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.The chaos began to calm with Logan’s exit.The telephones rang for an hour or two.After that, there were only a few calls and two clients who came in person to ask about their investments.Melody had the figures.It was only a matter of pulling them up—her boss had given her permission before he left—and showing them to the visitors.The kids were amazingly good.They watched educational programming without a peep, except to ask for change for the soft drink machine.Melody gave it to them and then listened worriedly for sounds of the machine being mugged.Fortunately there was no such noise, and she settled down to the first peace she’d had all day.She managed to clear her desk of work before Emmett showed up, late, to pick up the kids.“Aw, do we have to go?” Polk groaned.“Mr.Rogers is coming on!”“Yes, we have to go.We’re leaving for home in the morning, thank God.Only one more event to go tonight—bareback bronc riding.”“Isn’t that one of the most dangerous events?” Melody asked.His eyebrows arched under the wide-brimmed Stetson he hadn’t bothered to remove from his dark hair.“Any rodeo event is dangerous if a contestant is stupid or careless.I’m neither.”She knew that already.He was something of a legend in rodeo.He wouldn’t be aware that she’d followed his career.She was a rodeo fan, but Emmett’s attitude toward her had kept her silent about her interest in the sport.“Thank you for letting us stay with you, Melody,” Amy said, smiling up at her.Melody smiled back.She liked the little girl very much.She was open and warm and loving, despite her mischievous nature.Emmett saw that smile and felt it all the way to his toes.He couldn’t have imagined even a minute before that a smile could change a plain face and make it radiate beauty.But he saw the reality of it in Melody’s soft features.Involuntarily his eyes fell to her body.She was what a kind man would call voluptuous, her form and shape perfectly proportioned but just a tad past slender.Adell had been bacon-thin.Melody was her exact opposite.It irritated him that he should notice Melody in that way.She was nothing to him except a turncoat.She and her brother had disrupted and destroyed his life.Not only his, but his children’s, as well.He could easily have hated her for that.“I said, let’s go,” he told the children.“Okay.” Polk sighed.“I’ll wait in the hall,” Guy murmured.He avoided even looking at Melody.“Guy hates you,” Amy told her with blunt honesty.“But I think you’re wonderful.”“I think you’re wonderful, too,” Melody replied.Amy grinned and walked up to her father.“We can go now, Emmett.Can I write to my friend Melody?”“We’ll talk about it,” Emmett said noncommittally.“Thanks for watching them,” he said as an afterthought.“Oh, it was my plea…sure!” She tripped over a tomahawk that someone had left lying on the floor and ended up on her back.Guy picked up the weapon, and the kids and Emmett made a circle around her prone body.She glared up at them, trying not to think how a sacrificial victim in an Indian encampment might have felt.In those Indian costumes, the kids looked eerie.“Whose tomahawk?” Emmett asked as he reached down and pulled Melody up with a minimum of strain.His hand made hers tingle.She wondered if he’d felt the excitement of the contact, too, because he certainly let go of her fast.“It’s mine, Emmett,” Amy said, sighing.She looked up at him, pushing back her pigtails, and her green eyes were resigned.“Go ahead and hit me.I didn’t mean to make Melody hurt herself, though.I like her.”“I know you didn’t mean it,” Melody said, and smiled.“It’s okay, nothing dented.”“Next time, be more careful where you put that thing,” Emmett muttered.“That’s right, Amy,” Melody said, nodding.“Between your father’s ears would be a good place.”He glared at her.“You didn’t hear that, Amy.Let’s go, kids.”He herded the children out the door and closed it.Melody sat by herself with no ringing phones, no blaring television, no laughing children.Her life and the office were suddenly empty.She closed up precisely at 5:00 p.m.and went by the grocery store to get enough for the weekend, which was just beginning.Thanksgiving Day had been quiet and lonely.She’d had a turkey breast, but she and Alistair had finished it off for supper the night before.So she bought ground beef for hamburgers and a small beef roast and vegetables to make stew and, later, soup.She lived on a budget, which meant that she bypassed steak and frozen éclairs.She would have loved to indulge her taste for both.Maybe someday, she thought wistfully…She fed Alistair, her big marmalade tabby, and then made herself a light supper.She ate it with little enthusiasm.Then she curled up with Alistair on the sofa to watch a movie on television.During the last scene, a very interesting standoff between a murderer and the police, the telephone started ringing.She grimaced, hating the interruption.If she answered it, she’d surely miss the end of the movie she’d been watching for two hours.She ignored it at first.The only people who ever telephoned her were people who were selling things.But whoever was calling wouldn’t give up.It stopped, briefly, only to start ringing insistently again.This time she was afraid not to answer it.It might be Kit or Logan or Tansy or even her brother.She picked up the receiver.“Hello?”“Is this Miss Melody Cartman?” a crisp, professional voice asked.“Yes.”“I’m Nurse Willoughby.We have a Mr [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]