Taming the Texan - Page 40

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Seeing Hayes with her son, riding through the fields, it had been too much so she’d kept her eyes on the horizon.

Now they were back at his house and he was making sure the horses were fed and watered. Alexa sat on the edge of the back porch and watched as Mason toddled around plucking up random grassy weeds. The tire swing swayed in the distance from a large, sturdy branch.

It was all Alexa could do not to peek inside the kitchen window. She was dying to know what stage he was in with the space they’d demolished. Knowing him, he hadn’t sat around and done nothing inside there.

A large black truck moved slowly up the drive and Alexa came to her feet to gather Mason. She remained on the porch and watched as Annabelle stepped from the vehicle. Alexa didn’t need to be spotted here; that would only be fodder for the family gossip mill. They all undoubtedly knew she’d spent the entire weekend here during the storm. And here she was again, this time with her son.

Annabelle hopped out of the truck, her blond hair swirling around her shoulders. She offered a big smile and a wave. Alexa returned the kind gestures, though her heart was pounding. How was she going to explain being back? It wasn’t like she and Hayes were… What? Dating? Nope. They weren’t even having sex anymore.

Friendship, that’s all this was. And really, could their relationship even be labeled as friends? She kept an epic secret from him and he had hang-ups about life in general. She wasn’t ready to have a man come into her son’s life and Hayes wasn’t looking for an instant family. They were going nowhere fast and there was nothing she could do but hold on.

Thankfully, Hayes stepped from the stables and crossed to Annabelle. Alexa really didn’t want to have to make awkward conversation.

“What are you doing back here?” Hayes asked, a smile on his face as he accepted a hug from his sister-in-law. “Where’re the girls?”

“Actually, Colt is home with them because he’s been in the stable all night.”

“What’s wrong?” Hayes asked. “I had a couple horses sent down to me and never heard anything was wrong.”

Alexa stepped off the porch and eased Mason back down into the grass. She tried not to appear that she was eavesdropping, but it was rather difficult to not overhear everything.

Annabelle waved a hand as she reached for the passenger-side door. “Oh, you know how he is. Since the vet told him that the new weanling needed extra care, he’s like a worried father. But I got up this morning because I couldn’t sleep without him there, so I made you some sticky buns and herb bread.”

Alexa’s mouth watered at the thought…and she gained five pounds just from this conversation. Carbs were not her friend. But Annabelle used her baking to her advantage and advertised that along with the B and B. The two went hand in hand…or so Alexa assumed. It wasn’t like she’d actually experienced anything the B and B had to offer.

No, Alexa had been taking advantage of what the mysterious Elliott brother had to offer instead.

“Good thing I brought extra, since you have company.” Annabelle pulled the dishes from the truck and Hayes quickly took them from her. “Thanks. I can bring more later.”

“No, she’s not staying.”

Alexa’s shoulders stiffened. True, she wasn’t, but he was awfully quick to dismiss her. Most likely that was for her benefit, since Alexa had been so adamant about not staying long. But now that she was here, she wanted to. She loved watching Mason roam around the yard. She’d loved seeing him on the back of Doc and nestled against Hayes…but those were things she couldn’t want and Hayes had made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t looking for more.

She wasn’t either, but she could see herself here. No matter how she’d fought it during their time together, she realized now that she could see herself with him—if there wasn’t a secret settled between them.

Now she was going to a formal dinner with him and he’d managed to get dresses ordered for her. Did he know her size? Did he know that anything too form-fitting would only accentuate the flare of her hips and the roundness still in her belly from having a baby?

Alexa rubbed her forehead and smiled as Mason ran and toppled over. He got right back up and took off again, this time straight to Hayes.

Coming to her feet, Alexa started for Mason, but without missing a beat, Hayes scooped him up and held him in one strong arm while juggling the baked goods in the other.

“Let me take him,” Alexa said as she neared. “We really should be going anyway.”

Hayes shot her a look, holding tight to Mason. Instead he handed her the bread and buns. “Take these into the kitchen. I know you’ve been wondering what I’ve done in there.”

Alexa narrowed her eyes, to which he merely quirked one dark brow. This was not the time for a standoff, not with his sister-in-law mere feet away, taking in the whole scene.

Taking the baked goods, Alexa turned to Annabelle. “Thanks. These smell wonderful.”

“I hope you’ll stick around long enough to enjoy them.”

Nothing could be said to that, not without incriminating herself, so Alexa turned and headed for the house. Hayes knew exactly how to pique her interest…in more ways than one. But she wanted to see what he’d done inside. Then she would take Mason and go. The longer she stayed, the harder it would be to leave.


Tags: Jules Bennett Romance
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