“Fine.” Molly curled her hands into tight fists and dug her fingers into her skin, trying not to let him see how badly his attitude hurt her. “You’re here for my father, so let’s get down to business.”
The sudden thump, thump of Edna’s cane interrupted them, the sound growing louder the closer it came.
Hunter raised an eyebrow in question.
“My grandmother,” Molly explained, and her stomach churned. It was hard enough dealing with Hunter one-on-one. The thought of introducing him to the most inquiring mind in the family made her nauseous.
“There’s a hog parked out front,” Edna said as she entered the kitchen. “Think whoever owns it will give me a ride?”
Molly’s jaw fell slack and her mouth opened wide.
“Don’t look so shocked. I dated a biker back in my day. There’s something to be said for sitting on the back of a motorcycle, a solid man’s back pressed into your chest and the engine vibrating between your—” Edna stopped short when she turned and caught sight of Hunter. “Legs.” She finished her sentence despite the ruddy color in her cheeks. “I didn’t realize we had company.”
“You thought the bike out front belonged to who then?” Molly asked, well and truly mortified by her grandmother’s words.
Making the situation worse, Molly could vividly imagine doing exactly as her grandmother had described, riding the bike with her arms wrapped securely around Hunter’s back. The vibrating between her thighs had already begun thanks to the vivid imagery. It didn’t even matter that he hated her. His effect on her was too strong.
“I thought the neighbors had company. You know that Bell boy courts trouble,” Edna said. “Not that a motorcycle always means trouble. Although this one has bad boy written all over him.” She gestured Hunter’s way.
“I think I’ll take that as a compliment. Daniel Hunter,” he said, stepping forward and extending his hand.
“Edna Addams but my friends call me Commander.”
“Pleased to meet you, Commander.” Hunter grinned his aw, shucks, you’re cute and so am I grin as he shook the older woman’s hand.
Molly groaned. He’d left Jessie awestruck and now was charming the matriarch of the family. Robin would be a goner for sure and Molly had no doubt her father would admire Hunter, too. He’d definitely like all of them. She suddenly felt adrift in her new family, the lone pariah who Hunter would tolerate only out of necessity while he defended her wrongly accused father.
“So you must be the lawyer Molly was telling us about,” Edna said, beating Molly to the explanation. She leaned on her cane, edging closer to where Hunter stood.
“I hope her words were kind.” His hazel eyes flashed with laughter for her grandmother, but when his gaze fell on Molly’s, the warmth evaporated and ice formed once more.
Molly tried not to shiver.
Edna nodded. “I can’t remember what she said exactly but ‘the best lawyer in the state’ comes close.”
Molly closed her eyes. She was doomed to a permanent state of mortification while he was here.
“She’s right on target.”
“Not modest. I like cockiness in a man.”
Molly sighed. “How’s your knitting coming?”
“Right now it’s a lumpy, ugly scarf but I’ll master it. You’ll see. I had to break in order to heat dinner.” Her gaze zeroed in on Hunter. A guest.
Molly knew exactly what would come next.
“Lucky for you, I made a big dinner. You’ll stay.” Edna didn’t ask Hunter, she presumed.
Molly moved beside her grandmother. “I’m sure he has to get settled,” she said, hoping to make it easier for him to decline.
No way would he want to sit around the table with a bunch of strangers. He didn’t enjoy family, he’d once said when telling her about his years in foster care. And for as long as she’d known him, he’d seemed to be a loner, preferring his own company to that of others—except for Lacey and Ty, the two people he considered his family. The two he’d let breach his walls.
He offered you the chance to come to the other side and you blew it, a little voice reminded her.
“Well, I did reserve a room in a local motel, but I left my credit card number to hold the room, so there’s no rush to check in. I’d love to stay for dinner.” Hunter spoke to her grandmother without meeting Molly’s annoyed stare. “Getting to know the family will help in forming a defense strategy. Thanks for the invitation, Commander.”
“My pleasure. I hope you like pot roast because that’s what I’m serving.”
“It’s my favorite.”
Molly felt sure he was doing this on purpose, making her sweat and squirm as retribution for the pain she’d caused him. Dinner with the family wouldn’t help her father’s case. Proving him innocent by finding other suspects would. She and Hunter would have to have a long talk on the subject as soon as possible.
“Oh, and as for that motel you mentioned?” Edna’s voice brought Molly out of her private thoughts. “That won’t be necessary. We have a perfectly good pullout bed for you right here.”
Molly tried and failed to catch her grandmother’s gaze. Like Hunter, she was avoiding looking at Molly. In the commander’s case, that meant she had an ulterior motive in inviting Hunter to stay. She wouldn’t have thought matchmaking was on her grandmother’s agenda, but today was full of surprises.
She intended to put a stop to the other woman’s meddling now. “Hunter needs space to spread out and work, and besides, we don’t know how long he’ll need to be in town. It could be weeks or months depending on how long this farce goes on. I’m sure he’d be more comfortable in a motel.”
“Nonsense.” The commander slammed her cane against the floor for emphasis. “That’s exactly why he should stay here. The pullout couch is in your father’s office. Hunter would have a built-in place for him to work without having to travel.”
“The motel’s five minutes away,” Molly said through gritted teeth.
As much as she hated to admit weakness, she caught Hunter’s eye and silently pleaded with him to go along. They weren’t on friendly terms and having him here would be too much stress on her already frayed emotions. He couldn’t possibly want to stay here, either.
Hunter cleared his throat. “I wouldn’t want to displace the general from his office.”