Say I'm Yours (Page 2)
“No, you don’t, but you should.”
She’s right. I had hoped, in some crazy part of my heart, that Trent would love me the same, but clearly, I was wrong.
“It’s like he only sees me now because I’ve walked away for good.” I grab the glass of wine and toss it back.
Angie takes my hand. “It’s because you don’t ever make him see anything else.” She straightens in her seat. “Look, I’m far from the world’s expert on men. I’ve been married for like, a second, but when Wyatt pushed me away to the point I couldn’t endure anymore, I left. It was a way to force him to decide whether our love was worth it. You gotta do the same, babe. You can’t live like this. You’re freaking gorgeous and no man should treat you like less than his everything. So make him see that you’re not waiting anymore.”
That in and of itself is another reason I like and trust this woman. She is fiercely independent and has way more courage than I do. She and Wyatt have been through absolute hell. Their relationship went downhill, but she was so much braver than I ever could be. When Wyatt pushed her, she packed her shit and left. I wish I were that strong. However, he did right by her in the end. Wyatt gave up everything to win her back.
“I’m not like you.”
She shakes her head. “You don’t give yourself enough credit.” Her eyes move around the room and then stop. “There’s someone here who sees you. I mean really sees you.”
I turn in my seat just enough to find who she’s looking at, and I swear my stomach gives a tiny flutter. Cooper Townsend. “I can’t.” I turn back to her, shaking my head in negation. “We’ve been over this. First, he’s Presley’s brother!” I whisper-yell. “Second, even if I’m done with Trent, I still love him.”
Her eyes fill with empathy. “I know you do. Cooper knows you do, too. It’s why he hasn’t pushed harder. The man isn’t blind, but maybe there’s a chance?”
“I don’t want to hurt him.”
Angie’s shoulders rise and then fall. “I think Cooper is more than willing to take that chance. I think he’d have a lot of fun pissing off my brother-in-law as well. There’s no love lost between those two.”
That was an understatement if I’d ever heard one. Cooper and Trent may have been friends their whole lives, but they don’t see eye to eye on almost anything. Over the last month, it’s been even worse. I think Trent knows that Cooper’s feelings for me surpass friendship. The thought makes me sigh. My life is a Southern version of a soap opera.
“Angie, you’re out of your ever-lovin’ mind.”
“The best way to get over a guy is to get under another. That’s my motto.”
My jaw falls slack. “You can’t be serious.”
“Hell yeah I am. You’re not a nun. You’re not with anyone or doing anything wrong. You have every right to sleep with whomever you want. If that happens so that you can teach my new brother-in-law a lesson, good. The Hennington ego is large my friend. It’s time to pop it.”
I twist my head over my shoulder, and Cooper smiles at me. The best I can offer back is a tentative wave before I turn back to Angie. “And hurt Cooper in the process?”
She scoffs. “If you’re honest with him, he won’t be hurt.”
“I think you Yankees forget how things work down here.”
“So you say. I’m going to check on Presley. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Remember, there’s a really great guy who is interested in you . . .”
Angie stands, and I fight the urge to scream. Date Cooper? How would that even work? He’s not my type. He’s nice, caring, attentive . . . normal.
I’m into the broken and unwilling to commit type.
I watch the people move around the dance floor, thinking about how different this all could’ve been. Trent and I could be married, have children, and be happy, but that’s not the case. He pulls away, I pull harder, and eventually, I let go. I look at Angie and Presley smiling and happy, which makes my chest ache.
Swiping the bottle of wine from the center of the table, I refill my glass and then draw a long sip of wine. “Move on.” I huff. “Move on to what? It’s not like there’s a line of guys waiting to date a former Miss Bedford County.” I shake my head and continue my tirade. “Cooper? Pfft. Cooper isn’t interested in—”
“Not interested in what?”
Shit, shit, shit. I have the worst luck ever. Only I would get caught mid-sentence talking aloud like a crazy person. “Cooper, hi.” My cheeks blaze as he grins at me. “Nothing. I was just talking to myself. You know, observing and all that.”
