Читать онлайн «A Groom Worth Waiting For»
Matt grinned, too. “Trust me, I’ve already tried and failed. She’s a stubborn woman with a heart of gold. And when she gets an idea in her head, there’s no stopping her.”
“Gee, I wonder who takes after her.”
Matt shook his head, enjoying the light banter.
“Does this mean you’ll take the job?” Looking directly at Amy, he held his breath as he waited for her answer.
Biting her lip, Amy still couldn’t make up her mind. For some reason she couldn’t explain, she wanted to say yes. But before she did, she wanted to make sure she was saying yes for the right reason. That she was doing what was best for her and not what was easy.
After having paced the motel room floor for most of the night without reaching a decision, she’d hoped once she reached the Wynn farm the answer would be obvious. And maybe it would have been if Matt hadn’t been here. Though she wanted to show her appreciation for the unselfish way he’d protected her during the robbery, she didn’t want to take the position out of obligation.
When Aunt Lila called, both Amy and Matt looked up. “Where are your manners, Matt? Show the lady to the house.” When neither moved, Aunt Lila waved them to come in.
“You heard my aunt,” Matt said.
“Yeah,” Amy said. As they walked toward the house, she found her answer. This home and this woman had a spirit that drew her. It was as if God had provided a safe haven where she could heal her broken heart.
She would help Aunt Lila get back on her feet, and in return, she’d use this opportunity to take stock of her life and make plans for the future. After all, this was only a temporary arrangement.
Aunt Lila clasped her hands and smiled. “I’m glad to hear my prayers haven’t gone to waste. I have a hunch this arrangement is going to work out for both of us.”
Amy reached out to shake the older woman’s hand and was immediately pulled into a loose embrace. Though surprised by Lila’s enthusiasm, she appreciated the warm welcome. Still, for someone who’d refused to hire help, insisting she could make it on her own, Lila had quickly changed her mind. But that was a family matter, and Amy decided right then and there not to get caught up in the Wynn family business. She’d been hired to assist Aunt Lila and nothing more.
“I hope you’re right,” Amy agreed. “Finding a job and a place to live in one day is better than winning a sweepstakes. And I’m going to do everything I can to make your recovery as comfortable and easy as possible.”
“Oh, I have no doubt this arrangement is going to work out.” Though Lila appeared tired, a strange sparkle lit her eyes as if she knew a special secret. “And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to lie down.”
“What can I do to help? Perhaps I could bring you a cup of hot tea? Or maybe you’d like me to run some water for a bath?” Amy asked, feeling like there was no time better than the present to get started.
“Oh, no,” Aunt Lila insisted. “I’m going to rest, and then after dinner we’ll discuss how you can best help me.”
“At least let me prepare dinner,” Amy offered.
Lila nodded with approval, then turning toward Matt said, “In the meantime, I’d like you to help Amy move her things into the south guest room and then take her on a tour of the property.”
Being a fast learner, Amy already knew better than to argue with Lila. However, she didn’t intend to spend the rest of the afternoon with Matt, and she was certain he’d feel the same way.
Amy and Matt both nodded as if in agreement, then waited until Lila had left the room before honestly facing one another.
“What was that about?” Amy asked.
“I’m not sure what you mean.” Matt shrugged, as if to say he truly was clueless.
“That look in your aunt’s eye.”
“Oh, that,” Matt said, shaking his head. “There’s no telling what she’s dreaming up. Trust me, you’ll get used to seeing that sparkle. Aunt Lila’s always got a plan.”
“Like what kind of plan?”
“Let’s see. She’s always redesigning the gardens or remodeling the house. And if she’s not doing something to the house or barns, then she’s helping raise money for a favorite charity or she’s working on a church committee. Her specialty is weddings, and lucky for her, her nieces and nephews have kept her plenty busy recently.”
Amy noticed Matt’s wistful eyes, but because she wanted to avoid any talk of weddings she let the look pass without comment.
“I gather Aunt Lila’s a very active woman.”
Matt grinned. “That would be an understatement.”
“Sounds like I may be the one who has a hard time keeping up.” From the brief time she’d spent with Lila, she knew she was going to enjoy working for this woman. Lila possessed a zest for life that was contagious, and Amy already felt a sliver of the woman’s optimism taking root in her own heart.
“She’ll keep you busy,” Matt agreed. “But I really think you’ll be a great team. Otherwise I wouldn’t have suggested this arrangement in the first place.”
“And I want to thank you for introducing me to your aunt. Without this job and home, I might not have been able to stay in Lexington.”
“Well, you did get off to a rough start.”
When Matt looked at her, she shivered, suddenly feeling the same electric connection she’d felt between them during the hour she’d spent in his arms in the storeroom closet. And then the moment passed, leaving her face-to-face with a kind stranger. Disturbed by her fluctuating thoughts, Amy determined it was time to end the visit.
“I owe you a lot. And I promise I’ll take good care of your aunt.”
“I know you will.” Then, clasping his hands together as he looked toward the door, he said, “Let’s get your things moved in and take that tour.”
“Really, I don’t expect you to waste your afternoon. I don’t have much in the car, and I’m certainly capable of wandering around the property on my own. In fact, I’d enjoy it. So, please, don’t feel obligated. I know Aunt Lila only wanted to make sure I felt welcomed, and you must have more important things to do.” Even before she finished the long speech, Amy knew she wasn’t getting through to the man. Her words bounced off his grin as if they were made of rubber.
