The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Page 33)

The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #5)(33)
Author: Cora Seton

Hannah’s face lit up. “Really? Thanks! I can’t wait!”

As she watched her friend climb into her car, pull out and drive onto the road, worry knotted Rose’s stomach. She hoped she hadn’t just made a big mistake.

“More terrorists on the loose in Chance Creek?” Cab asked Tracey as he settled in a booth at Linda’s Diner, sending a significant look toward the table where Kevin was holding court. It was dinnertime—did the man eat here three times a day? Well, why not? He practically did.

Tracey filled his coffee cup. “According to Kevin, they’ll infiltrate the woods and hills first, then come into town when they’ve secured the high ground.”

“What is it exactly that they want from us again?”

Tracey paused, hand on her hip. “I’m not sure. Our cattle? Do terrorists eat steak?”

“Sure. Everyone eats steak.”

“You don’t really think there could ever be terrorists in Chance Creek, do you?” Tracey asked. “I mean, that would be far too weird.”

“No, I think we’re safe from that particular menace,” Cab assured her. He wasn’t worried about terrorists at all, although come to think of it he should make sure his office’s disaster manual included instructions for explosions. You never knew…

Rose worried him far more than the idea of some crazy foreigners running around the woods. He’d found it hard to sleep last night, thinking of what she’d said at Ethan and Autumn’s place the other day.

She attracted people that liked to tell her what to do. That didn’t describe him one bit. He just knew what the world was like and wanted to protect her. How was that bad?

“Hi, Cab. Mind if I join you?” Morgan paused by his table, shrugging off her thick coat.

“Go right ahead. How are things at the ranch?”

She shrugged. “Slow. There’s not a lot for us to do now that the weather’s turned cold. Next spring we’ll be working like crazy to get the vineyard up and running, though, so I’ve decided to appreciate the time off. We helped Rose move her stuff yesterday. She’s got some of it piled in an old barn for now. Poor thing. That Emory is really a character, isn’t he?”

“That’s one way to put it. How did she seem?”

“She’s keeping herself busy. She was out all day. Now she’s on her way to North Dakota.”

“North Dakota?” Cab put down his coffee.

“She didn’t tell you?” Morgan’s eyebrows shot up. “I kind of wondered. Emory kept telling her to hurry up and get going when we were loading up her stuff. I guess she decided to get the whole breakup thing over with.”

Cab didn’t know which scenario he liked least: the one in which she went to North Dakota, or the one in which she didn’t go. He didn’t want Jason to get the chance to change her mind, but until she broke things off with the man, she wouldn’t be free to date him.

“Is there something going on between you two?” Morgan asked.

“I wouldn’t know,” he said testily.

He and Morgan dropped the subject after that, and he managed to finish up his day without letting his feelings get the better of him, but when he pulled in to Carl’s house it was all he could do not to kick to pieces the first Ming vase he came across. Rose hadn’t even called to let him know she’d be gone.

She might arrive there with the best intentions, but would she be able to keep firm to her resolve when Jason took her to dinner, poured her a glass of wine and sweet-talked her? Was that why she didn’t say anything to him before she left—because part of her still wanted to make it up with Jason?

The man would be an idiot to let a woman like Rose go. Look at all she’d put up with so far for him. Where else was he going to find someone so loyal? If he’d managed to string her along for this many years, what were the chances he’d let her go now?

Rose shouldn’t have gone alone, either. She shouldn’t have gone at all—not at night. For one thing, it was November. What if a storm hit? What if she went off the road? What if she stopped at a rest area and got attacked? Somebody ought to strangle Emory for even putting the idea into her head. Maybe he should put out an APB…

All right, now he was getting as crazy as Emory. Cab took a breath and tried to look at things objectively. Was Rose right? Was he too controlling?

When his phone rang, he grabbed it out of his pocket with relief, uncomfortable with that last bit of soul-searching. He didn’t recognize the number and he hoped it was Rose. “Hello.”

A young-sounding female voice answered him. “Is this Cab Johnson?”


A pause. “This is Mia Start. Is Rose there by any chance?”

Mia? He recalled the night he’d joined the two women for dinner at the Burger Shack. “No. I think she’s in North Dakota, actually. I think she’ll be back in a day or two.”

“Oh,” Mia said. “Really? We were supposed to have dinner tonight.”

Right. He remembered them setting up the date. Rose must have forgotten. Just like she’d evidently forgotten their date to go shooting tomorrow.

“I’m not positive, but that’s what Morgan said.”

“Okay.” Mia sounded forlorn.

“Is everything all right?” Cab asked her.

The pause stretched out longer this time. “Yeah. It’s fine. I was just looking forward to it. Thanks for the information.” She hung up before he could say anything else.

She was such a coward.

Rose had packed her bags, announced her plans to Autumn and Morgan, but before she’d made it thirty miles out of town she’d lost her nerve.

Jason was going to be angry. Really angry. Even if he wanted to call the engagement off as much as she did, she knew him well enough to predict he’d hate being dumped. She pulled in to the first rest area she came to on the highway, parked her car and sat lost in thought. What was the use of confronting him in person? Driving all night was stupid. When she arrived, he’d be just getting up and she’d want to go to bed. First she’d have to find him, of course. He’d moved recently and she hadn’t visited him since. And what would she do after they hashed things out? Ask to stay the night?

No, she’d have one of two choices; find a hotel or drive straight back home. Neither one appealed.

Was it really so important they speak in person? Wouldn’t it be easier for both of them to break up over the phone? Why not? After all, when was the last time he’d bothered to come see her?