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Crazily in lust, maybe. But love? No. She had waited for him for fifteen years. But that
didn t guarantee a happily-ever-after for her. Just a happy-for-now. And sweet Lord,
did he ever make her feel the happy-for-now. Unfortunately, falling into his bed like an
eager groupie was not going to make him suddenly fall madly in love with her. He was
simply scratching an itch. And no matter how much she adored the way he scratched it,
she was deluding herself here.
She sat in her chair for a while, tapping her pencil on the blotter numbly. When she
finally rose to leave the school, she knew she had only one choice. She had to make her
choice and move on it.
Mr. Wyatt was locking up as she left the building and as she passed him on the
steps, she turned and asked in a conversational tone,  Do you know of anyone who has
a cabin or an empty house they might be willing to rent or lease? I hate to keep
imposing on Maude Thunder Horse s good graces. I hadn t really checked into the
housing possibilities before taking the job here, I m afraid. She smiled sweetly at the
older man.
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Fran Lee
He glanced at her questioningly.  I m sure it s no imposition. I ve known Maude for
twenty years. She told me you are great company for her.
Drawing a steadying breath, Chy smiled.  Oh, I adore being there, too, but I know
having a temporary guest is much easier than having a boarder and she works a full-
time job. She s been so kind but I prefer to be independent if possible.
He nodded and rubbed the side of his nose thoughtfully.  Old Jake Emery has a
hunting cabin a few miles up the road. He owns the motel, too, but it s boarded up right
now. He s the only one I know of.
Chy smiled quickly.  Can I have his phone number?
Chy stepped inside the front door nervously. How was she going to tell Maude that
she had found other accommodations without hurting the woman s feelings? She hung
up her sweater and nearly tripped over a heavy UPS carton that stood beside the entry
way table. Rubbing her knee, she glanced at the label that proclaimed it was addressed
to her. She set her bag and briefcase on the small telephone table and bent to lift it but it
was bulky and very heavy. Maude stepped out of the kitchen again, wiping her hands
on a tea towel.  It came about noon. It was too heavy to move without help.
Inside, carefully wrapped and beautifully illustrated NAS books greeted her wide
eyes and she bit her lip. The invoice showed the box contained four dozen of the lovely,
expensive books but instead of the name on the invoice showing the sender as the
Standing Rock Agency or the School District, it showed that the books were sent by
her boss. She frowned, realizing he had spent his own money to purchase the texts.
Wasn t the Agency supposed to cover those costs?
How much of his own money was Azrael actually spending on the NAS classes?
She hugged one of the books to her chest and swore that she would, somehow, make it
up to him.
 Ooooh, what beautiful books!
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Woman on Fire
 Azrael paid for them&  Chy sighed.  Does he do that a lot? Her eyes held
Maude s for a moment before the older woman smiled and patted her hand.
 This program means a lot to him. Unfortunately, the school board doesn t believe
in teaching these kids what they ought to be learning at home. That s ridiculous, but
they are short on cash. He would pay for the whole damn school to insure that it stays
alive and well, honey. And I agree with him. He s done it before. He ll do it again. This
is his baby and he feels strongly that our kids desperately need this.
Maude squeezed her shoulder and left her to stare at the treasure trove of
wonderful textbooks. Tears threatened to fall, but she dashed them away impatiently
and sniffed. He never ceased to amaze her. He most definitely was becoming more and
more her dream man. And she was getting in way over her head here in a one-sided
relationship that would take her nowhere but to more heartache.
Chy left the books by the door so they could be more easily loaded into her car in
the morning and then she helped Maude finish up making supper. She managed to
keep up a quiet, friendly stream of conversation despite her twisting insides and the
sense of being in way over her head here. As Maude glanced at her watch and started to
make fruit punch from frozen concentrate, Chy wiped her hands on her apron and said
in a subdued tone,  Um& I need to talk to you, Maude. I don t want you to think I m
not truly grateful for your kindness and hospitality but I found a place earlier today,
and I will be moving out tomorrow.
The can slid from Maude s fingers, splattering all over the kitchen cabinets and
floor and Chy looked up into Maude s face. The dark eyes were full of dismay. Chy
grabbed a damp tea towel and started to mop up the spill, her own face hot with
mortification at having shocked her new friend.
 God, I m so sorry! I didn t mean to startle you. I just realize that I can t keep
imposing on your kindness. You and your son have been so sweet to let me stay here
while I was looking for my own place. I owe you so much as it is&  She was babbling.
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Fran Lee
She sensed that Maude was just standing there, staring at her as she fumbled to clean
up the mess.
She rose from her haunches and rinsed the tea towel out, then bent to finish the job.
When she rinsed the towel again and placed it carefully on the counter, she was afraid
to look Maude in the eye. When she managed to meet Maude s dark gaze, she chewed
her lower lip and silently begged the woman not to make a big deal out of this. Maude
simply stared at her flushed face, a concerned frown turning her lips down at the
corners.
Dragging in a long breath, she removed and hung up the apron and headed into the
hallway and up the stairs, not wanting to have to further explain herself to the
woman and not wanting to be in the kitchen when Azrael arrived home.  I& Excuse
me, please. I don t feel hungry.
She swore to herself as her empty stomach gave a snarl of frustration. Damn it all to
hell. She would just have to deal with her hunger. And she would just have to deal with
her own pain.
She pulled on her PJs and slid into the cozy bed, closing her eyes, praying she
would be able to fall asleep before Az came home. She couldn t face him tonight. Not
while she was trying so damn hard to maintain her calm decision.
She had been in his mother s home for such a short time but she knew she had no
choice but to move out. She couldn t possibly allow this brief, sizzling love affair to
jeopardize her reputation or his. If it weren t for the fact that she was a teacher, it
wouldn t bother her. She could easily handle the sideways glances and whispers of
adults of coworkers. But to have to endure the questioning eyes of children she was
responsible for teaching? No way! The drawing today was only the tip of the iceberg.
And she knew from harsh experience that when a teacher lost credibility with her
students, it was time to move on.
She heard the T-bird s tires crunch in the gravel of the drive and she slid from her
bed to quickly lock the door. She was back in bed by the time she heard the front door
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Woman on Fire [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]