The Wedding Guest (Colorado Billionaires Book 5) (6 page)

BOOK: The Wedding Guest (Colorado Billionaires Book 5)
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Kirby stirred sugar in his coffee and pretended he hadn’t just kicked Brewster in the ankle.

Madlyn reached across the table. “Are you all right? Was it a bee?”

“No, I’m fine. Arthritis,” said Brewster seamlessly. “It comes and goes.”

Vicky let her gaze drift back and forth between Kirby and Madlyn. Not even a mimosa glow could keep her from seeing the spark between them. She lifted her chin to hide her smile and said to Brewster, “I doubt seriously that anyone could match Kirby’s sense of humor.”

Kirby’s brows met in the middle. “Who’s been talking about me?”

Vicky laughed and pointed at Brewster.

Madlyn smiled around a mouthful of something delicious. She couldn’t help it. She was actually having a lovely time. She wondered if the wealthy sat about being served from morning to night. The billionaires in Eagle’s Toe seemed to be working every moment. She’d have to ask Vicky about that later. Meanwhile, there was another mystery to be solved.

“Vicky, why are so many people dressed for a fox hunt?”

“They were riding to hounds,” said Vicky.

Madlyn was horrified. “No! They didn’t kill a little fox, did they?”

Now Brewster was horrified. “Good God, no! They use a lure for the hounds, and they exercise the horses by riding around the acreage. Besides, killing foxes is a bloody business.” He leaned toward Madlyn to share a secret. “None of this lot would want to get blood on their clothes.”

Madlyn pressed her lips together to keep from laughing out loud.

Vicky held up a finger. “Except for Maria. She couldn’t figure out why they were using a lure. She likes hunting the
jabalí
in Spain.”

“The what?”

“The wild pig,” said Vicky.

Kirby dropped his eyes to his lap and muttered, “Speaking of which…” as Vanessa and another girl approached the table.

“Oh Kirby,” Vanessa said, holding a stemmed glass of champagne in one hand. “I wanted to introduce you to May. She was my brother’s fiancée for a while. You remember.” She waved the champagne glass as if the move would improve Kirby’s memory. The liquid sloshed out of the glass and all over Madlyn. Vanessa pulled back, covered her mouth with her free hand, and said, as if she’d rehearsed it, “Oh dear, how clumsy of me.”

Madlyn stood up and brushed champagne off her mock turtleneck. Kirby grabbed a napkin and began dabbing at the wet spots.

Vanessa turned to leave, commenting haughtily, “Thank goodness you were way underdressed.” She walked away without looking back.

Her companion looked horrified. “I’m so sorry.”

Madlyn offered her a tight smile. “Don’t worry. You didn’t do it.”

Kirby folded the napkin once he was sure Madlyn was dry again. He offered May a quick smile. “Gee, I wonder why you broke off your engagement, May? You and Vanessa could have been related.”

“Bullet dodged,” said May. She looked truly apologetic. She extended a hand to Madlyn. “You look just fine, dear. People are running about playing with horses and dogs. You’re not underdressed.”

Madlyn shook her hand. “Thanks.”

“One word of advice. Look out for Vanessa.” She gave the rest of the table a friendly glance, then moved away.

Kirby took Madlyn’s hand. “Vanessa has no claim on me. I just want you to know that.”

“Thanks,” said Madlyn. “Do you think we could head back to the B&B now?”

Brewster stood up. “Excellent idea. Vicky?”

“By all means.” In the distance, a gunshot sounded. “Let’s get Madlyn out of the line of fire.”

Madlyn drew a sharp breath. “I thought Brewster said you don’t kill the fox!”

CHAPTER NINE

“N
ot to worry,” said Brewster calmly. “The workmen erecting the tent have nail guns. The first one we heard scared the bejabbers out of us, but now we count the ‘break time’ minutes between pops.”

Vicky laughed politely. “Madz, did you have fun today?”

Madlyn nodded eagerly. “We went to Dunkin’ Donuts and had second breakfast.”

Kirby clapped his hands together. “I love those movies!”

Madlyn beamed.

Kirby stepped ahead to open the car doors for the girls and Brewster, who quietly took a seat in back to let Madlyn sit up front next to Kirby. Vicky and Brewster shared the back seat with Madlyn’s packages.

Vicky moved a box from under her feet. “Won’t these fit in the trunk?”

Kirby started the car. “Trunk is full. We were both shopping, remember? It was sort of a competition.”

