Good Enough (Meet Me in Montana 3) - Page 52

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With a forced smile, I nodded. “I won’t lose control like that again.”

Timberlynn fixed her gown and took a step back, then straightened my jacket. “Bite your tongue, Tanner Shaw. I think my new favorite thing is to be fucked against a wall.”

My mouth dropped open, and she winked. “Come on, let’s get to the party before we’re late.”

Chapter Twenty-Eight

TIMBERLYNN

Conversations flowed easily around the room as people talked, laughed, and exchanged stories. My mind was not on the conversation going on around me as Lincoln, Kaylee, and a woman a few years older than me, Libby was her name, I think, were engaged in a conversation about food cravings during pregnancy.

I took a sip of my wine and glanced around the room as I searched for Tanner. My body, I swore, was still humming from earlier. Tanner had apologized several more times since we’d gotten to the party, but I assured him he had nothing to apologize for.

Across the room I saw Ty Senior, Stella, and Brock talking to a couple. They all smiled and waved over a woman who had just walked into the room. She looked to be Lincoln and Kaylee’s age, around twenty-nine. She was beautiful. Her dark brown hair was swept up into an elegant bun with a few strands of curls that framed her face and neck. Her dress was equally elegant. An ombre, long-sleeved, curve-hugging dress that fell just above her knees. I glanced down and smiled at the Jimmy Choo black crisscross heels she had on. At least I wasn’t the only one in the room wearing seven-hundred-dollar heels. I peeked down at Kaylee’s heels and then over to Lincoln’s. I covered my smile with my wine glass. Okay, correction, there were four of us in the room with excellent taste in black shoes.

When I looked back over, I found Tanner. He leaned in and gave the woman a kiss on the cheek. An instant rush of jealousy rolled over me, and I had to force myself not to squeeze the wine tumbler any harder.

Well, goodness, Timberlynn, where on Earth had that come from?

“There’s nothing to worry about there, Timberlynn,” Libby’s voice said. I turned and looked at the three women, all now staring in the same direction I had been.

“Who is that?” Lincoln asked.

“That is Merit Eden.”

“That’s Merit Eden?” Kaylee practically shouted as I quickly placed my hand over her mouth.

“Jesus, Kaylee, shout it out to the whole room, why don’t you!” Lincoln snapped.

Libby laughed. “Before I let my inner gossip girl come out, tell me what you know.”

Kaylee pointed her bottle of water to Libby. “I knew we were going to be friends the moment you walked into this room,” she mused.

With another chuckle, Libby winked at Kaylee. “I’m mostly a listen-to-the-gossip kind of person, but every now and then a girl has to fill in her new friends.”

“Yeah, I like you. I think we’ll keep you,” Lincoln stated.

I leaned in closer to Libby and said, “Stella seemed to be picking at Dirk about Merit. Something about being caught in the hay loft by Merit’s daddy.”

Libby nodded, looked around, cleared her throat, then motioned for the three of us to come closer.

“Okay, so I feel sort of bad for talking about Merit, we were close in high school, but I don’t want you to hear the wrong version.”

We all nodded. “Go on,” Lincoln stated.

“Everyone in school knew Dirk and Merit were close. Like best friends’ kind of close. They grew up next door to each other, and Dirk protected her like a big brother would. Then, one day out of the blue, Merit told us she wanted Dirk to take her virginity.”

“Did she say why?” Kaylee asked.

Libby took another quick look in Merit’s direction. “She said she trusted him, and he had sorta been hinting at wanting her. That was all she told us, but we all knew she had a crush a Dirk. She wouldn’t admit it, because so did her best friend, Kaci.”

Lincoln and Kaylee gasped.

I knew Kaci was Brock’s first wife, but was unaware of why they gasped.

Libby went on. “The next week in school, everyone was talking about how Mr. Eden found Dirk and Merit up in her daddy’s hay loft. It was apparent something had happened between the two of them.”

“Had he caught them in the act?” I gasped.

Libby shook her head. “No, but it was clear they had done something. When we asked Merit about it, though, she almost cried. She said it was all a joke and that she hated Dirk and never wanted to talk about him or what had happened ever again.”

We all frowned. “What did she mean, it was all a joke?” Kaylee asked.

With a half shrug, Libby replied, “No one really knows. Merit never talked about it again, and from what I know, Dirk has never mentioned it either. Everyone knew Dirk had a thing for Kaci, but I also used to see the way he looked at Merit. Dirk didn’t look at her like a guy who thought of her as a sister, if you know what I mean. And truth be told, he never looked at Kaci that way either. I always sort of thought Dirk had a thing for Merit, but was maybe too afraid of losing their friendship.”

“Kaci, Brock’s first wife?” I asked.

“Ugh, long story, but yes, Dirk liked her,” Kaylee said as Lincoln nodded.

