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Chapter 19. Dinner was quite an animated affair






Dinner was quite an animated affair. Amanda and Martha traded humorous stories back and forth, while Lex sat back and absorbed it all quietly. I can't believe she's still here. Lex had been about half-afraid that the younger woman was going to run off screaming into the night after hearing her story. She watched as the two women interacted. Should have known. Martha adores hershe was always a good judge of character. The heavyset housekeeper had disliked Linda immensely, although she always made sure to be sickeningly polite to Martha whenever Lex was around.

"Lexie?" the housekeeper tapped her arm. "You with us, honey?"

The rancher smiled. "Uh, yeah. Just thinking." She turned her attention to Amanda. "You gonna help Martha here in the kitchen tomorrow?"

"Uh-huhafter we feed in the morning, why? Do you have something planned that you need my help with?"

"No, not really" Lex hedged, "I was going to ride one of the horses down and get the jeep."

Martha, knowing what else she was going to do, piped up. "You're not going to overdo it, are you? Those ribs aren't healed, you know."

Lex raised a dark eyebrow. "Of course not. I'm just going to take a leisurely ride down the road, attach the jeep's wench to a tree and then let it do all the work. If it hadn't been raining so damn hard last night, I would have done it then." She smiled at the housekeeper. "The road should be in good enough shape by tomorrow to bring it back to the house."

Martha looked less than convinced. "Promise me you will not put any undo stress on yourself, sweetheart. I have no desire to try and find a way to get you to the hospital."

Amanda spoke up. "Are you sure you don't need my help?"

"NahI was going to check part of the fence firstwon't be back until late afternoon, at the least. You'd be bored to tears." Lex tried to appear nonchalant.

The housekeeper stepped in. "She's right, honey. When Lexie goes out on her horse, time has a tendency to slip away from her." To Lex, "Take your cell phone, just in case you happen to get into trouble, please?" When Lex rolled her eyes, Martha slapped her arm. "Watch it! Or we'll both go with you!"



The dark woman put up her hands in surrender. "Okay, you winI remember the last time I got you up on a horse."

The gray-haired woman chuckled. "That wasn't a horse, it was a four-legged messenger from Hades!! I like transportation that doesn't bite, thank you very much!"

Lex started laughing. "She didn't bite you, she nuzzled your pocket looking for treats!"

Martha joined in. "If you didn't spoil those horses so bad, that would have never happened!" she got up and began clearing the table.

Amanda giggled. "Don't feel bad, MarthaI don't ride much eitherhorses are way too tall! It's a long way to the ground!"

Lex continued to laugh. "Maybe I'll find you a pony with a seatbelt!" Tears of mirth streaked down her cheeks. She could just imagine the small blonde on a shaggy Shetland pony, buckled into a saddle resembling a child's car seat. She clutched her ribs. "Ow"

"Serves you right, making fun of me!" but Amanda was smiling also.

"I wasn't making fun of youI wasuhsimply making a helpful suggestion!" Lex snorted, trying to curb her laughter.

"Oh, you!" Amanda threw her napkin into the laughing woman's face.

Lex stood up and carried her dishes to the sink, Amanda following right behind her. The taller woman gently bumped Martha with her hip. "Since we've goofed off all day, let us at least do the dishes." Seeing the housekeeper's resolve weakening, she added, "Please?" putting on her best pleading look.

Martha sighed, but backed away from the sink. "Okay, you win. You know I can't resist that look"



Amanda took up her position next to the triumphantly grinning rancher. "Yeahwe'll take care of everything. Why don't you go relax?"

The housekeeper gave in gracefully. "Not a bad idea - I think I'll go home and take a long soak in a hot bubble bath." She pulled off her apron, slung it over her shoulder, and sashayed out of the room, swinging her hips with an exaggerated motion.

Lex and Amanda looked at each other and burst out laughing. They made quick work of the dishes, Lex washing while Amanda rinsed and dried.

The smaller woman placed her hands on her back and leaned into the counter with a groan. "I think Martha may have had the right idea. I think I've found some muscles that didn't exist before today."

Lex finished putting the dishes away. "No problem. You can use my tub. It even has jacuzzi jets in it." She draped a casual arm around the small shoulders. "I've got some bookwork that will keep me busy for an hour or so." She led Amanda up the stairs. Once inside the master bedroom, Lex released the younger woman and made her way to the large oak dresser. She pulled several sleep shirts and tee shirts from one of the drawers. "These should be more comfortable than those sweats." She handed the items to Amanda.

"Thanks. But I have no complaints with my other wardrobe." She took the clothes with a smile.

Lex raised an eyebrow at her, then turned her attention to digging through the massive walk-in closet. "Ah-ha! I knew it was in here somewhere." She pulled out a bright flowery terrycloth robe, which looked about two sizes too small for her, and handed it to Amanda with a flourish. "My great Aunt Loretta sent this to me for Christmas last year," a sheepish smile," and I couldn't throw it out." She eyed the smaller woman, "Now I'm glad I didn'tit looks more like you, anyway."

That much was certainly true. Amanda looked at Lex, and then at the robe. "MmmI don't know" she giggled. "Thanks. I appreciate the loan."

Lex shook her head. "No problemyou keep it. That way when I write to Aunt Loretta telling her it's useful, I won't be lying." She smirked. "As it was, I told her on the phone after Christmas that I was enjoying it." She steered Amanda towards the bathroom. "And I waseverytime I pictured myself in it, I had a good laugh." Pulling a towel from a cabinet, Lex tossed it to the young woman then headed for the door. "there should be some bubble stuff by the tub." A shrug of her broad shoulders when the blonde looked at her questioningly. "I enjoy a good soak every now and then myself." She smiled and closed the door behind her.



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