Ranch Daddy - Page 63

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“I was supposed to take care of you, and I fucked up.”

I shook my head. “I asked you to stay.”

“But I’m supposed to be the responsible one. I could’ve said no. I could’ve not fallen asleep.”

“You were exhausted, and if my dad wasn’t such an asshole, we wouldn’t have been caught.”

“I should’ve set an alarm.”

I pushed his hat back so I could see his face better. “You didn’t mean to fall asleep, and you’re normally up with the sun, but you’ve been working yourself too hard, trying to take care of me, the ranch, and everyone else.”

“It’s my job, Riley, and I’m usually good at it.”

I couldn’t stand the way he’d lost his usual confidence. Is this how he felt when I put myself down? “You’re always good at it. And you’re also always telling me I’m capable, and I can be responsible. I didn’t set an alarm either.”

“You were half-asleep. I put you to bed. You wanted a Daddy, and I–”

“You are the best Daddy any boy could ask for.”

He pulled me into a hug, and I wrapped my arms around him. “I want to go with you.”

“You don’t even know where I’m going.”

“Do you?”

He rested his chin against the top of my head. “I’m going to go visit my mom in Tulsa and then try to find a job somewhere without a reference.”

“This isn’t fair. You didn’t do anything wrong and—”

“Yes, I did.” He took hold of my shoulders encouraging me to lean back, so he could look at me. “I was your boss, and—”

“But you weren’t, not really. I wasn’t actually working for you, not like one of the other hands. You were teaching me about running a ranch. There’s no reason—”

“We both knew it was wrong. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have needed to hide.”

“Plenty of men have to hide that they’re gay, and that doesn’t make it wrong.”

Blake let out a long, exasperated breath. “Riley, you know what I mean, and you know—”

“I knew my father wouldn’t want us together, but you never took advantage of me, and I never felt like what we did together had any bearing on you teaching me about the ranch. You wanted to help me. You weren’t trying to, like, blackmail me or some shit like that. You would’ve taught me everything even if I’d never been the least bit interested in you. It wouldn’t matter if I was straight or if I was—”

“True, but I knew your father wanted me to treat you like any of the other ranch employees, and that meant keeping my hands off.”

“You didn’t even try to defend yourself. He’s acting like you’re some kind of criminal or—”

“I did exactly what he accused me of. I’m not going to lie about it.”

“You didn’t fuck me in his house.”

“Riley!” Blake glared at me, and even though I knew he was annoyed because I was being a brat, the dynamic between us felt right for the first time that day.

“I know. The location doesn’t really matter, but I just don’t want to be here without you.”

Blake laid his hands on my shoulders, and their warmth calmed me. “You are not going to give up your chance to win your freedom because of this. You’ve worked so hard, and you’ve learned so much—”

“But without you here—”

“You’ve learned everything you need to from me. Go over it. Practice it. Talk to Angelo. Talk to Vic. Talk to Casey. You don’t have to have me here to do this.”

Could that possibly be true? “You really believe that?”

“Yes, Riley. I do.”

“I need you, Daddy.” The thought of not having him to comfort me or scold me when I needed it made me queasy.

“You needed my support. You needed to know someone believed in you. You needed someone to teach you, but now you can do this on your own.”

“But I don’t want to.” I managed not to actually stick my lip out in a pout.

“And I don’t want to go, but I took a risk.”

“We took a risk. This is just as much my fault as yours, and it’s all wrong because I can stay here, and I can do this.” Blake’s face lit up in a gorgeous smile. And I realized what I had said.

“I can do this, but you… You’ve lost your job. A job you loved, a job you needed. I would be okay no matter what, but you—”

“I will be okay too, Riley. I’ll find another job. I’ll start over if I have to.”

“You shouldn’t have to. It’s not fair.”

“I don’t think your father is very interested in fair, but I’m going to be fine, Riley.”

“I can call you, right? I mean you’re not just going to walk away and not…”

“Riley, I’m not sure—”

“No. Don’t do this to me. I know I can practice what I know without you, but I still need your support because I don’t think my father is going to—” My voice broke, and I pressed my hands to my eyes, trying to stop the tears.


Tags: Silvia Violet Romance
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