Cutting off the thought, she nodded her head. “I’m sure. Unless you’re not stocked up with the food needed to feed you guys?” she teased, and tried to make the conversation light.
“We’ve got a well-stocked fridge, freezer, and cupboards.”
Staring out the window seemed to be the best option. Ever since that disastrous night six years ago when she was seventeen, Shane had done everything to make sure he wasn’t alone with her. Being in the truck was the first time since then they’d been alone.
“Why have you decided to get a housekeeper? I thought you liked the bachelor freedom?” Claire didn’t want to bring up the events of that night, so taking the conversation to more neutral territory seemed the best idea.
“The boys have gotten tired of us serving burned stew, and they don’t ever get a decent slice of cake. When Liam or myself are in town, we forget to go to the diner,” he said.
Out of the corner of her eye, she watched him working the car. The truck wasn’t an automatic, but a manual. He needed to shift and change gears. She licked her lips as she turned her head and gave him her full attention. Shane was the bigger of the two men, with his chest being at least twice the size of hers. He had short-cropped hair cut close to the head that was dark brown, darker than her own color, and his eyes were a deep brown. Most of the time he looked sad, as if his thoughts were plaguing him. His arms were huge, and she liked the look of his firm legs. Many times she’d admired him, as had other women.
She wasn’t jealous. The next best thing to being his lover was being his friend.
“Have there been any other takers?” she asked.
“No. You’re the first.”
Claire kept her fingers crossed she’d be the only. The rest of the drive was spent in silence. She tried to keep her gaze off him, but every time he changed gears, his thick arms bulged, and it turned her on. Shane was knocking all of her prior beliefs out of the window.
What would it be like to watch him move bales of straw?
Would he be able to pick her up?
She thought about sinking her nails into his flesh as he pushed between her thighs. The erotic image broke into her mind, causing her to gasp.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
Leaning out of the trucks window with the breeze on her face had to be the safest option. She couldn’t jump his bones in his own truck.
Liam was waiting outside at the gates when Shane pulled up.
“Hey, precious,” he said. He opened the door and nudged her farther into the truck.
“What are you doing, Liam?” Shane asked.
“Getting a ride with the pretty lady.”
“You could have walked,” Shane said as he put the truck back into gear.
Liam, at her side, shrugged. She was conscious of both men on either side. The gear shift and handle brake stopped her thigh from being pressed against Shane. His arm kept brushing hers as he moved.
Taking a few deep breaths and controlling her racing heart was in order. She closed her eyes for a split second and reminded herself that Liam and Shane were her best friends.
In no time at all they were pulling up to the large ranch. It was a beautiful, three-story house that had been built back in the fifties. Liam’s granddad had left it to him in his will, and since then, Shane and Liam had brought it back to full health.
Claire was so proud of her friends. While they made something of themselves, she spent time in a supply store cleaning and stocking shelves. Working at the decorating and supply store had not been the future she had planned for herself.
When the ranch hands saw her, each one came over and hugged her close. She’d been to the ranch many times and usually brought cake or a pie.
“Please tell us you’re here to cook,” one of them said.
“I’m auditioning for the role.”
All of them cheered and high-fived each other as if they were on the school playground.
Shane ordered them back to work, and then her friends took her inside the kitchen.
“How about I start cooking a dinner and you guys tell me about this job?” she suggested.
Claire moved around the kitchen as if she had been born to be part of it. She knew where everything was and started getting the vegetables together and the meat out of the fridge. She found several pots and began to make each one up with the same amount of meat and vegetables. There were a lot of workers to feed.
She was home.
Shane watched as Claire moved around the kitchen. She served him a cup of coffee and began chopping vegetables. Sitting in the car with her entire presence surrounding him had been a blessing and a nightmare. He loved her, and that never stopped. This had been the first time in years since that fateful night that they’d been alone together. At least in the truck he didn’t have the fear of hurting her.