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Authors: Char Marie Adles

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BOOK: Broken Road
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   “I may not have parents, but at least I am nice enough to people. I don’t look for faults in them. I may not be the best mother for Lilla, but I am all she has to now. You are not our family. A women hater like you could never understand what family is.” Devil went over to the crib and press a kiss to Lilla’s forehead before leaving the room. She paused to the door way and cast him a chilling glare. “I can tell you now that no woman is ever going to want you in her life.”

    Devil turned away from the stupid man and went back to her room. This wasn’t how she had planned to start raising Lilla. But damn the man who had called her useless! She had survived death more then once and knew her way around the feeling of a lost child like a pro. She disliked the man so much that she couldn’t even think of how her sweet older sister could have loved such a cold and unfeeling man.

   “It’d be better if he wasn’t Lilla’s father,” she muttered and sat down on the bed.

   The room she had been given was so big that even the giant canopy bed in the center of it didn’t seem to take up much space, but like all the rooms down stairs it was empty. There were chairs over by the gallery glass doors that led out onto a little balcony over the front doors and a wash stand in the far corner next to them. A dainty Victorian lady’s desk made of dark maple was set against the other wall and a matching seat sat under the desk top. A wardrobe lined the wall next to the bed’s left hand side as well. It was beautifully styled, but there was no mark of the last room’s owner. The only thing to light the room was a candle holder on the small bedside table to the right of the bed.

   Devil took a look at the floor. And just as she thought it was made of old polished dark oak boards like the stairs that led downstairs and up.

   It would seem that no else lived in the house for she had seen no other soul walk into the house other then Mr. Canter and Lilla.

   “So he must be alone too now since Wylde is gone,” she sighed and rolled onto the bed hugging a pillow. “Maybe he has always been alone here. Or maybe he has a father who was less then the ideal dad.”

  
Just like mine,
she thought sourly.
But just maybe we might be able to stick it out for a while. I owe it to Wylde the give Lilla a real home. Maybe I should look for a house around here.
And with that thought she sighed again and watched the sky change out the glass window doors.

 
 

Chapter Eight

 

 

 

Devil hated it when people messed with her, but she hated it even more when she snapped back. It wasn’t like she hated people, mostly men, but her history with her father hadn’t helped. So for being bitchy this morning to Mr. Canter, even if he had been too, she was going to trot out her rare, but surprisingly good, cooking skills.

   While finding herself lost in the kitchen later that morning she had found the fully stocked Kenmore XG steel refrigerator. Currently Devil was frying bacon and eggs in a giant caste iron pan over the ancient wood burning stove tucked away in the farest corner. The eggs and bacon sizzled and popped in the grease and teased her nose with a mouth watering taste.

   It had been a good year or two since she had tested out her skills but by the look and smell of it, it was turning out pretty good, if she did say so herself.

   It was only seven forty-five, but she was feeling better. Mr. Canter’s words had hurt and she was still scared of him, but it didn’t mean that they couldn’t make peace between them. They would have to even if it was only for Lilla. It was important that  Lilla would grow up with a family.

   Devil did want a family, just not with him and his bad temper. She wanted Lilla to grow up with a family and learn to love, not to grow up broken.

   The back screen door that led from the back porch into the kitchen and then three of the biggest men Devil had ever seen walked into the room. They weren’t as big as Mr. Canter, but big enough to give her a serious pause. They looked around the room and sniffed, until they spotted her at the stove.

   The bald one stared at her as if she had been a ghost. The tallest one with bright red hair stammered at what he was trying to say and the one with the cowboy hat on, that stood behind the other two, whistled softly.

   “I told you it wasn’t the Boss cookin’,” the cowboy drawled.

   All of them seemed to be between late twenties to early thirties and looked as if they belonged on a NFL football team as linebackers.

   Devil felt a sudden burst of courage and she stood her ground and raised a brow in question to them.

   “What’s goin’ on in there?” asked another voice from behind them. “Why do I smell food cooking in there?”

   “It seems as if the Boss got himself a lady bird in here cooking breakfast,” the bald one said finally finding his voice.

   “A
what
is cooking?!” the outside voice squeaked.

   “A lady and a young one at that,” returned to cowboy to the voice.

   Devil waited for one to ask who she was, but no one did. She found herself wanting to toss them all out of the house rather then run from them at that point.

  
How odd.

   But they did remind her of the guys her adoptive father used to have around during all sorts of hours, night and day.

   “This lady here has a name and if you would be so kind as to close the door I’ll finish cooking,” she told them and turned back to her cooking.

   The men mumbled among themselves and came in finally closing the door. Devil didn’t turn around to see just how many had come in.

   The giant bald man came over to her and gave her a shy smile. “My name is Kip, Miss Lady Bird,” he said shyly. “And I be wonderin’ if you might be as kind as to cook me some breakfast too.” He looked at her with big hopeful gray eyes. He kind of looked like a big puppy.

   Devil looked him over for a minute, sizing him up, then she smiled and held out her hand. “The name’s Devil.”

   He grinned at that and shook her tiny hand in his big one. His was so large she wondered if he might break her hand on accident.

   “Get out the other eggs and get ready. If you want food then you are going to have to help. Do you know how to separate eggs?”

   Kip paused for a moment, shrugged and then he went to look in the fridge for the requested items. Devil had to tell him soon after that separating eggs didn’t mean putting one egg on each side of the counter.

   Devil lost herself in her cooking, humming to herself as she flipped eggs and turned bacon.

