This scene takes place about half-way through the book.
After a picnic lunch along the shoreline of Black Lake, Kendra watched Colton reach for another brownie that she’d baked while everyone was at church. He’d been in a strange mood since earlier. Mellow, yet every so often when she snuck a glance, he wore a pensive look that made her wonder what was on his mind.
Not long after, Joel asked who wanted to go fishing, and the boys jumped up, along with Britt. Kendra watched Cody take a small container from Joel’s hand and then made a face when he handed a squirming worm to her younger brother. A disgusted shudder rippled across her shoulders. “Thanks, but no.”
Colton declined with a chuckle she suspected was directed at her. He lay stretched out on the picnic blanket in the sun. She closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the warmth and the sound of water rushing over rocks in the stream that flowed from Black Lake.
A rustling noise brought her immediately up on her elbows, eyes sweeping the area in alarm, sure she’d see a mountain lion ready to pounce. Her fear eased when she saw it was just Colton. He’d risen to his feet and walked over to some large rocks along the shore. She relaxed but kept her gaze on him.
As he climbed the first rock, he noticed her attention. “Come with me and I’ll show you something,” he called.
She gave a skeptical half-smile and silently denied any interest. “I’m fine here.”
“It’s easier than it looks. Come on. It’ll be fun.”
Kendra gave in to her curiosity. It looked challenging, and she enjoyed challenges more and more these days. Who’d have thought?
When she reached the base of the rock, Colton stood some twenty feet above her, but the climb wasn’t as perpendicular as it appeared from a distance. Exhilaration assailed her when she made the final step and stood alongside him.
“See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
She returned his grin, then looked for more to climb. Colton led the way and they scaled rocks and boulders until they were a couple hundred yards from their picnic area. A little out of breath, she wasn’t sure if it was from excitement or exertion; nor did she care. When they could go no further, they sat side by side on a ledge, surveying their accomplishment.
With one elbow resting on his drawn up knee, Colton tossed loose pebbles into the water some thirty feet below.
“Noah mentioned earlier that you aren’t real big on the outdoors. I find that hard to believe after the way you climbed up here.”
She grinned. “I hate it—or at least I used to. Bugs and dirt—no thanks. Two months ago, shopping on Fifth Avenue was the closest I got to the outdoors.” She laughed with a hint of wonder. New York seemed forever ago, and totally ridiculous when she considered her life now.
“Yeah, you know, Saks, Bergdorf’s, Tiffany’s? I suppose growing up here doesn’t really expose you to things like that.”
He snorted. “I’m not some poor, backwoods country hick.”
Kendra blinked at his offended tone. “I didn’t say that.”
“Of course you didn’t say it—you didn’t have to. Where I grew up has nothing to do with it. It’s the silver spoon you were born with that makes the difference.”
“I was not born with a silver spoon.”
“Did you not just hear yourself? Saks, Tiffany’s—I watch movies, I’ve seen Sex in the City. I’m not ignorant, Kendra. People who shop at those kinds of stores spend more money in a single year than I’ll see in a lifetime. It doesn’t mean they—or you—are any better than I am.”
“I never said that,” she protested indignantly. “And I certainly didn’t mean it that way.”
He didn’t believe her, she could tell by his face. She stared across the lake, wondering how things had gone from good to bad so fast. She’d enjoyed the afternoon, in part—a large part—due to his company. Imagine that.
“So, what are you doing here then?” he asked. She glanced at him, then looked away again rather than meet his probing, suddenly tense, gaze.
“Since we came to the ranch, it’s grown on me—the great outdoors, I mean.”
“I meant, what are you doing in Colorado? If you had that kind of money two months ago, why aren’t you shopping at Saks now?”
Tell him. It scared her how bad she wanted to. Scared her enough to prompt the words she seemed to say to him every time she turned around. “It’s none of your—”
“Business,” he finished, a razor sharp edge to his voice.
Kendra rose to her feet and glared down. “Well, why would it be? It’s my life—it has nothing to do with you.”
“It sure as hell does.”
“How?” She tilted her chin when he stood beside her. “We’re not related. You’re my boss, that’s it—we’re not even friends.”
“Believe me, Kendra,” he said in a low voice. “The last thing I want to be with you is friends.”
That hurt—until she met his stare. In the space of a heartbeat the air crackled to life between them.
Once again, thanks for reading! If you now feel you have to have your own copy of the book *grin*, you can get it at: The Wild Rose Press , Amazon and most other online booksellers.