Sky flipped it over. No return address. Post marked Gillette, WY…two months ago.
Using a pen, she slit open the top and dumped the letter on the floor. She unfolded the single piece of lined notebook paper. The blocky printing filled up half the page: Skylar—
I’m probably the last person you expected to hear from. I hope you won’t crumple this up and will give me a chance to explain.
After the bad way it ended with you last year, I needed time to re-evaluate some things. I moved to a remote section of the ranch, which is why I haven’t approached you before now.
In the year I’ve been alone on the range, I’ve had time to think about what happened between us. What I did wrong. I can honestly say I’m ashamed of myself. My intention wasn’t to deceive you, but to get to know you.
When I get back into town in the next month, I’d like to call you, maybe meet for coffee (or chocolate cake?) and see if time has healed the rift I caused. I believe there’s still something worth exploring between us, something worth working out, something worth fighting for. I’d like to start fresh.
I hope you don’t find this out of line, and I’m saying this from my heart. Being with you changed me. Time and distance haven’t changed my feelings for you. But I hope the same time and distance have changed yours for me and you’ll give me—us—a second chance.
All My Best,
Kade wanted her. It was right there in black and white. He’d wanted to be with her before he found out about Eliza. No ulterior motive. The sweet, honest man had thrown his heart out, not knowing if she’d slice it to ribbons in her paper shredder.
Fat chance of that. Now that she had his heart she was keeping it safe forever. So, despite their rocky start, they’d finished what they’d begun not a month ago, but a year ago,they’d fallen in love, the forever, permanent kind of love she never thought she’d find or deserve.
Sky didn’t realize she was crying until the tears splashed on the page.
She had the overwhelming urge to shout it from the rooftops: He likes me! He really really likes me! Likes? He loves you.
You love him; he loves you. It’s the most simple thing in the world.
Eliza squealed and Sky glanced at her.
Her daughter batted those big blue eyes, flashed a gummy grin…and rolled over.
“Eliza Belle McKay! How long have you been able to do that?”
The baby made a gurgling sound suspiciously close to a laugh.
Still sobbing through her laughter, she said, “Wait until your daddy sees your new trick. He’s gonna be over the moon.”
And Sky couldn’t wait another second to tell him everything. She picked up her babbling baby and ran out the door. “Annie!”
Her coworker raced out to see Sky sprinting away from her office. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m leaving to fix another thing in my life.”
“Are you coming back today?”
“I hope not. So you’re in charge. Get used to it.” Halfway down the hall, Sky stopped and turned to look at her friend. “Is it really that simple?”
Immediately Annie smiled. “Yes, honey, it really is.”
Skylar found Kimi and Calvin’s place easily enough, and felt another punch of guilt that she’d never been here before. That was something else she’d prioritize, making time for family, their family of three, and the McKay/West bunch that was such an important part of Kade’s life. Maybe sometimes she and Kade and Eliza could stay overnight here, so Kade didn’t have to drive so blasted far. Heck, she’d move here and make the commute to Sky Blue if it came right down to it.
She started up the short sidewalk the same time a dark-haired man exited the house.
They nearly collided and both took a step back. Neither said anything as they eyed each other.
“Hey, Skylar. How are you?”
This didn’t have to be awkward. “Good. You?”
“Tired.” He bent down and peered at Eliza.
But Eliza’s little feet didn’t kick with happiness. She didn’t coo and smile. She stayed still and watchful.
“She knows I’m not him, don’t she?”
“Yes.” Sky kissed the top of Eliza’s head. “She’s Daddy’s girl. Daddy has her wrapped around his little finger.”
“My brother is a lucky man. She’s beautiful.” Kane smiled. “You look just like your mama, doncha, sugar?”
No surprise Kane was still a total charmer. “Everyone says she looks like Kade.”
“Then they’re not lookin’ very hard.”
“Speaking of Kade…where is he?”
“He’s finishin’ up the south hay field. Why?”
“I need to talk to him.”
Kane straightened. “Now? Can’t it wait until later tonight when he’s done?”
Skylar half-expected Kane to get in her face. Demand to hear why she was interrupting his brother’s workday.
But he didn’t. He positively grinned and chucked his niece under the chin. “I figured that might be the case. When you track him down, tell him I’ll finish up tomorrow. Ma sent me out to ask if you needed help carryin’ anything in the house.”
“That’d be great. There’s a portable crib in the back seat.”
After Skylar deposited Eliza with grandma and grandpa, she leaned against her car door and studied the map Kimi had drawn.
Kane sauntered over. “Got an idea where you’re goin’?”
“Not a clue.”
He chuckled. “Throw away that map. Ma goes a little overboard. It’s easy to find. Go five miles east on the gravel road. Turn right at the first four-way. Two miles later on your right, you’ll come to a barbed wire gate. Go through it and follow the tire tracks along the fence line until you see dust and tractors.”
“Much easier.” She smiled at him. “Thanks.”
Kane gestured to Sky’s Subaru wagon. “You takin’ this?”
“’Cause with the rain there’s a couple places you might get stuck.” He pointed to a dented and muddy red Dodge. “Take my truck. Keys are in the ignition. Leave it here when you’re done.”
“But…what will you drive?”
“Colt can come and get me, no biggie.” Skylar’s distrust must’ve been obvious because Kane said, “I’m sure you’re wonderin’ why I’m doin’ this. You’re here to make things right with my brother, or else you’d be willin’ to wait until he’s done workin’, right?”