The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Page 32)

The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #5)(32)
Author: Cora Seton

Rose didn’t bother to try pack neatly. She figured there’d be time to sort through her things later. She didn’t have a ton of possessions, anyway. The kitchen table and chairs at the carriage house were Emory’s, as was the sofa, easy chair, end tables and coffee table in the living room. Even the bedroom set was his. Apart from her desk and some bookshelves, she didn’t own any large furniture. Everything else fit in boxes and bags.

Ethan offered her a space in one of the barns to use for storage. She labeled the boxes as best as she could and kept those things aside she thought she’d need during the next few weeks. Sooner or later she’d get a new apartment and settle in. Until then she’d live lightly in the Big House bedroom Autumn had assigned to her.

There were still a couple of hours of sunlight left when they finished, so she said thank-you to each of them and headed out to the tree house. Eager to make progress and forget all about Emory and Jason, she decided to tackle the roof.

Unfortunately, it proved harder than she’d thought.

First she had to build the trusses. She was gratified that by following the directions she’d found on the Internet, she’d managed to make all the angled cuts right on the lumber she needed to build them. One by one she assembled the triangular supports. Only then did she consider how she would get them on top of the walls.

Cursing beneath her breath, she lifted one experimentally. Much too heavy for her to perch up there all by herself and then hold in place while she attached it. She would need help. Cab would love to do it. So would Ethan, Jamie or Rob.

But that was just the point, wasn’t it? She didn’t want to ask them for help. She didn’t want to be beholden to anyone anymore. And she sure as heck didn’t want any of them to know what she was doing. Thank goodness none of them had questioned her about the so-called shed she’d been building, for that matter. She hoped they’d forgotten all about it.

Maybe she should ask one of her female friends. Not Autumn—she was pregnant, and Claire and Morgan were out for the same reason. So was Mia. Hannah frowned. She was surrounded by expecting mothers now that she thought about it.

That left Bella, who was much too busy, and Hannah—just as busy.

On a hunch, she called Hannah.

Hannah answered her cell phone quickly. Rose explained what she was doing, and taking a deep breath, swore her to secrecy. Then she told her about the tree house. When she tentatively asked for help with the roof, Hannah eagerly agreed.

“We’re closing shop early today. Bella’s off looking at properties again, so I can be there in a half-hour. Will that work?”

Squinting at the sun that was already getting low in the sky, Rose agreed. “Hurry if you can, though. We don’t have much daylight left.” She gave her directions to the woods, and told her how to pull her car behind the trees to hide it from the road.

Hannah was there in less than half an hour and with very little preamble they got to work. Hannah didn’t seem surprised at all that Rose was building a tree house in Carl’s woods. Instead, she appeared intrigued. More than once Rose caught her scanning the area around them, and she wondered uneasily what Hannah was thinking about. She remembered her asking if she ever wanted to get away from it all. Hannah and Cody weren’t doing so well. Was Hannah planning an escape, too?

They struggled to lift the trusses into place, but with two ladders and a lot of swearing, they were able to do it. They braced each one and then attached them to the walls. Dusk was falling fast by the time the last one was in place.

“Do we leave them like this?” Hannah said, squinting up at the four triangles pointing up into the air once they’d climbed back down to the ground for the final time. They’d tacked on some clear plastic to hold out the weather, but otherwise the roof was unfinished.

“I guess. I wish we’d had time to put the plywood up, too. That would have made it solid,” Rose said.

“Why don’t we?”

“It’s getting dark and when Cab gets home to Carl’s he’ll be able to hear us hammering.”

Hannah checked her watch again. “In that case, we’d better head out.”

“Thanks for coming,” Rose said when they’d tidied up and returned to their vehicles.

“No problem. I love this.” Hannah seemed reluctant to leave.

“Are you and Cody all right?” Rose asked tentatively as she carefully placed her tools in the truck.

“I don’t know,” Hannah said. “I really thought he was the one, but there are some things about him…” She shook her head. “Maybe I’m too picky.”

“I don’t know about that. When you choose a husband you want to get it right. You probably should be picky.”

“What about you and Jason? Is that really over?”

Jason. She was supposed to be on her way to North Dakota right now. Rose grimaced at the thought of the trip ahead of her. “I don’t know, either. I think so. I’m having a hard time getting up the nerve to tell him about it, though. In fact, I’m hiding from Emory right now. If you see him in town, tell him I’ve gone to North Dakota. In fact, tell everyone that. I’ll head out as soon as I clean up.”

Hannah looked at her sharply. “You’re driving to North Dakota tonight?”

“I should.” She sighed. “I don’t want to, though.”

“Then don’t. Go get some sleep. Start in the morning. I don’t like the idea of you driving overnight.”

Now Hannah was going to tell her what to do? But Rose didn’t feel like getting worked up about it. Somehow her friend’s concern didn’t annoy her the way Cab’s would have. She chuckled. If he were here, he’d definitely agree with Hannah and that would piss her off enough to make her determined to do it anyway. She thought for a second, and decided she was determined to do it. She needed to get this whole mess settled.

“Rose?” Hannah said, looking shy suddenly. “Do you think… would it be okay if I built a tree house here, too? I could build it somewhere else in the woods—you wouldn’t even have to see me if you didn’t want to.”

Rose hesitated, all thoughts of Jason gone. Did she want company out here? This was supposed to be her hideaway, somewhere no one would bother her.

“Forget it,” Hannah rushed to say before she could answer. “It was a dumb idea.” She turned to go.

“No!” Rose found herself saying. “I would like privacy, but there’s plenty of room. You could build yours farther back from the road.”