|The pretty redhead walking toward him had to be a blood relative to the one currently staring at the third button down on his worn denim work shirt. He hoped Jolene didn't look lower and notice the tear he tried to hide by rolling up the sleeves. The woman was getting under his skin-and not in a good way.
Tyler finally tore his gaze from Emily's face and noticed what Jolene had: the huge splat of chocolate dead center between Emily's breasts. Firm and proud, cupped lovingly by a form-fitting, cropped T-shirt.
The saliva pooled in his mouth. He swallowed. The urge to devour the chocolate-covered confection caught him off guard. Digging deep for control, he realized he'd been too long without a woman: two months, three weeks, and four days... if he were counting.
He may be damned for it, but he let his gaze feast on the bounty before him. The two inches of exposed skin was tanned and taut. His gaze dipped to the hem of her denim mini skirt, and he had to swallow again. The woman had legs-curvaceous and toned, not toothpick thin-and Lord Almighty, bright green nail polish on her toes.
Emily smiled at Tyler and answered Jolene, "The spoon got caught in the mixer."
Jolene had a good three inches on Emily and an in-your-face beauty and sexuality that challenged him on every level, but there was something about the barefooted redhead with chocolate smeared across her cheekbone like a slash of war paint that tugged at his gut.
He had to fight against the urge to smile and replied, "Looks like the mixer won."
Emily lifted her right hand and the mangled spoon she clutched. "That's the second spoon today." Her sigh was long and low.
Jolene patted Emily's shoulder. "Why don't you just quit while you're ahead?"
"You know I can't until I beat the stress out of myself and this batter." Emily looked over at Tyler and asked, "Are you here to fix the sink?"
He shook his head. "Although I have been known to wrastle an ornery pipe into submission, I'm actually here about your sister's ad in the paper." For a split second disappointment clouded her pretty face and had him offering, "Maybe I could take a look at it before I leave."
Her smile blossomed slowly and was surely like a flower opening its petals to catch the rain. Before he could untangle his tongue, she said, "That's right neighborly, but I'll wait for the plumber. Oh... and she's my cousin."
"Really? You look enough alike to be sisters." Now that she was close enough to touch, he could see the subtle differences: the shape of their eyes-Emily's were long-lashed and almond shaped-and the curve of their lips-Emily's were fuller, and there was something indefinable about the barefooted redhead that went a whole lot deeper, straight to her core, a sweetness he hadn't found in long, long while.
If he were gifted with words like his New York City cousins, he'd have said there was something special about Emily and the way she seemed to smile from the inside out. But Tyler'd probably mess it up and compare her to one of the Circle G's milk cows.
Neither woman looked like they'd ever set foot on a ranch, and Emily sure as hell wouldn't believe him if he told her that certain breeds of milk cows had beautiful eyes and sweet faces. The steer he and his brothers raised for beef weren't pretty-well, they probably would be if he were another steer.
Shaking his head to clear it, he asked, "So did you save any of the batter?"
Emily's smile was slow and achingly sweet. "Enough to fill half the pan."
"Are you really going to bake half a pan's worth, Em?"
Emily grinned at her cousin. "No. That's why I decided to get another spoon and just eat the batter after I nuke it for a few seconds. Then I'll start over with another batch."
Tyler could handle cooking meat and potatoes. Baking was a whole other ballgame, but he was pretty sure it would take longer than a few seconds to cook brownies in the microwave. "That wouldn't be long enough to cook them, would it?"
Her slow, sweet smile eased under his worry about getting the job. "Brownies taste better half-cooked," Emily said. "Imagine how great the batter would taste warm and freshly whipped."
Tyler couldn't keep from grinning at the thought. Standing this close to her, he couldn't help but notice that without boots, the top of Emily's head would hit him mid-chest. He'd have to work at it to line up their lips, but if they were lying down-Whoa! Hold on there. Time enough to go there later, after he'd landed the job. If he landed the job.
"So, you're here about the position."
The hard edge in Jolene's voice had Tyler looking at her. Hell, a few positions came to mind and stubbornly got stuck there, making it hard to focus. Man, if he didn't need the money, he'd be looking for a nice quiet place to sample the chocolate-covered redhead. Head to toe and every luscious inch in between. Had she noticed him drooling over her cousin?
"I think you should hire him, Jo," Emily said, heading back the way she'd come. "See y'all later," she called out over her shoulder. "If you need me, I'll be upstairs whipping these brownies into submission. Bye, Tyler."
Lord, he'd get arrested if either woman could read his thoughts right now. One of Grandpa's favorite expressions came to mind watching the gentle sway of Emily's hips. The hitch in Emily's git-a-long was as delectable as the front of her had been, and damned if a line from a Trace Adkins song didn't start running through his brain, We hate to see her go, but love to watch her leave.
Damn, get your mind on the job, son.
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