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flew away.
 Where s he going? she asked.
 My guess would be, back to the hangar. Josh walked over to the
corner of the porch and seemed to reach under the railing. Moments
later he returned. He inserted a key into the lock and opened the door.
 What are you doing? Shouldn t we wait for Cletus? Penelope
thought Josh s presumption a bit rude.
 There is no Cletus, he said, and entered the cabin.
 What do you mean, there is no Cletus? She followed him inside
the building, then stopped and gasped. Beautiful hardwood floors,
gleaming maple furniture, and a clean, fresh scent combined together
to tell her this was no ordinary cabin in the woods or in this case,
open range.
 I mean, Grandmother pulled a fast one on us all.
 But what about the disaster? The mess we re supposed to fix?
Alex smiled.  I m pretty sure that we re the mess we re supposed
to fix.
 And I think Grandmother intends for us to stay up here, alone,
until we do, Josh said.
174 Cara Covington
 Stay here, alone? You mean she had us dropped off here and then
abandoned us? That she manipulated the entire situation? That there is
no ecological disaster?
Alex smiled.  That would be my guess, yes.
Penelope began to shake. How many times in a person s life did
they tolerate having their lives clandestinely directed by another?
When she d been a child, she d had no choice in the matter. She d
been manipulated as if she d been not much more than a piece of
luggage or furniture moved out when she no longer  fit in.
She was no longer a child and would be damned if she d let that
happen again.
 Where s the phone? I ll let Grandma Kate know exactly what I
 No phone, Alex said.
 And not much electricity, either, Josh said.
 Look, Alex stepped closer,  we re not too happy about being
lied to and manipulated, either. But we re here, in the middle of
nowhere, Texas. Would it hurt for us to get comfortable and to talk
about things?
Years of resentment rose up, a solid wall that wouldn t let reason,
or emotion, penetrate.
 I don t like being lied to, she said.
 I know. Josh came over to her. He reached up as if to touch her,
then pulled his hand back.
 Look, why don t you just sit down for a bit, make yourself
comfortable, he said.  Alex and I will go out back, grab some wood,
get a fire going in the fireplace. Or look around, if you like. This is a
nice place.
 Yours? she asked.
 The family s. It s where we come when we want to have a long
ride on horseback, and a destination with no outside interference. It s
really a very nice place to decompress.
Love Under Two Honchos 175
Penelope wasn t certain what she d do next, but she would
appreciate some time alone to pace and think.  It is chilly in here. A
fire would feel good.
Josh and Alex looked at each other, each with an expression
somewhat akin to panic.
 Here. Josh peeled out of his jacket and draped it over her
shoulders.  You sit tight, sweetheart and we ll be back inside before
you know it with enough wood to get the fire going. I don t want you
to be cold.
He bundled her up and set her down on a kitchen chair. Then the
men went outside, and Penelope gave them just long enough to go
around the house. She got to her feet and reached to lift Josh s jacket
off of her. Oh, God, she could smell him on it, and having the leather
wrapped around her was nearly as good as having him enfold her in
his arms.
This will never do.
She needed to get her head straight, to deal with this& this
manipulation. How dare Kate Benedict lie to her and presume to
rearrange her life without so much as a by-your-leave?
Penelope shook her head. She couldn t believe that Kate would
leave her stranded out in the middle of nowhere. There had to be more
of a trick to it than that.
 Well, hell. I ve got my cell phone. She wanted to kick herself
for not thinking of that straight off. She pulled the device out of the
small fanny pack she d borrowed from Susan. Flipping it open, she
looked at the display.
 No signal. Maybe if I move outside. She opened the door and
stepped back out into the afternoon sunshine. It was cooler here than
it had been in Lusty. How far did one travel if one spent twenty
minutes in a helicopter? She shook her head and looked down at the
cell phone s display. Still no signal.
176 Cara Covington
She couldn t see any high ridges anywhere that would impede the
cell phones operation. In fact, she thought they were on a ridge of
some sort.
The ground wasn t too hard, and she thought there d been rain in [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]