   The back screen door creaked open and she noticed two new voices coming inside. Suddenly there was a hand on her shoulder and she flinched away, but her hand caught on the edge of the frying pan and grease went flying over her arm and hand.

   “Shit,” she screamed in pain.

   Devil rushed to correct the sideways pan and her first thought was to clean up the mess and fast.

   The cowboys were rushed around her telling her to stop messing around and take care of her arms, but she shooed them away. Her hand and arm wasn’t going to be her only problem if Mr. Canter found out what she was doing in his kitchen.

   “Like he would care about what happen to me. His kitchen is more important,” Devil scoffed.

   And who other then the big and brooding cowboy boss would chose that moment to bang into the kitchen. He was dressed in loose blue jeans, a plain white t-shirt and a fine black Stanton. He oozed self power and importance.

   Devil rolled her eyes.

   “What in the hell is going on here?” Winthrop bellowed the moment he set foot into his kitchen. Half of his ranch hands were crowded in the room running around like chickens with their heads cut off and it was the kid who was at the wood stove cooking. He should have known it would be her, that she would do something like this.

   But the moment that he saw the fiery red marks clawing their way up from her hand to her arm he felt himself go pale.

    Grimly, but swiftly he took out the gallon of milk, snagged the girl by her uninjured hand, and pulled her over to the sink. She protested, but he didn’t care at the moment. He was fighting a panic within himself he never knew he could feel.  He took the unburned part of her arm and used it to pull her arm over the sink. Slowly Winthrop poured the milk over her arm to sooth the burns. They had already turned to blisters and the blisters had broken open and were oozing clear liquid down her arm. The skin around each striped blister was a deep angry red.

   When the milk was gone he barked for Red to get the medical kit. Winthrop made her sit down at the table and waited for Red.

   “You’re not mad are you?”

   The question came to him as a surprise as she nursed her hand against her chest. She was looking at him as if he might hit her at any moment. That look hurt him more then he could say and it shouldn’t have. He would never hurt her. Never no matter what. Yell maybe, but never hit her. It was the one good thing his father had taught him about women. They were weaker and if you hurt them, you would have hell to come for you. Hitting a woman left a sour feeling in a man’s gut for the rest of his life, his father would have known.

   Winthrop sighed heavily and knelt in front of her to make her feel more comfortable with him that close. He was a big man and she was a tiny little thing and they both knew it.

   “No, I’m not angry. But what in the hell where you doing,” he asked with a soft growl.

   “I was, um,” Devil said looking pointedly away from his face, “making you breakfast.” She promptly shut her mouth and stopped talking.

   Winthrop watched as the kid shut her mouth with a snap and colored prettily. What on earth had made the kid want to make breakfast? Was she over tired and not thinking right?

   “Why,” he asked confused.

   She glared at him and how he loved to see that fire in her eyes. He had had only a small taste last night, but it was such a sight. It was a challenge that few ever sent his way and he found himself sorely tempted to take it and show her just what he could do. It was one he shouldn’t take, but just might.

   “I was trying for an apology,” Devil muttered stiffly.

   It dawned on him that she was trying to
be the bigger person from their
little fight last night. It hadn’t even come to mind that she would try and say sorry for it for it had been the truth and he had said hurtful things as well. He didn’t even stop to think that he hadn’t he might not have been the only one stung by the words thrown between them.

   It had hurt that she spoke the truth about a woman never wanting him. Only one woman had ever made it into his life and she had only been after his money. Oh how much that had hurt after she left him. She had ran off with his only cousin two months after she had gotten him around her pretty little finger. No woman had ever wanted him and no one ever would.

   Then why did he want this one to want him so badly? He slammed those thoughts back up again and looked at the girl in question. She was staring at him, waiting patiently.

   He growled at her softly and set to work on her hand and arm when Red came back in with the medical kit.

   The silence between them grew till he could no longer take it and blurted out the first thing that came to his mind.

   “I’m sorry,” Winthrop said gruffly wrapping the gauze bandage around her wrist a final time. “I’m sure the food would be delicious, but we better get you up to the hospital.”

   Devil jerked away from him as if he had slapped her.

   “NO! No hospital, no doctors, no needles.” She was shaking so hard that her teethed started to chatter.

  
No, I will never go back unless I am dying. I hate those places!

   No, she hated hospital
s
. How many times did she have to go to those places after her father had beaten her nearly to death? She would not go. Never again.

   Winthrop watched as she backed away, shivering so hard she almost fell over. It wasn’t hard to guess that she was afraid of the place and hated the hospital.

   He held his hands up in surrender. “Fine, no hospitals, but you have to keep an eye on that so it doesn’t get worse. You have to watch a burn like that.”

   Devil slowly felt the memories that tried to grip her let go and she nodded slowly. Devil walked to the back of the chair she had been sitting in at the table and settled behind it, using it like a shield. She fingered the ancient craved wood of the chair slowly, trying to think of how to say what was on her mind.

   This man was like no other. He made her soft and she hated that, but she would have to start somewhere to find her voice around him. What better then for this?

   “Are you okay,” Kip asked quietly. The other cowboys behind him nodded in question.

   Devil smiled at them. “Yes, I am fine now, thank you. Would you mind leaving us alone for a moment?”

   Soon they all filed out, looking first at her then the food with a mournful glance.

   “Why did you ask them to leave,” Winthrop asked her.

BOOK: Broken Road
9.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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