The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Page 4)

The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #5)(4)
Author: Cora Seton

“There are no jobs,” Rose said. How many times had they had this conversation, too? “And I don’t want another job until I go to school. I’ve told you that.”

“How the hell are we supposed to save up for a house if you’re going to spend all our money?” Jason said. “Art school is stupid. You spend thousands of dollars to learn a skill that makes you no money back. It’s a bad investment.”

“Stupid?” Rose echoed, her voice rising. Jason had always been against her going to art school but he’d never used such strong words before.

“Art is a hobby, Rose. A hobby. Only idiots pay that kind of money for their hobbies.”

Was he for real? She remembered the days back in high school when Jason drove in the demolition derby. How much money had he blown on that particular hobby?

“I’m a good artist. I can make money…”

“No, you can’t.” Jason’s temper flared, too. “It’s time to get real. No artist can make that kind of money. It’s a one in a million shot, and the chance that it would happen to you is nonexistent. Art school is for little rich kids who don’t need to make a living. You need to make a living. What about that nursing course I told you about? A friend of mine here has a wife who’s a nurse and she’s making a killing! You could go to night school. But first you need to get your ass out of my dad’s store and find another job. I gotta go.”

He clicked off the phone and left her staring out the windshield of her truck in shock. Was that how he really felt? That she had no chance as an artist? And nursing—that was his idea of an alternative? The thought made her shiver in disgust. Thank God other people liked nursing, but it wasn’t for her. She was terrified of illness and death and all the things nurses had to take in stride. She was far too private a person to be comfortable with the intimate tasks nurses faced every day. Whatever she did for a living had to be artistic in some sense of the word. That’s why she stuck to the jewelry store even if it meant working with Emory. The rings were beautiful and the variety of jewelry infinite. While Emory didn’t let her pick the merchandise, he did let her peruse the catalogs and dream over all the designs. She’d tried jewelry making herself, but unfortunately it wasn’t her thing, either. She preferred acrylics. Still, selling rings was better than nothing.

Why should Jason get to pursue his dream but demand that she give hers up? And if he was so set on saving money, why didn’t he save more of it himself? He had to be earning a ton of money at his oil patch job, but he claimed living expenses ate up most of his wages. After all these years he still didn’t have enough money for them to marry and put a down payment on a house. She was beginning to think he never would.

Which was probably just as well. Because if she was honest, she didn’t want to marry him anymore. In the cold, dark stillness of the truck cab, she finally faced the truth. She had promised herself one last try at working things out, but she was out of patience. She didn’t want to try anymore. What was the use of it? Jason wasn’t going to change. As she stared out at the hulking shapes of the barns against the night sky, she made up her mind. She was done with Jason. Done with Emory. Done with all of it. She would break off the engagement, find a new place to live and get a new job. That wasn’t going to be easy, though. The minute she phoned Jason and told him the news, he’d be on the phone to Emory, and Emory would be on the phone with her folks. She couldn’t stay in the carriage house or work for Emory anymore once she broke things off with Jason. And she wouldn’t want to be anywhere near her parents, either. They were going to flip their lids.

First, she needed a place to call her own and a job. Then she could spill the beans to Jason. Luckily, Jason wouldn’t call her back for at least another week, so she had plenty of time to make a plan. She considered going home and getting started on it right away, but decided against that course of action. She’d already had a long day and she needed company to cheer her up. Home alone, she’d have to fully face the mess she’d made of her life so far, and more than likely Emory would drop in and want to stay an hour. At least here she’d be with her friends.

Taking a deep breath, she looked at the band of silver on her ring finger. In one week she’d take it off for good. She expected a stab of pain, or tears to sting her eyes, but instead she felt a lift of anticipation in her heart and then a squeeze of shame. How could she be happy she was breaking off a six-year engagement? What kind of a woman was she?

A realist, she decided as she climbed out of the truck. She and Jason weren’t meant to be together. It was time to move on.

Inside the Cruz Big House some minutes later, she perched on the arm of one of the sofas in the living room. Every Thursday her friends gathered at Ethan and Autumn’s house for an informal get-together. Usually they played poker, but this week the Cruzes had bought a pool table and they were breaking it in with a tournament. Autumn, nearly six months pregnant, told Rose she was slated to play Autumn’s sister-in-law Claire in a while, but right now Ethan and Jamie were up. The rest of the people present stood around, or sat on stools pulled from the kitchen counter to watch. Autumn circulated with appetizers and everyone knew there was beer in the refrigerator.

Rose had always been jealous of Autumn’s elfin features and long, lustrous hair. Someone had once described her as ethereal, and the word suited. Originally from New York City, Autumn fit into Chance Creek like she’d been born here. Rose, who had been born here, couldn’t remember what the town was like before she came. She’d been the one to transform the Cruz ranch into a guest ranch business. Soon afterward, Jamie and Claire built their home on another part of the spread. Jamie helped with trail rides, but he also was starting a horse breeding business. Claire helped when she could but she was much in demand as an interior decorator. Ethan and Jamie had grown up together, along with Rob Matheson, whose family owned the next ranch over. Rob was here tonight as well. A tall, blond, handsome cowboy, he owned a property that straddled the two ranches. He and his wife, Morgan, had just started a winery on part of that land. Like Autumn and Claire, Morgan was pregnant, although she was only in her first trimester. Rob also intended to work with Ethan on the guest ranch and Jamie with the horse breeding. The three friends had found a way to interweave their lives, and Rose, frankly, was jealous of the way it all seemed to work so well.

A cheer went up when Ethan sank a shot and Rose’s attention returned to the room. Everyone else seemed mesmerized by the pool game.