“Why do people move to Sundance?” he countered.
“Not many do. They’ve got more money than God and can afford the outrageous land prices, and don’t have to rely on earning a living locally.”
“That’s a harsh assessment for your beloved hometown.”
She shrugged. “It’s true. We are reverse snobs. Any of those ‘new-age’ types who try and gain a foothold in the community have a hard time. Most don’t stick around long. We don’t like change. We like our guns, we like our beef, we like the money from coal and oil. We like to challenge anyone who tries to take it away from us. If you don’t embrace all that is our western way of life…well, we ain’t got time for ya.”
Jack tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. “So when Henry asks where we’re going to live after we’re married, you’ll say…?”
“We’ll split our time between Colorado and Wyoming for now, but after we start having babies, we’ll settle in Sundance because it’s a good place to raise kids and I have lots of family around the area.”
He shot her a sideways glance. “That sounded a little rote.”
“That’s because it’s what you want me to say.”
“It’s not what you’d say?”
“What would you say?”
“I’d say it didn’t matter where we lived because anywhere you are is my home.”
Jack sent her another look, a softer one. “Keely—”
“Don’t worry, I won’t be morbidly sappy and embarrass you.” She pulled her hand from his, needing to distance herself. “Thanks for not making me listen to that jazz crap for the last two hours.”
“Same might be said for you saving my ears from the noise pollution that passes for country music.”
You didn’t seem to mind it the other night when you gave me an orgasm on the dance floor during
“You Look So Good In Love”.
Yeah, she wasn’t bringing up that reminder.
Jack pointed. “Here we are.”
They crested a rise. The town spread looked like any ordinary small town. But as soon as they hit the city limits, Keely could see the difference. It was…clean. The houses were well maintained. No rusted swing sets or broken down bicycles. Once they passed into the commercial area, there was more diversity.
No regular billboards, say nothing of flashing billboards.
“Whoa. It’s like…the flashback to the town’s past in the movie Back to the Future.”
“Exactly!” Jack grinned at her. “You’ll freak when you see the clock in the town square. It’s right outside our hotel.”
Keely gawked at everything. Jack pointed out the architectural details he liked and loathed. He waxed poetic about the potential, meshing visions with reality, style with modern amenities. Happy as she was to hear his excitement about his work, he lost her a couple times. She half-feared Jack would blame her if he wasn’t awarded this job. But he wouldn’t have a shot at the project at all if it wasn’t for their fake engagement. Yet, she had an uneasy feeling.
Her attention returned to him. “What? Sorry.”
“Was I boring you?”
A dutiful fiancée would lie and make him feel good. “Maybe some.” Shit. She waited for him to toss an insult back at her.
But Jack released a resigned sigh. “I’m told I ramble on sometimes. If it appears my client’s eyes are glazing over when I’m talking, could you give me a sign?”
“Sure. Got a sign in mind?”
“Tap on your chin with your index finger?”
She thrust out her chest in a sex kitten move. “Or I could just flash them my tits, baby.”
Smiling, Jack said, “I’m the only one who gets to read that sign, buttercup.” He kissed her. The quick peck morphed into something…more.
A rap sounded on the window.
They broke apart guiltily.
A middle-aged bellman in a spiffy red tasseled hat smiled through Keely’s window. “May I help you out, miss?”
“Uh. Sure. Thank you.”
Jack popped the locks and the trunk. The bellman lifted the bags out and wheeled them to the front desk. Another red-hat-wearing bellman held the door and Jack slipped him the car keys.
Keely noticed the matronly woman at the check-in desk also wore a red uniform, complete with tasseled hat. Had she somehow stumbled into a Shriners secret hideout?
“Mr. Donohue, so happy to have you back at the Milford Inn.” The woman behind the desk beamed.
“And this lovely young woman must be your fiancée? Kelly McKay?”
“Keely,” she corrected gently. “Two e’s, one l. Common mistake.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry. Such a pretty name. I’ll just get that changed.” Her fingers flew across the keys.
“There. Done. I have you on the second floor.” She slid the key card envelope across the desk. “Horace will help you with your bag.”
Keely felt like an idiot looking to Jack for direction. Normally she’d take the bag herself. In this situation was she supposed to let her fiancé haul the luggage? Or let the man decide to hand the responsibility to the bellhop?
