“Yes, I am,” she rattled on, blithely unaware that the current danger sat directly in front of her. “I thought you might overreact, which is why I brought it to your attention immediately. I won’t keep information involving the boys from you, Ryan. At the end of the day, as pretty as I am, I’m not a teenaged girl, I’m a woman, and I’m not about to instigate an affair with a boy. There’s no real harm in a note as long as there’s no escalation. We should come up with a professional and appropriate response if there is.”
“I’m not overreacting.”
Elizabeth’s lips pressed into a firm line. “Honestly, is that your takeaway from what I just said? For your information, threatening to send me packing over one little note from a troubled boy, when troubled boys are the whole reason I’m here, is a definite overreaction.”
When she put it like that… “If you gave them the same stink eye you’re giving me right now, any inappropriate thoughts they might have about you are going to shrivel and die.”
“Exactly. I’m a professional, not a naïve girl. I will admit, however, that I don’t like the idea of an anonymous someone having access to my private living space. I prefer to know who—and what—I’m dealing with. You said you have security cameras set up around the ranch. Do you have one outside my bunkhouse?”
“Yes.” The cameras only stored footage for a week, but the note had been placed there this morning. He would have remembered it if she hadn’t gone out of her way to upend him. “I’ll look into it.”
She acted as if the whole matter were settled when they had barely begun to address the many issues he had. Sending her home might not be an option just yet, but neither was he about to let the hot little fairy continue to run free, wreaking havoc. Young John and Handy spent way too much time in the barns when she was feeding the orphans. Miles Decker looked at her as if she were a prized bull and he was about to get the ride of his life. And now one of the kids was leaving her love notes.
This wasn’t at all what he’d envisioned for the Endeavour group home. He’d pictured camping trips. Horseback riding. Hard work to wear the boys out and plenty of fresh air to help them fall asleep. All of the things that would have helped him as a teen, but he hadn’t found until he was in college. Not until after he met Dan and Dallas and began spending summers with them.
“We’re not done here,” he said. For once, she was going to listen to him. “I don’t like the idea of anyone on this ranch having access to your private living space either, especially not when you’re in it all by yourself, but I have a solution. This house is huge. I have an entire guest suite at my disposal and you’re the only person who’s ever used it. Until we hire more female staff to share the bunkhouse with you, the guest suite is yours.”
“I don’t think so,” she said, chin up, eyes calm, message clear.