Say I'm Yours (Page 4)

I stifle a laugh. She’s nuts. They all are, but for her to be more worried about her hair than being suspended in the air by a parachute over the water . . . I can’t with her. “Well, Mama, it sounds like that was the sensible choice.”

“I’m sure we’ll have fun. You know us, we find trouble no matter where we go.” Oh, I know that. “Since your father is off in his la-la land . . . I need a favor.”

“Sure, what do you need?”

My mother has called once a day with her need for favors. Since school let out a week ago and I’m on summer break, she’s turned her honey-do list over to me. I’m not sure who enjoys these trips more, her or Daddy. He takes the week she’s gone and locks himself in his hunting cabin. No cell phone, no television, and no people. He calls it his slice of heaven.

I think next year I’m going with him.

“I need you to go to Vivienne’s and grab somethin’ from Cooper. I meant to take it when I was there before we left, but it slipped my mind.”

My stomach drops. “It can’t wait?”

“No, Grace.” She huffs. “It can’t wait. There’s no reason you wouldn’t want to help your mama, is there?”

I’m surprised it took this long for her to meddle. I should be happy they didn’t rope me into making a thousand cupcakes. “And does Cooper know I’m comin’ over to pick up this item you need?” I twirl my hair as I wait for her to produce her crappy lie.

That’s the thing that gets me every time, the old women—my mother included—in this town who feel it’s their civic duty to meddle in everything, and they aren’t even good liars. They come up with the craziest things, and half of them don’t make sense. Yet, no matter how ridiculous the plans are, the people in this town go along with them. It’s insane. We’re all freaking nuts.

“I’m not sure, sugar.”

“Mama,” I warn.

“Now, Grace. I’m asking for your help. If you’re too busy, then I’ll have to send smoke signals to your daddy, who will be all too unhappy to be interrupted.” My head falls back as I groan internally. “If you’d like me to do that, I will, and then you can deal with him.”

If guilt trips were an Olympic sport, my mother would have a gold medal. “Fine,” I grumble. “I’ll go over there and see Cooper to get this very important item that you still haven’t mentioned what it even is.”

“You’re so good to me.” Her voice is back to chipper. “I have to go, they’re starting the karaoke party! Adios!” She disconnects before I can say a word.

It’s been two weeks since Presley’s wedding, and I’ve done a pretty damn good job of avoiding both Cooper and Trent, which in this town is a pretty difficult task. Cooper hasn’t reached out at all since that day, not that I expected him to, but Trent hasn’t been quiet. Then, as if my thoughts summon him, my phone beeps with a new message from the commitment phobe himself.

Trent: I get it. You’re done, but we were friends. You were my best friend. I know you don’t want to talk now, and I’ll respect that. Just know if you ever need me . . . I’m here. I’ll always be here.

Why does he do this to me? I want to scream and cry and throw something, but then, in the next breath, I want to run to him. This isn’t easy for me. It’s especially not when he says things like that. It would be a lie to say I don’t miss him. I do. I may be done waiting around for him, but I’ll always love him. He’s embedded in my heart and soul. The only problem is his love doesn’t heal, it’s toxic, and I have to eradicate it before it kills me.

I grab my keys and head over to the Townsend’s. If I’m lucky, Cooper won’t be there, and I can get the mystery item and be gone without seeing him.

When I pull in to the drive, I realize that, of course, luck isn’t on my side. Luck is never on my side, and this time, she seems to be sitting back and laughing at me.

Cooper isn’t just home. He’s on the porch, shirtless, fixing the chain on the porch swing.


I exit the car, and he turns to look at me as a lazy smile forms on his lips. “Grace.” Cooper’s warm voice washes over me.

“Coop.” I grin back as my gaze rakes over his bare chest, and I try not to drool. Dear Lord, he’s even better than I imagined without a shirt. The sun, which is setting behind me, is shining over every ridge and dip on his glorious body. The man is sinful. “Mama sent me over for something that your mama has?”

He chuckles. “You believe that load of crap?”

