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This was blackmail. “Return my jeans and all the rest of the laundry you stole,” he said, “and I’ll think about it.”
“Wear what came in today, and I’ll think about it.”
He flopped down on the chair, having no intention of doing that. “You know what happens to thieves, right?”
“Nothing good,” she replied, pouring water into her cup. “I’m willing to sacrifice for fashion.”
Cole was kind of at a loss at what to do, since he didn’t have sisters. Normally, he’d wrestle his brothers down by now and force them to do the right thing. He tried to buy time. “What’s in this magical shipment that you’ve got?”
“Oooh, well, Henley tops, shawl neck sweaters, cuffed jeans, rolled up slacks—in charcoal, indigo, chocolate. I even tried mustard.”
Was anything a real color? He was starting to squirm and sweat all at once. “You can’t buy things for your future brother-in-law. It’s just not done.”
Right! Because they had their weird little “understanding.” The traitor.
“Ah, and I got you a puffy coat with sweater sleeves,” she said.
His whole stomach dropped. “You know, I can buy some new jeans at Harold’s to replace the ones you stole,” he said.
“C’mon!” She poked his forearm with her pinky. “You can wear it to the Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice Festival.”
“The last thing I’m thinking about is what I’m wearing to the festival.”
“I know, right? That’s why I am.”
He rubbed at his eyes, feeling the fight drain from him. “If I agree to your terms, then you’ll give me my jeans… now?”
“Yes. Well, after dinner.”
He took a steadying breath. His gaze was caught by her laughing eyes. Her blonde hair fell over her face while she dished up her plate. “I have a different idea,” he said.
“And that is?”
“We’ll wrestle for it.”
He picked her up over his shoulder and took her to where the Slade brothers always had it out in the living room, despite their momma’s screams to the contrary. “Cole!” she cried out. Eva was a lot lighter than his brothers, and she kicked her bare feet against his side. “You can’t just wrestle your sister-in-law.”
She wasn’t yet. And two could play at this game. “You can always call it quits then, and concede that I’m the victor.”
Not quite what he expected. The puppy barked joyfully around them, wanting to join in the fun. “I can put you in a pretzel,” he teased her.
“I’d like to see you try it.”
Really? He set her on the couch, not quite sure what to do with her now that he’d started, but she lunged at him instead and caught him so unaware, that she managed to pin him down against the cushion. “I might not have brothers,” she huffed out, “but I’ve wrestled a few greased pigs at the fair.”
Great! Trust her to take this to another level. She was clearly enjoying herself. He threw his arms around her, actually not sure how to make this fair when he saw she completely disappeared under him. He rolled her around, careful not to hurt her. “You give?” he asked her.
“Not a chance!” She squirmed out of his grip and fell against the carpet, knocking him back with her shoulder as she wriggled away. “Not until I see you in a turtleneck sweater.”
“You can forget that!” He grabbed her knee and tugged her to him. “I pin you for three seconds and then you have to give.”
“Who says?” she called out. “I didn’t agree to that.”
She laughed up in his face and poked her finger into his stomach, and then followed that with lots of fingers digging into the softest parts of him while she tickled him all over. He crumpled, feeling himself go weak like he always did in a tickle war. He tried to catch her hands, all while howling out uncontrollably in laughter. “You can’t…” he said, “… little cheat.”
“Someone’s got to even the playing field,” she hollered out. “You big–big lumberjack!”
“Ouch!” he said aloud when she caught him under his armpit. He took her by the wrists, realizing that he had no idea how to end this fight and still come out the victor because the little thief was stealing more than his laundry with her every dimple. He tried to hold her still, and quite suddenly, she stopped struggling, her eyes going to his. Her breathing came out heavily.
His hands tightened over her.
The phone rang, and he turned towards it, a part of him realizing that he needed to stop that sound somehow.
“You going to get that?” Eva asked him.
Yes, yes, of course.
Her hair was everywhere. He tried to push those glorious strands from her eyes.
The phone’s ringing screeched persistently over them.
Her lashes fluttered in confusion. Wait, what was he doing? He straightened and released her. “Your lucky day,” he told her. That was more for bravado than anything. He abandoned her and headed for the phone, every part of him shaking, partly from pushing it too far with Eva and partly because he knew what this phone call could be about.
He answered it.
Keep reading here: https://www.amazon.com/Coles-Dilemma-Harvest-Ranch-Romance-ebook/dp/B0B5MQDHQT