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Chapter 30

Trudging up the rear steps to the house, Amanda couldn't remember the last time she was so tired. And Lex did most of the hard work…I just cleaned up behind her and brought the lumber. She spared a quick glance to the tall woman beside her. She looks worse than I feel. Maybe I can talk her into a quick shower, and then going straight to bed. A slight blush stained her cheeks after that thought. Uh, no. Don't think I'll say it quite that way.

Lex was about to open the door when she noticed the younger woman's face. Don't tell me she got sunburned today… " Amanda? You okay? " she asked, opening the door and motioning for the blonde to precede her. " You didn't get too much sun today, did you? "

Oh, crap! Now what do I say to avoid further embarrassment? " Maybe, I'm not sure. I guess I'm just tired." Taking a deep breath, Amanda almost moaned with pleasure at the smells emanating from the kitchen. " And hungry."

Lex laughed at that statement. " Newsflash! " Blocking the expected slap, she poked her head through the kitchen door. " Martha, we're back! "

The housekeeper ambled out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on the ever-present dishtowel. " Yes, I can see that dear." She wrinkled her nose. " You are planning on taking a shower before dinner, aren't you? " she reached up and pulled the dusty hat from the rancher's head. " How many times have I told you to take your hat off when you come into the house? " She swatted the tall woman with the hat. " Now go on upstairs and get cleaned up. Dinner should be ready in about thirty minutes." She turned quickly and moved back into the kitchen, not giving Lex a chance to argue.

" I can never get the last word in with her." Lex mumbled, walking towards the stairs. She turned and looked at Amanda, who giggled. " Well, I don't think you're exactly smelling like daisies yourself." Lex grinned, and then darted up the stairs with a very aggravated blonde on her heels.

After dinner, Lex and Amanda were sitting in front of a roaring fire after being chased out of the kitchen by Martha. The housekeeper refused their help with the dishes, citing her inability to find anything after they put stuff away yesterday.

" Amanda? " Lex broke the comfortable silence. " I've got to ride to one of the back pastures tomorrow, and check out a few things. Would you like to come along? " The young blonde was sitting in the floor at the rancher's feet, one arm wrapped possessively around a strong leg. Lex was unconsciously playing with the golden hair tangled in her fingertips. " I know you said you didn't like to ride, but…"

The smaller woman craned her head at an angle, so she could see the rancher's face. " It's not that I don't like to ride, I'm just afraid of falling off. " Her eyes met Lex's and she smiled. " Could we go double? "

Lex returned her smile. " I was just about to suggest the same thing." She slipped out of the chair she was sitting in and landed beside Amanda. " So is that a yes? " Lex pulled the young woman into her lap. " Or should I try and convince you? "

" Well…" Amanda wrapped her arms around the older woman's neck. " Your horse is pretty tall…" she leaned in for a kiss. " I think you'd better start trying to sway my vote." She whispered, as Lex captured her lips.

After Amanda was thoroughly 'convinced', she led a tired Lex upstairs, stopping at the guestroom door. " Goodnight." She whispered, giving the large hand she held a gentle squeeze.

Lex pulled the smaller woman into her arms, kissing her with a tender intensity. When both of them became breathless, she slowly broke away. " Yeah." She cleared her throat. " See you in the morning." She turned and crossed to her own room, trying to calm her own pounding heart. Stepping inside, she closed the door and then moved over to the dresser. Better get changed, so as soon as she's asleep, I can go check out the car.

Half an hour later, the tall woman was once again sneaking out of the house. She stopped at Amanda's door and listened for a moment. Good. Then rubbing her eyes, Lex began tiptoeing down the stairway, boots in hand.

It took the weary rancher almost three hours to put the small car back together, but she was more than certain that she could have it running within the next night or two. Can't wait to see her face when I pull this little baby around to the front of the house. Lex grinned to herself. I'll do the engine work tomorrow night - maybe a long ride will wear her out, so I can get started earlier.

The mantle clock in her bedroom chimed twice when Lex had finally drug herself back into the room. At least I'm getting to bed at a decent hour tonight, she mused, stripping off her clothes as she made her way into the bathroom. After a quick shower, the dark woman snuck back into her bedroom, leery of finding small women in her bed. Can't be too careful. Seeing that she was indeed alone, the exhausted woman pulled a sleepshirt over her head and collapsed under the sheets.

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