The Cowboy Imports a Bride (Page 43)

The Cowboy Imports a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #3)(43)
Author: Cora Seton

* * * * *

Morgan clicked through the texts on her cell phone after dinner, dread building with each message. She’d refused to answer any of them since she’d left Montana. Let everyone stew in their own juices for a while.

Then she got to the latest one that Lisa had left, and against her better judgment, opened it to see the whole message.

I know you can’t be as heartless as you’re acting. You can’t take my baby away to California, raise my grandkids so far away, and deprive me of the one chance I have to throw a wedding. Please change your mind!

She opened one of Claire’s next.

I swear I’ll never ask you about money again. I get it – you don’t know where it went, and I should never have blamed you. When Jamie and I went on our honeymoon and talked about having kids right away, it all became too real and I got scared. I don’t want to turn out like Mom did. Plz call!

There were several voice messages, too. When she brought up the first one, someone cleared his throat on the other end of the line. Then a gruff, masculine voice she didn’t recognize at first said, "A winery’s still the stupidest idea I ever heard, but I’ll agree to it if that’s what it takes to ransom my grandkids from that knee-jerk liberal excuse for a state. I don’t want them to join the leftist commie legions trying to destroy this nation…" There was a scuffle and Lisa’s voice in the background. "Don’t you talk to my daughter-in-law that way, Holt!" A dial-tone rang in her ear. Morgan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

The next message was from Rob. "I miss you," he said, and her entire body cried out with the desire to be in his embrace. "I think our plan might be working. Hang in there, okay? You wouldn’t believe how much progress I’m making on Carl’s garden since I can’t stand being at home without you there. I’ll talk to you soon."

She couldn’t stand being without him, either. Couldn’t wait to talk to him, and even more so, couldn’t wait to share his bed. As much fun as she was having visiting Tara and exploring California, the week was crawling by. At the end of it, would the people she’d left behind be able to forge a better understanding?

Or was Napa Valley going to be her new home in truth? She dialed Rob’s number.

* * * * *

"You what?" Rob leaned against a metal rake in Carl’s garden, and held his phone up to his ear. He’d been smoothing down the pathways between his newly finished raised beds to prepare them for the paving stones. He’d figured it was safe to talk to Claire out here in the middle of the night. No one else was around, that was for sure.

"I got a job offer," Morgan said.

"I thought you were sightseeing out there."

"Yeah, well, one of the wineries we visited wants to hire me."

"You said no, didn’t you?"

"I told them I’d think about it, actually."

He gazed around the empty garden in disbelief. "Why the hell did you do that?"

"Because I can’t live there if everyone’s going to hate me for following my dreams. I actually thought about giving it all up, did you know that? I came out here determined to talk myself out of wanting a winery, but you know what? I do want one, and I’m not ashamed of that. The way I figure it, I get one shot at this life. If I give everything up now, I’m going to resent that later, and that doesn’t help anyone."

"What about me?" Rob said.

"I want to be with you," she said, her voice softening. "I haven’t changed my mind about that. All I’m saying is that you and I have to come first in all of this. We can’t put your father or my sister ahead of us. I will give everything I have to help you reach your dreams, too. Don’t you know that?"

"Yeah, I know it," he said after a pause. "So, we’re really going to do this? Head out to California and start all over if that’s what it takes?"

"I don’t want that any more than you do," Morgan said softly. "But now we know we can if we have to."

Headlights scraped Carl’s driveway and Rob straightened up. "Someone’s coming. I’ve got to go."

"Talk to you tomorrow," Morgan said and clicked off the line.

Rob shoved the phone in his pocket as a familiar truck pulled to a stop and his father climbed out. Reluctantly, he met Holt halfway.

"Dad."

"You ready to come to your senses yet?" Holt rasped.

Anger swept through him, and Rob fought to keep control. This was the man who was screwing everything up between him and the woman he loved. What right did Holt have to keep throwing a monkey wrench in their plans? He’d thought when he agreed to buy the land from Ethan instead of getting it from his father, he’d finally know peace and security. It fried him that his position was as precarious as it had ever been and his father kept trying to make it even worse. "No. I’m not. In fact, I’m ready to go stark, raving mad."

"What the hell does that mean?" Holt puffed up his chest in anger, but Rob suddenly realized they weren’t seeing eye to eye. He was looking down at his father. What the heck was wrong with the man? Why was he all hunched up like that?

Probably a bid for sympathy, Rob decided. Well, forget it. He was done with sympathy or any other weak emotion that kept him from getting what he wanted.

"It means that I don’t like your definition of sanity. You think you should get to keep calling the shots for the rest of my life. I think you’ve proved you’re not capable of running the show."

"You think you are?" Holt said. "When have you ever run anything? Except your mouth."

For crying out loud. Rob waved to the garden they were standing next to. Sure, it wasn’t anywhere near finished, but the walls were up and so were the permanent raised beds. The plumbing for the fountain was in and the pathways all laid out. Another week like this one and it would be beautiful. How could his father look at this and still belittle him? "When have I ever run anything? Take a look around you, Dad."

Holt did and sneered. "You’re building a garden. Very nice. When you’re done playing in the dirt like a little child, how about you join the men in your family at the ranch you stand to inherit? Or is that too hard for a sissy like you?"

"You really take the cake, old man," Rob said. "You’re blind to everything except your precious ranch. You can’t stand it that I’m making my own way, can you? You can’t stand losing control of anything, because you’re afraid if you do someone will figure out you’re not half the man you pretend to be."

"I have no idea what you’re talking about," Holt said.

"I’m talking about the fact that you can’t read, which means the truth is, Mom’s the one running the Double-Bar-K. She does the paperwork, she orders the feed and pays the taxes. She types of bills of sale, and keeps track of breeding stock. She handles just about everything that makes money on this ranch. And you’re not even man enough to fess up about it, let alone to admit that maybe one of your sons wants to do something different. Or is your real fear that if I follow my dreams I might prove myself to be smarter than you? Oh wait – I am smarter than you; I know how to read…"