To Tame a Cowboy - Page 25

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Ryan glanced down at his fierce little warrior. The woman truly believed she could do all and be all. Why didn’t she ever ask him for help? Just once he’d like to be the one to come to her aid without begging her to let him.

“You know I would’ve been more than happy to get those new cabinets for you.”

Her lids flew open and green eyes met his. “You’re not buying my cabinets, Ryan. That’s ridiculous. You have a school you’re paying through the nose to get started and you just bought a massive home. Besides, this is my little house and I love it. I’ll love it with cheaper cabinets just as much as if I’d had the expensive ones. They all hold dishes and food the same way.”

He knew she wasn’t some pampered diva who wanted the best of everything, but he’d seen her face when they’d been looking through the sample catalog she’d brought home from the store. He’d seen how she’d froze the second she turned on to that page, how she’d stroked the picture with her fingertips.

Most women went that crazy over diamonds or fancy clothes, but his Piper was just as happy wearing her flannel, with some killer lingerie beneath. She didn’t ask for the best in everything and she’d already cut enough corners with this renovating project. Now she was sacrificing something that she truly wanted because she was practical and hadn’t been able to justify that extra expense.

“So the roof and the cabinets are the pressing matters?” he asked.

“I know you want to do something while you’re here, but don’t. Seriously.” She held his gaze, pleading with him. “I’ll get back at it tomorrow.”

Like hell she would. But his mama raised a gentleman before she’d passed unexpectedly, so he was going to keep his mouth shut.

“I’m just curious,” he told her, holding his hands up in defense. “I wouldn’t dare try to overtake your project. Besides, my own ribs are still sore. Just thought if you had something small to do.”

He’d not let on that he wasn’t too sore that he couldn’t put a dent in her kitchen or her roof. Either job would be fine for him to start tackling, but if he started now, then she’d get up and insist on helping and then she really would end up hurt.

A slight smirk flirted around that mouth he’d just sampled. “What do you say we have some lunch and not discuss all these renovations that still need to be done?”

“Tell me what you want to eat and I’ll bring it to you.”

“I can get up.” Piper sat up and shook her head. “That pain pill is kicking in. Besides, the more I move, the more it will work the soreness out. There’s only so long I can lie on that heating pad. I’ve probably lost five pounds in sweat since last night.”

Ryan’s eyes ventured to her chest, then back up. “At least you didn’t lose it in the places that matter.”

Piper came to her feet and smacked his chest. “You’re such a pervert.”

“Honest,” he corrected. “I’m simply honest.”

* * *

Piper sat in one of the chairs of her mismatched set in the kitchen. Ryan was prying off the countertops and setting them out the back door...much to her protesting.

“I wish you wouldn’t go to so much trouble, Ryan.”

He put the final piece out the door and came back in, wiping sweat off his forehead. “If I thought it was trouble, I wouldn’t be doing it. And even though you griped and complained, I still want to help. I couldn’t just go home and leave you here in pain. Besides, if I’m here making sure you don’t overdo it, I might as well get some work done. The sooner this kitchen is back together, the sooner you can make real meals again. I’m selfish.”

They’d enjoyed simple ham sandwiches and chips for lunch considering her stove was unhooked and the dishwasher wasn’t installed due to the new cabinets coming soon.

And he’d sweetly convinced her that he could start the demolition of the old cabinets and if he began hurting he’d sit down. Weren’t they a pair? Both stubborn, both hurt... But she’d butted heads with him long enough. She knew he truly wanted to help so she’d allowed him this small victory.

“I knew you had an ulterior motive,” she told him.

Crossing the kitchen, Ryan opened the fridge and reached in to pull out a beer as he had done so many times before. Piper liked how comfortable he felt in her home. She’d never had another man in her house with whom she felt this comfortable. Ryan had always just been part of her life; she truly wouldn’t know what to do without him.

Tags: Jules Bennett Romance