The Cowboy Rescues a Bride (Page 15)

The Cowboy Rescues a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #7)(15)
Author: Cora Seton

“And you figured this is the way you’d go about getting that chance? By making me look like an idiot? Grow up, Luke.”

“Grow up? Damn it—that’s what everyone says. What I want to know is how the hell can I grow up if no one is ever going to give me any responsibility?”

Ned heard the note of desperation in his brother’s voice and had a flash of insight. “This isn’t about the ranch at all, is it? This is about Mia.”

“No, it ain’t.”

“Yes, it is. She’s the one telling you to grow up, isn’t she? Why? What did you do to her?”

Luke lifted his hands up in air. “I didn’t do anything! She’s been acting weird for weeks. Friendly one minute, cold as ice the next. It’s your fault, too—it’s that baby thing.”

“Baby thing?”

“Mia was fine until you spilled the beans about Hannah being pregnant—back when we thought she was pregnant. That’s when Mia got all crazy.”

Ned thought back to when all three women had moved onto the ranch. Hannah and Jake had had an incident with their birth control and thought there was a chance Hannah had gotten pregnant. Since Hannah had just decided to go back to school, the news caused an uproar—an uproar he’d made use of to try to unseat Jake from heading up the ranch, in the same way Luke was trying to unseat him now. Ned grimaced at the irony, but what could you expect with his family? They were always at loggerheads for this exact reason—all of them wanted to be in charge.

“You’re blaming me because Mia got upset about Hannah being pregnant?”

“I’m blaming you because if you hadn’t announced it, I wouldn’t have said—” Luke shoved his hands in his pockets and turned away.

“What did you say?” Something stupid, by the look on his brother’s face.

“When it looked like it wasn’t going to be true after all, I said, ‘No baby, no problem.’”

Ned chuckled. “Hell, you dug your own damn hole, then. Even I know better than to say something like that.”

“She’s held it against me ever since. I just said it—I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“But let me guess. Mia wants kids and now she thinks you don’t.”

Luke looked surprised. “How did you know that?”

“I’m not the idiot here.”

Luke let that go. “Now she won’t even date me. She won’t even let me touch her.”

No wonder why Luke was so cranky these days. “So tell her you want kids.”

“Just how in the hell am I supposed to start that conversation?” Color crept up Luke’s face and he kicked a can of paint sitting on the floor.

“Watch it.” Ned thought a minute. “That happened weeks ago and Mia is still living with you. If you’d screwed things up for good, she wouldn’t have stuck around this long. She must want to be with you. You just gotta get past this.”


“You know people with kids. Talk to them. Play ball with them. Hold a baby. Mia will get the picture. And then talk to her, too. Even if it’s hard.”

“You think that will work?”

“I don’t see why not.”

After a moment, Luke nodded. “All right. I’ll do it.” Now he seemed as eager to leave as Ned was to have him go. He hesitated, then picked up the folders he dropped on the workbench earlier. “I’ll take care of this, too.”

Ned was relieved he’d taken the tax documents with him, but he hated the knowledge that here was another task related to the ranch that he couldn’t handle on his own.

The thought of approaching someone for help learning to read after all this time filled him with dread.

The alternative seemed little better.

“You work fast,” Mia said several days later, studying the menu Fila had written up for her restaurant on her laptop.

“What do you think about it?” They were seated at the table in Mia and Luke’s cabin. Fila had to hide a smile every time she came over. As soon as she’d moved in, Mia had redecorated the place in bright pink. Everyone laughed when they saw it, but Mia didn’t seem to care. She simply declared her undying love for the color and told people if they didn’t like it they could leave.

No one did.

Like Camila, Mia was one of those women who seemed supremely self-possessed. Her tiny size, fashion sense and waist-length ponytail all combined to make her look like a wayward teenager, and her bubbly personality and ringing laugh turned heads wherever she went.

Why couldn’t she be like that, Fila wondered for the hundredth time. Mia was right—she should run the front of the restaurant. She’d be far better at dealing with customers than Fila ever would.

“I don’t know what all these dishes are. You need descriptions for each one. If you tell me about them I can help you write them up.” She wrinkled her nose. “That’s a spelling error. And here’s another one.” She went through the document and made corrections.

“I’m bad at spelling.”

“Well I’m not blaming you, I’m not much better,” Mia laughed. “How were you supposed to learn living in those mountains? I had a hard enough time here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Do you need any help with the food safety course?”

Fila had filled her in on the online course she was taking. “I don’t think so. I don’t think spelling counts.” Thank goodness. Her spelling wasn’t quite on par with her reading ability. “The materials were easy enough.”

“Good. What about a business plan? Are you going to make one of those?” At Fila’s blank look, Mia pulled up a search engine and typed in some words. “Here’s one—look.” She showed Fila a long document that asked many questions about the business one was trying to run, in order to find out whether or not it was likely to succeed.

Fila quickly became overwhelmed as she tried to read through it. “I don’t even know what half of these terms mean. What’s a benchmark?”

“I think it’s a fancy way of saying goal.”

“Then they should just say goal.”

Mia chuckled. “We could do it together. I’d really like to. My job is so boring. It’s just the same thing every day. I know I can do more than that—so you’d be helping me as much as I’d be helping you. You know I’m dying to work with you so I can quit the hardware store. Together we can make sure we do this right so the restaurant succeeds, you know?”