The Forgotten Daughter - Page 36

Determined to get back on an even keel, Josie marched out of the bathroom and down the hall.

The other bedroom doors lining the corridor were closed and silence echoed in her ears. For a place that had been overflowing with people a few hours ago, things were awfully quiet.

Then again, her father was an early riser. As was Norma Rose; her sister had been even before she’d started sleeping most nights in Ty’s cabin. The only one who might have slept in the family quarters last night was Ginger, but Josie doubted Brock would have wanted to sleep in Ginger’s bedroom. Everything in there was pink. Entering that room was like walking into a ball of cotton candy. Whether they’d slept in there or not, Ginger and Brock had probably already left. They’d planned on visiting Brock’s family today.

Josie pulled open the door that separated this portion of the second floor from the guest quarters and stopped dead in her tracks.

Scooter was there. He was stretched out, with his feet on one chair, his body on another and his hat pulled low over his face. A smile tried to creep onto her lips as a softness spread through the inner cavity of her chest.

She tugged her gaze away to glance up and down the empty hallway. He still had on the same clothes as last night. Right down to his high-topped boots. And suspenders. His white shirt was partially unbuttoned, exposing a long V of skin and dark curls.

Fighting to inhale enough air to keep from passing out, Josie weighed her options. She could back up and pull the door closed, or sneak past him. The sight of him was confusing her, making her forget why she’d been so mad at him last night. She was already unsure about exactly what had made her so angry. She’d wanted him to kiss her. She just hadn’t wanted to like it. She still didn’t.

There was only herself to blame for the pickle she was in, and she was the only one who could get herself out of it.

Josie eased the weight off her heels and tiptoed into the hallway.

An idea crossed her mind—that of kicking the chair out from beneath his feet. Twyla would do something like that and then wait to be chased. By Forrest, of course, not Scooter. Josie could almost see it happening, Twyla squealing and Forrest kissing her once he’d caught her. The image in her mind quickly changed to that of her and Scooter.

“I can hear you.”

His voice startled her in one way. In another, she’d expected it. She’d thought he’d twitched.

“I can see you, too,” he added.

Planting her heels on the carpet, she crossed her arms. “Then why were you pretending to be asleep?”

He pushed back his hat and flashed her a grin. “I wasn’t pretending. At least not until you opened the door.”

Refusing to be affected by him in any way—ever again—she asked, “What are you doing here? It’s eleven o’clock in the morning.”

“Actually, it’s almost noon,” he said. “Do you always take that long in the bathroom?”

The way his eyes roamed from her toes to her hair sent fire-like heat zipping beneath her skin. Especially her breasts. His gaze had stalled on them briefly, making her tighten the arms she’d crossed over them. “You’d better hightail it out of here,” she warned. “Men are not allowed in the family quarters.”

He kicked his feet off the chair and swooped to a stand so quickly she took a step backward.

“I’m not in the family quarters,” he said, advancing toward her. “I wasn’t all night.”

“Father won’t like—”

“Your father saw that I was brought a pillow and a blanket.” He stopped far enough away to give her breathing room, and twisted his neck left and then right, stretching the muscles. “I should have taken him up on the bed he offered. Those chairs weren’t too comfortable.”

“You slept there all night?”

He stretched his arms wide. “Yep.”

Josie had to pull her eyes away from his shoulders, and the way the muscles rippled. “Why?”

“Someone had to make sure you didn’t creep off.”

She opened her mouth, but closed it before doing much more than swallowing a gulp of air. Then she recovered.

“Well, I didn’t sneak away, and I’m not going anywhere today, so you can leave now.”

“Can’t.”

“Yes, you can.”

“No, I can’t.”

Arguing was useless, and flustered her, yet with him she couldn’t stop. “Why not?”

He snagged her arm and spun her around. “Because I don’t trust you.”

They were headed for the stairs, so she didn’t protest. Once downstairs she’d find an excuse, a chore that needed to be done. One wouldn’t form in her mind right now, but there would be lots of them. There always were.

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