Good Enough (Meet Me in Montana 3) - Page 57

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I closed my eyes and moa

ned again as I let each spice from the homemade ragu settle in my mouth.

Tanner and I spent the rest of our meal in a comfortable silence. I knew he was leaving me to my thoughts about my father. A part of me knew that what Tanner said made sense. Maybe all those years of distance was my father’s own mechanism for keeping himself from being hurt again. It still didn’t make it right. I would never be able to get back all the moments I wished my father had been there for me.

I must have sighed, because Tanner reached across the table and squeezed my hand. “Let’s leave the dishes for now, and before you call your father, let me take you to the barn. I have that surprise for you.”

“The barn?” I asked, instantly perking up. I knew Tanner had set up a stall for his horse Trigger and one for Rosie. He knew I had taken a liking to her. But I also knew they were both turned out in the smaller pasture that was set off to the side from the lake. Tanner and Ty had fenced it in after Tanner bought the lake house and two-hundred acres from his folks.

I had gone over it in my mind a thousand times. I could buy that land from the Peterson’s and that would put my own investment in, but I knew deep within in my heart that I would have a long future with Tanner. I couldn’t explain how I knew it or why it felt so different, but I knew this relationship with Tanner was it. He was my future. Yet, I still wanted to have something that was mine. As much as I loved Tanner, I didn’t need him to rush in on a white horse to save me. Tanner himself told me that he’d always wanted the lake house—and Kaylee and Lincoln had talked to Ty and Brock and confirmed it. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to jump on board with his plan. Maybe someday, when we were engaged, it would feel different. Right now, it simply felt like Tanner was handing me my dream. I loved him for that, but I needed to work it out for myself.

After we wrapped ourselves up in jackets, gloves, and hats, we made our way to the barn. A light snow was falling, dusting the ground just enough to take my breath away once more. Something about a fresh snowfall on the rolling hills and mountainsides made me feel so at peace.

When we walked into the barn, I stopped at the sight of a horse in a stall. He was a chestnut thoroughbred and he looked very malnourished. “What happened?” I asked as I rushed over to him.

“Someone my mother knows from the Hamilton SPCA called her yesterday and said they had a rescue horse they needed to find a permanent home for,” Tanner said with a nonchalant shrug. “The owner had been given the horse in hopes of training him to race. He hit some hard times and thought maybe he could hold onto the horse, but realized he needed to give him up. They asked if she was interested in taking him on. She told them she knew of someone who would be starting a new training business, but who was also interested in rescue horses.”

I placed my hand out for the beautiful chestnut to smell before I gently rubbed down the side of his face. He let out a sad nicker. I softly rubbed his neck. He looked like he had been left to starve, and that broke my heart.

“I know you’re not ready to start training yet or take on rescues, but my mother thought it would be good for both of you to help each other out,” Tanner said.

With a smile, I unlatched the stall door and slipped inside. The gelding looked down at me, and when his eyes met mine, I felt the instant connection. “Hey there, beautiful. You’re safe now. We’re going to take care of you.”

Tanner watched as I cooed to the horse. “I was thinking this spring we could make a corral off the side of the barn to do some rope work with him. I don’t think he’s trained at all.”

I nodded and ran my hand over his back. “I’d like to talk to your mom about what she thinks is the best approach feed-wise.”

“She’d love that,” Tanner said as he joined me in the stall. “He seems to like you. He’s a sweet boy, and didn’t give Chance any issues when he picked him up from the Hamilton SPCA. As a matter of fact, Chance said the horse almost knew he was there to take him out of that place.”

“Chance brought him here?”

“Yeah. I gave him a call and asked if he’d be interested in picking him up for me. He was more than happy to do it.”

I smiled and focused back on the horse. This was my first recuse horse, and how fitting that he was here in Tanner’s barn and that we were doing it together.

My heart skipped a beat as I turned and looked at Tanner. He slowly ran his hand down the gelding’s leg, and then lifted it to examine his shoe.

In a sudden rush of realization, I took a few steps back and watched Tanner interact with the horse. Everything I had been through had brought me to this very moment. The only thing I needed in my life was this man. This wonderful, caring, amazing man who was starting his own journey in life, and bought a freaking house and land so that I could start a dream I’d had for so long. The one person I knew I was destined to spend the rest of my life with. There was a reason he had pushed his way into my heart, and I wasn’t afraid to take the leap with him. Not anymore. Faith and trust were the two things that stood out when it came to Tanner Shaw.

