Dismay filled Sarah. “I can’t do that.” Because there’s a good chance we’re not talking to each other anymore.
“Please, Sarah. Don’t say no.” Her friend’s voice broke a bit with emotion. “My brother would kill me if he knew I was asking you, but this ranch has been in our family for five generations. Steven gave up everything to keep it going after my parents died. I didn’t know how much it meant to me until I came back to it, and now we’re going to lose it. I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what happened when you first got here, but I was in shock. I had just gotten the news. Please, one phone call. I made a mistake, and it’s one I deeply regret. Haven’t you ever done something you wish you could undo?”
Low blow, Texas.
“How would a call from a horse trainer convince a bank to do anything?”
“I’m only guessing, but a man with as much money as he has must have it spread around. If he has a good portion of it at our bank, sometimes rules can be bent to accommodate the people they don’t want to lose.”
Resigning herself, Sarah said, “I’ll ask him, but I doubt he’ll say yes.” She remembered his words earlier: I don’t have time for other people’s problems.
Lucy let out a shaky sigh that was laced with tears of relief. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
“I’m not promising anything,” Sarah warned.
Lucy’s voice was thick with tears. “I understand and I know this doesn’t mean that everything is okay with us again, but I really am sorry.”
“I’ll call you when I know something,” Sarah said and hung up.
That might take a while, though. I’m not sure I know anything anymore.
She found Tony outside, giving Scooter fresh water in his paddock. Her heart warmed at the sight before she remembered the many reasons she wanted to kick him in the shin.
He said, “Did you sort it out with Melanie?”
Sarah nodded. “She was very nice and seemed to sincerely want me to stay with her, but I said no.”
There was a beat of silence, then Tony asked, “You staying in the spare room, then?”
Shaking her head, Sarah said, “No, I can’t see how that’s a good idea either. I’d head out tonight, but the places on the way back are booked for now. I’ll probably leave Scooter here for a few days if that’s okay and find a place in town. I’m sure I can find something if I can use your phone.
Tony looked as grim as she’d ever seen him but said nothing.
What do I have to lose? “I do have something I wanted to ask for, though. A favor. I know you don’t like getting involved, but this could really help someone I know.”
Amazing how those green eyes can look right through a person and hide so much at the same time. Sarah looked down at her white sneakers in a protective move of her own. Okay, here goes nothing.
“Remember my friend Lucy?”
“The one who ditched you the first day you were here?”
“Yeah, that one. Well, we talked and it sounds like she did it because she’s in a rough spot financially. I don’t know why she thinks that a phone call from you would convince her bank to give her and her brother more time to settle what they owe, but she asked me to ask you.” Sarah raised her eyes from studying the toes of her sneakers to meet his. “So, I’m asking you. Would you do that for me?”
Let’s play a game.
How many ways can a cowboy say, I don’t care about other people?
In five, four, three . . .
Tony closed the gate behind him. “I’ll make that call for you.”
Sarah almost sank to her knees in shock, but she steadied herself by holding onto the railing of the paddock.
Tony pulled her away from the railing and into his arms. His lips hovered over hers, his eyes glittering with a passion she’d begun to believe had died when their trip had ended. “On one condition.”
“Yes?” Sarah asked and licked her lower lip.
He buried a hand in the back of her hair and tipped her head up until her lips parted for him. “You stay. In my room, in my bed. Mine, whenever I want you.”
Sarah swayed in his arms, wanting to deny him even as her body begged for his touch. He was so close to being the man she knew he could be. Softly she said, “You could simply ask me not to go.”
His hand tightened in her hair. “I don’t want to date you. I don’t want to discuss what we have. But I do want you. You’re all I can think about.”
Sarah stiffened in his arms. Or you could continue to be a complete ass. “The only way you could make this worse is if you offered to pay me.”
“I can if that’s what you want. I could pay off whatever your friend owes and it wouldn’t make a dent in what I still have from my old career.”
Sarah saw red. “How can you be so nice one minute and then such a jackass the next?”
His kissed her with such need that she forgot why she was angry. She forgot everything except how it felt to be with him, on him, beside him in his bed. Her body quivered with want and her hands clung to him feverishly.
He set her back from him and smiled, a devilishly cocky smile. “I’ll call your friend. I’m sure her number is saved on the phone.”
He walked away, heading to the house, looking happier than she’d seen him since their return. She called after him, “I didn’t say I was staying.”
His laugh echoed back to her and she made a silent promise to his retreating back.
She muttered to herself, “Mine. In my room. In my bed. Whenever I want you.” What an ass**le. A hot, sexy, blow-your-mind-because-the-sex-is-so-good ass**le.
So why am I still here? Why not throw his conditions back in his face?
Because I want more than anything to believe that regardless of how he asked me, he did so because he doesn’t want to lose me.
Because the more I understand myself the more I believe I can save him.
He wants more time and I don’t have the strength to deny him.
Sarah dug through her luggage for her high-heeled cowboy boots. Tony had brought her luggage to his room and from the near-grin on his face when he’d rejoined her on the porch, it seemed he’d enjoyed the act immensely. Then he’d given her some lame excuse about having to get some work done but how he’d see her that night.
She could just imagine him now, gloating with the other men. “For all of you who think I don’t understand women, don’t worry. I got this one.”