Gentling the Cowboy (Page 41)

Gentling the Cowboy (Texan Nights Series #1)(41)
Author: Ruth Cardello

“You did what?” Tony boomed, grabbing her arm.

She smiled impishly up at him and said, “I know how to use redial also. His number wasn’t that difficult to uncover.”

This time she’s gone too far.

“Not going to happen. Call him back and tell him dinner is off.”

Sarah ran a hand playfully down his cheek. “Yeah, about that. I’m going to need considerable training before I jump when you use that tone with me.” She pulled her other arm out of his grasp and said, “If you don’t want your brother to come, call him and tell him he’s not welcome. I have a dinner to organize.”

Taking advantage of his moment of shock, Sarah flounced out of the barn. Tony rubbed a hand roughly across his face while he attempted to recollect the thoughts she’d just scattered from his brain.

David entered soon after her departure. “So, we’re all eating at your place tonight?” he asked, his tone heavy with amusement.

Tony glared at him but kept his profanity to himself. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to stop swearing if he started.

Chapter Sixteen

Why did I think I could do this?

What if tonight is a disaster?

Standing on Tony’s front porch, Sarah saw David walking by and waved him over to talk. He looked back at Tony, who was glaring at both of them from the doorway of the barn, then headed in her direction, stopping just a foot before the bottom step.

Sarah bit her bottom lip and looked across the driveway at Tony. Their eyes met and held for a hot moment. David, the ranch, everything else disappeared, and she could feel his need for her pulsing through the air. She wanted to run to him. He looked like he was considering closing the distance between them, swinging her over his shoulder, and taking her to his bedroom without a care for who was watching—until he turned abruptly away and strode back into the barn.

Sarah let out an audible sigh of longing and sagged against the top of the railing. In the quiet that followed, Sarah whispered, “Will you help me?”

David took off his hat and brushed it against his jean-clad thigh. Quite blandly he said, “Depends on what you’re asking.”

Sarah gave him a funny look, then continued, “I can’t cook. I invited more people than will fit in his dining room. And I don’t even know where the damn town is to go buy what we need. Why did I think it was a good idea to invite everyone to dinner tonight? Why didn’t I think this through? Is there any way this is not going to be a complete disaster?”

“Sounds like a conversation to have with Melanie.”

With a shrug Sarah said, “In case you haven’t noticed, she hates me.”

David shook his head. “Melanie has too much on her plate already to care about much else, so I doubt that.”

Remembering what Melanie had said earlier, Sarah asked, “What’s going on with her son?”

David said, “Not my place to talk about it.”

Sarah walked down the steps to stand in front of David, not wanting her questions to be overheard. “Does Tony know?”

Looking uncomfortable with her line of questioning, David hedged. “We’ve never discussed it.”

She attempted to explain her motivations, as much to herself as to David. “David, I don’t know if Tony and I are going to work out, but I do understand why he bought this place. He told me about the girl who died.” David’s eyebrows shot up, the only sign that her words surprised him. “I know what guilt can do to a person. You can’t run from it. You can’t hide from it. If you try, you lose a piece of yourself to it every day. I was lost before I came here. Now I see that I am strong enough to face what I did. I don’t want to hide anymore. I don’t think Tony does, either.”

David looked past the barn to where Tony was still watching them and said, “He’d tell you that some creatures are damaged beyond help.”

Sarah followed his line of vision and said, “You don’t believe that, do you?”

David said, “I wouldn’t be here if I did.”

Setting her shoulders in determination, Sarah said, “Where is this town that everyone talks about? Looks like I have some shopping to do.”

David coughed into his hand and asked, “You going dressed like that?”

Sarah’s smile widened as she met Tony’s eyes across the distance. “Oh, yes.” After David gave her the directions, Sarah said, “Could you have some of the men put two tables together under the tree on the side of the house? Make sure there are enough chairs for everyone here and Tony’s brother.”

David asked, “You invited Dean?”

“I did.”

“And Tony knows?”

Chin held high, Sarah said, “He does.”

David whistled and raised his hat in admiration. “Tony needs someone like you.”

Truly surprised, Sarah said, “Thank you.”

David replaced his hat and said, “I hope he’s not too much of a damn fool to realize it.” He walked away and left Sarah standing there, thinking about what he’d said.

I hope so, too.

Unable to concentrate enough to work, Tony tried to release some of his frustration through good old-fashioned manual labor. He cleaned, he stacked—anything to keep his mind off Sarah. When he saw her talking to David, his stomach clenched with an emotion he refused to acknowledge.

I’m not jealous.

She can talk to whoever she wants to.

David leaned down to hear something she said and they both smiled. Oh, hell no. Find your own Yankee. Tony fought the urge to stride over there and punch his manager. Thankfully, David walked away.

Sarah headed toward her SUV. Where the hell is she going?

The question had barely registered when Tony realized he’d dropped the bale of hay he’d been holding and had practically sprinted over to her vehicle. She was already in the driver’s seat, lowering the automatic windows to cool it off. He grabbed the car door and opened it. “What are you doing?”

She kept both hands on the steering wheel. “I told you that I have to organize things for tonight. We need some supplies so I’m driving into town.”

“Not alone, you’re not.” He didn’t plan to say that and he wasn’t entirely sure why he had.

She rounded her eyes innocently at him and asked, “Should I ask one of the ranch hands to come with me?”

“No,” he growled. The idea of her spending the day with another man was enough to set his heart pounding in his chest angrily.