The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Page 17)

The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #5)(17)
Author: Cora Seton

Rose dropped the tape measure and pencil and stood up. “I know how to measure and cut a board.”

Cab straightened from where he’d been bent over her to watch. “Well, sure, but…”

“But what?” She faced him straight on.

Was she mad at him? What did he do? “The measurements can get thrown off by the way you cut,” he explained.

She didn’t say anything.

“I don’t mind looking over your design,” he offered, uneasy at her silence. “I’ve got some experience with this kind of thing and I can point out your mistakes.” A funny look came into her eyes and Cab had the feeling he should probably stop, but he just wanted to get this next bit out. “And it doesn’t seem like you’ve thought about your foundation at all. That’s probably the most important part. Did you think about a foundation?”

“Get out,” Rose said.


“Get. Out. Of. Here.” She glared at him. “I mean it. Get out!”

Ethan, Jamie and Rob came around the side of the house, drawn by her shout. “Is everything okay here?” Ethan asked. “Cab, what’s going on?”

“For God’s sake, would you all just leave me alone?” Rose stuck her hands on her hips. The four men stared at her.

“I’m not sure,” Cab answered Ethan. “I was helping her…”

“I don’t want any help!” Rose cried. “I mean…” She visibly fought for control. “Thank you, Cab, very much, but please—I’d like to do this on my own.”

“Is that my saw?” Ethan asked, coming closer. Jamie and Rob faded back around the side of the house.

Rose flashed a desperate look at Cab.

“I told her she could use it,” Cab hastened to say.

“That’s fine,” Ethan assured him. “Rose, let me just show you a few things.” He came around and picked up the two-by-four Rose had marked minutes before. He turned on the saw and positioned the board. “You hold it like this,” he said in a voice loud enough to be heard over the din of the motor. “Guide the wood but don’t push it, otherwise you’ll burn out the blade.”

Cab stood by, burning with impatience as Ethan showed Rose everything he’d wanted to tell her. Why had she flown at him like that? And why wasn’t she doing the same to Ethan? Judging by the look on her face she’d like to, although she was keeping her thoughts tightly under wraps now. When he was done with the first one, Ethan went on to cut more boards, and although Rose pressed her lips into a thin line so hard the skin around them went white, she didn’t say a word. When she wasn’t marking the measurements on the boards, or handing them silently to Ethan to cut, she kept balling her fingers into fists. Delicate fists.

Almost small enough to be a child’s, Cab thought affectionately. A memory intruded on his consciousness. He was standing near his father in the garage workshop in his childhood home. They were building a birdhouse and Cab longed to work the bandsaw to cut out the circular door.

“I’ll cut and you watch,” his father said, like he always did. Cab had squirmed with impatience but bit back his protest, just like Rose was doing now.

Understanding flooded him. “Hey, Ethan,” he said, straightening up. “Ethan, buddy—give Rose a turn.”

She glanced up, startled. So did Ethan.

“I’m just showing her…”

“I think she’s got it now. Rose, you want us to leave you to it?”

She nodded vigorously, and he thought for an awful second she actually might cry with relief. “Thanks,” she said.

“Okay,” Ethan said reluctantly. “I’ll be nearby if you want some help.”

“Terrific,” she said. Cab noticed she waited until they’d retreated around the corner before she got the saw running.

“What did you do that for?” Ethan asked as they headed toward the barn. “I wanted to help.”

“So did I,” Cab said heavily.

Rose got all the wood cut, but the afternoon wasn’t nearly as fun as she had hoped because she felt like she was being watched the entire time. Ethan and Cab kept their distance near the corrals or in the house or barn, but she saw them glancing her way from time to time and more than once seemed prepared to come and see how she was doing. She refused to catch either one’s eye, however, and turned her back on them whenever she could. Still, she messed up more than one cut because of nerves.

What was it with men that they needed to control everything? It was one thing to help; it was another thing altogether to remove the tools from her hands and do it for her. At least Cab seemed to get it in the end, although she was sure he wouldn’t have hung around the ranch this long if he wasn’t hoping she’d ask for his help again.

Well, she wouldn’t ask for his help. She didn’t need it. She was perfectly capable of sawing lumber and anything else she needed to do.

Autumn brought her a steaming hot cup of cocoa just as she was finishing up. “I figured you could use this by now.”

“You figured right,” Rose said, cupping her hands around its warmth.

“I heard some yelling out here earlier.”

“I swear they would build the whole thing if I let them,” Rose said disgustedly.

“I’m sure they would,” Autumn said with a smile. “Especially Cab. I think he’s sweet on you.”

Rose kept silent, all too aware of Jason’s ring on her finger, and the reasons she couldn’t date anyone else. Even someone as handsome as Cab. Now that she was done with her work and had recovered her sense of humor, she could admit that she’d like to spend time with him, but not while she was building her cabin. That was private. “I got them to back off finally.”

“Good for you,” Autumn said.

“I guess I’m going to head out now and do a little work on site.”

“Want me to come along? You can watch while I assemble your shed.”

Rose stared at her until she caught Autumn’s mischievous grin. “Stop it! You’re worse than they are!”

“Don’t worry,” Autumn said, laughing. “You definitely won’t see me out there poking my nose into your business. I like it here in my warm house just fine.” She patted her belly with the same gesture Rose had seen Mia make at the hardware store the other day.

“How’s the baby?” she asked.