Snowbound Sweetheart. Judy Christenberry
studied him out of the corner of her eye even as she paid attention to the traffic. “Why?”
“It’s a simple question.”
“Don’t you know Brad?”
“Barely. I’ve met him a couple of times. Once at the wedding, and a couple of hours last Christmas.”
“And you don’t like him.” She wasn’t asking a question. The man’s attitude toward his brother-in-law was evident.
“I don’t know him.”
“And that’s why you asked my opinion? A woman who reminds you of your ex?”
“Forget it.” He turned to stare out his window again.
But she couldn’t. “He seems nice enough. Devoted to Kathy.”
“Yeah?” he asked with a big frown. “He hasn’t—hit on you?”
“Me? You think he’d hit on me, living across from his wife?” She was astounded. Even if Brad had been the type to mess around, she wasn’t. “Even if he had, I would never—”
“Kathy called me yesterday. Crying.”
“And you thought—”
“I didn’t know what to think. She wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. I flew up this morning to see if there was anything I could do. She still wouldn’t tell me. But you heard her. She didn’t want to tell Brad I’d come.”
She should’ve known. He’d already reminded her of her brothers by his dress. Now he reminded her of her brothers with his protectiveness, his smothering of his sister.
“Look, all married couples go through some rough patches. They have to work things out themselves. You can’t fix everything just because she’s your little sister.” She tried to keep her voice calm, but she heard it tightening as she finished speaking.
“Thank you, Dr. Joyce Brothers.”
His sarcastic reply only irritated her more. If it had been left to her brothers, she would’ve sat upon a silken pillow all her days and never even learned to walk, much less fend for herself. That’s why she’d been forced to leave home. She hadn’t realized she and Kathy had that much in common.
Time to concentrate on her driving. This cowboy wouldn’t appreciate her opinion any more than her brothers had.
“Have you ever heard them fighting?”
“No.” In fact, she’d been a little envious of Kathy. Not that she was attracted to Brad, but she was attracted to the devotion the two shared, the closeness. Since she’d moved away from home, she’d sometimes longed for a relationship that could lead to marriage.
As long as the man understood she wouldn’t be smothered.
She was glad she was concentrating on her driving when they got up on the interstate. As she increased her speed, her tires began to spin and the back end of the car skidded a little. She immediately eased up on the gas.
“Better keep your speed down,” her companion advised.
“Really? Are you sure I shouldn’t go faster?”
His head snapped around to stare at her.
“I was being sarcastic,” she pointed out, as if speaking to a slow learner.
“Oh. Thanks for explaining.”
She shrugged her shoulders. Okay, so two could be sarcastic. Maybe she’d deserved that kind of answer. She turned her windshield wipers up to high speed as the snow began coming down faster. She’d be glad when the highway turned farther south. It was their only hope of outrunning the storm.
Gil didn’t make any more attempts at conversation. It had been foolish to try to soothe his concerns about Kathy by asking Lindsay questions. Like he’d trust her evaluation anyway. A woman who dressed in a designer suit to drive in a snowstorm.
His ex-wife had been impressed with anyone with money. Their morals, or intelligence or even their warmth had no value compared to their bank account.
He knew Brad made a good living. But he wanted his sister to be happy, not well dressed. He wanted her husband to love her, not buy her things. Well, he wanted him to buy her things, too, but that wasn’t the most important. He didn’t want Kathy to wind up in the same kind of loveless marriage that he had.
As Lindsay carefully steered the car, Gil studied her hands. They looked smooth, soft, but he was surprised by her nails. While well tended, they weren’t long, and the polish was clear. She only wore one ring, an opal with diamonds.
“Nice ring. A gift?”
Aha. So she had some man on a string, willing to buy her expensive things. He remembered when he’d first fallen for Amanda. He’d prided himself on buying her what she wanted. Until he realized that was all she wanted. Real emotions—even love—meant nothing to her.
When Lindsay gasped again, he brought his attention back to the road. A car that had just passed by them went into a spin. It narrowly missed going over the side as it came to rest against the railing.
“You okay?” he asked, studying her to determine whether she would be able to continue driving.
“Yes,” she said with a sigh. “Should we stop to help them?”
“There’s not a lot we could do. Unless you want to call 911 for them.”
“My cell phone is in my purse. Could you call for me? I want to concentrate on my driving.”
He found the phone and called in the near accident. After hanging up, he said, “They promised to send a cop to check on them.”
“They were going too fast,” he added.
She sent him a look that told him she got his less than subtle message. But, in truth, she was keeping her speed down. In fact, she was doing a good job with her driving, though he hated to admit it.
He checked his watch. It was already after three. They’d been driving almost two hours and hadn’t gotten out of Chicago yet.
She must’ve caught his movement out of the corner of her eye because she asked, “What time is it?”
Though she frowned, she didn’t say anything.
He settled more comfortably in his seat. “If you get tired of driving, I can spell you.”
She didn’t answer for a minute. Then she said, “They don’t get much snow in Oklahoma.”
So she doubted his skills? “I lived in New York for almost ten years.”
“In New York City? I didn’t think many people drove in the city.”
“We had a house in upstate New York, spent weekends there, particularly in the winter because of the skiing.” He’d enjoyed the skiing. But he hadn’t enjoyed the collection of people his wife invited to join them. They’d been her friends, not his.
“I guess you don’t get much skiing in Apache.”
“Nope. But I’ve made several trips to Colorado since I moved back.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“In New York City?” she asked, her voice rising in surprise.
“No, not in New York City. I was a stockbroker there.” And he’d been one of the best. Which had made it possible for him to come back to Oklahoma and buy his ranch, even after the divorce.
“Do you miss being a stockbroker?”