Rough, Raw, and Ready (Rough Riders 5) - Page 31

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“Trev. It’s okay.”

“No, it ain’t.” A bitter snort stirred her hair. “I’m some great catch, ain’t I? Never made enough from rodeoin’ to buy more’n a lousy horse trailer. I’m livin’ on your ranch.

I can’t find the money to buy Gus’s acreage. And my former partner—no less than a male lover—shows up and you realize I’ve kept a pretty goddamn big secret from you. Hell, Chass, maybe Colby was right. Maybe you are better off without me.”

“Colby said that?”

“Not in so many words.”

Chassie placed her hand over his mouth. “This ranch isn’t mine; it’s ours. You’ve cared more in the last two years than either Dag or Dad did in the last twenty years. This is our home, where we get to make the rules. Yeah, I’d like to have Gus’s land, but if we don’t get it, then we weren’t meant to have it. All things happen for a reason.”

He gave her a considering look. “Do you really believe that?”

“I do. Just think, if you hadn’t filled in on the circuit as Dag’s partner, we wouldn’t have met. I wouldn’t have been able to keep the ranch by myself after Dag and Dad both died. So after we got married this place became ours. And havin’ you in my life is worth way more than any piece of land.”

Trevor kissed her. “And you wonder why I love you so damn much.” His eyes flickered to the window. “And what about Edgard showin’ up? You think that happened for a reason? You haven’t changed your mind about my worth?”

“I ain’t gonna lie, it knocked me for a loop.” She managed a small smile. “Might sound stupid, but yeah, there is some cosmic reason Ed showed up now. I’m workin’ on understandin’, Trev. I really am.”

“That’s all I can ask.” He kissed her again, and gently separated their bodies. He sat on the edge of the bed and looked over his shoulder. “Why don’t you laze in bed a bit longer? Get some shut-eye and I’ll finish a couple things.” He dressed and slipped out of the room.

Chassie snuggled beneath the covers and was glad to be home, even if everything in her life, all her perceptions and misconceptions about love were about to change dramatically, whether she was ready for it or not.

Chapter Thirteen

A spicy aroma greeted her as she entered the kitchen. “That smells great.”

Edgard turned. “Hope you don’t mind me taking over your kitchen.”

“Mind? I hope you don’t mind if I lay a big, wet, sloppy kiss on you for fixin’ supper.”

A strangely hopeful look flickered in his eyes. “I wouldn’t mind that at all.”

Before she lost her nerve, she walked over to him and kissed his cheek. “Thank you.

Trevor has a lot of great qualities, but cookin’ ain’t one of them.”

“Did he wow you with his chili? Or his recipe for cowboy beans, which actually is—”

“Chili,” they said in unison, and then laughed in unison.

“Needless to say I do all the cookin’.”

“Does that bother you?”

“Not at all. Why?”

Edgard shrugged. “Because in this day and age lots of men cook. I like to cook.”

“Have you always cooked?”

“My mother made sure I knew the basics and I took it from there. I lived by myself and it was either learn to cook, or I’d be eating spaghetti, chili and frozen burritos forever.” He shot her a considering look. “It’s no longer the norm around here? Sticking to those old gender roles?”

“Not at all. See, it’s not that Trev and I are stickin’ to traditional roles in this marriage, but I’m better in the kitchen than he is. I don’t mind, since I can’t fix machinery worth a damn.” Chassie peered at the pan on the stove. “But if you tell me that’s a pot of chili, I’m gonna brain you with the lid.”

He grinned. “It’s not. It’s Brazilian style stew.”

“Whatever it is, it smells damn good. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Where’s Trevor?”

“Had to help Gus with something.”

“Oh.” Chassie glanced at the clock. Her nap had lasted longer than she’d expected because it was almost five o’clock. “Would you like a beer?”

“If you’re having one.”

“Yep.” Chassie planned on having a whole lotta beer. She definitely needed alcohol to get the conversation started and probably an entire case to follow through with her plan. She took two bottles of Bud Light from the door and passed one to him. Snick, hiss, pop echoed, as the lids were untwisted.

Edgard’s backside rested against one counter; hers on the one across from him. She gulped her beer, cautioning herself to be tactful and calm, but what burst forth from her mouth was, “Are you in love with my husband?”

He visibly paled. And knocked back an equally big swallow of Budweiser in lieu of answering.

“I’ve heard Trevor’s side. I talked to Channing and to Colby. So that leaves you.”

“And if I say yes, Chassie? What then?”

“I’m totally thinkin’ we have a gunfight in the street to determine who’s tough enough to win Trevor’s affections,” she said lightly.

That brought a slight smile. “You are a smartass.”

“And you are avoidin’ the question, amigo.”

“Jesus, do you know how hard it is to look at you and answer that question?”

“No harder than it is to look you in the eye and ask it.”

“Touché.” Edgard picked at the label. “Do I love him? That’s what I came here to figure out. Or if I’d given so much importance to the memory of him—to the memory of us—that I wasn’t able to move on.”

“Like you’d somehow…glorified your past?”

Edgard nodded. “I seemed to remember only the good times. And because we weren’t public about our relationship, there were plenty of bad times.”

Chassie inhaled a slow breath. “This ain’t me bein’ cruel, but I hafta ask. Did you honestly believe he’d take you home to meet his folks and you’d settle down on a little ranch, just the two of you?”

“No.” Edgard let the bottle dangle between his fingers and repeated, “No. Never.

That’s one of the reasons I left. I realized Trevor could never be for me what I needed.”


Tags: Lorelei James Rough Riders Billionaire Romance
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