Sweet Liar (Montgomery/Taggert 18) - Page 29

She found his honesty disarming. “Won’t you come in?” she said, sweeping her arm toward the living room.

“I’d better not. It wouldn’t be…”

“Proper?” she asked. Mike had said his Montgomery cousins had manners and here was proof. Here was a man in the twentieth century who was concerned about what was proper and what wasn’t. Propriety was not something that seemed to concern Michael Taggert, for half of his day seemed to be spent lounging on Sam’s bed—uninvited, unwanted.

“I think I’ll return when Mike is here, but I shall call Aunt Pat this evening and tell her that she can rest her fears, that you are an eminently respectable and extremely pretty young woman.”

Blushing under his praise, she followed him to the door. “I’m sure Mike will be sorry he missed you.”

As he stepped onto the porch, the man laughed in a way that let her know he was fully aware of Mike’s antagonism toward his cousin. He turned back to her. “You said Mike is on a date. I thought…I mean, I understood that you and he had moved in together.”

Wanting to make herself clear from the start, she said, “I’m sure Mike gave his mother that impression, but actually I’m merely his tenant. I rent the top two floors.”

At this information, Raine’s eyes brightened. “In that case, would you like to go out with me tomorrow? Maybe in the afternoon? We could go to the park and eat ice cream and watch the kids play.”

Samantha was sure she’d never heard such a romantic invitation in her life. So different from Mike’s, let’s-go-to-bed-and-screw-our-brains-out-honey type of invitation. “I would love to go out with you,” she said sincerely.

Looking at her as though nothing in his life had ever pleased him as much as her acceptance, he smiled. “Tomorrow at two, then,” he said and walked down the stairs to the sidewalk.

She was still standing in the doorway, watching him walk away when he turned back to her. “What color of balloons do you like best?” he asked.

“Pink,” she answered, smiling.

Still smiling, he waved and kept walking down the block.

Going into the house, Samantha shut the door behind her. What a delightful man, she thought. What an utterly lovely, sweet man. Smiling, humming, she went upstairs to wash her hair.

“A Montgomery!” Mike shouted when Samantha mentioned her approaching date to him. “A goddamn nose-in-the-air Montgomery. You’re going out with a mother—”

“Stop it,” she yelled back. “I’ve told you a thousand times that what I do is none of your business. I am your tenant, nothing more than that. Your tenant! Your renter and that’s all. You don’t own me or have any right to tell me what to do.”

“But a Montgomery! You can’t—”

She turned on him. “As far as I can tell, Raine Montgomery is a very nice man. He—”

“You don’t know anything about him,” he snapped, as though he knew something dreadful about his cousin.

“I know that he has manners, which is more than I can say for you.” She stopped shouting and drew a deep breath. “Can you honestly tell me anything bad about the man? Is he a criminal of any kind? Already married? Does he even have any bad habits?”

“He’s perfect,” Mike said with a curl of his upper lip. He was so angry he was shaking. Never before in his life had he felt so betrayed. In the last few days he’d put out five times the effort with Samantha that he’d ever expended on any other female, yet she’d given him less in return than any woman he’d ever met. The girl at the corner grocery was more obliging than Samantha was!

Seeing his anger, which had no justification whatever, she threw up her hands in frustration. “This is the strangest situation anyone has ever been in. Last night you went out on a date. Why is it all right for you and not for me?”

Leaning toward her, he put his nose close to hers. “Because my ‘date’ was eig

hty-six years old and in a nursing home. I’d been told that she once worked in the nightclub where Maxie sang. Maxie, remember her? Your grandmother. I was out on a Saturday night interviewing some old woman who couldn’t remember who she was, much less what happened in 1928, while you were in my house flirting and heaven only knows what else with one of those goddamn Montgomerys.”

She glared at him. “You’re sick, you know that? You should see a doctor.” Turning away from him, she started toward the stairs. “I have a feeling Raine is punctual. I will be down at exactly two.”

In spite of her telling Mike that this was none of his business, his rage had upset her. Didn’t it ever cross a man’s mind to wonder if he had the right to be angry? Never in her adult life had she been angry that she hadn’t asked herself if she should be angry. By any logic in the world Mike shouldn’t be upset because she was going out with another man. She was an adult; she was unattached; there was nothing romantic between her and Mike. So why was he furious?

She gritted her teeth. Just once in her life she’d like to understand, really, truly understand, what went on inside a man’s head.

Suddenly, she stopped ranting at Mike. How very odd, she thought, to be this angry at a man who meant so little to her. She hadn’t been this angry after she’d found out what her husband had done, nor had she been this angry after she’d heard her father’s will. She remembered wanting to throw something through a window when she’d heard the terms of her father’s will, yet she’d been able to control herself.

But Mike could make her throw things. Michael Taggert made her want to tear telephone books in half with her bare hands.

Jerking the closet door open, she looked inside at the heavenly clothes hanging there and touched the sleeve of a soft, peach-colored jacket and remembered how nice Mike had been when they’d bought the clothes. He was half the most pleasant, easiest person she’d ever been around in her life and half the most infuriating, exasperating person she’d ever met. Sometimes she wanted to climb in his lap and tell him things she’d never told another person, and sometimes she wanted to hit him in the head with an axe—sharp side down.

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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