The Cowboy Lassos a Bride (Page 50)

The Cowboy Lassos a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #6)(50)
Author: Cora Seton

No. She was the one who’d pay an even bigger price when she left Jake for good.

“Don’t worry. We won’t bother you anymore,” Jake hollered back. “We’re leaving the Double-Bar-K.”

Chapter Twenty-Two

Jake left Hannah in the cabin’s guest room packing and retired to his own room to make a phone call. His hands shook so hard he could barely work his phone but at last he got Cab Johnson on the line.

“Cab? It’s Jake. Got a minute?”

“Sure thing,” the sheriff said. “You got trouble?”

“Of a kind. Nothing for you to worry about, though. I just wondered who was staying at Carl’s house now that you’ve moved in with Rose.”

“I’m still watching over it,” Cab said. “We stay there two or three nights a week so Carl can keep his insurance policy on it. That house is becoming a millstone around my neck.”

“Could Hannah and I stay there for the time being?”

“Sure thing.” Cab sounded surprised. “Any particular reason you’re leaving the Double-Bar-K?”

“Two particular reasons. My Dad and Ned.”

Cab chuckled. “Family, huh? They’ll get you every time. Why don’t I come over right now and drop off a key.”

“We’ll be ready for you.”

“Say, you wouldn’t want to buy Carl’s place, would you?”

“I thought it wasn’t for sale.”

“It is now. Carl just asked me to list it.”

Jake whistled. “Wish I had the cash. I’d buy it in a heartbeat.”

“Oh, well—I thought maybe I could save myself some hassle.”

Jake gripped the phone. “I might know of a buyer, though. Let me give them a call and I’ll tell you when you get here.”

“Sure thing.”

Jake hung up and placed another call.

Hannah was packed when a knock sounded at the front door. Since she didn’t have much to begin with it didn’t take long to gather it all back together. She heard Jake open it and Cab’s booming voice filled the house. A moment later there was another knock. She frowned—was Jake having a party down there?

She crossed the room to the door and moved to the balcony. From here she could see the entrance and living room. Cab, Evan and Bella stood near the door, their coats still on. Jake was there, too. He glanced up, saw her and waved her down.

Hannah heaved a sigh. In all the fuss Jake didn’t seem to realize she’d had enough of this. All the lies, secrets and games that surrounded their relationship deprived it of any value it might have had for her. How could she ever trust him again, knowing he would use his marriage to her to secure the ranch? How could she trust herself when she’d played Holt’s stupid games, too?

She took the stairs slowly, worn out to the point of giving up. She tried to put on a brave face for their guests but assumed from their startled glances that she’d failed. Bella frowned but before she could speak Jake said, “Hannah and I are moving to Carl’s house for the time being. We thought you might want to come along and take a tour of the place since it’s just gone up for sale. Cab has the key. He’ll open it up for us.”

“Really?” Bella exclaimed. She turned to Evan with shining eyes. “It’s going to be the one. I know it.”

“Don’t get too excited before you see it,” Evan cautioned. “We’ve been here too many times before,” he told Jake and Hannah.

“Jake, can I have a word with you?” Hannah asked.

“Why don’t we start loading your things,” Evan said. He and Cab got to it while Hannah led the way back upstairs. Once in the guest room, she shut the door and faced Jake.

“I’m not going to Carl’s.”

“Hannah.” He took her hand. “I know how it looks. Believe me, I know exactly how it looks, but while my Dad might have influenced my wedding date, he did not influence the woman I chose to marry. Not one bit.”

“He influenced the decisions you made,” she pointed out. “You never would have agreed to my going to school if you hadn’t had to. You knew you couldn’t find someone else in the time you had left, so you gave in to me.”

“I gave in to you because it was the right thing to do,” Jake said. “I’ll admit, when you were the only one going to school, I hated the idea. I was selfish. I didn’t want to be apart from you. Once I started thinking about going myself, that changed. Four years isn’t long at all. Four years is a tiny part of our lives. Do I wish I could spend every night with you? Hell, yes. Will I probably spend a mint flying back and forth to see you in Colorado? Double hell yes. I love you. I. Love. You. I’m a jealous, possessive, horny man who wants his wife by his side, but I’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy. Don’t you know that yet? I’m sorry it took me this long to figure it all out. I should have seen it clearly sooner. I didn’t and you ended up getting hurt.” He touched her face. “Can you forgive me?”

“How can you give up the Double-Bar-K?”

“The Double-Bar-K means nothing to me. Not compared to being with you.” He leaned down and kissed her and after a moment she gave up fighting him. Her anger was for Holt, not for Jake. She knew Jake loved her. Every touch of his hand and mouth told her so. Jake pulled back and looked at her, love shining in his eyes. “Now, we could stand up here kissing until they’ve got all our stuff loaded,” he said softly, “but that’s not fair to our guests. Let’s get down there and go see Carl’s house.”

“Too bad we can’t just buy it. That would solve everything,” Hannah said.

Jake just smiled.

A half-hour later, Jake helped Hannah unload their belongings while Cab took Bella and Evan on a tour of Carl’s house and property.

“Pretty swank,” Jake said as they carried their suitcases into the suite Cab had pointed them to. He’d never been farther into the Carl’s house than the large foyer. The house was different than he’d expected. Western in terms of structure and furnishings, but more like a museum when it came to decorative elements. There were statues and vases and works of art on the wall that obviously cost Carl a bundle. He’d never seen anything like this in Chance Creek.

“This room is bigger than your cabin,” Hannah agreed.

“Not quite. But pretty damn close.” With a bedroom, combination kitchen and living room and its own full bathroom, the suite was self-contained with its own separate entrance. He looked out the window and saw Cab showing the other couple the remains of the garden his brother Rob had built just months ago. Poor Carl; at that point he’d still thought he’d bring a bride home to the house soon. Jake wondered how the man was faring in California.