“Well, I might as well tell you because I’m sure Timberlynn is going to find out soon enough.”
My heart dropped to my stomach. “Tell me what?”
“Your daddy ran into Richard Covey earlier. He mentioned something about Timberlynn buying the family property and Richard seemed surprised by it.”
The sound of my heart beating in my ears made it almost hard to hear my mother’s words. “He didn’t know the family was selling?”
“He knew, but he told your daddy plans had changed. When your father asked him for more details, he simply said they had a better offer.”
I closed my eyes and cursed inwardly. “She was really looking forward to that place, Mama.”
“I know she was, son.”
“Should I say something?”
“I wouldn’t—just let it be for now. There isn’t anything she can do being stuck out there, and I’m sure she’s already feeling a bit stressed. The poor girl doesn’t need another knockdown right now.”
I remained silent on the phone as an idea hit me. A crazy, insane, brilliant idea.
“Sweetheart, is everything okay?” my mother asked.
“Yeah, yeah, everything is fine. I just had an idea pop into my head.”
“What kind of idea?”
I looked around the cabin. “One that might be moving a bit too fast for Timberlynn.”
It was her turn to be silent. “Lord, don’t even tell me. Let’s just make it through this storm first, okay?”
I nodded, even though she couldn’t see me. “Are you and Dad okay? Did Ty or Brock make sure you had enough firewood? You’re okay with food?”
A light chuckle filtered through the phone. “Who’s the parent here, Tanner?”
“Sorry, I can’t help but worry. It seems like a pretty bad storm.”
“If you happen to remember, your father and I have lived through plenty of them over the decades. We’re fine. Your father can always go out and get more wood. We’re planning on camping out here in the living room in case the power goes out, so we’ll have the fire.”
I grinned. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that my father would take full advantage of that. He was, after all, a Shaw.
“You take care of our girl, okay?” Mom said.
My gaze drifted back toward the master bedroom. “Our girl?” I asked in a teasing tone.
“Yes. Our girl. She might not have been in our world for very long, but I adore her. And I’m pretty positive that you do too.”
I rubbed my chest to ease the ache there. It was becoming a familiar feeling every time I thought about or saw Timberlynn. “I adore her, Mama.”
The line was silent for a moment. “I know you do, Tanner. Check in before you go to sleep and in the morning.”
“Will do. Goodnight, Mama, I love you.”
“Oh, sweetheart, I love you too.”
The line went dead, and I hung up. The shower had stopped, and I walked back over and took out bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes. I grabbed the bread and pulled out four slices and put them in the toaster. I searched for the right type of frying pan, and soon had some bacon cooking. I turned the heat down to low and set off for the master bedroom.
I sat down on the bed next to her. “I’m cooking up some bacon for BLTs. Does that sound okay?”
Timberlynn sat on the edge of the bed and stared down at the floor. The look on her face was one of utter devastation.
“Hey, are you okay?”
She nodded, then looked up at me and slowly shook her head to indicate she was indeed not okay. It looked like she was about to cry at any moment.
My heart raced in my chest and I tried like hell to keep my breathing controlled. She held her phone in her hand, and I glanced down to see she had an email pulled up.
“Do you have service?” I asked.
She slowly shook her head. “No. The realtor emailed me earlier, and I downloaded the message but wanted to wait until I got back to read it.”
Her voice sounded defeated and I hated that. “Do you want to tell me what’s wrong?”
“I lost the Covey property.”
I dropped my head and stared at my hands. I wanted to tell her that I already knew, but I kept quiet.
“The realtor said they had a higher bid on the property, and they went with that person.”
“I’m so sorry, Timberlynn. You’ll find something else.”
She wiped a tear away that had slipped free and shook her head. “Tanner, that property was perfect. And it doesn’t even matter. Even if I do find something, he won’t let me buy anything. He’ll just keep outbidding me.”
“Who?” I asked, instantly feeling a sense of anger that someone was fucking around with her.
Timberlynn blinked back tears and looked at me. “My father.”
Now I was confused. “What does your father have to do with the Covey property?”
“He bought the Covey property. He outbid me on it and told me in an email he would keep outbidding me if I didn’t give up this…as he put it, ‘silly little dream of mine’, and come back to Atlanta.”
Anger moved through my body so fast it caused me to stand. “Your father was the one who outbid you? How in the hell did he even find out you were buying the place?”
She sighed. “Cory, my financial advisor, told him.”
“Is he allowed to tell him that information?”
“It wasn’t anything like that. He ran into him at a benefit dinner. Cory mentioned something about me being so in love with Montana and how happy he was I found a place to purchase. My father played it off at first, went along with him. He got information out of Cory by playing along, pretending that he knew I was here. Cory didn’t know my father wasn’t privy to that information.”
“So, your father is pissed you’re in Montana. He does realize he doesn’t get a say in where you live or what you do with your life, right?”
Timberlynn stared down at her phone and then turned to face me. “This is what he’s alway
s done, Tanner. He attempts to control my life the only way he’s ever known how. Money. Now that I have my own, this is the only way he thinks he can control what I do. He’s upset with me that I left Georgia and didn’t tell him. He’s even more upset that I walked away from my nursing job. In some weird way, I think he thinks he’s helping me.”
“Helping you? By keeping you from your own damn dreams?”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
Timberlynn exhaled and dropped back onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling. “I know it doesn’t. I don’t know what to do, short of changing my name and moving somewhere he can’t find me. And I don’t want to do that. I really do love my father, and I was hoping once I got settled, I could talk him into coming out here. Seeing how happy I am. Part of this is my fault for leaving and not telling him. I know he’s more upset about that than anything. And to be honest, I’ve never told my father about wanting to own my own business.”
She covered her mouth to keep from crying. I grabbed her hand and pulled her up. “Hey, no crying allowed, or you’re going to make me want to hunt your father down and punch him for making my girl cry.”
The corner of her mouth rose into a slight smile. “Your girl?”
I nodded. “Yes. You’re my girl, and I’m going to make this right. I think I might have an even better solution. Will you give me a week or so to figure something out?”
She tilted her head and smiled at me. “Tanner, it is so sweet of you to want to come to my rescue. But I don’t need a knight in shining armor. I just need you to support me. And I’m afraid the Covey place is gone.”
“I’m not talking about the Covey place. Will you trust me with something?”
A skeptical look moved over her face.
“Timberlynn, I’m not asking you to let me rush in and be your savior, I’m asking you to let me come up with another solution for you to decide on. I think I might know of a property you’ll love even more than the Covey ranch, and I sort of have my own selfish reasons behind it. I’ll admit, it’s kind of crazy, and I might very well spook you, but I really need you to trust me.”