‘What do you mean?’
He pulled off the cushion seats, pulled up a bar and the settee converted itself into a sofa bed. What was more, it was made up with fairly clean-looking sheets, a thin blanket and two flat pillows.
‘Diagonally, I might just fit if I bend my knees.’
‘Lucky you,’ she said rather tartly.
He cocked his head at her. ‘While you’re left without a blanket or any covering—is that what you’re suggesting?’
‘The penalty for such quick thinking,’ he murmured, and laughed at her expression. ‘Here’s what we’ll do. Did you happen to see a pair of scissors in the kitchen cupboards or drawers?’
Maggie went to check and came back with a rusty pair. ‘Only these.’
‘What are you going to do?’
‘This. Not our property obviously, but desperate circumstances call for desperate measures and we can replace them.’
He made several cuts then, using both hands, he ripped the double blanket and two sheets in half. He handed her hers ceremonially along with one of the pillows. ‘There you go. I may never belong to the ivory tower club, but I can be a gentleman of sorts.’
She knew from the wicked look in his grey eyes that the joke was on her, but not what the joke was. She suspected it could be more than the ivory tower club, but…?
‘Don’t worry about it, Maggie Trent,’ he said softly, but with more humour apparent in his eyes. ‘Go to bed.’
Maggie turned away slowly. Before she did go to bed, she removed her boots, released her hair and paid a visit to the bathroom. Then she climbed into the back seat of the car, only to climb out again.
‘What?’ He was seated on the sofa bed taking his shoes off.
‘I think it would be a good idea to leave the light on.’ She gestured widely. ‘Might deter the mice from getting too friendly.’
‘You’re scared of mice?’
‘Not scared,’ she denied. ‘I just don’t like the idea of close contact with them. Do you?’
‘Not particularly. OK. It can stay on.’
‘Thank you.’ She hesitated as she was struck by an amazing thought—that her arbitrary organization of the sleeping choices might have been a miscalculation. Or, put it this way, she would feel much safer and more comfortable if she were to share the sofa bed with him, purely platonically of course.
Her eyes widened as she combed her fingers through her hair and posed a question to herself— You’re not serious?
‘Uh—’ some colour came to her cheeks ‘—nothing. It’s nothing. Goodnight,’ she said and could have shot herself for sounding uncertain.
‘Mmm…’ She marched over to the car and got in again.
Jack McKinnon waited until she’d closed the door, wound down a window and disappeared from view. Then he lay back, pulled his half of the thin blanket up and examined his very mixed feelings on the subject of Maggie Trent.
Something of a firebrand, undoubtedly, he wouldn’t be here otherwise—he grimaced. Plenty of hauteur, as well, a good dose of her father’s genes, in other words, yet her personality was curiously appealing in a way her father’s could never be, not to him anyway.
How so? he asked himself. She’d exhibited just about every failing you might expect from a spoilt little rich girl, even to ordering him to sleep on the sofa.
Perhaps it was the power of her emotions, then, he mused. Even if misguidedly, she was passionate about the environment. She felt deeply about the plight of the Smiths—he grimaced again. But there was something else…
Her peachiness? That damned word again… OK, then, she was lovely. About five feet four, he judged, her figure was trim, almost slight, but he got the feeling it might be delightful: delicately curved, velvety nipples, small, peachy hips—yes, the word did fit somewhere!—satiny skin and all that tawny hair, not to mention stunning eyes to set it off. But what was it that puzzled him about her—an aura of sensual unawareness?
Maybe, he thought, then amended the thought to— sometimes… When he’d mentally stripped her she’d got all hot and bothered as well as angry. Now, though, being trapped in a shed with a strange man, virtually, who had mentally stripped her, appeared not to faze her. Why not?