The Cowboy Lassos a Bride (Page 36)

The Cowboy Lassos a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #6)(36)
Author: Cora Seton

“All right.” She could tell he was trying to calm down. Around them, diners got back to their meals, although people were keeping an eye on them. “Why don’t you tell me about it? Tell me why you want to be a vet so bad. What all that school is going to look like.”

“You really want to know?” She was suspicious of his intentions.

“I really want to know.”

“I want to be a vet because I love working with animals. I’ve told you all I do at the clinic, giving shots and stitching up wounds and all kinds of things. I’m good at it; I’ve got steady hands and a strong stomach. I could do so much more, I know it, and Chance Creek could use another vet. We’re desperately short handed; you know that as well as I do.”

“All this school. How will you pay for it?”

Hannah looked down. Jake tugged her hand.

“Answer the question.”

“I talked to Bella about it the other day,” she said. “And she made me an offer.”

“What kind of offer?” His tone went hard.

“She offered to fund my schooling, since I got her on the show that made her a millionaire. Billionaire,” she corrected herself. “I didn’t want any money—I certainly didn’t expect it. She won it fair and square, you know? But she wants to even things out a bit, so she’s going to pay for it. All of it. I’ll keep working part-time with her through the next semester and during the summers, too, just to keep my hand in the business, but I can pick when to take my classes and I’ll have so much more time for studying. And when I head to Colorado, I won’t have to work at all. That will make it so much easier!”

“For you,” he said. She could tell he wasn’t happy with the idea.

“So, I’m going, Jake. There’s nothing to discuss. If you can’t support me in this, we don’t belong together.”

For a long moment she thought he’d agree with her. His grip on her wrist was tightening until her hand began to feel numb. When she tugged against him, he sighed and let go. “I’ll support you. It’s not easy; the truth is I don’t want to be apart from you for a single day, let alone four years. And I want to start my family now, not some time in the future. But if you’ll marry me, I will support you. I’ll be there however you want me to be. I promise.”

She eyed him warily. “What’s the catch?”

He leaned forward. “You have to marry me now. Before Christmas.”

Hannah blinked at him. Was he serious? He looked serious. Her heart was beating hard in her chest. She had just gotten a glimpse of the man she’d spend the rest of her life with and he was as formidable as he’d been irresistible to her before.

Still, he had given in to her. In their struggle to reach a mutual path, she’d been so afraid she’d be the one to lose. It hadn’t turned out that way, though. It would have with Cody.

Jake was different. Jake could meet her halfway.

“Okay,” she said.

For a long moment Jake didn’t respond. Then he sat up. “Okay? As in—yes?”

“Yes.” Hannah nodded. A smiled tugged at the corner of her mouth. “Yes. I’ll marry you.”

“It’s about time!” some wag from across the restaurant yelled. Scattered applause let them know everyone present had watched the course of the conversation. Jake grinned, and the hard man—the one with eyes like ice—slipped away. Hannah was happy to see the Jake she knew. He opened the ring box again, pulled out the ring, slid it onto Hannah’s finger, and the place erupted in cheers.

“Phew,” Sarah-Jane said, finally delivering the dinner rolls safely to their table. “I thought that wasn’t going to work out there for a minute.”

“You and me both,” Jake said. But he kept his gaze on Hannah and his fingers caressed hers.

Married. She was going to get married to Jake Matheson. Gladys would have a home. He would support her career. She was getting everything she ever hoped for.

Jake lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. “Can’t wait for our wedding night,” he drawled and she had to laugh, wondering how on earth it could top the nights they’d already had. She felt giddy with relief—light-headed—but through it all remained a small thread of doubt.

Would Jake’s change of heart last?

Chapter Fourteen

They ended up getting their food to go, and by the time Jake opened the cabin door he couldn’t wait to get Hannah into bed to celebrate their engagement in the best way possible. He took her hand and led her to the stairs. She followed willingly enough. He still couldn’t believe she’d said yes. Couldn’t believe the concessions he was willing to make to get her to do it. The thought of her traveling to Colorado for four consecutive years left him cold with dread, but he decided not to worry about that until the time came for her to go. That was three-quarters of a year away and by then all kinds of things could change.

By then they could have a child.

He knew that when Hannah confessed the deal she’d made with Holt, he should have done the same. He should have told her everything. The truth was he’d known he was seconds away from losing her—losing everything he wanted. When he’d tried to tell her, the words hadn’t come. What difference did it make anyhow? He wasn’t getting married because his father wanted him to. Not anymore. He would stand up in church and make his vows today if he could, even if his deal with his father had never happened.

Upstairs, he shut the guest bedroom door behind them and led her to the bed. But instead of pushing her down on top of it, he paused beside it and took her into his arms. He began with a simple kiss. Light and feathery at first, he quickly deepened it, showing her his need. She answered him hungrily and he wondered if she wanted it to be a night to remember, too. He’d do his best to make it so.

He undressed her as they kissed, fumbling with his fingers at her shirt buttons and at the clasp of her bra. She helped him without pulling back, entering into his unspoken game to get naked without breaking contact. Once their clothes were gone, he moved his lips to her chin, her neck and down to her breasts. He laved first one nipple then the other, spending time worshipping both before moving lower still.

Hannah gasped as he worked his way down to her navel, beneath it and farther down still. When he parted her folds and kissed her in a more intimate way, her breath quickened and she made a little sound. Jake backed her up until she leaned against the desk, and spread her legs to get better access to her. His ministrations soon had her moving against his mouth and he moaned against her, turned on by the way she responded to him.