Matt shook his head. “Your job’s going to be a whole lot easier if you learn from the start not to ignore Aunt Lila’s orders. I’ll never hear the end of it if I desert you now. Besides, it won’t take that long to see the property.”
Amy bit her lip in an attempt to stop the frown in progress. The same sparkle she’d seen in Aunt Lila’s eyes now simmered in Matt’s. While she didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot with her new employer, she wasn’t all that convinced Lila would really be upset if she took a rain check on the tour. If she hadn’t known better, she’d think Matt had his own reasons for wanting to stick around. Sighing, she realized he probably wanted to get to know her better. After all, he’d brought a stranger into his aunt’s home. He was probably having second thoughts and needed some assurance that he’d made a wise choice.
“Okay.” Amy gave in. “But just a quick tour.”
Then after dinner, she’d call her parents and assure them she was okay. In fact she was better than okay. As she met Matt’s gaze, she couldn’t help but feel her fresh start was going to be everything and more than she’d dreamed it would be.
As Matt carried the last suitcase into the grand foyer and up the wide, twisting stairway, he tried to see this house through Amy’s eyes. Was she intimidated by the high ceilings, Palladian windows, tapestry fabrics and miles of the finest polished mahogany? Or, despite the grandeur, did she feel the warmth, love and coziness that lingered from years gone by?
Matt set the suitcase next to a lopsided pile of boxes and bags. Amazingly, everything on the floor had been stuffed into the trunk of her mid-size car. And yet, considering she had just moved to Lexington, it wasn’t much at all.
“Is there anything else I can help you move?” he asked, thinking she might have left a rented moving trailer parked at the motel.
Amy shook her head, and as if she read the curiosity in his eyes said, “When I came to town two weeks ago on my scouting trip, I put the majority of my things in storage.”
“And that same trip you found a place to work and live?”
“Yeah, I thought I’d found the perfect job. I was going to be the leasing agent at a small apartment complex. Free rent was one of the perks. Not to mention the flexible hours and that I could have afforded to at least take a part-time load at the university this fall. But that all fell through this morning. There was a mix-up. Apparently, the man who hired me didn’t know the owner had already hired someone else.”
“Wasn’t there anything you could do?” Matt asked with great concern.
“Not really. The person they hired had already moved into the apartment. You know what they say about possession being nine-tenths of the law. The man who hired me claimed he tried to telephone me when he realized what happened, but I’d already left Ohio.” Amy rubbed her eyes and pushed her hand through her thick brown hair. “Even if I had a strong case, I don’t have the means nor the inclination to take them to court.”
Tilting his head and offering a wise smile, Matt said, “Things have a funny way of working out.”
Amy merely rolled her eyes and walked to the window. As she tentatively pushed aside the sheer drape, creating a small opening to peek through, Matt studied her profile for clues as to what she might be thinking and feeling. But her stoic countenance gave little away. Swallowing hard, he found himself at a sudden loss for words, wondering if he were crazy for bringing this woman into his aunt’s house. What on earth had possessed him? She was a stranger, and in this awkward, silent moment, he felt it profusely.
But she was a beautiful stranger.
While her eyes followed a restless black thorough-bred across a distant pasture, he watched her. He loved the way her silky dark brown hair graced the tops of her shoulders. And anyone with such fair skin certainly couldn’t spend endless hours in the summer sun. Instead, he imagined her sitting on his aunt’s veranda in the old rocking chair, sipping cold lemonade and nibbling on sugar cookies. With perspiration glistening on her slender neck, she would gently fan herself.
Matt turned away and took a deep breath. This was his loneliness talking. He’d always thought he’d be married by now. Instead, he had been best man to a string of cousins, and by the end of the summer he’d be the only unmarried Wynn cousin. And he didn’t even have a prospect in sight. That was, until he’d held Amy in his arms. Even though he’d been terrified during the life-threatening ordeal, he’d found a certain comfort in holding her close. It was as if his subconscious had taunted, This is what it would feel like to hold a woman you could love for a lifetime.
Shaking his head, Matt physically tried to suppress the ridiculous thoughts. While it was true he felt an unexplainable bond with this woman, it wasn’t love. Love didn’t happen in a flash or even in an hour. Real love, like the kind his parents and grandparents shared, took time to grow and mature. Glancing at Amy, he promised himself he wouldn’t blow their newfound connection out of proportion. They had survived a dangerous moment together. It was only natural he should feel drawn to her.
Feeling more confident, Matt moved to Amy’s side. As they stared out the window in silence, he resisted the urge to casually drape his arm across her shoulders. When he turned his head, he found her studying him with curious eyes. He smiled, and when he did, her composure cracked, and he saw the distrust, confusion and sadness she tried to hide. In that moment, Matt could only wonder why God had brought this woman into his life.
“How about that tour?” he asked, suddenly anxious to stretch his legs and inhale the fragrant Kentucky air.
They hadn’t walked very far when Matt realized Amy skillfully redirected the conversation each time it headed her way. While Matt wasn’t trying to be nosy or rude, he did wonder what had brought her to Lexington and why such a beautiful woman would be content to work for his aunt for the summer.
There were so many things he wanted to ask her. But as he’d learned from his horses, patience was a virtue. Given enough time, she would tell him everything he needed to know.
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