Yeah, this situation would be the real kicker.
Gossip had run amok when Trevor Glanzer married her. Now that Chassie really thought about it, why had Trevor pursued her with such zeal? Because he couldn’t be with Edgard? So he’d settled for her? Or because Trevor broke ties with his family and wanted a ranch to call his own? What would be an easier way to get quick land ownership than to charm the plain, simple daughter of a drunken fool? A lonely young woman who was set to inherit a ranch? A rundown ranch, to be sure, but it’d be a perfect place to start.
That possibility filled her with such nausea that she pulled along the side of the road and dry heaved. Chassie left the truck running and pressed her forehead into the steering wheel. Wouldn’t solve anything to bang her head against the molded plastic as she repeated dumb, dumb, dumb to the empty cab but she wanted to do it anyway.
“I love you. I’ve never said that to another person. Think on that.”
Maybe that’s what hurt the most. Chassie believed Trevor really did love her. She’d hoped for once in her life she alone would be enough to make someone happy.
But even on the best days, didn’t you sense that pocket of emptiness inside Trevor?
Chassie had chalked up those niggling doubts to them living in an isolated location away from his friends and Trevor’s estrangement from his family. She’d never imagined he’d be pining for a lover. A lover he’d convinced himself he could not have.
A semi whizzed past, rocking her truck with a whoosh of cold air. She lifted her head and stared at the snow lining the ditches. Dread sat in her chest like a lump of coal as the drive to Wheatland loomed. She felt too raw to face party games, shiny new pans and the shiny new hope in Zoey’s eyes.
Chassie dialed Zoey’s number, apologizing about missing the bridal shower as she spontaneously concocted a lie about Trevor being sick. It put her back to square one.
Nowhere to go and still wanting to talk to someone she could trust.
It hit her. Trevor said Colby knew the truth. She could talk to him. Dammit, he owed her after keeping this secret.
The line rang several times before Colby’s wife Channing picked up with a breathless, “Hello?”
“Channing, it’s Chassie.”
“Hey. No, honey, I’m not going anywhere. Dang it, hang on a second.” A cry, then the scratchy noise of a receiver being shifted. “Sorry. Gib is cranky and insists I hold him all the time. So what’s up?”
“Is Colby around?”
“No. He won’t be back until later tonight. He went to an equipment auction with Cord and Colt and his dad. What did you need?”
“Just to talk to him.”
“You could try him on his cell.”
Chassie fought the urge to cry. “No, that’s okay.”
“Chassie? Is something wrong?”
A sob was all she could get out through the tight feeling in her throat.
“Did something happen to Trevor?”
“Oh dear Lord, what?”
Don’t cry. Be strong.
She cleared her throat. “Edgard came back.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about them?”
Gib started to cry. Channing said, “Why don’t you come over and we’ll talk about it?”
“I’ll be there in thirty minutes.”
Not nearly enough time to formulate all the questions she had, but it was a start.
Channing and Colby McKay’s log house was as enchanting and homey and perfect as a cabin from a fairy tale. A fire burned in the slate fireplace. The scent of sugar cookies and coffee wafted from the kitchen. Toys—trucks and horses mostly—littered the living room.
Chassie sank into the oversized chenille loveseat. Western art decorated the log walls, as well as a few pieces she recognized as her cousin Carter McKay’s artwork.
Hand knitted blankets in earth tones hung off the arms of the couch and the antique rocking chair. Children’s books were stacked on the sturdy pine coffee table next to a box of crayons, a pad of paper, a plate of smashed up animal crackers and a half-eaten banana.
Channing came around the corner and paused. “More coffee?”
“No. I’m fine.”
“Be right back.” A minute later Channing plopped on the couch directly across from Chassie and adjusted her shirt over her pregnant belly. She propped her feet up on the coffee table with a big sigh. “Much better.”
Chassie had spent time around Channing at various family events over the last few years. Her cousin’s wife was sweet, thoughtful and almost too nice to be true. Colby worshipped her. So Chassie was struggling with how this woman would view the situation between her, Trevor and Edgard.
“Let’s get right to it. Tell me what happened after Edgard showed up.”
While Chassie talked, and talked some more, Channing refilled her coffee cup.
Twice. Chassie realized Channing’s up and down movement wasn’t because the subject matter bothered her; rather it was as close as she could get to pacing without actually pacing.
After Chassie finished speaking, Channing handed her a tissue. “Thanks. I didn’t mean to cry.”
“I’d think it was odd if you weren’t crying.”
Chassie looked up. “Why didn’t anyone warn me about Trevor’s past with Edgard?”
“Anyone meaning Colby or I?”
“Because, sweetie, and this may be hard to hear, but the details about that past relationship isn’t our right to share with you.”
“How did you find out?” Chassie demanded.
Channing met her angry glare head on. “I’ll tell you everything you want to know on two conditions.”
“You promise that what we discuss is never repeated outside this room. And you keep an open mind about what you hear and don’t pass judgment on anyone involved until you’ve had time to think about it. Thoroughly.”
Chassie figured that’d be the most difficult promise to keep. But she wanted to know so badly…no, she wanted to understand so badly that she agreed.
“You asked how I found out about Trevor and Edgard? I walked in on them having sex.” Channing appeared to wait for Chassie’s gasp of outrage, and when she didn’t hear it she continued. “Long story short: Four years ago this summer, I wanted a wild Western adventure with a real cowboy. Colby said I could travel the circuit with them for ten days if I agreed to be their personal buckle bunny for all three men. Sometimes at the same time.”