Mail-Order Millionaire

By: Carol Grace



Max surveyed her from the top of her honey-blond hair to her lightweight hiking boots, his eyes lingering on the baggy oatmeal sweater that only hinted at the curves underneath, and forced himself to think about dinner. A subject that had been uppermost on his mind until he saw her get out of the tractor. Now his mind was preoccupied with questions he wanted to ask her. First, was she really wearing long underwear? If so, it must be very thin and very formfitting, and he knew exactly how she’d look in it after studying the catalog so carefully.

Inwardly shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he said, “Questions? Oh, yes. What do you like, crayfish etouffee or shrimp gumbo?” He stacked the boxes on the counter and slit open the one on top.

She leaned over to read the label. “Louisiana Seafood. You weren’t kidding. You’re really going to make one of those things.”

“Of course. You didn’t think meteorologists lived like savages, did you? We’re more dependant than most people on certain creature comforts like good food.”

“I didn’t really think about them at all until a few days ago, and now...”

“And now you wish you’d never heard of them. Which brings me to question number two. Why in God’s name did you take it into your head to drive up here in a Sno-Cat by yourself?”

She pressed her hands together and lowered her eyes. “I don’t know, except that I have a tractor at home and I thought I could do it. So I just did. I had no idea this would happen. You said the weather was clear.” She threw a glance in the direction of the window and the fog that swirled just outside the glass. “If you’re a weatherman, how come you didn’t know about this fog?”

“I did know about it. I called Fred to tell him not to come up, but he didn’t answer, then his line was busy and then no answer. When I talked to you at noon there was no fog. It was clear from here to Vermont.”

She stared at the window in disbelief. “Can you really see that far?”

“Farther. If it clears up in the morning, I’ll show you.”

Now it was her turn to look him over with narrowed eyes, and he had the feeling she was still trying to decide whether to stay or not, despite what he’d told her.

He exhaled loudly. “Look, Ms. Morrison... Miranda, you’re stuck here for the night, whether you like it or not. I didn’t ask you to come up here. Okay, maybe I wanted to see if you’d really do it, but as you recall, I told you to leave the boots at the bottom of the mountain.”

“But Fred said you were running out of food.”

He took his jacket off. “Do I look like I’m starving?”

“No, of course not.” She tucked a strand of her thick straight hair behind her ear. “I don’t know what I was thinking, except that it would be fun to drive a Sno-Cat. And now you’re stuck with me. I’m really sorry.”

She looked up at him with liquid brown eyes and he felt a twinge of guilt for coming down so hard on her. But dammit, how was he supposed to know how to act around unexpected company, especially a woman whom he’d never expected to see in person? No wonder he’d made a mess of it. Awkwardly Max put his hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t be sorry. I’m glad to have the company.” It was true. He felt an unexpected current in the air that wasn’t there before she arrived. “And I appreciate your bringing the boots.” He felt her stiffen and he took his hand off her shoulder as casually as he could, before he offended her further by sliding his fingers across her shoulders to see if she was really wearing that long underwear under everything. “Well,” he said brusquely, taking a package of frozen shrimp out of the bag and holding it up. “What’ll it be?”

“Whatever you say. I’ve never had either one before.”

He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “What about blackened redfish?”

“I’ve heard of it. Isn’t that Cajun cooking? I thought you were from Georgia.”

Startled, he turned from the freezer to look at her. “How did you know that?”

A flush crept up her cheeks and turned them bright pink. “Your accent?”

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