Taken, Not Spurred (Page 50)

Taken, Not Spurred (Lone Star Burn #1)(50)
Author: Ruth Cardello

“I can ready your trailer for you.”

Sarah shook her head sadly. “No, I’ll do it myself. Just get Melanie.”

Tony turned and walked back into the house. Charles was headed toward the front door when they met up. The two men stopped and glared at each other.

Tony said, “She’s packing up.”

“Good,” Charles said curtly. They both knew he’d gotten what he came for. There was nothing left for him to say.

The same couldn’t be said for Tony. He took a step closer and said, “Get your head out of your pinstriped ass and say something nice to her.”

“I don’t need someone like you to tell me how to deal with my sister,” Charles countered coldly.

Tony leaned closer and said, “From where I’m standing, it looks like you do—before you lose her, too.” Having spoken his mind, Tony walked away to find Melanie.

Sarah was loading the rest of Scooter’s tack into the front compartment of her horse trailer when Melanie joined her.

“The boys could have done all that for you,” she said.

Sarah closed the door of the trailer, leaning against it with one hand. “I wanted to. I needed to do something while I calmed down.”

“Did you talk to your brother yet?”

Glancing over at the limo she knew Charlie had returned to, Sarah shook her head. “No, I’m surprised he didn’t storm over here and gloat, but I’m grateful he didn’t. I don’t think I could handle him right now.”

“Where are you going?”

“I was hoping you’d have an idea of someplace that boards horses.”

“You heading back to Rhode Island?”

Sarah leaned her back against the trailer and closed her eyes. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I have some money saved so I have options.”

“What about that friend who owns a cattle ranch? You made up.”

Sarah opened her eyes and shook her head. “Lucy? She has her own problems. I need a peaceful place where I can finish my book. That’s the important thing to me now that I finished what I came down here to do.”

“You could stay with my parents. They have a place a few towns over. Very quiet. They’ve always had horses. They wouldn’t even notice Scooter. There’s an attached apartment they don’t use. I’m sure they’d let you stay for free.”

“I don’t mind paying rent. It sounds wonderful, but if it’s that great why don’t you live there?”

Melanie tried to make light of something she was clearly uncomfortable discussing. “Could you live with your parents?”

“Okay, good point.”

“I’ll call them now. They’re only about two hours away.”

“Is that enough notice?”

“I’m sure it is. I’ll run in and call them. Give me five minutes.”

Sarah nodded. “Mel, one other thing.”

“Anything.”

Sarah swallowed painfully. “Could you pack up my stuff and bring it down?” Just the thought of doing it herself made her stomach twist and threaten to hurl. She covered her mouth with one shaky hand. “I can’t go back in there.”

Melanie smiled sympathetically and hugged her. “Sure thing, hon.”

Sarah hugged her back and marveled that their friendship had blossomed despite its rocky start. “I’ll miss you, Mel.”

“You’re only going a couple of hours away, not dying. Jace and I will come visit you. With you there, my parents may actually behave long enough for me to survive a visit.”

After Melanie had gone back into the house, Sarah knew she couldn’t put the unpleasant conversation off any longer. The limo driver opened the rear passenger door for her as she approached, and she slid into the air-conditioned domain of her brother.

Charlie pocketed his cell phone and said, “I can’t wait to get back to civilization. My cell phone works everywhere but not here. Leave your vehicle for now. As soon as we’re on the highway, I’ll send a driver for it. I have a private plane waiting in an airfield just outside Dallas. You’ll be home by tonight.”

It was obvious that Charlie still considered Scooter no different than a vehicle. Just another item to be shipped up North and another part of her life that he didn’t understand.

Bracing with a hand on either side of herself, Sarah said, “I’m not going back to Rhode Island. Not today. Maybe not ever.”

Charlie gave her an impatient look. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course you are.”

“No, Charlie, I’m not. I came to Texas because I wanted to find out what was holding me back from writing—from being who I felt I should be.” He didn’t understand, but this time Sarah needed him to. “You know what I discovered? I was all locked up inside myself. We never really talked about what happened with Phil because that’s the deal we made that summer—we’d close off that chapter of our lives and pretend it never happened. But you know what living a lie does to you? It kills you slowly, Charlie. It’s not healthy.”

Charlie’s expression hardened at the mention of the brother they’d lost. “What’s not healthy is thinking that embarrassing yourself down here with some has-been celebrity is going to do anything more than hurt Mom and Dad. Grow up, Sarah.”

Slapping the leather beside her, Sarah said, “No, you grow up, Charlie. Grow up and face that something awful happened to our family and none of us got over it. You’re not here to save me. Admit to yourself that the only reason you want me back in Rhode Island is so you don’t have to be. I’m done pretending I never had a little brother. I don’t care if it upsets Mom and Dad, I’m going to ask them to send me pictures of him—pictures of all of us together. I want to remember him. I’m going to remember him. And if you can’t handle that, go back to New York and hide.” When Charlie remained stone-faced, Sarah asked, “Do you blame me, Charlie? Is that why you can’t discuss it?”

A visible shudder betrayed how deeply her words touched him. His jaw was white with tension. “God no. I never blamed you.” He didn’t say more and Sarah’s heart broke for him.

“It was an accident, Charlie.”

In a voice full of self-hate, Charlie said, “Mom and Dad asked me to watch both of you while they were cooking. I should have stayed with you, but I wanted to ask them something. I don’t even remember what was so goddamn important.”