Taken, Not Spurred (Page 37)

Taken, Not Spurred (Lone Star Burn #1)(37)
Author: Ruth Cardello

If so, I’m all in.

On the sixth day, during the third hour, Sarah rolled over to face him in their bed. He smiled warmly at her and her heart filled with worry. They hadn’t talked about what would happen next. Neither had mentioned their self-imposed time limit on their paradise.

I thought I was done hiding, but isn’t that what we’ve done all week?

Our lives haven’t changed. Everything is the same back there—in reality.

Why did I give myself six more days of him?

Five more than I needed to know there was no avoiding this heartbreak. Like a movie that you know ends badly, but you can’t stop watching.

What if this is it? We go home and it’s over?

Why did I think more time together would make things better?

“It’s Tuesday,” she said sadly, waiting for the reassurance she needed.

“I know,” he replied, his jaw tight and his expression guarded for the first time since she’d practically dragged him back into his own cabin.

Worry turned to panic. No, this isn’t how it’s supposed to go. “I don’t want to go back,” she admitted hoarsely.

He didn’t say anything, but she saw the torment in his eyes before he lowered his lids to conceal it from her.

Give me something, she pleaded silently. Anything to hold on to.

I’ll go first, if that’s what it takes. “I never knew it could be like this,” she said.

“You got your research for your book, then,” he said blandly, dismissively.

Quick, hot anger filled her. Bastard. “Is that how this will end? You become an asshole again?”

“I’m the same man you came here with, Sarah. I haven’t changed.” He met her gaze coolly.

She wanted to shake him, hit him, force him to admit he cared. Instead, she said, “Would it be so bad if you did? Can’t you give us a chance?”

You’re so close. I know how hard it is to face the past, but I’ve done it and you want to. And when you do, you’ll see how we were sent to help each other. I’ve never believed anything more strongly.

“I told you that I have nothing more than this to offer you.”

I don’t believe you mean that. “So, what now? Do you want me to leave as soon as we return?”

“You can do whatever the hell you want to. Most people do.” He turned away and gathered his clothing.

Sarah would have thrown something at his head if she’d had anything to throw. Instead, she pulled the sheet around herself and went to gather her own clothing. Wordlessly, they gathered the toiletries they’d brought into the cabin and took them back to her vehicle.

He chose the driver’s seat, and nothing about the tense set of his jaw and the way he refused to look her in the eye implied the ride home would remotely mirror the ride there. They had driven about halfway back when she could no longer keep her thoughts to herself.

Staring straight ahead, Sarah said quietly, “Sometimes I think you’re the man I’ve waited my whole life to meet. You’re gorgeous, you’re great in bed, and you have a tortured side that helps me feel less alone in my own hell. We could be more than lovers, we could be friends, too. I feel safe when I’m in your arms. But then, sometimes, like now, I wonder if I’m completely wrong and you’re nothing more than a coward.”

Red spread up his neck and across his face, but he didn’t snap back at her as she’d expected him to—half hoped he would. She was afraid of losing him, but his silence was proof that he was already gone.

She crossed her arms over her chest and said, “Shit happens, Tony. You can’t let guilt destroy your life. We both have to live with what we’ve done. No, we can’t bring them back, but there has to be something we can do—some way to heal. I’m going to find that something. When you stop feeling so sorry for yourself, maybe you should do the same.”

In my novel, this is where the hero will melt, take the heroine in his arms, and beg for forgiveness. He won’t stare at the road ahead pretending he didn’t hear her, once again demonstrating why fiction trumps reality any day.

When they pulled into the driveway at the ranch, Sarah could no longer hold her tears back. She let out a sob as she fumbled for the door handle. He reached across her to open the door, then kept his arm in front of her as he said, “I’m sorry, Sarah.”

She pushed at his arm, but he didn’t move it. She snapped, “Just being sorry isn’t enough. Get out of my car. I’ll hook my trailer, get Scooter, and you’ll never have to see either of us again.”

He held her captive by blocking what would otherwise have been her escape route. “You can’t leave in the middle of the day without setting up places to stop along the way, and you shouldn’t drive while you’re upset.”

She hated that he was right, but that didn’t stop her from spinning in her seat and snarling, “You don’t get to tell me to leave and then sound like you want me to stay.”

His jaw tightened, and his admission sounded as if she’d wrung it from him. “I didn’t tell you to leave.”

Sarah’s blood pressure rose and she shook her head angrily. “You think I’ll stay with you, knowing you have no feelings for me? Are you hoping for a bit more cheap sex before I go?”

He didn’t look pleased, but he said, “You can have the guest room again.”

Sarah’s breath caught in her throat. What is he saying? What does this mean? “And what? We act like nothing happened?” I can’t do that.

“Or you make the phone calls you need to and leave when you’re ready.”

I can’t do that, either.

I can’t go back to where we were, like the last week didn’t change everything for me.

And I hate you for being able to.

How can you close me out like this?

“No.”

“I’ll ask Melanie if you can stay with her for a few nights.”

Brilliant idea, because that’s the only place I can imagine I’d be less comfortable.

I should peel out of here, letting the smell of burning rubber express my feelings.

Sarah searched Tony’s expression for any sign that he cared for her, but he had his walls firmly back in place. There are about a million reasons why I should tell you where you could shove that last suggestion.

And only one reason not to.

Because I’m not ready to give up on you yet, Tony.

“Fine, ask Melanie. I’m sure she’d love to have me.”