of the parking garage into city traffic, Gil knew the trip was going to take longer than expected. The roads were jammed, filled with impatient drivers using their horns to indicate their frustration.

      “Crowded today,” he said, casually watching Lindsay out of the corner of his eye.

      She was frowning, but as far as he could tell, she was in control. “I’ve never seen it this crowded.”

      “Well, with the snowstorm and the holiday, I suppose we should’ve expected it.”

      “If it’s too much for you, Mr. Daniels, you can get out now. It’s only a short walk back to the apartment.” She made her statement without heat, as if it didn’t matter to her either way.

      “Hey, I wasn’t trying to complain. I was only making a comment. An inoffensive comment.”

      He watched her fingers tighten on the steering wheel before she released them. “My apology. I guess I’m a little stressed today.”

      “Understandable. A change of plans at the last minute can be hard to handle.”

      She gave a hint of a smile that vanished quickly, and she concentrated on her driving.

      Gil studied her. She was beautiful enough to satisfy any man. Her blond hair was swept up into some kind of twist, leaving him to wonder how long it was. Her makeup was discreet, enhancing her smooth features. Her hazel eyes were complemented by the color of her suit.

      And she had killer legs.

      He’d noticed them beneath the short skirt when he was following her to her car.

      The rest of her seemed well-proportioned, too, though he couldn’t tell much with the long, boxy jacket she wore.

      Just the kind of woman he avoided.

      Grimly, he pictured his ex-wife. She’d always been on the best-dressed list. Every hair had been in place. Nothing would do but the most expensive for her. Fashion was the most important thing in her life and came before everything else.

      Including him. It was demoralizing to come in second to a cashmere sweater set. Ultimately, he just hadn’t lived up to Amanda’s expectations for a husband.

      “Damn!” his companion muttered, catching him by surprise.

      “What’s wrong?”

      They’d been edging their way along Lakeshore Drive. Now even edging had been eliminated. Long lines of traffic had come to a complete halt.

      “I’d hoped we could reach Interstate 55 before it got this bad. Surely once we get on that highway, things will move faster.”

      “Interstate 55. That goes to St. Louis, doesn’t it?”

      “Yes. From there, we’ll take Interstate 44. It goes to Oklahoma City.”

      “You got a map?” he asked.

      Her head snapped around. “I know where I’m going!”

      He heaved a sigh. Yep, an angry bull. “I thought I might see if there was another way to get to 55. Lakeshore Drive is pretty famous.”

      Her cheeks flushed. “Sorry. I’m a little tense about—There’s a map of Chicago in the glove compartment.”

      Was she nervous about being alone with him? She wasn’t fainthearted, like his sister, that was for sure. Without comment, he pulled out the map. He noted she had a map of the Midwest in there, also. She was well prepared.


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