Jack smiled at Horace. “You can take my bag up to my room too.” He handed the man a folded bill.
“Mr. Donohue is on the third floor.” She passed a piece of paper with the room numbers to Horace and he rolled the suitcases to the elevator.
“Here’s your key, Mr. Donohue. Please let us know if we can assist you in any way during your stay.
Don’t forget if you need room service, it’s available twenty-four hours a day.”
“Much appreciated, Mrs. Trudeau.” Jack slipped his hand into hers and they strolled out the front door.
After half a block, Keely dug her heels in and faced Jack. “Separate rooms? On separate floors?
“Very old fashioned, I know, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.” He squeezed her hand. “It’s one line we can’t cross, Keely, sneaking into each other’s rooms.”
“Then I’m glad I brought my vibrator.”
Jack choked out, “You did?”
“No, you’re so easy. But we can have phone sex, right?”
“It’s only two nights.” He rubbed his thumb over her wrist in a lazy, sexy manner and she knew his eyes smoldered behind his sunglasses. “Have you gotten so used to having me in your bed you’ll miss me if I’m not there?”
“If I say yes?” she asked coyly.
“Then I’ll have raunchy phone sex with you.”
“If I say no?”
“Then I’ll still have raunchy phone sex with you.”
“Like I said, GQ, you’re easy.” A total lie. Jack Donohue was the least easy man she’d ever known.
In the hour they wandered, several shopkeepers came out to greet them. She counted three hair salons and two barbershops. One large drugstore. Two furniture stores. Three diner-type restaurants. Assorted boutiques, featuring purses, costume jewelry and shoes. Those fancy, exclusive shops made her break out in hives.
Keely wasn’t a “shopper” any more than she was a girly-girl. She bought her clothes at western stores or outlet malls. She didn’t spend time agonizing over what to wear, although she had a weakness for funky cowgirl boots. She managed to slather on makeup most days, but not in excess.
Her one indulgence was lilac-scented lotion and oil from Sky Blue, a company her cousin Kade’s wife, Skylar, owned that specialized in naturally made beauty products. But she probably wouldn’t have bothered if the store wasn’t right below her apartment.
With Jack gone in meetings all day tomorrow, hopefully she’d have time to explore on her own.
A horrible thought struck her. What if the wives of the committee members had planned her day for her? What would she do?
Buck up. This is important to Jack.
“Keely? What’s wrong?”
She smiled at him. “Nothing. We should go back to the hotel so I can freshen up before dinner.”
They parted ways in the hotel lobby. Probably so the front desk could report she and Jack weren’t sneaking in a quick fuck before happy hour. Right. No cocktail hour in Milford.
Keely hung up her clothes and checked out the room. Tall windows covered in chintz and velvet draperies. Fussy furniture with spindly legs and loud fabrics. The headboard was wood gilded with gold.
Fancy place. Too fancy for her taste. She preferred a relaxed, casual atmosphere where she wasn’t afraid to put her boots on the coffee table.
Maybe she should take a nap. They’d stumbled out of bed at the butt crack of dawn to drive to Rapid City. After hopping a plane to Salt Lake City, they made the two-hour trek to Milford via rental car. She yawned and closed her eyes.
Her cell phone buzzing on the mattress woke her. “Yeah?”
“I’m out of the country for three freakin’ weeks and I come back to find out you’re engaged? To Jack Donohue of all people? Jesus. What the fuck, Keels?”
“I missed you too, Ramona.”
“Sorry. It just caught me by surprise. I got the text message with the engagement picture and the engagement party invite from Aunt Carolyn. But no squealing phone call from you. No gossipy tidbits from our other relatives about you being knocked up… They all expressed the same WTF reaction I had. So tell me K, is it true?”
“Yes. It was fast.” She offered the condensed version of her courtship with Jack.
“Do you love him?”
“Yeah, I do.” At least that much wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t any easier to admit. She’d done the one thing he’d warned her about and she’d feared: she’d fallen in love with him.
Ramona didn’t say much. “Are you at home right now with the new stud of your life?”
“No. Jack has a client thing in Utah and I’m with him. Where were you gone to for three weeks?”