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Home > The Gamble (Colorado Mountain #1)(13)

The Gamble (Colorado Mountain #1)(13)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Problem was, I didn’t think I needed Charlie to give it to me straight.

I lifted my left hand to my face and with my right hand I touched my ring.

I’d been thrilled when Niles asked me to marry him because I’d been in love with him. He was steady, he was quiet, he was predictable and he loved me in his Niles way.

He’d never cheat on me which had happened to me, back in the day when shit happened to me. He’d never be mean to me, say mean stuff to me, not on purpose just to hurt me and not when he was drunk which also had happened to me, back before I played it safe and shit happened to me. And he’d never lay a hand on me in anger which, unfortunately, also happened to me.

So he wasn’t affectionate. So he didn’t hold my hand, hug me, cuddle me, hold me when we slept. So he didn’t call me “honey” or “baby” or give me a nickname like “Duchess”.

He was solid, he had a good job, he worked hard. He didn’t play hard, just worked hard. He didn’t have a lot of friends. He didn’t like to go out much. What he liked to do was sit on the couch watching TV with me at his side. Or DVDs. He was content with that. In his Niles way, he loved that, just him and me, watching TV.

And I was content… ish. It wasn’t exciting but it was nice… ish. It meant I’d never get hurt again. Truly, there was something to be said for steady, quiet and predictable.

But was that enough for me for the rest of my life?

You know the answer to that, Neenee Bean, I heard Charlie say in my head and I jumped, lurching up, and looked around, seeing no one.

I’d heard Charlie talking to me on occasion but it was remembering things he’d said or knowing what he would say. He’d never talked to me talked to me.

“Maybe this timeout wasn’t a good thing,” I whispered to the room. “Maybe it was a bad thing.”

Charlie didn’t answer, no one did.

And I decided, since I was hearing voices, that maybe a nap was a good thing.

* * * * *


My eyes opened and I saw Max’s face close to mine. I also felt his fingers digging into my hip. I was on my side in his bed and he was sitting in the crook of my lap.

“Jesus, you sleep like the dead,” he muttered, pulling back only his head, his hand stayed where it was.

I saw the TV was blue screen and the sun was fading. It was getting dark which meant it was getting late.

I rolled my head slightly on the pillow to look up at him, still not quite awake and asked, “What?”

“I thought it was because you were sick but you sleep like the dead,” Max informed me then he lifted his hand not at my hip and he took a bite out of a chocolate chip cookie.

My eyes narrowed on the cookie. “Are those my cookies?”

He chewed, swallowed then said, “Yeah,” then shoved the rest of the cookie in his mouth.

I got up on an elbow and said, “But those are mine.”

“Honey, they’re in my house, they’re fair game.”

“I see this sharing the house business isn’t going to work,” I told him and he grinned.

“They’re f**kin’ good cookies, babe, but there’re about three dozen of them. You gonna eat them all?”

“Yes,” I bit out.

“Well, you’ll have to eat them all but four,” he told me.

“You had four?”

“Yeah,” he replied, ignoring my tone and possibly the lethal look on my face before he went on. “I’m hungry. Let’s go to dinner.”


His hand suddenly moved from my hip to my shoulder, his finger traced skin there and I felt that my shirt had fallen down. I yanked it up, sat up and scooted up to the headboard.

His hand dropped to the bed at the other side of my thighs so he was leaning across me and he said, “Yeah, dinner, I’m takin’ you to town for a burger.”

“You’re taking me to town for a burger?”

He tipped his head to the side and asked, “You gonna repeat everything I say?”


“Good,” he said, pushed up off the bed, grabbed my hand before I could evade his clutch and yanked me to my feet in a way I could neither ignore nor fight. “Get yourself sorted out. We’ll leave as soon as you’re ready.”

Then he turned and started to walk away.

“I’m not going to town with you,” I announced.

He turned back and asked, “Why not?”

“Because you called the taxi company and told them not to send a taxi.”


“And, as delighted as I was to be offered a beer by Arlene coupled with the opportunity to experience town like a local, I wanted a taxi.”

He grinned again. “Arlene’s friendly.”

“I think Arlene’s a little nutty.”

“Friendly ain’t nutty, darlin’, it’s friendly.”

“It would have been friendlier if she sent a taxi.”

He tipped his head to the bed and noted, “You got a nap.”


“And you got your color back.”

I fought the urge to touch my cheeks, won my fight and said, “So?”

“So, you got rest, except for bakin’ cookies. It’s what you needed.”

“Max, what I need is to –”

He turned and started walking away, saying, “We’ll talk over burgers.”


“Burgers,” he said before he hit the staircase.

“Max!” I shouted.

He didn’t answer.

God, he was so annoying.

He was hungry? He wanted burgers? He wanted to talk over burgers? I was hungry too, actually famished. So we’d talk over burgers.

I went to my suitcase, pulled out my hair drier and my makeup case and snatched up the converter. He wanted to go to town to talk over burgers; he’d have to wait until I did my hair and makeup. I didn’t go anywhere without doing my hair and makeup.

Unfortunately that morning I didn’t sleep. I tried but it wouldn’t come. So I made cookies instead. Then it was time for lunch, so I made lunch. Then I put the sheets in the drier, cleaned up after the cookies and lunch and tried to read but I was too tired so I went upstairs and slid open the doors to the TV and VCR. Max had a selection of shoot ‘em ups, some Westerns, horror, a few espionage, lots of explosion movies. I picked an espionage, made the bed, watched the movie, went downstairs and folded the sheets then went back upstairs to watch another espionage, which, obviously, I fell asleep while watching.

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