Emmett by Diana Palmer

Book: Emmett by Diana Palmer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Diana Palmer
Their father doesn’t give a damn about them and their mother ran away with your damned brother!”
    The anger she’d felt was suddenly gone as she saw through the furious words to the hurt beneath it. He was wounded. She wondered if he knew how obvious it was, and decided that he didn’t. Her dark eyes lost their glare and became gentle. She reached out with unexpected bravery and took one of his big, lean hands in hers.
    â€œCome inside and have some coffee, Emmett,” she said gently. “You can tell me all about it.”
    He must be daft. He kept telling himself he was as he let her lead him like a lamb into the softly lit kitchen.
    He perched himself on her tallest stool and watched broodingly while she filled the coffeemaker and turned it on.
    She sat down at the counter next to him, her mantillaand purse deposited on the kitchen table until she had time to move them.
    â€œWhat’s wrong with the children?” she asked.
    He sighed heavily. “Polk won’t try to do his math. Guy can’t get along with his teacher. Amy can’t get along with anybody, and her teacher sends me this damned note that says she doesn’t get enough attention at home.”
    â€œAnd you’re doing the best you can, only nobody knows it but you, and those words hurt.”
    He lifted narrowed, wounded eyes to hers. “Yes, it hurts,” he said flatly. “I’ve done my best to provide for them. All I’ve had since Adell walked out is a housekeeper. Now, I’m trying to put things right, but I can’t do it overnight!”
    She smoothed her fingers gently over the backs of his strong, lean hands. “Why don’t you write Amy’s teacher a note and tell her that,” she suggested. “Teachers don’t read minds, you know. They have to be told about problems. They’re people, too, just like you and me. They can make allowances, when they know the situation.”
    He relaxed. His tall, broad-shouldered form seemed to slump. “I’m tired,” he said. “It’s a shock. New surroundings, new people, a new job with more responsibilities than I’ve had in years and the kids on top of it. I guess I got snarled up in it all.”
    â€œIt’s perfectly understandable. Don’t the kids like it better, having you home?”
    â€œI don’t know. Guy’s still standoffish. I’ve tried to get him interested in things around the ranch, but he’s shying away from me. He’s not adjusting very well to school, because the teacher wants him to mind and he won’t. He can’t seem to conform, and his temper is his worst enemy. Amy and Polk aren’t much better, but atleast I can handle them when they’re not driving school officials batty.”
    â€œBetter them than you?” she teased.
    He chuckled reluctantly. “Not really. I’ll have to bone up on fractions and spend some time with Polk. Maybe I just haven’t found the right tack with Guy yet. He likes ranching, but we don’t have much in common outside it.”
    â€œEmmett, hasn’t it occurred to you that these problems could be nothing more than pleas for attention?” she asked. “Randy and I used to get into all sorts of trouble when Dad got too wrapped up in Mother’s illness to notice us. It’s a child’s nature to want to be loved, to have proof of that love.”
    â€œNot only a child’s, Melody,” he said unexpectedly. His eyes searched hers from much too close. “Even adults can go off the deep end when no one gives a damn about them.”
    â€œYou know the kids love you.”
    â€œI know.” His chest rose and fell heavily and his eyes grew intimate, holding hers for much longer than necessary, making her own pulse race.
    â€œThe, uh, the coffee’s ready, I think,” she said. Her voice sounded husky, even shaky. She dragged her eyes away from his and went to get the

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