Husbands on Horseback (Long Tall Texans #15)(7)

By: Diana Palmer & Margaret Way

She grimaced. Her father had placed her in an intolerable position. Somehow, he must have suspected that his time was limited. Otherwise why should he have gone to such lengths in his will to make sure that his daughter was provided for after his death?

“You’ve been acting funny since your father died,” he said suddenly, and his eyes narrowed. “Is there something you haven’t told me?”

She made an awkward motion with one shoulder.

“Did he go into debt and leave you with nothing, is that it?”


“Because if that’s the case, I can take care of the problem,” he continued, unabashed. “You help me out while Betty’s here, and I’ll pay off any outstanding debts. You can think of it as a job.”

She wanted to throw herself down on the floor and scream. Nothing was working out. She looked at him in anguish. “Oh, Hank,” she groaned.

He scowled. “Come on. It can’t be that bad. Spit it out.”

She took a steadying breath and got to her feet. “There’s a simpler way. I think…you’d better read Dad’s will. I’ll get it.”

She went into the living room and pulled out the desk drawer that contained her father’s will. She took it into the kitchen and handed it to a puzzled Hank, watching his lean, elegant hands unfasten the closure on the document.

“And before you start screaming, I didn’t know anything about that clause,” she added through her teeth. “It was as much a shock to me as it’s going to be to you.”

“Clause?” he murmured as he scanned over the will. “What clause… Oh, my God!”

“Now, Hank,” she began in an effort to thwart the threatened explosion she saw growing in his lean face.

“God in heaven!” He got to his feet, slamming the will back on the table. His face had gone from ruddy to white in the space of seconds. “What a hell of a choice I’ve got! I marry you or I end up with a stock car racetrack on the edge of my barn where my mares foal! Moving the damned thing would cost half a million dollars!”

“If you’ll just give me a chance to speak,” she said heavily. “Hank, there may be a way to break the will-”

“Oh, sure, we can say he was crazy!” His black eyes were glittering like diamonds.

She flushed. He was flagrantly insulting her. She might love him, but she wasn’t taking that kind of treatment, even from him. She got to her own feet and glared up at him. “He must have been, to want me to marry you!” she shouted. “What makes you think you’re such a prize, Hank? You’re years too old for me in the first place, and in the second, what sane woman would want to marry a man who’s still in love with his ex-wife?”

He was barely breathing. His anger was so apparent that Dana felt her knees go wobbly, despite her spunky words.

His black eyes slewed over her with contempt. “I might like looking at your body, but a couple of kisses and a little fondling don’t warrant a marriage proposal in my book.”

“Nor in mine,” she said with scalded pride. “Why don’t you go home?”

His fists clenched at his side. He still couldn’t believe what he’d read in that will. It was beyond belief that her father, his friend, would have stabbed him in the back this way.

“He must have been out of his mind,” he grated. “I could have settled a trust on you or something, he didn’t have to specify marriage as a condition for you to inherit what’s rightfully yours!”

She lifted her chin. “I can hardly ask what his reasoning was,” she reminded him. “He’s dead.” The words were stark and hollow. She was still in the midst of grief for the passing of her parent. Hank hadn’t considered that she was hurting, she thought, or maybe he just didn’t care. He was too angry to be rational.

He breathed deliberately. “You little cheat,” he accused. “You’ve had a crush on me for years, and I’ve tolerated it. It amused me. But this isn’t funny. This is low and deceitful. I’d think more of you if you admitted that you put your father up to it.”

“I don’t give a damn what you think of me,” she choked. Her pride was in tatters. She was fighting tears of pure rage. “When you’ve had time to get over the shock, I’d like you to see my attorney. Between the two of you, I’m sure you can find some way to straighten this out. Because I wouldn’t marry you if you came with a subscription to my favorite magazine and a new Fer- rari! So I had a crush on you once. That’s ancient history!”

Also By Diana Palmer & Margaret Way

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