Say I'm Yours (Page 20)
That is the last thing I want to be doing. I’m sure I can rope Wyatt and Zach into helping out once in a while. They both owe me for saving their sorry butts a time or two.
“That won’t be happening. I think Daddy and I are going to have a come to Jesus moment about needing to hire someone.”
Cooper grabs the bottle of water and chugs it. I watch in rapt fascination at how his throat moves as he swallows. The way his skin is bronzed from being out here for an hour. I try not to think about how good his body looks, but I fail.
He’s the total package.
He finishes his drink and hands me what’s left. “Here, you don’t want to get dehydrated. It’s hot as hell today.”
“Yes. Yes it is,” I mutter and take a drink. I shake my head, trying to rattle the thoughts of Cooper from my mind and clear my throat. “So, can I help you with the fence?”
“Sure.” Cooper lifts his chin and hands me the hammer. “I’ll pull the line tight if you can secure it.”
We work alongside each other, poking fun at my inability to be able to hit the nail, and then at almost hitting Cooper’s hand. Sweat drips from my forehead as we move to the few poles that are left. I had forgotten how much I disliked hard labor.
After ten more minutes, we’re done with mending the fence. There’s a lot more that needs to be done so we go to the next task, my most hated chore ever, hay bales.
“I think we should leave this for another day,” I suggest.
“You would rather haul them on your own?”
“I would rather they catch on fire.”
He lifts an eyebrow. “What is with girls and hay bales?”
“What does that mean?” I ask with my arms across my chest.
His hands raise in surrender. “I’m just sayin’ all you girls complain when it’s time to move them.”
I’ll be more than happy to explain why.
“Because they’re heavy, the hay gets all in your hair no matter how careful you are, your back aches for days after, and it freaking itches.”
“Would you rather chop wood? Fish? Hunt? Or clean the stalls?” he questions with a grin.
“I would rather sleep.”
Cooper bursts out laughing and wraps his arm around my waist, pulling me against him. “You’re a mess.”
“And you’re gross and sweaty.”
He crouches low, grips my legs, tosses me over his shoulder, and starts running.
“Cooper!” I squeal. “Put me down!” He doesn’t though. He keeps moving as if I’m not speaking until we reach the creek. He better not. “Do not do it!” I say as I hear the water.
“Do what?” His voice is full of innocence.
I hang upside down as the creek comes into view. I start flailing around, slapping him on his butt, hoping to deter him from what I know is coming.
Cold. Ass. Water.
Sure enough, Cooper kicks his boots off and throws mine over on the side of the creek as well. Then he starts stomping in the water causing it to splash all around us.
“Dammit!” I yell as the freezing water pelts my skin while he spins.
He puts me right side up and the water rushes around my legs.
Well, I don’t think so. I squat low and start to paddle water at him like crazy. I’m not going to be the only one who gets soaked. “Take that!” I holler as I get him good.
“Oh yeah?” he taunts and then jumps in front of me, causing water to hit all the way up to my belly.
“You’re a dead man!” I giggle and charge forward.
Cooper doesn’t relent as he continues to go back at me. After a few minutes, that end with both of us being drenched and cooled off, we’re standing with big smiles on our faces. He moves closer and my teeth chatter.
I nod. “Y-Yes. I’m-m f-freezing.”
Cooper helps me out onto the grass and wraps his arms around me. I lean into his big body and let him warm me. I nestle my head under his chin and he rubs his hands against my arms, creating friction.
It’s still ridiculously hot, so it doesn’t take long for my body temperature to rise back to normal. But I hold on for a little longer. Being in Cooper’s arms is different. It isn’t familiar, but it’s comfortable. Cooper would never let anything or anyone hurt me. I don’t worry if he’s going to break my heart. I can relax and close my eyes because he’ll protect me.
“Why don’t we get out of here and check on your pop, see if he needs a hand?” Cooper says without moving his arms from around me.
