The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Page 42)

The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #5)(42)
Author: Cora Seton

Here it comes, Cab thought.

Rob urged the gelding closer to the fence. “Jason’s going to have something to say about the two of you when he gets home.”

“He’s not coming home,” Cab said. “Rose broke up with him.”

“You sure about that? It’s almost Thanksgiving. Jason might stay away the rest of the year, but he’s always home for Thanksgiving.”

“How the hell do you know that?” Jamie said, cocking his hat back to reveal his untidy dark hair.

Rob tapped a finger to his temple. “My mind is like a steel trap. I remember everything.”

“You remember everything?” Ethan said, straightening. “You sure about that?”


Ethan held up his left hand, tapped his watch. “Remember what time you’re supposed to meet Morgan?”

Rob glanced at his own wrist. “Shit. Jamie, take over.”

Jamie climbed the fence with alacrity and dropped into the corral. A minute later he sat atop the horse and Rob joined them outside the enclosure. “If Morgan calls, I’m on my way,” he said and slapped Cab on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. If it comes down to a fight between you and Jason, my money’s on you.”

“Thanks,” Cab said as he and Ethan watched him take off toward the driveway in a loping run. Soon his Chevy pulled out into the lane in a cloud of dust.

“My money’s on you, too,” Ethan said. “Not in a fight, but as the better man for Rose.”

“That right?” It meant a lot to him to have Ethan on his side.

“She belongs here, not in some oil town in North Dakota. Besides, I’ve seen how she looks at you.”

Cab glanced at him in surprise. “Looks at me?”

“Yep.” Ethan grinned.

“The thing is,” Cab said, willing to discuss this only with Ethan; not with Rob or Jamie. “She keeps talking about needing to find herself. She says she doesn’t want a man who’ll tell her what to do.”

Ethan rested his elbows on top of the fence and considered this for a moment. “Uh oh.”

“Uh oh?” Cab was taken aback.

“In my experience, when a woman starts talking about finding herself, she’s ready to make a break for it.”

Cab figured he was talking about Lacey Taylor, the woman who’d broken his heart before he met Autumn. “If she’s ready to make a break for it, then why’d she hook up with me at all?”

“That’s a good question,” Ethan said. “Autumn was talking about something the other day.” He squinted as he searched his memory. “Right. She was worried about Rose going straight from Jason to you. I didn’t think much of it at the time.” He shrugged. “I figured Rose spotted the better man and switched horses mid-ride.”

“Autumn thinks Rose should have taken a break first? Spent some time on her own?”

“I reckon that’s about the size of it.”

Cab heaved a sigh. He wanted Rose right now. He wanted her in his bed tonight and every night. He didn’t want to wait while she discovered herself. She could do that right alongside of him.

“Why not let Rose take the lead for a while?” Ethan suggested. “See where she takes you?”

He supposed he’d better do just that.

But he didn’t have to like it one little bit.

“Thanks for picking me up,” Mia said as she climbed into Rose’s truck and shut the door.

“I’m so sorry I stood you up last night.” Rose started the truck and backed out quickly, eager to get out of the center of town before Emory spotted her.

“That’s okay,” Mia said, but Rose knew she’d disappointed the girl. She meant to make up for it now. She’d remembered Mia as she pulled out of Cab’s place, and called her immediately, full of remorse. She might be going through major life upheaval, but Mia was dealing with an unplanned pregnancy at twenty-one. That was much worse. She invited Mia to come along with her to a town some miles down the road to buy more supplies and then eat out together.

As Rose pulled onto Highway 90, Mia stared out at the passing scenery. Fall was rapidly verging into winter and Rose shivered at the thought of another night in the tree house.

“We’ll have to hurry to get all your shopping done before the store closes,” Mia said. “How come you didn’t want to shop in town?”

“It’s a long story,” Rose said.

“We have a long drive,” Mia pointed out.

Rose frowned. “The short version is I split up with Jason and got in a fight with his father, and I don’t want to see him or my parents until I’ve figured out exactly what I’m going to do next.”

“You’re not wearing your ring anymore.” Mia leaned forward to look at Rose’s hand on the wheel.

Rose fought the urge to hide it in her pocket. “No. We’re over.”

Mia flipped her straight dark hair over her shoulder. “Wow. I thought you two would get married for sure.”

“So did I up until recently.”

“What are you going to do now? I mean, will you still work for Emory? Will you still live in his carriage house after you tell him?”

Rose’s shoulders slumped. “No, I’ve already quit and moved out.”

“Where’s your new place?”

“I’m staying with Autumn and Ethan… most nights.”

Mia waited for her to elaborate. Rose was beginning to think this whole trip was a bad idea.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me,” Mia said after a pause and turned to look out the window again.

“It’s not that… it’s just I don’t want people to know where I’m staying. I don’t want Emory to know. Or my parents. Emory flipped out and burned a bunch of my paintings, if you can believe it. I’m afraid he might come after me again. And my parents…” She trailed off, not knowing exactly how to put that into words. “They’ll just tell me what to do.”

“I totally get it,” Mia said.

Rose realized she probably did.

She was relieved when they pulled into the parking lot of a sporting goods store. Mia trailed Rose through its wide aisles, but didn’t say a word as Rose loaded her cart with a down sleeping bag, thick sleeping mat, a better winter jacket and wool socks. After some thought, Rose added a small propane-powered heater, a camp stove, a pot and pan, and a small assortment of utensils to her load. When she circled around and grabbed a second down sleeping bag, Mia laughed out loud.