Learning to Ride

Learning to Ride by Erin Knightley Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Learning to Ride by Erin Knightley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Erin Knightley
path before climbing the four stairs to the front door. She expected him to pull out his keys to unlock the door, but he simply turned the knob and swung it open. She shook her head. Even a thousand miles from anyone, she would probably still lock her doors. It was as ingrained in her as brushing her teeth or fastening her seat belt.
    “Lived here long?” she asked as she followed him inside. It was small by Texas standards, but cozy, with simple, comfortable-looking furniture and plain white walls. The only decorations were several carved wood horses and a few surprisingly lovely oil landscape paintings.
    “It was my parents’ place when they married. Mom sold it to me when she moved to Austin a few years back.”
    “Oh, so you grew up here,” she said, looking around with renewed interest. It was easy to imagine little booted feet scuffing the wide-plank pine floors while running laps around the connected kitchen, dining, and living rooms.
    His mouth tightened a bit as he shook his head. “Not really. It’s a long story,” he added with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Kitchen’s this way.”
    Her curiosity flared, but she let it lie as she followed him into the room at the back of the house, which was surprisingly modern. The cabinets were still made of the same warm wood as the rest of the house, but gleaming stainless steel appliances and glittering granite countertops gave it an extra element of style that she had to admire.
    “I’m hungry enough to eat a horse. You?” he asked, opening the fridge and pulling out a pair of steaks big enough to each fill a dinner plate on their own. As he turned to rummage in the vegetable drawer, she bit the inside of her lip and grimaced.
    “I am, but I should have said earlier that I’m a vegetarian.” She waited for the inevitable mocking comment or look of contempt. He probably had a beef-jerky pacifier as a baby, judging by his surroundings.
    But to her surprise, he simply returned one of the steaks to the fridge and grabbed an armload of mushrooms, peppers, and zucchini instead. He paused when he caught a glimpse of her shocked expression and shrugged, a hint of a grin curling the corners of his mouth. “A person’s preferences are his or her own, Madeline. If you’re not offended by my choices, I’m not offended by yours.”
    She blinked. Well. How very modern of him. It seemed like people always had something to say about her choice not to eat meat. His response was unexpected, and nice. Really nice.
    “Besides,” he added, with an appreciative sweep of her figure, “whatever you are doing is obviously working for you.”
    His devilish wink made her laugh, even as it sent a rush of butterflies through her belly. She bit back a grin and went to wash her hands, trying to shrug off the effect he had on her. “Where’s the cutting board?” she asked lightly, as though he hadn’t just made her blush like a schoolgirl.
    “I’ll take care of this,” he said, coming up behind her close enough to make her shiver, without actually touching her. He reached over her shoulder and retrieved a wineglass from the cabinet by her shoulder. “You go have a seat and enjoy a little wine.”
    She opened her mouth to argue, then thought better of it. After two days of cleaning and unpacking, she wasn’t going to turn down the suggestion. Drying her hands on a dish towel, she turned to face him and offered a wry smile. “Don’t say it unless you mean it.”
    “Darlin’,” he said, leaning forward just enough to make her heart pound, “when it comes to me, you can rest assured that I always tell the truth, I never turn down a challenge, and I always say what I mean.”
    With that, he held up the glass, his blue eyes sparkling. There was no missing the warm promise in both his gaze and his deep voice, a promise that had nothing to do with wine or dinner.
    Lifting her chin, she plucked the glass from his fingers and smiled. “In that case, will you be serving red or

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