Libby went on. “Anyway, they both pretty much swept it under the rug. Then after graduation, Merit went off to college at NYU. She got her degree and stayed in New York City. She always comes home to visit her folks—apparently always when Dirk is on the circuit. She never really tried to connect much with any of us from high school. She had kept in touch with me for a little while, then we kind of lost touch. Last month, though, she moved back home. For good, according to her mother. I haven’t had a chance to catch up with her, so I have no idea why she’s here. Of course, the rumor mill of Hamilton says she was dumped by her longtime boyfriend, fired from her job, and had no choice but to move back home. I know Merit, though, and she’s not that type of woman. If she has a problem, she isn’t slinking back into town with her head hanging down. She’s home for a reason. A big one.”

We all turned and looked over to where Merit had been standing. The Eden family was no longer talking to Stella and Ty Senior.

“I wonder why she’s back home?” Lincoln asked, the gossip clearly intriguing her.

Libby drew in a deep breath and slowly let it out. “My best guess is it has something to do with the family farm. I think they’re in a bit of a financial mess, and Merit came home with the intention of fixing it. That farm means everything to her and her brother.”

Kaylee took a sip of her water. “Well, by the look on Dirk’s face when he found out she was back in town, and the way he was staring at her earlier, I’m going to guess there was more to that lose-her-virginity-night than we know, and I intend on finding out what happened.”

“How are you going to find out, Kaylee?” Lincoln asked.

With a slow shake of her head, Kaylee replied, “I don’t know. But I’ll come up with something.”

“Dear God, those are words I do not want to hear come out of my wife’s mouth,” Ty said as he kissed a surprised Kaylee on the lips.

“Ty, did you happen to see where Tanner went?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think he offered to show Merit something my father’s working on. I’m guessing maybe he’s with her in Dad’s office.”

“Oh,” I said as I looked toward the hallway that led to Ty Senior’s office.

Libby touched my arm, and I glanced her way. “Don’t worry.”

I forced a smile. “Oh, I’m not the least bit worried.”

It was a lie. Those old insecurities had a way of creeping back in so fast they nearly left me dizzy. I excused myself and mingled with the people in the room as I made my way toward the hall.

Moments later, I found myself standing outside of Ty Senior’s office. The door was shut, and a sick feeling hit my stomach. Then another emotion pushed that ill feeling away.

Trust.

A calmness washed over my body, and I knew in that moment that

Tanner wasn’t going to hurt me. He wasn’t going to sneak off into another room with another woman and cheat on me. For the first time in a very long time, I realized that I trusted someone completely.

I saw the way Tanner looked at me from across a room. The way his eyes met mine when we made love. The way he felt only hours ago inside me, how our passion had been unlike anything I’d ever experienced before in my life. I knew he was upset about what had happened earlier because he cared about me. He always wanted to make me feel cherished, and I loved him for that.

I loved him.

With a smile on my face, I turned and walked back down the hall to the large living room where most everyone was gathered. When I stepped into the room, I saw Tanner. He threw his head back and laughed at something an older woman said. Butterflies danced in my stomach as I watched him flirt with a woman who could be his grandmother. She had a huge smile on her face and was eating up the attention the younger man was giving her.

“Oh, Tanner,” I softly whispered. “I am so in love with you.”

I was about to walk over to him when I felt a hand on my arm. Turning, I smiled when I saw Dirk…and Merit.

“Timberlynn.”

“Dirk, how are you?”

He smiled. “Everything is, um, fine. I was just showing Merit something in Ty senior’s office. Before you run off to find Tanner, I’d like for you to meet Merit Eden. Merit, this is Timberlynn, Tanner’s girlfriend and Kaylee’s cousin. Kaylee is Ty’s wife.”

Merit flashed me a bright smile. She was even more beautiful up close. Her eyes looked almost violet.

“Wow, your eyes!” I shook my head and covered my now-heated cheeks. “That was so rude. I mean, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Merit. Forgive me, I’ve just never seen anyone who had eyes that looked…purple!”

She laughed. “No worries. A lot of people are thrown off by the violet color.”

“They’re stunning.”

Her smile widened, and there was something about her that I immediately liked. “Thank you for your sweet words. They’re definitely a good conversation starter!”

I laughed. “I’m sure they are!”

A hand moved around my waist, and I didn’t even have to look to see who it was. I knew it was Tanner. I could smell his cologne, and with only his touch, my entire body came alive.

My cheeks felt warm and I looked up, only to find him smiling down at me. “Hey, I’ve been looking for you,” he said.

There went that feeling in my chest again, and my stomach flipped and flopped like I was on a carnival ride. “You found me. Dirk was just introducing me to Merit.”


Tags: Kelly Elliott Meet Me in Montana Romance
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