Adjusting the brim of his tan Stetson, Gabe walked over to the diner. Morgan was laughing at something Edgar had said and she obviously hadn’t spotted Gabe yet.
“Hey, Gabe!” Madge called out. “Come on over here and get a bib. You were always real good at this.”
Morgan’s head came up with a start, and the happy laughter faded as she looked in Gabe’s direction. Her body stiffened and her jaw clenched.
Yep, Jack would pay for this. “You bet I’ll take a bib, Mrs. Perkins.” Gabe accepted the piece of plastic and tied the ends around his neck. “Hi, there, Morgan.”
“Say, weren’t you two riding together in the parade a while ago?” Madge asked.
“Yes.” Morgan turned to her. “Gabe was nice enough to switch horses with me. His was better trained than mine, and I’m not a very good rider.”
“You had a very stubborn horse,” Gabe said.
“Yes, well.” She swallowed. “Did you happen to talk to Jack?”
“I did, as a matter of fact. I gather you talked to him, too.”
“Yes. We had a . . . conversation.” Her expression was carefully controlled.
“You two can catch up later,” Edgar said. “It’s time to eat us some watermelon!” He lifted an old-fashioned school bell and started ringing it. “Watermelon-eating contest! Last chance to enter!”
Morgan reached for the ties around her neck. “You know what? I don’t think I’ll do this, after all.”
Gabe reached around her neck and caught both her hands in his. “Don’t you dare chicken out on me, Morgan O’Connelli.” He hadn’t counted on her hands being quite so soft and warm. Or her mouth being quite so close and inviting.
She glanced up at him. “Gabe, it’s not a good idea.” Her eyes darkened as they had when he’d had to chase down Geronimo.
He didn’t think fear was the reason this time. He’d bet good money she was as sexually aware of him as he was of her. As further evidence, pink tinged her cheeks and her breathing changed.
“Go on, both of you.” Madge shooed them toward the table as if they were five-year-olds, and Gabe was forced to let go of Morgan.
Morgan allowed herself to be herded toward the table, but she fumbled with the ties of her bib along the way. “Seriously, I’m taking myself out of the competition.”
“That’s exactly the problem,” Madge shot back. “There’s too much seriousness these days. It does people good to act foolish once in a while. Sit right there, Morgan. Gabe, you take the next seat.”
Gabe sat down and glanced over at Morgan with a shrug. “I think you’re outvoted.”
“All right.” Morgan met his gaze and a flicker of her usual good humor returned. “But I need to warn you, when it comes to watermelon contests, I eat to win.”
Gabe smiled. “Them’s fighting words, ma’am.”