Good Enough (Meet Me in Montana 3) - Page 31

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He simply shrugged. I was positive my mouth was gaped open. I shook my head to get all of Dirk’s bullshit out. “That makes no sense at all. What are the matches for?”

Dirk tossed a piece of cookie dough into his mouth and laughed. “Beats the hell out of me, but I can’t wait to find out. Keep me posted, man.”

He turned and headed back into the kitchen. He must have made

his way over to Kaylee because I heard Ty yell at him. “Get your paws off my wife, dickhead.”

“Jealousy doesn’t become you, Ty,” Dirk mused.

I walked back into the room and looked once more at Timberlynn, but she was lost in a conversation with my mother. She had a smile on her face and seemed to be fine.

“That will not do!” I heard my mother say as she walked Timberlynn over to my father.

“Ty, our sweet Timberlynn has never made sugar cookies or decorated them. I’m officially making her your partner.”

My father gave Timberlynn a wide smile. “Finally, a girl partner and not Tanner.”

“Hey!” I said as everyone laughed, including Timberlynn. She looked at me and smiled. It was a smile that said a million different things. She was okay. She was happy. She was sorry. Or maybe I hoped it said all of that.

“Granddaddy, may I bake with you and Timberlynn?” Blayze asked with as innocent of a smile as he could muster.

“Oh Lord, son, why?” Brock said as Lincoln giggled and handed Morgan to him.

“Blayze, I was really hoping we could be partners,” Lincoln called out.

Blayze’s eyes lit up. “You don’t want to be partners with Dad?”

Lincoln scrunched her face up and shook her head. She pretended to whisper, “He rushes the decorating.”

Brock rolled his eyes, but then gave Lincoln a loving smile.

“We’re going to win, Mama!” Blayze said as he rushed over, climbed up on the stepstool, and got to work helping Lincoln.

“Traitor,” Brock mumbled.

My mother took my arm and pulled me to the other side of the kitchen. “I’ll take Tanner and Dirk.”

“Why does that make me feel cheapened?” Dirk said, tossing another piece of cookie dough into his mouth as he made his way over to Mom’s area of the kitchen.

Mom simply laughed and put both of us to work rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes. She declared she’d be decorating. She lost that battle, though, when Dirk and I started to compete with one another on who could decorate the best cookie.

I won. At least, in my eyes I had. Every so often I’d sneak a glance over at Timberlynn. She truly was enjoying herself with my father, and that made me both happy and sad. I felt bad for the way her father had treated her, but happy as a fucking clam at how my father was doting on her. I looked at my mother and asked in a low voice, “You put her with Dad on purpose, didn’t you?”

She nodded. “Kaylee told me a little bit about Timberlynn’s past with her mother dying and how she and her father aren’t very close. I thought maybe she might like the experience with more of a male parental figure.”

“When did you become so smart, Mama?”

“When did I become so smart? Son, I’ve always been smart. I’ll have you know, Tanner Shaw, I don’t miss a thing. Like how you left to go to the office with Timberlynn, yet came back alone and she came back looking very confused and on the arm of Dirk. Or how Dirk ushered you into the mud room for a little chat. Don’t think I haven’t noticed how you and Timberlynn keep looking at one another when the other one isn’t paying attention. I see all, child. I see all.”

“You saw all that, huh?” I asked.

She nodded and kept speaking in a hushed voice. “Timberlynn seemed a bit off when she came back. Did you two argue?”

“You could say that. I got a bit…upset.”

“Why?” she asked as she wiped her hand on her apron.

“We’ll talk later, not here.”

With a gentle nod of her head and a warm smile, she replied, “Of course, sweetheart.”

Hours later, we had hundreds of sugar cookies all ready to be packed up into boxes and delivered to various locations. Some went to friends and family, some to the retirement home in town, some to neighbors. My mother had a list every year of where the cookies went. We had voted long ago that we would only stick to baking sugar cookies. The year we tried to do five types of cookies turned out to be a failed attempt. My mother saw how competitive we were with the sugar cookie decorating and used it to her advantage. Long ago we accused her of using child labor to pump out her cookies, and she had admitted to doing just that.

It only made me realize even more that I had done the right thing by coming home early. December twenty-second, the official cookie baking day, would always be one of my favorite days. My only regret was the fight Timberlynn and I had gotten into earlier.

One more glance over at Timberlynn, and I caught her looking at me. Our eyes met, and before I could do anything, Dirk walked up and threw his arm over her shoulders. “Come on, little one. We’re going to play charades, and you and I are going to kick everyone’s ass.”

Timberlynn laughed and allowed Dirk to lead her out of the kitchen. Brock stopped next to me and said, “He’s not interested in her, you know that.”

