To Thine Own Self (Chapter Five, page 1 of 7)

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Carmen arranged for the twins and Destiny to stay with Grandma Reynolds so that she wouldn't be distracted when her guests arrived. Jonathan had band practice with his friends and Alex was in his recliner, reading a letter from a wildlife management area in Colorado. He had been quiet all week, obviously resigned to the fact that she was going to run things her way. When his friend knocked on the door, he waited for Carmen to answer it and when Gerald made the introductions, Alex said nothing - not even when Rob made a comment that would normally have raised an eyebrow.

Aaron offered a hand to Carmen, his gaze meeting hers in a shy way and then slipping away as he gave a canned salutation. Rob boldly looked her up and down, his handshake firm and lingering. His auburn brows lifted in surprise as he whistled.

"Wow! Gerald. Why didn't you tell us she was a looker?"

Gerald's gaze shifted briefly to Alex, who continued reading as if he hadn't heard their conversation. When his gaze returned to Carmen, it held a brief warning. This wasn't his friend and he wasn't going to defend or reprimand him. That was fine with her. Rob wasn't the first man to make that kind of remark and he probably wouldn't be the last. Like the others, he would stop when it didn't get the results he wanted.

Rob was taller than Alex, but not as tall as Gerald. He had an athletic build, muscular and well proportioned. Hazel eyes held a hint of humor all the time, and his auburn hair had a stylish cut. The way he dressed and acted indicated he was used to feminine attention.

Aaron was the opposite of Rob. He was short, thin and if not homely, certainly not handsome. He had black hair and dark brown eyes that never seemed to look directly at anyone. What he did have was a shy smile that warmed the heart. Carmen liked him instantly.

Gerald stood a head taller than all of them. Yet, unlike so many tall people Carmen had met, Gerald didn't slouch. He stood with his back straight, as if proud of every inch. His complexion was dark for a blonde man, as if he spent a lot of time outside. He had put on a few pounds since she last saw him and it looked good on him. His thin lips slid into that familiar wry smile as he shook her hand.

"At first I thought you had a white buffalo out there and then I realized it was a dog."

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