“Ha!” Madlyn shook her head, but there was a giggle in her voice. “Oh sure. We competed to see who could find the cheapest bargains.”

Kirby said warmly, “Madz won.”

Vicky smiled knowingly. “It helps to have a background in retail when you’re looking for true value.” She also noted mentally that Madlyn had shared her nickname with him.

Kirby moved the car slowly down the drive. Before turning onto the road, he glanced back at Brewster. “By the way, I found a pet store. We have seed.”

“Thank goodness,” Brewster intoned.

Being November, it was already dark as they drove into the village of Pawling.

“The days are so short this time of year,” Madlyn said plaintively.

Kirby spoke softly, for her ears only. “Not ready for a long evening in the hotel room?”

Madlyn shook her head.

Kirby cleared his throat and spoke louder. “I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we park down here and walk about the shops for a bit?”

Brewster made an agreeable noise, but Vicky said, “If you don’t mind, I’ve used more Spanish today than I have in months. My brain is fried. But you go on. Just drop me off at the B&B.” She leaned sideways and jabbed Brewster gently in the arm with her elbow.

“Pardon? Oh. Oh! Yes, quite, I’m absolutely exhausted, and Pearl has been alone all day, poor thing. I should really stay in tonight. Especially for Pearl’s sake.”

Kirby and Madlyn exchanged furtive smiles. They took a few minutes at the B&B to unload Madlyn’s packages and the birdseed. Then they slipped back into the BMW while Vicky and Brewster stayed behind.

Madlyn giggled like a little girl. “I feel like I’m skipping school.”

“Me, too.”

She grew suddenly uneasy. “Look, um, you’re not planning anything…intimate, are you? Because I believe in marriage.”

Kirby blinked for a few seconds, not comprehending. Then, “Oh gosh, me too. I’m a big believer in marriage. My mother was married. Twice.”

Madlyn punched him playfully in the arm. “You know what I mean. I just didn’t want to give you the wrong idea.”

Kirby teased, “Most of the time, I have no ideas at all, so you don’t have to worry about that.”

“Ha. Ha. Very funny.” She peered into the gloom as he parked the car. “This is the oddest parking arrangement. Between two lanes of the road.”

“Makes people slow down.”

“Is that a train station?”

“Yes. Would you like to walk over and see it? There’s probably a schedule on the wall and everything.”

Madlyn giggled again.

Kirby grinned.

“Sorry,” she said.

“Don’t be. I shall measure the success of my evening by the number of giggles I can harvest.”

He got out and jogged around the car before she could get her door completely open. “Allow me.” He gave her his hand and she stepped out of the car.

“I feel like a princess. But alas, as Vanessa would say, I am dreadfully underdressed for the part.”

“You look adorable.”

“I do?” She tilted her head back to look into his sea-gray eyes.

“Very.” He leaned forward and rested his hand softly on the back of her head. “Your hair is phenomenal.”

Madlyn glowed. “Thank you.” She pulled her eyes away from his, forcing herself to look elsewhere. “Gee, we better go see that schedule before it’s torn down or something.”

Kirby’s eyes sparkled. “Yes, indeed. There might be vandals about.” He took her hand in his and they walked like young love toward the train station.

“Did you grow up in New York?”

“Hmm? Yes.” Kirby chose his words carefully. “Yes, I did.”

“You seem to know your way around really well. Vicky said some of the bridesmaids are from Scarsdale.”

“Yes, I’m sure they are.”

She giggled. “But you’re not?”

“I’m a New Yorker, born and bred, but I’ve traveled a lot over the last eight years. I confess I feel more like a citizen of the world than of any one location. Does that sound like a cliché?”

“Completely. And incomprehensible for a homebody girl like me. For a writer, though, travel is essential.”

“You’re a writer?”

Madz giggled again. “No, you are.”

Kirby laughed. “I knew that.” He gave her his best boyish grin.

Madz shivered. “I should have put my jacket on.”

Kirby slipped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “Better?”

Madlyn’s heart soared. “Much. Thank you.”

“Since you’re chilly, we’ll take the short tour,” he said, sweeping his other arm at the empty expanse of train platform. “The trains from the City will be another forty minutes or so. They stop along the way. Lots of commuters. Pawling was one of the first villages to have a train station.”

“Really?”

“Yep. A wealthy landowner wanted a way to get his milk to market, so he pulled together some funds, and next thing you know, Pawling has a train station.”