“We could do this together,” I softly whispered.

“What was that?” Tanner asked as he looked up at me and let the horse’s leg down.

“Nothing, I was just thinking out loud.”

He smiled, and I couldn’t help but smile back. “Do you think you’ll have time to maybe work him with me?”

Tanner’s smile morphed into a wide grin. “I was hoping you’d ask. I’d love to work with him. He looks like he could be a great horse. If you wanted to get back into dressage competition, he’d be perfect for that. I can see it in his eyes.”

I looked at the pathetic-looking horse. He looked tired, and only someone who truly loved horses could look past what was on the outside to see what potential this horse had. I sensed it the moment I stepped into the stall with him, and clearly Tanner had as well. “If you don’t mind, I think I’m going to call my father.”

Tanner looked surprised. “Right now?”

I nodded. “Yes. Right now.”

Chapter Thirty-One

TIMBERLYNN

My heart pounded so loudly, I was positive everyone in the Missoula airport heard it.

“Don’t be nervous,” Tanner whispered as he pulled me closer to him.

“I can’t believe he agreed to come.”

“And why wouldn’t he?”

Slowly, I shook my head. “Because he’s never come to anything. Ever. Tanner, he wasn’t even at my high school graduation.”

Tanner frowned. “He wasn’t?”

“No! Or my college graduation.”

Without saying a word, Tanner kissed me on the forehead. “Well, he’s here now.”

I blew out a breath and mumbled, “He’s about eighteen years too late.”

My breath caught in my throat as I saw my father heading down the escalator. He scanned the area, and when he saw me, he smiled. I smiled back, almost without meaning to. Things had been tense between us the last few years, but that one smile gave me the slightest bit of hope. I wasn’t going to go crazy, though. My father had let me down so many times in my past, and I knew this feeling was only temporary.

“There he is,” I softly said as Tanner dropped his arm from around my waist.

In a minute he was there. Standing in front of me, the smile still on his face. He truly looked happy to see me.

“Dad,” I said as I walked up and kissed him on the cheek. I was stunned when he pulled me into a hug and held onto me.

“Timberlynn, I’ve missed you so much, sweetheart.”

Then he let me go and looked at Tanner.

Tanner stuck out his hand to give him a firm shake. “Mr. Holden, I’m Tanner Shaw, it’s a real pleasure to meet you.”

My father gave Tanner a good once-over. His smile was still there, yet it had faded ever so slightly. “Tanner, it’s good to meet you. It’s also good to put a face to the name.”

I smiled nervously.

“Your luggage will be coming off of this belt,” T

anner stated.

“I carried mine on, learned my lesson a time or two.”

Tanner laughed an honest laugh, while I let out a nervous-sounding chuckle. My father turned to look at me, and I forced myself to smile wide. “Did you have a good flight?”

He nodded.

Tanner reached for his suitcase. “Let me take that for you, sir. I hope you don’t mind, but my parents have planned a small lunch with my two older brothers and their wives to welcome you to Montana.”

My father kept the pleasant smile on his face. “That sounds nice.”

As we walked out of the airport, my father stopped. I turned and looked at him.

“Dad? What’s wrong?”

He stared straight ahead, and I heard Tanner chuckle. “They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” Tanner said.

With a slow nod of his head, my father replied, “They don’t look real. It looks like a picture.”

I turned to see where he was looking. The mountains. They were covered in a fresh snowfall, and it looked like a winter wonderland.

Smiling, I stared out at the same view. They were part of the reason I was drawn to Montana. But the man standing there, telling my father what mountain range he was looking at—he was the reason I had come here. I hadn’t known it at the time, or maybe I had. But Tanner Shaw was one of the reasons I fell for Montana.

My father turned and looked at me. “Well, I certainly see the appeal.”

“Just wait until you see Hamilton. Kaylee is so excited to see you.”

His brows narrowed ever so slightly. “I don’t even know when the last time I saw Kaylee was. I think you were in high school, and she might have been in college.”


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