Home > The Man's Outrageous Demands (Royal Cordova Family Trilogy #2)(6)

The Man's Outrageous Demands (Royal Cordova Family Trilogy #2)(6)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Marabeth pulled on the shoes and awkwardly stepped around the tiny bathroom. It was doable, if she was careful. She heard the kids’ excitement as they saw the gorgeous party room decorated with red and white. Some were exclaiming over the cake and asking if everyone was going to get a piece.

Marabeth stepped out of the bathroom and quickly grabbed the bundle of balloons. The first child to see her almost screamed but then the excitement bubbled up and everyone laughed and circled Marabeth who silently waived, shook hands and delivered a heart shaped balloon to each child. They excitedly took their balloon back to their chair and the teachers helped tie the balloon around their wrists or belt loops so it didn’t float away.

Stacy walked into the room and gasped, then closed her mouth with Marabeth’s waive. Stacy didn’t say a word, but simply shook her head and helped the loud, giggling group of children get their slice of cake and cup of lemonade.

They all sat and sang songs, played the hokey pokey in a circle and giggled as Marabeth in the clown suit was the silliest, putting the wrong foot into the circle, or her elbow in when it was supposed to be her head. The party was a wonderful success and the parents stayed on the sidelines watching until the end of the party.

Marabeth didn’t pay much attention to the parents who were waiting to pick up their kids at the end of the work day. She was too busy having a good time and making the kids giggle as much as possible. Marabeth was having a hard time not laughing out loud herself as she poked and stuck out the wrong thing with the paddy wack game or Simon Says. Finally, Stacy called a halt to the party and the children rushed to give the clown a hug, or, for the shy ones, just a handshake or pat on the head.

All the children were slowly filing out of the room when Marabeth looked up and almost tripped over her heart shaped feet. Standing on the sidelines was her brother and right next to him was the man she had been trying to avoid for the past several days.

And he knew! He didn’t give anything away to Max, but she could tell from the look in his eyes that he knew she was the one in the clown suit.

Marabeth quickly moved off back into the bathroom and washed her face, wondering how long she would have to stay in the bathroom until Max and Sam left the center.

What in the world were they doing in here? She’d thought Max was unaware that there was even a day care center in the palace.

She slipped her black slacks back on, pulled her cream, silk shirt on her arms and buttoned the front. Her makeup would be a problem, but since she didn’t wear much to begin with, she wondered if anyone would notice.

Hopefully, Stacy had gotten them out of the room already. She opened the door slightly and listened. Thankfully, there was silence and she poked her head out of the bathroom.

The room seemed to be empty and she breathed a sigh of relief that she was now alone. Stepping out of the bathroom, she took the now re-hung clown suit, shoes and wig and put it on the back of the door to the center’s game room. Stacy would make sure it was returned to the rental agency tomorrow.

“You were a wonderful clown,” a deep voice said from the doorway.

Marabeth spun around, dropping the clown shoes onto the floor in the process.

“I thought you’d left,” she said, her eyes wide and she looked around for her brother.

“Obviously. But I wanted to talk to you, so I waited around. You took a long time in the bathroom. Were you waiting for us to leave?”

Marabeth scowled. “Yes. As a matter of fact, I was.”

“Sorry, I didn’t oblige you, did I?”

“No. Which brings to mind the question why. What are you still doing here?”

“I was wondering what the purpose of this facility was. Why is there a day care facility inside the palace compound versus using the day care facilities offered by the private sector? I was talking with the director.”

Marabeth started to feel defensive. “What do you mean, what is its purpose? It cares for the children of the staff who then help run this country. What else are they supposed to do with them?”

Sam loved the way she was so easily riled. He’d just talked with the director and was impressed with the way the center helped out the families of the palace staff. But he wanted to push her buttons, just to see her eyes turn from a soft, misty blue to a sea-blue fire. “Why don’t the women stay home?” he said, just to spark her temper higher.

Marabeth wanted to punch him. “What a sexist thing to say. I’ll bet you’d just love to have all women covered from head to toe when they go to the market to get food for your dinner? Perhaps we could even have your slippers in our mouths when you walk in the door?”

Sam smothered a chuckled at the heat in her eyes. “Well, maybe not in their mouths but it would be nice to come home to a loving wife.”

“Loving in your mind translates to slavery or subserviency? Not a pretty picture, Mr. Montrose.”

“Call me Sam. And what’s wrong with a woman taking care of her husband? If he’s willing to leave each day to provide for her and the family, I don’t see an issue.” Sam had to keep himself from laughing outright at her bristling anger. She was practically spitting with her rage.

“Mr. Montrose, you’re ideas of a marriage are positively antiquated. I didn’t know men like you still existed, except in my father’s mind. Well, good luck finding a wife who will fit all your needs. I already pity her even though she hasn’t had the displeasure of meeting you yet and being ground under your heel.”

Sam couldn’t hold it back any longer. She was so angry he threw back his head and laughed. She was overflowing with her fury.

His laughter only increased Marabeth’s anger. “I’m glad you think independent and free thinking women are humorous, Mr. Montrose. But let me assure you that every person who works in this palace and has children appreciates the flexibility that this center gives them. And we appreciate the dedication that flexibility gives us. We’re able to accomplish many things for the people of Cordova and that is partly due to this center and the peace of mind it gives to the men and women who entrust their children to its care.”

She was about to walk out on him but he caught her arms and held her still while he gained control of his laughter. He took a deep breath and looked down into her angry eyes. “I’m sorry, Marabeth. I honestly respect and appreciate all the women and men, who work in the palace and I understand the need for a place where they can know their children are safe and learning while they work.”

Marabeth felt her mouth hang open but she couldn’t seem to close it. She was too shocked at his words and the feeling of warmth that washed over her at his words of support. “Then, what was all that sexist gibberish a few minutes ago?” she finally got out.

Sam chuckled again, loving the way every emotion flew across her face. “I have to apologize. You’re just too beautiful when you’re angry. You’re eyes turn a dark blue and your cheeks become a soft pink. You’re eyebrows come down over your eyes and you just become very passionate about your cause.”

She wanted to punch him again. What was this tendency towards violence when she was around him? “You mean you were just baiting me?”

Sam nodded but knew better than to let his guard down around her. She was beautiful, but also full of emotion and he was wary of her next step, although also anticipating it with relish.

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