The Cowboy Lassos a Bride (Page 44)

The Cowboy Lassos a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #6)(44)
Author: Cora Seton

“You never said it wasn’t, either. All you talk about is your precious ranch. Your family. Your herd. What about me? You never say anything about me!”

“That’s not true. Hannah—” He started to rise.

“I’m sick of it! I’m sick of coming last!”

He reached his feet. “Hannah, I applied to Montana State, too. And I got in!”

Her jaw dropped open. “You what?”

“I’m going to college! Isn’t that great?”

A red haze spread before her eyes. “You’re… going to college? You are? When you knew it was my dream and you didn’t want me to go? You wouldn’t support me, but now you expect me to turn around and support you? What the hell do you expect me to do, stay here and run the ranch while you go to classes?” Her voice had risen to an uncomfortable octave. White hot anger pierced her. Could he be so self-centered?

“No, of course not!”

“What did you think? Did you even think at all?”

Jake’s expression turned hard. “I thought we would go together! I guess I thought wrong!”

“We can’t go together. Someone has to work and support the baby.”

“And you thought that would be me. How convenient for you.” Jake stood up and faced her, a muscle tensing in his jaw.

“Convenient? There’s nothing convenient about it. It’s not convenient for me to have a husband when I’m trying to go to school. It’s not convenient for me to live on this ranch and have all the extra chores I have around here, and it sure as hell isn’t convenient to have a baby which I wouldn’t be having if it wasn’t for you!”

“If I’m so damn inconvenient then why don’t you just leave!” Jake kicked the chair away. “It’s what you’ve tried to do since the moment you got here!”

“Fine. I will!” She grabbed her purse and her coat and headed for the door, tears already stinging her eyes. Just as she reached it, something twisted low in her abdomen and she grabbed for the handle to support herself. A hard cramp gripped her, and a familiar warm, stickiness pooled between her legs.

Her period had arrived right on time, and it was going to be a doozy.

“Well, go on. I thought you were leaving,” Jake’s hard voice sliced coldly through her.

Hannah opened her mouth in a silent cry of pain as tears slipped down her cheeks, but she didn’t turn around. He was right. It was time for her to go. There was no baby.

She was free.

Loss and loneliness overwhelmed her, but she kept her back to Jake, her tears blinding her until she had to feel her way out of the door and down the porch steps. In her truck she wiped them roughly away with her coat sleeve and backed out of her parking spot as fast as she could. Bumping and bucking down the dirt lane to the road, she vowed she would never come back to the Double-Bar-K. Jake was the most self-centered man she’d ever met. She couldn’t wait to leave for Colorado.

When a knock sounded on the door twenty minutes later, Jake leapt to his feet, hoping against hope it was Hannah. As angry as he’d been when she left, he’d long since simmered down and realized he’d presented his information all wrong. Hannah had obviously had a long day. While the e-mail acceptance letter had surprised and excited him when it arrived today, he should have been paying more attention when she got home. If only he’d let her know that he didn’t plan to ditch the ranch—or her—they could have discussed all the possibilities. Now she thought he placed his own education and advancement above hers. That wasn’t the case. He had no idea how they’d balance things when both of them started taking classes, but he liked the idea that they could go on this adventure together.

Too bad he’d blown it.

He opened the front door to find his mother on the porch.

“Can I come in?” She hugged her jacket tightly closed against the wind.

“Of course.” He stepped back and she came inside, her gaze taking in the bags of groceries still on the counter, the laptop on the table, the half-prepared dinner on the stove and, he supposed, Hannah’s absence.

“I saw Hannah drive out of here a little while ago like she was being chased by the devil. I thought you’d go after her but I didn’t see your truck leave. Did something happen?”

Jake indicated that she should sit down. She chose the sofa and he sat in an easy chair. “We had a fight.”

“Over what? If you don’t mind my asking.”

Jake found it hard to look his mother in the eye. “I blurted out some news. Didn’t prepare her for it. She took it the wrong way.”

“What news?”

“I got into Montana State.”

Lisa cocked her head. A little smile played at the corners of her mouth. “Montana State? You applied to college?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“It’s about time.” Lisa leaned forward and swatted him on the knee. “I always thought you were smart enough to get something out of it.”

“Dad won’t like it much.”

“Nope. He won’t. But it isn’t his life.” She considered him. “What made Hannah so mad?”

“She’s starting classes in February and everyone’s been telling her she can’t go if she’s pregnant. When I blurted out that I got in, I guess she figured I was saying that she oughta stay home and I should go instead.”

“But that’s not what you meant.”

“No.” He shook his head. “But I don’t know what I do mean. I don’t know how the two of us can go, and I don’t know how we can be a family when she’s going to need to spend all that time in Colorado. And I don’t know what we’ll do about kids, now or later.”

“You can figure all of that out,” Lisa said.

“You think so?”

“Do you love her?” Jake nodded. Lisa raised her eyebrows. “Then it’s simple. You give a little, she gives a little and everyone around you helps out all they can. That’s life, Jake.”

“I don’t even know where she is. She just took off. I don’t even know if she loves me.”

Lisa held her gaze steady on him. “This is a small town, Jake. Find her.”

Chapter Nineteen

“Room twenty-two.” The desk clerk at the Big Sky Motel handed Hannah a plastic key card and she exited the office and climbed the concrete steps to the second floor. She let herself into the plain, drab room and shut the door behind her, exhausted and numb. She had her answer. Jake didn’t care about her at all. He couldn’t have come up with a better way to demonstrate that than doing what he did tonight.