The Cowboy's E-Mail Order Bride (Page 43)

The Cowboy’s E-Mail Order Bride(43)
Author: Cora Seton

“Today I fell in love with a man and my whole life has changed. I’ve been attracted to Ethan since the moment I got off the plane. Everything about him pushes all the right buttons – I’ve never had such an urge to tear off my clothes and jump into a man’s arms. I love this feeling – like one minute with him can wash away every care in the world. To hell with writing an article – I’m going to write a love story, instead – between me and Ethan. The man I worship. The man I’ll spend the rest of my life with.”

Ethan didn’t bother to read another line.

Autumn loved him and he wasn’t going to waste another minute apart from her.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

Autumn sat at the large dining room table in the great room of the Big House and watched Lily drag a suitcase down the stairway to the front hall. The door opened and Becka walked in with Autumn’s luggage. Her friend had volunteered to do her packing so she wouldn’t have to return to the bunkhouse and be reminded of her time there.

She had blurted out the whole story to her mother and sister on the awful ride home from the restaurant. Teresa guessed about her pregnancy instantly and demanded to be told the rest. As she’d predicted, her mother was coldly furious, her sister subdued.

She took a sip of the tea Becka had made her earlier. It was cold, but she didn’t care. She didn’t think anything would ever comfort her again. She’d lost Ethan for good. He must hate her guts. She didn’t like herself much right now.

Lily crossed the room and sat down next to her. “Did you really come here to write a magazine article about Ethan?”

Her stomach contracted, but she knew she’d already thrown up everything it contained. “Yes. At least at first.”

“What were you thinking?”

The condemnation in her voice sent Autumn over the edge. “I wasn’t thinking, all right? I haven’t…thought…in months! I’ve been terrified – I was about to lose my job. I could barely afford my apartment as it was. No matter what I do, I just screw it up!” To her horror, she began to cry again. How could she have any more tears left? “I saw Ethan’s video – and it seemed perfect for a story. I didn’t think it would work but I had to try. And then he chose me, and I came out here…I didn’t think I’d fall in love with him!”

Lily didn’t say anything and she scraped at her tears with the back of her hand. “I’m so stupid; I thought he loved me back, too. I was going to go through with it – marry him. Help him save the ranch. Have his baby.”

“You mean you weren’t going to publish the story?”

“No, of course not! It’s a stupid story – the whole damn magazine is stupid! The whole damn city is stupid! I want this. I want…Ethan.”

God, she must look a mess. Eyes dripping, nose running. But who cared? She’d lost everything she loved and her future spread before her as bleak as a moonscape and far less interesting. She didn’t know how she’d get through the rest of the day, let alone the rest of her life. When she got back to New York she needed to totally reconstruct her life.

She dropped her head in her arms.

“Lily – would you go give your mom a hand? I don’t think she should carry her suitcase down the stairs,” Becka said, coming up behind Autumn and stroking her back.

“Are you kidding? Mom’s as strong as a horse!” Lily said, but Becka must have shot her a look because Autumn heard her sister’s footsteps fade away as she headed upstairs.

“Thanks,” she whispered. Becka patted her.

“I know this is tough, honey, but you’ll be all right.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Yes, you will – you’re a fighter. My money’s on you, kid.”

Autumn stood up and gave her friend a hug. “Thank God you’re here. I couldn’t do this without you.”

“I’ll always be here to help,” Becka said, hugging her back.

“Hey – that’s my fiancée you’re pawing,” a very masculine, very sexy voice drawled from the front door.

Becka started, then laughed nervously. “Well, what can I say – with you out of the picture I thought I’d give it a whirl…” She broke off and stepped away from Autumn.

Autumn raised her head. “Ethan?” Was he…joking around…with Becka? Her breath hitched as Ethan crossed to her and in one strong motion, swept her into her arms.

“I read what you wrote – Lacey showed me the part where you changed your mind. You weren’t going to publish it.” He kissed her soundly on the mouth.

Autumn’s knees went weak and she clung to his arms. She couldn’t breathe, tears already clogged her throat. Was this real? Was this Ethan – kissing her? After all that had happened?

“Of course not,” she said. “I fell in love with you. I couldn’t do that to my husband.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t let you explain.”

“I’m sorry I ever planned to write it.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the video was a joke.”

“I’m sorry…” No, she wasn’t sorry for anything. She didn’t care how they got here. All she cared about was being in Ethan’s arms, holding him tight and kissing him over and over again.

“No more apologies,” he growled. “If you hadn’t planned to write it, you’d never have come, and I couldn’t bear that.”

“I couldn’t bear it either.”

He pulled away from her. “You know marriage is forever with me. Once you walk down that aisle tomorrow, there’s no going back?” He searched her face. “I mean that, Autumn. Once you say yes, you say yes forever.”

“Yes!” she said, tugging him closer for another kiss. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

When they finally separated, Autumn was weeping.

“The wedding’s back on, I take it?” Teresa said acidly from the staircase.

He took Autumn’s hand. “You bet it is, Mrs. Leeds.”

“You’re sure? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of two people who lied to each other so much in such a short period of time.”

Ethan turned back to Autumn, a grin curving the edge of his mouth. “I think I got it all out of my system – how about you, darling?”

“I will never tell another lie as long as I live,” Autumn promised.