Kelley Martin looked up from the spreadsheets at Caffey, her wide-eyed waitress, and scrunched her lids shut to hold back tears. Numbers didn’t lie. Her pretty little eatery wouldn’t last the summer. Of course her ancient car had chosen this very morning to conk out. Now she had to depend on family to cart her around. But ask for money, no. That she couldn’t do.
So today’s chauffeur wasn’t one of her brothers? She groaned and gritted her teeth. What was that about? She sure wasn’t in any frame of mind to chat mindlessly with some ranch hand on the hour drive back to the Hearts Crossing. Was it a fix-up? That’s all she needed was some sort of quasi-blind date. The pain of the break-up with Ned was long over, and her brothers were setting records at finding mates. Even Caffey was kneeling at the altar in a few weeks.
No doubt everybody reckoned she was ready to rumble on the dating scene.
“Listen.” Caffey Matthews turned serious now. “You go relax and have some fun on that wagon train. Stacia and ’ll hold down the fort just fine til you’re back next weekend.”
In spite of her worries, Kelley had to burst out in laughter. Her job as chuck cook on the city-slicker wagon trains her family ran each summer was something she loved, but the duties were far from relaxation. Starting last summer, she’d begun splitting duties with her sister-in-law Daisy so she could alternate with working at Vegeterra every other week. And this year, well, frankly, she needed the extra money she earned on the wagon trains. Stacia, her sous chef, and Caffey, not bad with pastries, had long proven their worth although the restaurant was always on her mind. Relax?
Then she squeezed Caffey’s hand. “Thanks, I know you’ll be fine. Now, I better see who’s out there and just what’s going on.” Kelley got up and forced a smile. No way could she let on to Caffey, to Stacia…both good friends, not even to her family that her personal venture as a restaurateur was failing, failing bad, and failing fast. Her heart crumpled. She’d been so certain last summer that the Lord had led her here to Sunset Hills.
Wrong. A vegetarian restaurant and tea room in mountain country alive with hunters, fishermen, ranchers and local law enforcement? Too much testosterone and red meat. Bah. How could He have let everything go so wrong? She rolled her eyes at Caffey and headed into the dining room.
She stopped so sudden in her tracks ropes might as well be tied to her ankles. Said good-lookin’ cowboy was an understatement. The guy was smokin’ hot. Had she combed her hair lately? She’d chewed off lip gloss hours ago. Holding a cup of steaming Joe, he leaned against the counter, taller than any human had a right to be.
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