Circle Eight Millennium 3
Grant Graham has avoided romantic entanglements since a broken heart ten years earlier. He focuses on his work and dates occasionally. His only companions are his cousins, Laz, his brother, Sam, and his cat. The intense cowboy doesn't know what hit him after a whirlwind named Katie Malloy lands in his lap. Literally.
Katie has spent her life trying to live up to everyone's expectations and she's embarked on a journey to fulfill her dreams. On her first day as a waitress, she trips and falls into a handsome cowboy, slamming him into the floor and spraining her ankle.
Grant doesn't want to be the unlucky rescuer, but he's a Texan and a gentleman so he can't leave the lady stranded. Love comes in many disguises, and he won't know it hit him until he leaves her behind.
Also In this Series:
Grant Graham was not a talker. He only spoke when necessary and used as few words as possible. He avoided people who talked too much. Or at least he tried to. The waitress who brought his supper chattered on and on as though he was going to have a meaningful conversation with him.
He just wanted to eat and be left alone. When the girl, her name tag read “Katie”, tripped as she reached his table, the steak, potatoes and broccoli went flying and he had a lap full of curvaceous, screaming redhead.
He clutched her tightly as the chair tipped back. Bracing himself for the hard floor to hit him in the back of the head, they landed with a snap of the chair leg and another yelp from the woman.
His ears rang from her voice and the hit from the laminate floor; his breath seemed have deserted his lungs. She trembled in his arms and he couldn’t help but notice her boobs were like pillows against him. It had been a long time since he’d held a woman, felt the feminine curves and the sweet scent they always seemed to wear. This one happened to smell like lemons of all things.
“Oh my God.” She groaned in his ear. “I think I broke something.”
“The chair.” He gasped out. Truly, he wanted to push her off but the gentleman in him wouldn’t allow that to happen.
“No, not the chair.”
He finally got his breath back. “Ma’am, the chair is most definitely broken.”
“Jesus Christmas, what in the blessed earth happened?” The hostess’ shrill voice penetrated the absolute silence following the disaster called Katie. Mabel fluttered around cleaning up the food and lamenting the new waitress and her clumsiness. The older woman was as round as she was tall with an old fashioned bouffant hairdo and tiny round glasses perched on her nose.
“I tripped over that loose floorboard, Mabel.” Katie pushed herself up and stared down at Grant.
The moment made the world tilt a little. Her eyes were blue, deep like the indigo of the Gulf of Mexico and she had freckles splattered across her nose. She wore simple silver studs in her elfin like ears. Her lips were plump pink and the bottom one slightly larger than the top.
“Are you okay, mister?” She winced as he shifted beneath her.
“A little winded but I’m all right.” He cleared his throat. “Do you think you can get off me?”
“Oh, hell, I’m sorry. I just need a second.” She rolled sideways and cussed a blue streak, one that had him almost blushing. “Not what I need right now.”
He extracted himself from the broken chair and knelt on the floor beside her. She clutched at her shin and he had only to look at her ankle to note the angry looking joint was already swelling.
“I think you either broke or sprained your ankle. Let me take a look at it.” The horse trainer in him took over and he assessed the injury using just his eyes.
“Are you a doctor?”
“No, but I treat horses with injuries all the time.” He touched her ankle as gently as he could.
She chuffed a laugh. “Does that mean I remind you of a horse?” She sucked in a breath as he touched the inner ankle. “Shit, that hurts.”
“Definitely need a doctor and an x-ray.” He glanced up at the hostess who watched them along with half the restaurant. “If she tripped because of a hazard on the floor then you’re liable, Mabel.”
The older woman sniffed. “There’s no hazard. She’s a menace. Dropped three plates in her first week. Now this. Are you injured, Grant?”
Grant grimaced. All the hostess seemed to be worried about was insulting him, not the grievously injured waitress. Some days he wished his last name was Smith. Many people deferred to him or treated him differently because of his last name, never because of his skill with a horse or any other redeeming quality he might have.
“I can take you to the hospital or we can call an ambulance to take you.” He spoke calmly to the girl.
“I don’t have money for either.” She moaned and clutched at her leg. “Why did I think Texas would be any different?”
He didn’t want to know what she was talking about so he didn’t ask. Yet he couldn’t abandon her to Mabel or just wrap the damn ankle and vanish. There was no doubt she couldn’t walk.
“Mabel, get a magazine and some tape please.”
With a huff, she went off to do his bidding. That hostess had always been a bit of a curmudgeon. When she returned moments later, she handed him the requested items but not without a sniff of disdain.
“Thank you kindly, Mabel.” Grant used the magazine to stabilize her ankle and put a few pieces of tape to keep it secure. “I’m going to go get my truck and take you to the hospital. I have a friend who’s on duty as the attending. He’ll get you treated.” He got to his feet and she grabbed his leg.
“I told you I don’t have money.” She managed to get to a sitting position. “Friend or not, I can’t pay.”
He squatted down and looked her in the eye. “Your ankle is injured and I think it may be broken or at the least a bad sprain. You need medical attention or risk worse injury. No matter if you have money or not, the hospital will treat you.”
She scowled. “Why are you helping me? I just slammed you hard enough you should be a puddle and threw your steak at the wall. You should be hungry and annoyed.”
“I’m a Texas gentleman and I never leave a lady in distress. Now sit tight. I’ll be right back.” He headed for the door before she could protest again. The cool December air reminded him that it was Christmas tomorrow and he was eating by himself. Now he would be at the hospital with a clumsy waitress. It was as good of an excuse as any not to be at the Circle Eight with his family.
His uncle’s ranch was the center of the Grahams and all holiday celebrations were were held there. Grant had been dreading the day even more since his brother Sam had fallen for Kim Raeford. Plus his cousin Laz had that gun store owner Bea. The googly eyes were enough to make him sick.
He pulled his truck up to the front door and put the gear from the front seat in the back, then went back in the restaurant. He found Mabel standing over Katie shaking her finger.
“I knew I shouldn’t have hired you. No references and nothing but a promise you knew how to waitress. Now you’ve run off an important member of our societal circle. Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Mabel’s rant was cut short when Grant cleared his throat.
“If you’re done haranguing her, I’d like to take her to the hospital for her injured ankle.” Grant ignored the sputtering hostess and scooped up the redhead in his arms.
“I’m too heavy. Just let me lean on you–”
“Gentleman, remember?” He thanked the kind man who held the door open for them and tucked her into the truck, positioning her in the middle so her petite leg could stretch out toward the door. “It’s ten minutes to the hospital. Hang in there.”
He used the same voice he had honed by working with horses since he was a young teen. The soothing, calm tones didn’t work as well on her.
“Shit on a shingle, mister, I think I’m gonna puke.”