Because I’m an idiot.
His finger brushes against my cheek, causing it to burn hotter. “So, what were you observing about me?”
“You?” I squeak and then clear my throat. “I haven’t the slightest idea what you mean. I wasn’t even lookin’ at you.”
He smirks. “I heard you say my name, Grace Rooney.”
I could crawl under this table and never get out again. Me and my big mouth. “It was nothing. I was commenting on something Angie mentioned before. About you wanting . . . to buy a . . . a . . . horse,” I lie. “Yup. A horse.”
He chuckles. “Sure you were.” Cooper grabs a chair and twists it around so he sits with it backward. “I know Angie, and she is not known for talkin’ horses. Plus, she doesn’t have anything to do with the horse business. So, what exactly am I not interested in?” He pushes.
My pulse quickens as I try to think of something. “It’s nothing.”
“Grace.” His voice is warm and inquisitive.
“Ask the girl to dance, son.” Mrs. Townsend appears out of thin air. “She’s been sittin’ here alone almost all night.”
Great. Now my best friend’s mother is setting me up. She can probably smell the desperation seeping from my pores. Thirty-six, former beauty queen, never married, and unable to seal the deal. I’m every Southern mother’s dream.
“I’m sure Cooper doesn’t want to dance, Mrs. Townsend. He’s—”
“Actually,” he corrects, standing from his seat without taking his eyes off me. “I’d be honored.” He holds out his arm, palm open, waiting. I stare at him, trying to figure out what to say as my stomach clenches. It’s not as if I hadn’t toyed with whatever I’ve been feeling toward Cooper for a while now, but if we dance here, now, it’ll be making a statement. One I’m not sure I’m ready to make. My heart races as I look at his extended hand “Grace?” Cooper’s green eyes lock on mine.
It’s just a dance. Trent isn’t my boyfriend. Actually, now that I think about it, we never once—since the day I met him—put an official label on our relationship. I also just stated my ending of whatever it was, and per Angie, Presley won’t be mad, so there’s no reason not to, right?
I plaster on a smile and place my hand in his, saying, “I’d love to dance.”
His warm hand engulfs mine as he guides me to the dance floor. We stop at a spot near the edge of the crowd, and he turns toward me. “Relax, Grace.” Cooper encourages as his thick arms wrap around me. “It’s only a dance, and it’s me. We’ve danced together since we were kids.”
I shake my head and grin, even though this is not the same at all. Back then, I wasn’t dancing with Cooper as a single woman. He was a friend, almost a brother, and now there isn’t anything sibling like about this. “I know.”
“Then stop shakin’ like a leaf.”
“It’s just that you’re you . . .”
And insanely hot.
“And you’re . . .”
I shrug. “Me. I’ve been around you since I was seven. I mean, you’re Cooper! The boy who pulled my pigtails and put dirt in my sandwich.”
He laughs. “That was once, and I was convinced that you were the one who wrote, ‘Cooper Townsend loves to eat boogers’ on the bathroom wall.”
I was, but he doesn’t know that. I’d convinced myself that I was in love with him, and he told all the boys that I smelled like cheese. I did the only rational thing a twelve-year-old girl would do: write it on the bathroom wall. Being in a tiny town, it didn’t take long for the news of the artwork to spread. I denied it like crazy and watched Cooper set out on a mission to figure out who’d written it.
“Truth?” I grin.
Cooper’s lips lift as he figures it out. “I knew it! I knew it was you.” His eyes sparkle.
“Well, you were mean to me! And I had a crush on you at that time.”
“You did?” he asks.
“Umm.” I giggle. “Yeah. You knew that!”
He shakes his head. “I had no idea.”
“It wouldn’t have mattered. It only lasted about two whole days. Then you did some gross boy thing, and I was over it, but for those two days . . . it was intense. Plus, if my mom ever thought there was a chance of a you and me—I wouldn’t have been able to sleep over. You weren’t worth missing girl time with Presley.”