The Montana Rancher (The Endeavour Ranch of Grand, Montana 3)

Page 3

So not going to happen.
A short while later, he strolled into the L-shaped kitchen.
This was his favorite room in the whole house and where he spent most of his free time. The island was square, with a vegetable prep sink in the middle, built for entertaining. The counters and cupboards, the main sink, and the industrial-grade appliances, were all within easy reach. Along the bottom part of the L, he’d installed a round kitchen table, a sofa and chairs, and a fireplace with a seventy-two-inch flat-screen TV mounted above it. He counted on Dan and Dallas to produce a dozen or so offspring apiece so he could host parties in here. They might not be brothers for real, but they were like brothers to him, and he planned to be the overindulgent uncle who spoiled their kids rotten.
She’d perched on one of the barstools at the granite island and was sipping a cup of coffee, looking as if she belonged here. For some reason that bugged him. The socks he’d loaned her reminded him of those floppy-toed shoes the men wore in the Middle Ages. Her feet had to be inside them somewhere, but where, was anyone’s guess. She’d rolled them down several times and they bulged at her ankles.
He caught a whiff of her coffee. She’d chosen the caramel flavor, his favorite, so he did the same. He pushed the button on the coffeemaker, and thirty seconds later, his drink was ready. He straddled a stool and eyed his companion. Yup. She was much, much too pretty.
The storm had picked up steam, too. Nothing visible but a sheet of white on the other side of the windows.
“So, Elizabeth,” he said, sipping his drink. The shower had gone a long way toward heating him up and the hot coffee sliding into his belly finished the job. “That trip into town’s not looking good at the moment.” He held out hope that the storm would let up before dark. If it turned back to rain, the snow would melt fast. It was March, after all. It could happen. “We might as well get your interview out of the way while we wait for things to improve. Your resume is a little light on detail.” She’d earned a master’s degree in social work at an impressive college, and she had the hours in for her license, but her direct work experience was lacking. He had no idea why Dan thought she was such a great candidate to work with troubled teenaged boys. “Tell me a bit about yourself and why you’d like to work at the Endeavour’s group home.”Convince me.
Amber eyes kicked the heat up a notch in his belly as she answered him with a question. “Can I assume you’ve seen news footage of me?”
He had, indeed. Elizabeth Benson was an outspoken advocate for victims’ rights. She championed anyone who’d been impacted by violent crime. In the past year, she’d helped three families in the Chicago area who’d lost family members—one was a gang-related, drive-by shooting and two involved domestic murder-suicides. Rumor had it she’d lost a sister years ago in some sort of accident, but the details around it were murky. He’d done enough unproductive digging to figure out the Bensons kept a tight lid on their private business.
He knew all about keeping family business private. It made him curious as to whether or not the Chicago-based Bensons might have known Giaco Cienetti. They likely knew of him. Everyone did.The insane bastard.
He stomped memories of his deceased grandfather down where they belonged and got back to the matter at hand. Chicago was another strike against her. He didn’t like the reminder of a place he preferred to forget. Where was she going with this?
“What I never talk about,” Elizabeth continued, those clear, amber irises steady on him and her voice matter-of-fact, “is that my sister Marianne was murdered by her boyfriend when she was eighteen. I was eleven. My parents never recovered from it. They don’t speak of it to this day and they don’t talk about her. Ever. I first got into social work because I wanted to understand them. I thought maybe I could help them work through their anger and grief. But I also wanted to understand the mindset of Marianne’s killer. Why did he do it? What led him to believe that murder was the right course of action? He came from a good home. Or it seemed that way from the outside looking in. That’s why I want this job. I want to learn as much as I can about the way troubled boys think in order to help stop the violence before it begins. Marianne wasn’t the only victim. My parents were too, but so was her murderer. His parents, his teachers, and his friends all either missed or ignored the warning signals, because there had to be something. My research while I’m here will go toward my PhD dissertation.”
The only break in the silence was the clatter of ice pellets striking the windows. The power flickered, then held. If it lost its grip, the generator would kick in.
“Great,” Ryan thought. “Now how am I supposed to tell her she can’t have the job?”