The Cowboy Imports a Bride (Page 18)

The Cowboy Imports a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #3)(18)
Author: Cora Seton

Morgan steadied her breath, but the question pierced her to the core. "Maybe…maybe you can give me some advice," she said finally. "I have a number of female friends in the area, but I don’t expect them to spend the money to travel to Montana. Do I still invite them?"

"Of course – let them decide whether to make the trip or not. We’ve got extra rooms on the ranch, and I daresay your family does, too. We can put some of them up for the wedding. What about family?" Lisa’s voice was kind and that made it all the worse.

"I hope my father will come. He’s really the only family I have left."

"Of course he’ll come. He’ll have to walk you up the aisle, won’t he?"

Morgan couldn’t bear to say aloud that she wasn’t at all sure he’d make the time. His wife wouldn’t like him flying to Montana for such a task.

"Of course," she said, as firmly as she could.

"Now, Morgan, I want you to be straight with me," Lisa said. Morgan stiffened. Here it came – the accusation she’d been bracing herself against ever since Rob disappeared into his bedroom the previous evening when he was on the phone with his father. His parents had to be wondering if this was all a joke, or if they were being lied to. She was sure Lisa would press her for an answer. "I’ve waited so long for this," Lisa said. "I had a plain wedding – we had no money at all in those days. Just my parents and siblings and my best friend for my bridesmaid. I vowed right then that if any of my children got married we’d throw them a fairy-tale wedding. Of course, I figured I’d have at least one girl," She trailed off wistfully for a moment, "but the good Lord saw fit to give me four ornery sons. Now that I’m finally getting to throw a wedding I want to do it right. But it’s not my wedding. It’s yours. You speak up now and tell me to butt right out of it if that’s what you want."

Morgan laughed in relief. "Of course not. It’s going to be at your house, for one thing."

"That doesn’t mean I get to boss you around. The bride calls the shots; that’s the way I see it."

"Are you sure this isn’t too much trouble for you?" Morgan said. The truth was Lisa’s exuberance was overwhelming her. She’d expected anger and suspicion. Instead she was getting enthusiasm.

"Trouble? Are you kidding? I’m over the moon! Of all my sons, Rob’s the one I’ve wanted to see settle down. You have a good man there, Morgan. I hope you know that."

"You don’t think it’s too soon?" She glanced up to make sure Rob wasn’t listening, but he’d disappeared into the bathroom and she could hear the shower running.

"The heart knows what the heart knows. There are some tricks to making a marriage work and I’d be happy to pass on what little wisdom I have, but at the heart of it are a few simple questions. Do your eyes light up when Rob walks into the room? Does your heart skip a beat? Do you feel drawn to him?"

"Yes," Morgan said, smiling a little.

"And when you’re angry, are you really angry? Like, ready to blow your top angry?"

"That would be a good thing?" Morgan asked. She hadn’t had time to be that angry with Rob yet.

"Yes. Passion. It’s all about passion," Lisa said. "When you couldn’t care less if he comes or goes, and you can’t muster up the energy to get truly angry at him; that’s when you’ve got a problem."

"Hmmm." She’d have to remember that.

"I’m going to let you go have your supper now. I’m going to email you some menu ideas. Are you on Pinterest? I have a whole board of bouquets! You have to friend me."

Morgan held the phone away from her ear. Friend her mother-in-law?

"As soon as you get here we’ll go to Ellie’s Bridals. If she doesn’t have exactly what you want, we’ll get it custom made. Rob sent me a photo of you; you’ll make a lovely bride."

"Okay," Morgan said, trying to keep up. "But…we haven’t talked about the cost. I have some money…"

"Honey, you stop worrying right now. Any woman who’s head over heels in love with my baby is going to get pampered from here to next week by me! You won’t be footing the bill for a single thing. That’s my job. Aria and I were never exactly what you’d call close, but we were friendly and I know she’d want me to do this for you. If she were here, she’d throw you the wedding of the century. Since she can’t, I will. Talk to you tomorrow."

And with that, she hung up.

"You okay?" Rob said, entering the room with a towel wrapped around his waist. "What did she say to you?" He frowned with concern when she didn’t answer right away.

Morgan shook herself out of her thoughts. She was floored by Lisa’s friendliness and generosity. "I’m fine. She said all the right things." She smiled. This was going to work; finally, she was going to get the family and community she always wanted.

* * * * *

"Of course I’m happy for you," Ethan said when Rob called him. "But I’m stunned. You and Morgan only met last month. You sure you’re not rushing into things?"

"You got married to Autumn after only knowing her a month."

"Well, sure – but I lived with her for that month, day and night."

"Emphasis on the nights, huh?"

"Stow it."

Rob chuckled, but Ethan’s reaction made him uneasy. Everyone was going to question their sincerity when they heard about their engagement, and he didn’t want Morgan to lose her nerve.

"So, one thing," Rob said carefully. "My Dad’s going to give us some land as a wedding gift, and I promised Morgan we’d use half of it to start a vineyard."

"You’re going to grow grapes in Montana?"

"Yeah – I looked into it. It’s possible."

"Seems like a silly thing to do. Cattle’s way more profitable."

Rob tamped down on the irritation that surged within him. He’d expected Ethan, at least, to be supportive. "She’s my bride. I want to make her happy."

That shut Ethan up. "Okay. I guess I see your point."

"Anyway, for my gift to Morgan I’m giving her a down payment for her business. I want her to have everything she’ll need to get prepared for next spring. Between tilling, rootstock, stakes and wires and the rest of it, she estimates it’ll take twenty grand above and beyond what she’s got to get things started."

"You got that kind of cash kicking around?"

Rob sighed. "You know I don’t. Dad gives us room and board, but not much extra. I got a truck payment and a running tab down at the Boot. I figure I’ve got about eight thousand in the bank."

"In other words you’re looking for either a handout or for work," Ethan said. "I’ve got work, but I don’t pay twelve grand a month."