Showered, shaved, and wearing clean blue jeans and new plaid shirt, Dallas stepped from his truck, then strolled inside Haven’s only diner, Toot’s Cafe.
When the bell above the door clanged, announcing his arrival, every head in the place swiveled his way before nodding in greeting. Dallas returned the gesture, then began scoping out a table that could give him the best vantage point to check out the single ladies who might be dining alone.
“Snag a seat, Dallas. I’ll be with you in a minute,” Toots—the fifty-something owner—called over her shoulder as she hurried toward a booth in the back, arms loaded with steaming plates of food.
The diner was nearly packed, which wasn’t unusual, but it limited his seating options. Spotting a vacant stool at the counter, Dallas veered that direction only to stop in his tracks when he spied a woman sitting at a table alone. A woman he’d never seen before. A beautiful, young woman with glossy dark hair, sparkling brown eyes, and lips so lush he couldn’t wait to taste them.
Is it really gonna be this easy?
Turning on the charm, he flashed her a wolfish grin. “Howdy, ma’am.”
“Howdy,” she shyly replied.
Dallas had worked with animals long enough to spot a skittish creature at first glance.
Why so timid, gorgeous?
It didn’t make sense that the gorgeous woman behaved so timidly. Was she unaware of her sensual allure?
“You’re not from around here, are you?”
“No, I’m from Denton.”
A city girl…what I’ve always wanted.
Confidence spiked. Clearly, fate had put her on his path tonight for this very reason. No way was Dallas going to let this golden opportunity pass him by. A quick check of her finger filled him with glee. No ring. Still, he needed to be sure before tossing out his pitch.
“Are you married?”
She shook her head, sending the thick curls framing her face to sway from side to side. Dallas could practically feel those silky strands in his fingers along with the fat five-million-dollar check.
Slow down, cowboy. You haven’t found out if she can breed, cautioned the voice in his head.
Smile widening, he leaned down and rested his elbows on the table before dropping his voice to a low whisper. “Are you fertile?”
Jerking back, she blinked at him. “Excuse me?”
Shocked that the city girl didn’t know what fertile meant, Dallas decided to spell it out for her. “Yeah, you know…can you make babies?”
“Not with you,” she bit out caustically.
Shit! I’ve already fucked this up. Dammit! I need to slow down.
“Look, I know this is kind of out of left field, but—”
“You think?” she drawled sarcastically.
Nerves jangling, he licked his lips and held up his palms. “Hear me out. I have a proposition for you. I’ll give you a million dollars if you’ll marry me and have my baby.”
Suddenly, Dallas was yanked from the table by the back of his shirt, to find himself standing toe to toe with his neighbor, Colton Maddox. The man narrowed his eyes and held Dallas with a murderous glare that promised a slow, agonizing death.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Carson? Get away from my girl.”
The pretty girl couldn’t be Colton’s. Everyone in town knew the man was gay!
“Your girl? What the hell are you taking about? You don’t even like girls!”
“Yes, he does,” several surrounding diners assured in unison.
Unsure if they were yanking his chain, Dallas darted a glance at Donald Jankowski—owner of Balance Your Bubbles Tax Prep and Laundromat—who prepared the tax return for the ranch each year. He was one of the most ethical men Dallas knew.
With a stoic expression, Donald nodded.
Holy shit! Colton Maddox is straight? That’s front page news.
“I asked you a question,” Colton snarled.
Though Dallas wasn’t afraid to fight his big, burly neighbor, he wasn’t going to trash Toots’s diner and endure the wrath of his dad over an innocent misunderstanding.
“I’m sorry, man. I didn’t know she was with you,” Dallas explained, raising his hands in surrender.
After making sure his girl was all right—and why wouldn’t she be? All I did was talk to her—Colton scowled and lowered his voice. “What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you here asking a perfect stranger to marry you and pop out a child? Are you drunk, high, or just out of your goddamn mind?”
Colton’s terse questions and the way he worded them filled Dallas with embarrassment.
“No. No. And I might be, but it’s all Pa’s fault.”
“What’s Duke got to do with you asking Jade to marry you?”