“I made it a lot further than you ever did.”
Tanner shrugged again. “Almost don’t cut it. Might as well be at the bottom of the heap rather than stuck in second place.”
Trevor stared at his brother. Surprised…yet not.
“That don’t have nothin’ to do with us runnin’ the ranch.”
It had everything to do with runnin’ the ranch.
The whole scenario unfolded in Trevor’s mind like a nightmare. He and Chassie would sell her family home and move here. He’d do all the work. Brent would continue to be lazy, continue to lie, continue to think his charm made up for his lack of a work ethic. Brent would resent the hell out of him so he wouldn’t do shit either. Neither his mother nor his sisters would welcome his wife into their inner circle so Chassie would be alone. After a few kids their marriage would end up like his parents’ marriage and her parents’ marriage.
Chassie wouldn’t stick around if she was miserable. All these cheery scenarios were before Trevor considered Edgard couldn’t be part of his life and the thought of losing either of them made him ill.
“…told him I wouldn’t do it.”
Trevor refocused on his younger brother, chattering away, oblivious to Trevor’s silent ruminations. He slid out of the bench seat and stood. “I gotta call Chassie before supper.”
“Feelin’ the weight of that old ball and chain?”
“Something like that.” Trevor felt the weight of her absence like an iron ball in his heart and he bailed before Tanner subjected him to more of his so-called Wyoming charm.
Trevor tried Chassie’s cell phone. No answer. He tried the house phone. No answer.
He paced in his room. Forcing himself to wait five minutes before he dialed again.
Finally after thirty minutes of beating a path in the carpet, Chassie picked up the house phone on the twelfth ring.
“Hello?” she said breathlessly.
“Chassie? Baby, you all right?”
“Where you been? I’ve been tryin’ to call and you didn’t answer your cell.”
“Oh. Umm. Edgard and I were in the barn and I must’ve forgot it. We just walked in the house.”
A rustling noise, like a hand clapped over the receiver.
“What? Shit. Hang on a second.” Mumbled voices. Chassie snapping, “It’s fine.
Don’t even think about it. No!” The receiver crashed and she shouted, “Give it back!”
“Hey, Trev, what’s up?” Edgard asked.
“What in the hell is goin’ on there?”
“Nothin’. How are things going with your family?”
“Shitty.” Trevor heard angry whispering.
Edgard said, “That’s good.”
Trevor stared at the phone in his hand. “Good that things are goin’ shitty?”
“Ah. No. Sorry, Chassie was yammering at me and I didn’t hear what you said.”
“Let me talk to her.”
“She’s washing her hands.”
“Give her the goddamn phone. Now.”
“Fine.” Trevor heard them arguing although he couldn’t make out the actual words, just the tone.
“So when you comin’ home?” In the background he heard Edgard say, “Tell him.”
Trevor frowned. “Tell me what?”
“Um. Tell you how much we miss you.”
Edgard snorted so loudly Trevor heard him.
“What’s happenin’ with your family?” Chassie asked.
“My dad offered me full responsibility for runnin’ the ranch. Permanently. He’ll put it in writin’ and everything.”
“But…” Chassie sputtered, “B-but you aren’t actually considering it?”
“Of course I am. It could be a great opportunity for us.” He was such a f**king liar.
One lousy day around his family and he gave into the urge to be mean to the people he loved just because he could. Just because he was confused and pissed off they weren’t telling him something, and dammit he missed them. Missed being a part of them. Missed who he was when he was with them.
Silence. Then fierce whispers. Then a sniffle.
Jesus. Chassie wasn’t crying? “Chass? Baby, you okay?”
Edgard snatched the phone. “No, she’s not okay. Don’t do this, Trev. Please. Not to her. Not to me, and not to yourself. I’m asking you to wait before making a rash decision.”
The phone crashed again. Sounded like they were wrestling for it. In a rush, Chassie said, “I love you, Trevor. I know you think you have to figure this out on your own, but you don’t. You have us—both me and Edgard—to help you. Come home to us and we’ll talk about it.”
Two raps echoed on his door. “Trevor?” Lianna said. “We’re takin’ Dad into the hospital.”
“Chassie. I hafta go. I’ll call you later.” He hung up.
The rest of the evening was a cluster-fuck of epic proportions. By the time Trevor returned to his room, it was past midnight. Too late to call. Or was he too much of a chickenshit to call because he owed them both an apology?
Either way, he’d make that request for forgiveness in person. He’d grovel if he had to…without qualifications.
Chassie sat in the same place at the kitchen table an hour later when Edgard returned to the house. He snagged a beer from the fridge and straddled the chair opposite hers.
Finally she looked up. “You didn’t kill Greta, did you?”
“No. Her reprieve might be short-lived though when Trevor catches wind of it.”
Edgard took a long, slow drink and eyed the bandage on her forehead. “You should’ve told him.”
“Leave it be, Edgard.”
Edgard sighed. Not that he blamed her, but Chassie’d been extremely grouchy all day. Hadn’t helped matters hearing Trevor snap off the news he was considering his father’s offer to run the Glanzer Ranch on a permanent basis. Not that Edgard believed Trevor would follow through. It reminded Edgard that sometimes Trevor could be thoughtless and a little mean to those he loved just because he didn’t know better.
“Sorry. It’s just…” Chassie sipped her warm milk, scowling when she realized it’d gone cold. “Trev didn’t seem the same.”
“Trevor is different when he’s around them. Breaking free from his family was the best thing he ever did. I can’t imagine why he’d jump back in that cesspool when he’s created utopia here with you.”