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"I'd never thought the day would come again when a Harrington would grace the home of a Rangell," the large man behind the massive oak desk spoke after several still moments.
"Technically I'm not a Harrington, as we both know," Lynn supplied, grateful that the awkward silence had finally been broken. Nothing had prepared her for the shock of seeing Jake again after eleven years. Time had been more than kind to him. At thirty-nine, his brownish blond hair was just beginning to show flecks of silver. Caramel eyes were still framed by thick lashes as she'd remembered, although the crinkles at their corners were new. It all served to add a distinguishing air to him.
Like most ranchers, his skin was sun bronzed, but unlike a majority it hadn't succumbed to the leathery look of years spent under the grueling Texas sun. He wore his hair a little longer than she remembered, its thick strands waving just over his ears. Bangs hung about half an inch from his brows. He was much broader than she recalled, too. His muscular forearms and biceps were evident in the short-sleeved, black T-shirt he wore, a far cry from the staunch business suit-clad men she'd become accustomed to dealing with over the years since her move to Arizona.
Lynn took a deep breath, recalling the reason for the visit, the outcome of which would mean the end or continuance of her family's ranch.
"So, what brings you to Rangell Ranch?"
"I wanted to speak with you about a business arrangement. First, I should say I've reviewed the land contracts you signed with my brothers and found them to be far from equitable, but I'm hoping we can put that behind us with what I propose today."
"Yes, it would seem that neither Ryan nor Logan were fully aware of the implications of their agreement with you."
"I'm not sure why, everything was outlined in the contract."
"Which was over thirty pages long and filled with enough legalese to confuse even the savviest of attorneys."
"But it seems you managed to translate the document well enough. Perhaps they should have hired a better lawyer," Jake returned with the ease of a man aware that he had the upper hand. He looked relaxed in the sleek leather chair, arms resting comfortably on his desk while his fingers drummed a silent tune.
"They didn't have an attorney review it at all," she admitted, still unable to believe Ryan's folly, one of many she'd discovered.
"Well that is unfortunate. Perhaps next time they'll seek the advice of legal counsel before entering into a binding contractual agreement, or at the very least have their baby sister do some ciphering for them."
Lynn bit back her reply, she'd never been one to let emotions get the best of her in business, but there was nothing ordinary about the situation. The Harringtons and Rangells were enemies, had been since her childhood, and the fact that she sat in front of Jake Rangell preparing to ingratiate herself on behalf of the Harringtons did not sit well with her. Yet, something needed to be done or her stepfather's ranch would be ruined. She'd just wished that her two older stepbrothers had bothered to call on her for help before things got to this point.
"As unfair as the contracts were, I'm not here to argue the merits of them with you." She was proud at how cool she managed to sound.
"Good. So what exactly are you here for?"
"Equipment. My brothers and I would like to lease some of the drilling machinery we haven't had success in obtaining on our own. It's nothing more than what you have on supply at that dried out well. I'm sure they will serve us all better in use than just sitting around collecting dust."
"Done a little trespassing, I see?"
"Not at all, enough of our lands neighbor each other and men do talk," she offered as an excuse.
"Exactly what type of equipment are we talking about?"
"It's all outlined here." Prepared for that question, Lynn took out an itemized list of things they still needed to continue drilling on the land her brother's hadn't been swindled out of by Jake. She slid the computer-generated list over his high glossed desk. The movement had her leaning across the expanse to reach him.
Jake's large fingers brushed her own in the exchange, and Lynn could have sworn the air-conditioned room felt suddenly hot.