“Cash does, apparently.”
“So it would appear.” Gemma kicked Channing’s foot. “When’d you get so smart, girl?”
“I’m not feeling so smart. And let me tell you, I can totally relate to the guilt thing.” Before she chickened out, she blurted out everything that had gone on with her, Colby, Trevor and Edgard, only leaving out Trevor and Edgard’s secret, since it wasn’t hers to tell. She also puzzled out loud on why she felt like she’d been cheating on Colby with Trevor when she’d just kissed Trevor.
Gemma wasn’t as shocked as Channing thought she would be. “You know, I kinda wondered if that wasn’t the case with them suddenly picking you up as a new traveling partner. Those boys have a wild reputation.” She waggled her eyebrows. “So, two men at once, eh? I’ve always wanted to try that.”
Channing choked and barely stopped beer from coming out her nose.
“Of course, I never could share that little secret fantasy with Steve. To be the focus of the attention of two men? Yeah, sign me up.”
“Hello?” Cash said through the screen door. “I hear voices, you guys in here?”
Gemma froze. Her panicked gaze flew to Channing’s. Had he been eavesdropping on their conversation?
“Yeah. Come on in, Cash,” Channing said.
He sidled in, pausing just inside the door, practically wringing his black Stetson in his rough-skinned hands.
“Just wonderin’ if you gals were thinkin’ about goin’ to the opening dance tonight?”
Gemma opened her mouth to object but Channing shot her an arch look. “Yes, we are. Why?”
“Colby had two tickets and he sent me over here to give ‘em to you.”
Channing bit back the urge to ask if Colby had given Cash the two tickets because he didn’t plan on attending tonight with her. “Thanks.
Are you going?”
“I reckon I’ll pop in for a bit.” Cash stared hard at Gemma. “You will be dancin’ with me, Gem. Don’t try to hide because I’ll track you down.”
And he disappeared.
Gemma said, “Shit,” and drained her beer.
“Well, looks like our night just got a whole lot more exciting.”
Live country music twanged through the speakers. Hundreds of people were talking at once. Four fights had already broken out and he’d spent the last thirty minutes fending off the most persistent buckle bunnies he’d ever met.
It was only eight o’clock and Colby considered getting really drunk.
Especially when he looked over at the table where his family held court and the “surprise” his father had brought along.
A surprise by the name of Amy Jo Foster. The young woman whose family had been neighbors of the McKays for forty years. The young girl his father had stupidly decided might be a good candidate as Colby’s future wife.
Lord. And Amy Jo was just a girl of nineteen. She’d actually blushed when they’d been talking and his arm had accidentally brushed her breast.
His little sister Keely didn’t seem too thrilled Amy Jo had been invited to Frontier Days either. Even though Keely and Amy Jo were the same age and lived five miles apart, they’d never been best friends. Keely claimed Amy Jo was a goody-goody—the worst kind of insult hell-on-wheels Keely McKay could level on another person.
Colby studied his mother’s face from beneath his hat brim. Had Carolyn McKay been in on this surprise, too? Probably not. His dad had been browbeating him, claiming Colby needed a good woman to settle him down. His mother had assured Colby he’d want to settle down when he met the right woman.
His gaze strayed to Amy Jo. It wasn’t like she was ugly as a mud fence. She was pretty in a coltish way. Reed thin, all long arms and legs.
Long white-blonde hair and a pink complexion, near as he could figure because she blushed all the damn time. Enormous blue eyes the vivid color of the Wyoming sky. When she wore her hair in a pair of pigtail braids, she reminded him of the Swiss Miss Instant Cocoa girl. Or more accurately, her younger sister. Much younger sister.
Colby sighed and glanced at the clock again. He missed Channing.
They hadn’t had a chance to talk about his stellar ass**le performance from the other night. He’d been too much of a chickenshit to call her cell phone as he’d driven Trevor’s rig to Cheyenne last night. Some things had to be done in person. Especially apologies. Then last night after they’d pulled into the campground at the opposite end of town from Frontier Park, they had to set up, take care of the horses and, by the time he and Edgard finished, it’d been damn near two in the morning.
Too late to call her. This morning he had to register for his events, pay his fees and he’d spent the afternoon with his family, leaving no time for him to wander over to Gemma’s campsite.
So…maybe if he played his cards right tonight, they could sneak outside and kiss and make up. Then he could get up the gumption to tell her all the things that’d been weighing on him before she left him for good.
“Hey, cowboy. Buy me a drink?”
Colby turned slightly. Yep. Another buckle bunny trying her luck. He shrugged and didn’t respond, hoping she’d get the hint.
She didn’t. Long scarlet nails inched up his shirt. She crowded in so he was enveloped in silicone, rhinestones and a cloud of perfume.
“Maybe you’d rather dance?”
“Maybe you’d like to get your paw offa him or I’ll bust it off, starting with those ugly fake claws,” a striking brunette said as she wrapped her arm around Colby’s waist.
“Run along, little girl,” the bunny hissed.
“Darlin’,” she cooed sweetly to Colby, “you want this washed up old hag, or would you rather have a young hottie like me rockin’ your horse trailer?”
Colby tried not to laugh as he dropped a kiss on her temple. “I’ll take you, sweetheart.”
The buckle bunny spun on her ugly high-heeled boots the color of raspberry Kool-Aid and disappeared into the crowd.
Colby looked down at his sister and grinned. “Thanks, Keely.”
“You’re welcome. Although it totally creeps me out to have to ask you this. Are they always all over you like flies on shit?”
“Nice visual,” he said dryly. “But yeah, pretty much.”
“Dude. That sucks.” Her face brightened. “Hey, maybe there’s a way you could keep them away tonight. Pretend you’re madly in love with Amy Jo. Dance with her. Sit with her. Hold her hand and stare into her eyes. Normal nice, boring courtin’ shit that’d make me gag. But I know she’d totally go for it.”