“Buddy, I hate to tell you this, but there ain’t a whole lot more you can do,” Cord said.
“Geez. Thanks a f**kin’ lot for that stellar advice.”
“For once I agree with Cord,” Colby added. “It seems you ain’t the one with the problem. Skylar is. And if she can’t see what’s right in front of her face, K, then maybe you oughta give her some distance so she gets a different perspective.”
Kade blinked. “What do you mean? Walk away? Move out?”
“No way. I’d miss her and Eliza like crazy, and goddammit they both need me, even if that stubborn woman won’t admit it.”
“I wasn’t ready to admit I needed AJ until she left me,” Cord offered.
“With Channing and me, time away just reinforced the truth that we belonged together.”
“You guys ain’t kiddin’, are you?”
“How many years was AJ right in front of my damn face and I didn’t notice her?
And even after I’d fallen for her I didn’t want to admit it to her or anybody else, but mostly to myself how I felt about her. We can be our own worst enemies.”
“I’ll betcha Skylar would figure it out pretty damn quick how she feels about you if you weren’t around. It don’t hafta be permanent, just for a coupla days. Besides, ain’t we startin’ hayin’ the south section tomorrow? You ain’t gonna wanna drive sixty miles at ten o’clock at night after you’ve been on a tractor for sixteen hours, just to turn around eight hours later and do it all again.”
“Colby’s right.” Cord pulled his ringing cell phone from his shirt pocket. “Hey, baby doll.” He grinned. “Really? Don’t move. Ah-ah-ah, no buts. I’m on my way.”
Cord stood and threw a twenty on the table. “Gotta go.”
“When your wife calls and says the kid’s sound asleep and she’s naked in bed, sorry guys, you lose every time. See ya tomorrow and good luck, K.”
Colby squinted at the bar clock. “I’d probably best get on home. See what trick my darlin’ wife has up her sleeve for tonight’s sexcapades. Funny thing is, she thinks I don’t know what she’s up to, so I’m not playin’ hard to get.” He clapped Kade on the shoulder.
Kade pondered their advice as he finished his beer. Why did men and women have to play games?
Then again, being straightforward and honest hadn’t done him a bit of good either.
After saying his good-byes to his cousins, Kade walked down the street to his truck.
The promise of an early fall teased and the evening air was chilly. Clouds covering the moon made the night seem even darker than normal. He’d hunkered into the collar of his coat and didn’t see the man step out of the shadows until it was too late and Kade smacked right into him.
“You’d better be sorry, you son of a bitch.”
“No excuse for you because I know you were f**kin’ my wife, McKay.”
Was this man drunk?
“What kind of loser f**ks another man’s wife?”
Kade attempted to back up. “Wait a second, pal, you’ve got the wrong man.”
“The hell I do.” The big bear of a man pressed closer. “I followed her, so I know she was meetin’ with you.”
“Me? Since when?”
“Two months ago I saw you and her laughin’ and jokin’ in that restaurant downtown.
Then you two snuck into that massage parlor and didn’t come out for a coupla hours. We all know what kinda shit happens in them places.”
“See, now I know you’re mistaken, buddy, because I’ve been livin’ out of town for the last year.”
“Makes it convenient when she sneaks away to meet you, which I know she’s still doin’ ’cause she ain’t around at night. And when she is she’s damn secretive, which pisses me off.”
“I’m tellin’ you, it wasn’t me.”
That information didn’t calm the man down; it incensed him. “I know what I saw.
And I saw you.”
Shit. This was where family resemblances sucked. The man this had seen might’ve been any one of Kade’s cousins. The man could’ve been Kane. That was the most likely explanation, even when Kane had a strict no married women policy. It was unlikely the guy would buy the laughable “I have an identical twin” argument, but that didn’t matter.
Kade wouldn’t roll on his brother or his cousins anyway.
Before Kade uttered another denial, the man hauled off and punched him in the eye like a champion boxer. Pain exploded in his head and he staggered back.
“How’d you like that? An eye for an eye, f**ker. That’ll teach you to keep your eyes off my wife.”
While Kade was trying to regain his equilibrium, the guy delivered a wicked uppercut that rocked his jaw so hard his teeth clacked together and he bit his tongue.
“Keep your mouth offa her.”
Kade curled his arms around his head, attempting to protect it, when the guy slugged him in the gut with enough force to knock the air from his lungs. Through the pain Kade realized he was getting his ass kicked and he couldn’t stop it. He dropped to the pavement in defeat.
“Stand up and fight me, you f**kin’ pussy.”
A car door slammed, followed by bootsteps thumping down the sidewalk. “Hey!
What the hell is goin’ on?”
“Walk away. This ain’t your concern,” the man said.
“The f**k it isn’t.”
Why was Colt here? Kade tried to say his name but nothing came out.
“Last chance to get gone or I’ll give you some of what he just got.”
“I’m more than talk, sheep-fucker.”
“Bring it on, cocksucker.”
More bootsteps scuffled on the cement, preceded by loud shouts. Kade heard it all through a haze of pain.
“Colt? What’re you doin’ here? Oh, shit. Kade? Man, you all right?” This from Blake.
Colt said, “I was on my way inside the Golden Boot and I saw Kade get sucker-punched.”
“Is this the f**ker who did this to him?” Cam demanded.