Pause. “Maybe I’ll keep it around for when you come back.”
Edgard sighed, but he didn’t look up from zipping his soft-sided suitcase. “I already told you, Trev. I’m not coming back.”
Trevor ignored the stab of pain near his heart. He drained the lukewarm brew and reached for another.
Thud. Edgard’s last bag hit the floor.
The silence between them was deafening.
Edgard said, “When are you going to Cody?”
“Who’re you going with?”
“Cash and Brian. Colby’s cousin Dag.”
“Good luck. Dag’s a great heeler.”
“Thanks.” He fiddled with the metal tab on the beer can. “You sure you don’t want me to take you to the train station?”
Edgard laughed softly. “That wouldn’t be wise, amigo.”
“It ain’t like I’m gonna make a big scene, Ed,” Trevor scoffed.
“I know. Maybe I would.” Edgard briefly shut his eyes. “Shit. I’m not gonna do this. I can’t do this anymore.”
Edgard ran his hand through his hair. A gesture of frustration Trevor had come to recognize in the last two years he and Edgard had been together. Off and on. In secret. He knew it wasn’t fair to either of them.
Trevor wanted to get up, walk over and smooth Edgard’s dark hair back in place. He ached to soothe him and tell him everything would be all right. But mostly he wanted to wrap his arms around Edgard and beg him not to leave.
But Trevor did none of that. He just steadily drank his beer, waiting for the numbness to settle in and ease his sorrow.
Edgard opened the door and tossed out his luggage. Then he closed the door again and braced his shoulders against the wall.
Automatically Trevor stiffened.
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to make you uncomfortable by telling you how I feel. You already know. I just wish things could be different.”
Trevor swallowed a drink and the lump in his throat. “Me too.”
“Take care of yourself, meu amor.”
A truck horn honked outside.
Without another word Edgard turned and walked out of his life.
Trevor stayed seated until he heard Gemma’s rig drive away. Then he slowly stood, shuffled to the door and locked it.
He shoved the rest of the case of beer up in the sleeping compartment and crawled across the mattress. He cracked open a fresh can, lay flat on his back and let the tears come.
Eight weeks later…
Colby McKay sat on the front porch of his parents’ house with his leg propped on a folding chair and scowled at the darkening sky. Fucking clouds. If it was gonna be cloudy, at least the damn things should be rain clouds. They needed the moisture in a bad way.
A dry autumn breeze drifted through the eaves, rattling the wind chimes. He’d been home for two months. A doctor ordered bed rest after his leg had been busted up like a cheap 2X4, and his lung had seeped air like a leaky balloon.
As glad as he was not to be pissing in a colostomy bag or wheeling himself around in a chair for the rest of his life, it stung his pride that his family was forced to take care of him at the family homestead for the time being. For six long goddamn months.
Oh, they didn’t seem to mind. His mom was happy to have him home in any capacity, happier yet he was done with life on the road. He was still shuffling around on crutches with a brace on his leg like a gimped-up old man, but at least he wasn’t flat on his back.
Still, there was something mortifying about his mom or his sister doing his physical therapy exercises with him every damn day. That little sadist Keely liked inflicting pain on him. He’d warned her paybacks were a bitch and he’d invited Amy Jo over to keep him company on occasion.
But he suspected the only reason Amy Jo showed up was on the hope she’d run into his brother Cord.
Colby felt useless. He couldn’t stay by himself in his beloved log cabin on the other side of the canyon. His mother claimed she didn’t trust him not to do too much, too soon. Helping Colton with chores was out, too.
His dad had told him there’d be plenty of chores waiting for him when he’d healed up properly. Next spring. Even Cord gave him pitying looks, and Cord’s life was even more f**ked up than his.
But mostly Colby sat around wondering what the hell he was gonna do now that his rodeo career was history. Sure, he’d known at the end of this season he’d have to scale back and compete locally only on weekends. So it’d come as a complete shock when the surgeons warned him if he started riding bulls or broncs again, he could end up in a wheelchair permanently.
Not a chance he was willing to take.
For the millionth time Colby’s thoughts turned to Channing. He knew that wasn’t why she’d bailed—because he was no longer a rodeo cowboy, now that injury had forced him into being just an ordinary Wyoming rancher. He doubted she’d skipped back to her old life after she’d had her sexual adventure of traveling the rodeo circuit with a trio of cowboys.
Or that she’d forgotten about him as she was on the Eastern seaboard teaching readin’, writin’ and ’rithmetic.
Probably they called it something else at that fancy-pants school where she was hiding away.
No doubt Channing was hiding. From him. From herself. From what she’d said to him in the hospital when she didn’t know he could hear her. Colby didn’t have any idea what to do about fixing things. Hell, he couldn’t do anything about it until he was a whole man again.
Lord. He missed her. After one glorious week Channing meant everything to him. During the last night he’d spent making love to her, showing her how he felt, he knew she’d never just waltz away.
I’ll be waiting.
But where? It seemed as if Channing Kinkaid had dropped off the face of the earth.
A couple of weeks back after he’d gotten through the worst of the pain, he’d taken a chance and called her cell phone only to discover it’d been disconnected. That left him adrift because he didn’t know her parents’ names. He didn’t know where she lived.
But he did know he loved her.
The wind blew the scent of sage and dirt. For a second, he thought he caught a whiff of Channing’s perfume. Wishful thinking. There weren’t a lot of wildflowers in Wyoming in the autumn.
He sighed. Maybe he’d nap. At least when he was asleep he didn’t think about this shit. And he could dream about her wrapped up in his arms in the middle of his king-sized bed back at his place. Just the two of them alone for a change. No traveling partners. No interruptions.