“Gee, you know a lot about this area for a citizen of the world.”

“I read a lot.”

Madlyn giggled again. Then she bit her lip, embarrassed. “How many is that?”

“I lost count.” He turned toward her and pulled her into a brotherly embrace. “You’re shivering. Let’s go over to the pizza parlor and get something hot to drink. Okay?”

“Sounds great.”

They stepped out from under the roof of the station and discovered that it was raining.

“It’s not far,” said Kirby. “Let’s run!”

Madlyn was laughing out loud with exhilaration by the time they reached the glass door of the pizza parlor. Kirby was laughing, too. He opened the door, and they stepped inside to the glow of yellow light, the aroma of baking pizza, and the clinking of glasses.

“Popular place,” said Madlyn.

“Best pizza in New York State, right here,” said Kirby. He leaned toward her and murmured, “A table just opened up along the wall. Go grab it. I’ll order for us. Coffee?”

“If we’re having pizza, I will hazard a Coke.”

“Good choice.”

Madlyn felt like she was floating all the way to the table. She grabbed it and took a seat. It was fun watching Kirby from across the room. He was so handsome, so easy-going, and so friendly with everyone. Whenever she’d gone anywhere with John, he was always serious, full of himself, even a bit stodgy. Old before his time. She’d always assumed it was because he was a policeman and didn’t want to get too friendly off-hours, in case he had to pull someone over for a traffic violation. But the difference between the two men was astounding. She deliberately shoved all thoughts of John from her mind, allowing every brain cell to fill up on the sight of Kirby Banks chatting with the middle-aged man behind the counter as if they were old friends. He had such a way with people. He’d do great in Colorado.

Her bubble burst. He was a citizen of the world. Evidently, Brewster traveled all over and Kirby went with him. Maybe he would never settle down in one spot. Maybe she shouldn’t get too wrapped up in her fantasy. He could very well be on his way abroad immediately after the wedding. She wondered if she could find out without coming right out and asking.

“Is this seat taken?”

Madlyn started as Kirby set two large Cokes on the table.

“Where were you just then? And why haven’t you told me about this incredible power you have to travel with the mind? What do they call that? Distance viewing?”

“In Colorado, we call it wool-gathering.”

Kirby chuckled. “I long to visit this strange and wonderful land of Colorado. Do all the women have red hair there?”

“No.” Madlyn was smiling again, and she couldn’t stop. To heck with common sense, she would give her fantasy wings. After all, he’d said he wanted to see Colorado.

Kirby leaned across the table to make sure she could hear him. “Are all the women there as beautiful as you?”

Madlyn’s cheeks burned with delighted embarrassment. “Now you’re playing with me.”

“Not at all. When I saw you at the B&B, you took my breath away.” He paused, as if realizing how much he was revealing. “I’m sorry. I’m just enjoying being in this room with the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.”

“You and Brewster should get out more.”

“Maybe so. Maybe so.” He leaned back in his chair, smiling at her across the table.

Madlyn used her straw to stir up bubbles in her Coke. “Are you planning any new trips soon?”

Kirby’s smile faded, and his eyes flickered with a different feeling. “Not right away. It’s important that I stay in the States for a while.”

Once again, Madlyn saw a moment of hesitation, as if he were afraid of revealing too much. And was that sadness in his eyes?

Kirby cast a glance sideways, then leaned across the table again to say softly, “Even more important, now that I’ve met you. I really enjoyed myself today.” He said it as if the fact was a complete surprise. “It’s been a long time since I’ve just had fun with someone I like. A lot.”

“I like you, too.” Madlyn’s voice came out a whisper.

“Hmm?” Kirby leaned closer, but just then, their pizza arrived. The next few minutes were occupied by the choreography of eating a pizza without making a mess. Fortunately, the waiter had brought extra napkins. After they’d each devoured a slice, Kirby said, “What’d I tell you? Best pizza ever.”

Madlyn nodded, her affection evident on her face. “Best pizza ever,” she echoed.

They talked for a long time but didn’t really say much. Madlyn loved the way Kirby played with words. They talked about Tolkien and
Star Trek
and
Star Wars
and marveled at how many movies they loved in common. When Madlyn mentioned that she skied, Kirby was over the moon. When Kirby expressed a desire to own a pet other than a bird, Madlyn was thrilled. Before they knew it, the proprietor came over to tell them it was late.

BOOK: The Wedding Guest (Colorado Billionaires Book 5)
2.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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