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The Gentrys: Cinco

May 2003
Silhouette Desire #1508
ISBN # 978-0373765089

Rancher, security expert, family man. Cinco Gentry has already had enough excitement for one lifetime. Now all he wants is to run his ranch—and his family—without any complications. Until the arrival of U.S. Air Force Captain Meredith Powell changes everything. Forced to stay at the ranch for her own safety, she resists Cinco at every turn, until danger drives her into his passionate embrace. But will the sexy cowboy be enough to satisfy her thirst for adventure once the danger is gone?

THE GENTRYS: This West Texas family vows to love, honor—and protect—at all costs.

More about The Gentrys

The Gentrys: Cinco

 

FROM BEHIND HER she heard footsteps on the mudroom floor. Spinning around, she found Cinco hesitating at the threshold to the kitchen. He still had on his hat and she couldn't see his expression very well, but she was sure that he must be wishing to be anywhere else but here. She knew because that's exactly how she felt at the moment. "Hey there ... uh ... Captain Frosty," he mumbled.

The look on her face was so guarded and hesitant that Cinco suddenly felt tongue-tied. All his good intentions and the great speech he'd prepared disappeared as he'd entered the room.

How was he going to begin this? He'd made the decision to simply go back to being friends. He didn't even want to try to discuss the very powerful sexual attraction between them.

But once he saw her eyes, he'd been lost. "I ... uh ..." Nothing that came out of his mouth made any sense.

All at once, he remembered the rose. Maybe that would help break the ice and put him back in good standing.

He jerked his hand from behind his back where he'd been keeping the flower hidden. "Here." He pushed it toward her. "This is for you."

He'd expected some reaction. He figured, maybe, she'd smile and thank him. Or she'd laugh and say how stupid he was to bring a tough-as-nails, ex-air force pilot a silly rose.

But Meredith simply stared down at the flower in his hand with a dark look in her eyes that seemed to resemble fear. She was ramrod still and never took her gaze from the yellow petals. He might as well have been holding out a rattlesnake.

The longer the silence dragged on, the more he let his own gaze wander down her body. He tried to keep steady and give her the time to say something, but his eyes wanted to drink in the lean, trim form before him.

Yesterday he hadn't noticed how much the new jeans and tight fitting western shirt enhanced her every curve. Her other outfits, the severe khakis or the sloppy sweats, disguised her figure. But these clothes sexily hugged her body, making him suddenly aroused and wanting to go back to the embraces they'd shared in the corral.

No way! He had to get a grip. Friends. He'd vowed to be friends.

Determined to keep himself and the situation under control, he forced his gaze up to her face--and nearly dropped the rose. Huge tears swam in her eyes, a few even leaked out of the corners and down her cheeks. But she remained frozen in place.

"I didn't mean to make you cry," he said as quietly as possible.

He didn't know how to handle women that cried. Abby simply never had any tears. He couldn't remember ever having seen Ellen shed a tear either. And his mother ... well, maybe he did remember her crying once when she'd been happy.

But Meredith didn't seem like the type. "It's just a yellow rose of friendship," he explained. "I thought it would make you laugh. I'll throw it away if it upsets you."

"No!" She sniffed once and reached for the flower in his hand. "I ... I ..." Carefully taking the rose from him, she put it to her nose and took a deep breath.

"It's just that I ..." she stammered then cleared her throat. "No one's ever given me a flower before. I don't know what to say."

"'Thank you' is always good for a start," he remarked with a little too much sarcasm for a friend. "But a smile would be ten times better." He hoped that last bit might save him from being too much of a smart alec.

And a smile was really what he'd been after anyway.

A little one cracked the corners of her mouth, and she rubbed at her cheeks to dry the tears. Well, it was a start.

"Thank you, Cinco. But I don't know if I deserve a present ... especially not one meant in friendship."

He thought she deserved lots of presents. Tons and tons. But he didn't think he'd better mention that right now. Friendship. Cinco needed to keep his mind on track.

He began the little speech he'd prepared. "I'm sorry that I got carried away yesterday in the corral. I didn't mean to come on quite that strong and I certainly had no intention of embarrassing you. But you just looked so ..."

Cinco swallowed and started over. "Anyway, I'd like a chance to begin again. I really want to make you happy during your stay on the ranch. I know how difficult the situation is for you, and I thought if we could develop a friendship that the time might go by faster."

Meredith was perplexed. In the first place, she never cried. It was nonmilitary, childish, and her father would've had none of it.

In the second place ... she'd been just about to tell him that she wanted to move out of here and in with Abby ... to stop seeing him altogether.

Now what was she to do?

 

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