I nodded. “Yeah, I know.”

He smiled. “Good. I don’t think Mom and Dad want to see you and Dirk break out into a fist fight so close to Christmas. Plus, Mom needs you to help her pack up these cookies.”

“Why me?” I protested.

Brock looked around the kitchen. “’Cause everyone else left, and it’s you and me. I’m older, so I delegate it to you.”

Before I had a chance to argue, our mother walked back into the kitchen. “Oh, Brock, Tanner. You both stayed back to help me! You’re so sweet.”

I smiled and looked at Brock.

“Mom, I was just…” he started.

She handed him a tin. “About to fill this up with cookies. Let’s get to work, boys, we have a lot of cookies to pack up!”

For the next couple of days, I did my best to give Timberlynn the space I figured she needed. I got up early, ate a quick breakfast while everyone else was still sleeping, and then headed out to work on the ranch. Jimmy, Greg, and I had been busting our asses to make sure everything was winterized, and ensuring that nothing had been missed a few months back when they had first prepped for winter. We worked almost until sundown each day. It made sense for me to grab dinner with them rather than try and make it up to the house for dinner. That meant I hadn’t seen Timberlynn in a while...besides a quick moment or two when I’d see her at the barn, or with my mother when they went riding.

It had nearly killed me, not being able to talk to her. See that smile. Hear her sweet voice. Just a couple of days of not being close to her was starting to get to me. Especially since we had left things on not-so-great terms.

Tonight, I would get to see her, though, and I had been counting down the hours all day. It was Christmas Eve, and the family always went to church together.

As I walked out of my bedroom, I heard Blayze and my father playing a videogame on the TV. Judging by Blayze’s belly laughs, it was clear he was enjoying himself immensely. I smiled. He was growing up so fast and so was Morgan. I was glad Lincoln was expecting another baby. The housed needed to be filled with kids again, especially with how happy it made my parents. I knew Mom and Dad missed having Blayze here at the house so much when Brock was still bull riding. He still came over often, but not as much as I knew my folks wanted.

As I went to walk down the steps, I paused and looked down the hall where Timberlynn’s bedroom was. With a deep breath, I walked to her door and knocked. It opened, and my breath caught in my throat at the sight before me. She looked beautiful, dressed in a red dress that was off her shoulders ever so slightly and hugged the top half of her body. The front of her dress fell to her knees with the back longer, almost to the floor. For a moment I found it hard to even speak. “Wow. You look beautiful, Timberlynn.”

Her cheeks flushed. “Well, Stella told me to dress up since we were going to dinner afterwards at the country club. Apparently, Brock’s treat,” she said in a teasing voice.

I smiled and then noticed her eyes giving me a once-over. I was in dress slacks, a button-up shirt, tie, and, of course, I carried a black cowboy hat in my hand. “You sure do shine up nice, cowboy. I don’t thin

k I’ve ever seen you in anything other than jeans and boots, except for the tux at Kaylee and Ty’s wedding.”

This time I laughed. “Well, it makes my mom happy, and she doesn’t ask us to do it too often.”

Her eyes met mine. I could see the confusion in them. The uncertainty of something. Me? What had happened between us? Her feelings toward me? I had so many questions, and the urge to haul her into my arms and kiss her was almost overwhelming. And what in the hell did she need rope and matches for?

I cleared my throat. “I wanted to apologize for the way things were left the other day. I didn’t mean to make you upset, and I hope you know I didn’t mean the things I said. I would never disrespect you, Timberlynn. I need you to know that. I was angry because you were pushing me away.”

She nodded. “I know you didn’t mean it.”

I looked down at the floor, trying to figure out what to say to make her understand that she could trust me. I decided to simply be honest. After all, that was the advice Mom and Dad had both given me when I talked to them this morning about what had happened in Dad’s office between me and Timberlynn. They suggested I talk to Timberlynn and be honest with my feelings, so that was what I was going to do. And be patient. There was that word again. After everything she had told me about her father, I could now see why she had such trust issues. But it still bugged the shit out of me that she thought I was simply a player. My father had said it right when he cautioned that I was going to have to work to earn Timberlynn’s trust.

“I don’t want to lose your friendship, Timberlynn.”

Her mouth turned up at the corners slightly. “I don’t want to lose that either.”

“Good. I also want you to know that I want to be more than friends with you, and if that’s not something you’re able to do, or not wanting to do, then I guess it’s best if you just tell me now. But I did want you to know that I care about you, deeply. I have feelings for you that are stronger than…friendship.”

Her cheeks turned pink.

“But if this isn’t something you’re ready for now, but could possibly be in the future, then I’ll wait.”

Tags: Kelly Elliott Meet Me in Montana Romance