I lean back and tuck my wet hair behind my ear. “Sure. I bet he’s looking for us anyway.”
We head toward the barn to get the other tools we might need. My father is standing by his workbench, tinkering with something.
I can’t recall how many times I would sit on the stool next to him and watch him work. He was always this big, strong, and tough man. I thought there was no one who could ever hurt me. As long as my daddy was around, I was safe. He set the bar pretty high.
He turns around, and his eyes grow warm. “Hi, baby girl. You guys all done?”
Cooper clears his throat and walks toward him. “I’ve got a few more things on your list I’d like to get done, Mr. Rooney.”
My father smiles appreciatively. “You’re a good man. Comin’ over and workin’ on a day like today. This is a good man here, Grace.”
I look at Cooper and grin. “Yeah, he is.”
He drops the thing he was tinkering with and leans back. “I need to take a load off. My hip is givin’ me a hell of a time. If you need me, I’ll be in my chair. Thanks for all your help today, son.”
Cooper clasps his shoulder. “Nowhere else I’d rather be.”
Daddy walks over and kisses my forehead. “Be good, darlin’.”
“Have a good nap!” I call out as he grumbles under his breath.
“If you need to go home and change or run errands, I can finish,” I offer.
Cooper steps closer, his dark hair shines in the sunlight streaming through the windows. “How about this . . . I’ll finish helping your pop out for a bit and you promise to make me dinner.”
“Yeah, you know that meal after lunch.” He nudges me. “I figure you can at least eat a meal with me since I’m bustin’ my ass all day in the hot sun, and you splashed me in the face.”
My muscles clench as I try to think of a way out of it. I’m not sure this is the best idea with everything that’s happened in the last twenty-four hours.
“I don’t know, Coop. Today has been . . . intense?”
“Doesn’t mean dinner will be.”
He’s right, and I’m being crazy, but I feel like I need to be completely transparent with him. Regardless of what kind of romantic possibilities there may or may not be between us, he’s still my friend.
Being honest is the only way this will ever work.
“No, but what about what happened this morning? How can you be so cool about it?”
He releases a heavy sigh. “I feel like you want me to be angry about you and Trent.”
I pause and think about that for a second. My first instinct is to tell him he’s crazy. Why would I want that? But maybe he’s right. I do keep bringing it up, pushing it back in his face, and reminding him after we spent the day relaxed and happy.
I step closer to Cooper and place my hand on his arm. “I’m sorry if I’m makin’ you feel that way. I don’t think I want you to be angry. I know that if I found someone in your house after the date like we had . . . I’d be pissed.”
He tugs me closer, wrapping his arm around my waist. “I’m not happy, but I’m not pissed. I’m the one pursuing you, Grace. I’m the one who’s tryin’ to get you to see me as more than just a friend. I also know you. You’re not the girl who would purposely set out to hurt my feelings. You’re confused, sad, and still tryin’ to see past the last two decades of Trent. My bein’ angry with you won’t do anything. Yes, he was with you last night, and I don’t want to know what happened. I’m sure I can guess, but I’d rather not have it confirmed. Now,” he pauses, and his eyes turn hard, “if we decide that we’re goin’ to make a real go at this, I’m not willin’ to share you. If you pick me, then you’ll have to pick me.”
And there is the part of me that wants to run away. Having to pick him. Because I don’t know that if I had to choose right now, it would be him. My eyes close, and I shake my head as I grapple with what to say.
“Before you freak out, I want to be clear that we’re not in a rush here. I can be very patient.”
“Honestly?” I touch his chest and stare at the freckle on his pec. “I’m scared.”
“Scared of what?”
Here it goes. I lift my head and gaze into his eyes. I need to say it and be completely honest with myself. “You. Us. The idea of us!” I push back, but Cooper is stronger and holds me against him. “You’re my best friend’s brother. You’re Cooper!”
“And you’re Grace,” he smirks.
I roll my eyes. “Funny.”