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Chapter 27






The only sounds at the table were when silverware would touch a plate. Amanda was too embarrassed to speak, and Lex was still tired from being up most of the night. Martha had a knowing smile on her face, somewhat enjoying the younger women's discomfort. They are so cute"Okay, would you two please relax?" She laughed. "I'm sorry I teased you, but I just couldn't resist." She looked over at Amanda, who smiled at her shyly. "I know not much was going on, because Lexie was completely dressed."

"Huh?" Lex blinked, coming back to the conversation with a start. "What did I do?"

"What's the matter, honey? Are you not feeling well?" the housekeeper touched her wrist.

"NoI'm fine." Lex took a deep drink of coffee. I hope the caffeine kicks in soon, or this is gonna be one helluva long day!

Amanda finished swallowing a mouthful of food. "Actually, I think someone's just tired. She told me she was having trouble getting to sleep last night."

Trouble sleeping, huh? Martha had a pretty good idea why the rancher looked so worn out. Probably spent all night messing with that car! She glared at the exhausted woman, who gave her an answering shrug. "Uh-huhso does that mean that you're going to take it easy today?"

Lex shook her dark head. "Nopegonna start working on the bridge. We're going to start running out of supplies pretty soon."

"WHAT?!?" Two surprised voices chimed in at once.

"Lexiewe have enough things to get by on for at least another week, maybe two." Martha exclaimed. "I really don't think you should be messing around with that old bridge - it may not be very stable."

Amanda agreed. "She's rightthere's no telling what kind of shape it's actually in. Can't you wait until the creek slows down some more?" she smiled brightly at the rancher. "I'm certainly not in any big hurry to leave."

Lex returned her smile. "I'm not trying to get rid of you eitherbut I would like to have that bridge usable by the end of the weekand I don't know what the extent of the damage is."

Amanda nodded. "Okaybut I'll go with you."

Lex started to argue, but couldn't seem to get past those bright green eyes. "SureI'd appreciate the company."

Martha's jaw nearly hit the table. Oohshe's got it bad - never seen Lexie give up without a serious fight. She just sat there and grinned.

The rancher noticed the silly smile on the housekeeper's face. "What?" she asked, feeling a little irritable. "Something wrong?"



"Nopejust peachy, dear."

Amanda laughed, nearly inhaling her juice.

Lex glared at her. "You too? Do I have food on my face or something?" Anger colored her tone. What the hell is their problem?

Martha laughed, then covered her mouth with a small hand. "Sorry" she stifled a giggle. "I can't help it!" she burst out laughing again, watching the rancher's face darken.

The young blonde placed a hand on Lex's arm. "Hey." She snorted. "SorryI'm not sure why I'm laughing I guess Martha's good humor is contagious!" she smiled brightly.

Martha was busy wiping the tears from her eyes. "Oh Lexieyou're just so cute when you get a little flustered. It reminds me of when you were about twelve, and your daddy wouldn't let you go out of town with all the hands to the auction."

This little memory made Lex smile. "YeahI didn't realize little girls didn't stay overnight with a group of grown men I was so angry." She laughed. "Sorry about losing my temper." Lex rubbed her eyes. "Must not be quite awake yet."

Martha stood up and stepped behind the rancher, rubbing her strong back. "Honey, don't worry about it." She began carrying plates to the sink. "Are you going to get started on the bridge right away?"

Lex nodded, standing up and bringing her dishes to the sink as well. "Uh-huhthought I load up the truck with lumber right after feeding the stock, so I" she paused when Amanda cleared her throat with a frown, "I mean we, probably won't be back until dinner."



The housekeeper turned away from the sink. "After you get finished feeding, come back to the house firstI'll have a nice lunch packed for you both." Daring the tall woman to argue with her.

Lex thought about brushing her off, but considered the young woman with her. Even if I don't usually eat lunch, there's no point in making Amanda suffer.She grinned to herself. Besides, it's always a good idea to keep Martha just a little bit off stride. "That would be great, MarthaI'd really appreciate it." Nearly laughing out loud at the expression on the older woman's face. Gotcha! Teach her to tease me!

Amanda snickered. Poor Marthashe doesn't have a snappy comeback for that one. "So would Ido you need any help putting lunch together?"

The older woman scoffed. "No dearyou would be more help if you could keep an eye on Grumpy over there." She ignored Lex's outraged look. "Try and keep her out of trouble, if you can."

Lex threw up her hands in disgust. "OkayI can take a hint." To Amanda, "C'mon. Let's go take care of the stock." She stomped out of the kitchen without another word.

The young blonde exchanged amused glances with Martha, then followed the angry rancher out of the kitchen.



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