The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Page 62)

The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #5)(62)
Author: Cora Seton

“I’m not sure they could have stopped us.” Jason grinned. “I don’t think they wanted to. They wanted our families joined. They wanted us both to stay in Chance Creek.”

Rose nodded. “But you don’t want to stay. I understand that. I understand your wanting more from life, too. I want more from life than I wanted at eighteen, you know. I want to pursue my art. I want a chance to see what I can do.”

He looked down. “That’s the worst of it, isn’t it? I’ve been telling you not to do it. I was afraid if you started spending money on school you’d ask me to help with your rent and all that… and you’d catch me in my lies. I’m such a fool.”

She squeezed his hand. “I don’t hold anything against you, I hope you know that. I was in love with you when I said yes to your proposal.”

“But now you love Cab.”

She looked away, tears filling her eyes. “Yes. I think I do. Just promise me you won’t be unhappy, Jason. Tell me the truth.”

“The truth? It hurts, breaking up like this. It hurts to see you with Cab. But it’s a clean pain. I’ll get over it. Now I can move forward without feeling bad. Know what I mean?”

“Definitely. I can’t wait to hear what you get up to, you know. Send me some postcards.”

“Oh, you’ll hear about me. I promise. I’m going to make a name for myself. And I’m going to come back and spend time with Dad, too. I should have been doing that all along.” He raised her hand to his mouth, kissed it gently, and walked toward the door. “Don’t wait too long to say yes to that sheriff of yours. Make him a happy man, Rose. And let him make you happy, too.”

“You know what all of this means, don’t you?” Rob said. He lay back in his hospital bed, a bandage wrapped around his chest and an IV in his arm. Cab could tell he was already getting restless. Rob wasn’t one to lounge around in bed unless there was a beautiful woman beside him. He didn’t envy Morgan the task of playing nurse while he recovered. Jamie lay in a second bed, the bandage on his hip hidden from view by his covers.

“What?” Cab asked. He, Jake, Ned, and Luke sat in a semi-circle around the room. Morgan, Claire, Autumn and Ethan were conferring in the waiting room about how best to arrange things at the ranch now that two of their men were laid up.

“We’re going to have to take ourselves bison hunting. Won’t Cody be pleased?”

“Hannah’s not going to like that,” Jake drawled. “Did you hear her going on last night? About how the bison saved everyone’s life?” Cab shot him a look. He’d heard Hannah going on. He’d also seen Jake hovering around the pretty blonde, putting an arm around her to help her into the ambulance. These Matheson boys had a history of capitalizing on traumatic events.

“It did save people’s lives,” he pointed out. “No telling what it will do next, though.”

“We can hunt it down and have a bison roast,” Rob said. “Hell, we don’t even have to hunt it; we can just sic Cody on it. Wasn’t he dying for the chance?”

“You’re not hunting anything,” Cab told him. “And I don’t want Cody anywhere near those woods.”

“How did it get into Carl’s woods anyway?” Jamie asked. He shifted in his bed and winced at the pain. There would be no lasting effects from the bullet grazing his hip, but he’d be sore for a while, Cab figured.

He decided it was time to tell them. “Hannah brought it there,” he said. “Seems Cody had the bright idea to take her by the place where he was going to hunt the bison and it turned out there was only one, kept in a pen barely big enough for it to turn around in. When she saw the situation she decided she couldn’t stand for it.”

“How the hell did she move it?” Jake said, sitting forward in his seat, his hat in his hands.

“With that horse trailer she had.” Cab shrugged. “Maybe that bison knew a good thing when it saw it.”

“That’s… insane,” Rob said.

“Actually, turns out the thing was hand-raised as a pet before its original owner gave it up. As far as bison go, I guess it’s pretty gentle.”

“Does she plan to keep it for a pet?” Jake asked.

“She told me she meant to find a bison ranch that raises and treats them ethically. Hannah’s no vegetarian,” Cab smiled, “but she doesn’t believe in cruelty.”

“She stole that animal, though,” Rob pointed out. “Won’t she be in trouble?”

“I figure I’ll offer the owners a fair price for it, point out that what they’re doing is illegal and she won’t have to give it back. She’ll have to find a better place for it than Carl’s woods, though.” He chuckled.

“She can keep it at our place. I’ll even pay for it,” Jake stated, taking the bait Cab had laid out for him so cleverly. Yep, Jake was stuck on Hannah, no doubt about that.

“Our place?” Ned asked.

“Why not?” Jake challenged him.

Ned shrugged. “What about that foreign girl—Fila?”

“She’ll stay at the Cruz ranch until things are sorted out. A lot of people are going to be interested in what that girl knows,” Cab said grimly. “Best for her to be among friends until that all plays out. Claire says she’ll find a lawyer who can help prove Fila’s citizenship. We’ll go from there.”

“What about Rose and Jason?” Rob asked him. “They still broken up?”

Cab nodded.

“Time for you to go buy that ring.”

“What will you do now? When you get out of here?” Autumn asked Rose. She’d slipped into the room and tiptoed past Fila’s sleeping form to take a seat near Rose’s head.

Rose couldn’t sleep in the hospital’s antiseptic atmosphere so she welcomed the distraction. “I’m not entirely sure,” she confessed. “I don’t think I can live out in the tree house anymore.”

Autumn chuckled. “I can see why.”

Rose’s eyes filled with tears. “I’ll miss it, though. I liked having a place of my own.”

“I have an idea,” Autumn said. “You know the old cabin on our property—the one Jamie lived in back when he was a hired hand? Rob and Morgan are staying there now until they build their house in the spring.”

Rose nodded.

“Well, Rob has his own cabin sitting empty on the Double-Bar-K. He and his folks were arguing when he left home and moved to our land with Morgan, but that’s all sorted out. There’s no reason he and Morgan can’t shift their quarters over there for the winter and you can take the cabin they vacate.”