I look down as I shake my head. “Nope, but I knew they’d call and make sure I did it. Figure it’s best to play it safe.”

He steps off the ladder and moves toward me. “Don’t you think we’re a little old to be pushed into seeing each other?”

“I don’t see you comin’ around to see me,” I retort.

“I thought it was your move.”

“I thought you knew that wasn’t going to happen.”

Cooper keeps moving toward me as I stand still. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to him. I feel out of sorts and slightly uncomfortable. “I hoped.” His voice is low and gravelly as he speaks.

My eyes stay connected to his. “You did?”

He pushes a piece of hair out of my eyes. “Wasn’t I clear?”

I guess he was . . . he and Presley basically spelled it out. Still, I’m not used to forward. I’ve had over twenty years of hidden meanings and half-truths with Trent. I don’t really know if my compass is pointing in the wrong direction or if I’m on the right track with men. Men say women are confusing, but I have news for them—they’re no freaking better.

“All I know is that we danced. It was a lovely dance, but we had no plans after that.”

His big hand wraps around my wrist. “I think we’ve been dancing around this for a while now.”

“When did you get so bold?” I ask, trying to control the shake in my voice.

“When you became single.”

That’s a good answer. “Oh.”


I’m not sure what he expects me to say. “This is a little weird for me, Coop. I’ve known you forever. I remember all the embarrassing things you went through, including when you liked *NSYNC.” I lift a brow, daring him to refute me. “I’m trying to wrap my head around you getting all broody male on me.”

He tugs my arm and grins. “I’ve always been this way. You were just looking at another man. I’ve been biding my time.”

Huh. Who would’ve known? Not me. I clearly missed all the signs.

“And,” Cooper tacks on, “I never liked *NSYNC.”

“Sure, buddy. Whatever you need to tell yourself.”

A throaty chuckle escapes him. “There’s a lot we know about each other, and even more that neither of us has a clue about. All I’m asking for is a chance to talk, to get to know you. There are a lot of subjects I’d like to touch on.”

“I bet.” When his eyes drift to my chest, it’s clear that the subjects he wants to touch on aren’t fishing or sports, but I let that go. I don’t need to think about him touching me. “Go put a shirt on,” I shake my head.

“Am I making you uncomfortable?” Cooper gleams.



“Uh-huh.” His eyes brighten and he gestures to the house. “Come on inside. I’ll get the mystery package our mothers concocted to get us together.”

I nod and thank God that Cooper let me out of this very uncomfortable exchange. Yet, it isn’t so much that I feel awkward. It’s that these are unfamiliar waters. Cooper is right. I don’t know what he’s like as an adult.

After Presley left for college I still saw him, but we never spent any time together. When we did see each other, our conversations were casual. I don’t know why he stayed in Bell Buckle or why he stopped working on cars or at the rodeo. I have no clue if he still likes rock music or if he’s more of a country guy now. Clearly, he doesn’t like boy bands anymore, but the truth is . . . I know nothing about the man that Cooper has become.

The reality that Cooper is a mystery comes crashing around me. From one step to the next, I realize I have never really looked at Cooper as if he were an adult. My eyes flick to the sculpted flex of muscles as he walks and then to the two dimples on the small of his back. A flush crawls up my neck, and I focus on the ground in front of me instead of the man. Cooper is all grown up.

We get inside and head to the kitchen. “Here.” He extends the envelope.

“This is what she needed me to get right away?”

“I’m thinkin’ it was more about who would hand it to you,” he suggests. “And I’m not a man that lets opportunities like this slip away.” Cooper moves closer.

Oh shit. I’m not ready for this. I don’t know how I feel about anything. It’s been two weeks, well, technically three weeks since I ended things with Trent, but still! I know deep down in my heart that while I may think Cooper is hot, I don’t feel like that for him, at least not right this moment. My heart is still very deeply attached to Trent. I may wish I could’ve severed that tie completely when I decided to end things with him, but that was impossible. It’s been years that my heart has been forging that bond. It’s strong and requires time to loosen its resolve.