Good Enough (Meet Me in Montana 3) - Page 6

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I laughed.

She gave me a grin. “I do remember you saying something about how you’d like to see what he can do with his rope.”

I spun around on my heels and made my way toward the hall that led to my bedroom, praying she would drop the conversation about Tanner. “I wish I’d never told you that!” I called out over my shoulder. “I was drunk when I said it, remember? Drunk speak should be sacred.”

Candace followed me into my room, a teasing, mocking tone in her voice. “Was that really just the booze talking, Timber? You’ve never mentioned being attracted to any guy, drunk or sober. Well, I mean, since dickhead. That was a pretty big confession for you.”

“I never said I was crushing on him. I said he was cute.”

She leaned against the windowsill and smirked. “No, you said, wait, let me think of the exact words…” She tapped her finger on her chin as if deep in thought. “Oh, that’s right! You said he was one of the hottest cowboys you’d ever saw, and you could totally see yourself sitting on his face. Maybe even being a reverse cowgirl to his cowboy.”

My mouth fell open, and I smacked her on the shoulder. “I never said that!”

She laughed and sat down on my bed. “Fine, but we both know you thought it. And come on, Timber, even with the few dates you’ve been on, you’ve never once mentioned them afterwards.”

I sighed. Candace was right. I had gone out a few times with some guys, but none of them ever made me feel like Tanner did simply from his smile. Or that husky voice of his. I thought of the way he held me in his arms that night when we danced.

Is it getting hot in here?

“Tanner is very cute, but he is also never home with the job that he has. I also heard rumors that he’s a player. I’m not interested in that. I’m not interested in a relationship, period.”

“Don’t let your daddy issues ruin all men for you.”

I laughed.

“So, you don’t want to fuck him, then?”

This time I was positive my jaw hit the ground. “Excuse me? You are blunt today, aren’t you?”

She shrugged. “I believe in getting to the facts. Now, answer the question. Do you want to fu…”

I put my hand up and shot her a pleading look. “Please, stop. No, I do not want to sleep with him.”

Ugh. I wasn’t only lying to myself, but to my best friend as well.

“The last thing I want or need is a meaningless hook-up.” I prayed she didn’t hear the slight waver in my voice. From the moment I met Tanner Shaw, I had done nothing but dream about him. Lord, that smile. Those eyes that left my heart beating like hummingbird wings. But I knew a guy like Tanner was not the type of guy I needed in my life. I, unlike my best friend, was a realist. Not a romantic fool who believed the words of good-looking men who promised you the moon and stars. Been there, done that. All it had left me with was a broken heart and fifteen extra pounds when I laid in bed for a few weeks and cried my tears into ice cream and potato chips night after night.

“Well, I can’t fault you there. Are you thinking you’re ready to settle down, start a family, maybe?”

My body froze for a moment before I faced her. “Settle down?” I laughed a humorless laugh. “From my experience with men, all they do is try and win your heart, then once they get it, toss it to the ground and stomp on it.”

“Timberlynn, I know you’ve had issues with your daddy, and the guys you have dated haven’t been exactly what you were hoping for. But not all men are jerks. Maybe you need to give love a second chance. Or, at the very least, enjoy someone’s company.” She wiggled her brows as she said, “Someone like Tanner, perhaps?”

It felt like tiny needles were pressed against the back of my eyes. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to fall in love again. I was simply too afraid of it. My own father had broken my heart over and over until I thought it had turned to stone. My throat worked hard for a few moments before I found the words to speak. “I can’t.”

“You can’t, or you won’t?”

“Both.” I smiled in an attempt to lighten the mood. “I’m afraid this girl’s heart is boarded up and closed for business.”

Candace sighed as I reached into my closet and took out my suitcase and set it on the bed. “Well, from the pictures I saw of this Tanner, I’d totally let him do very wicked things to me.”

With a wink in her direction, I replied, “It’s a good thing I’m not you, then, isn’t it?”

Chapter Three

TANNER

Chance lived about forty miles north of my family’s ranch. I dropped him and his horses off, along with my back-up horse, Banker, then helped to get the horses settled before heading to my folks’ place. I had thought about giving them a heads up, but decided surprising my mother would be more fun. With Lincoln, my older brother Brock’s wife, pregnant with their second baby, my mother was occupied with what was happening in his life. My oldest brother Ty had gotten married a few months earlier to Kaylee, Lincoln’s best friend, and was settling into his new life as well.

Kaylee and Lincoln had moved to Hamilton a few years back from Atlanta, Georgia, and had turned my family’s world upside down. For the good, of course. Both Brock and Ty, once sworn bachelors like myself, had fallen hard and fast for their wives. I really couldn’t blame them—both women were amazing in their own ways.

Brock never stood a chance with Lincoln. She was smart, independent, sweet, and simply adored Blayze, my nephew and Brock’s son from his first marriage.

Ty and Kaylee…hell, everyone knew they were meant for each other long before the two of them knew it. Ty put up a good fight in resisting the fact that he had fallen in love with Kaylee, but eventually he gave in to the love bug, and was now living on the dark side with Brock. I couldn’t help but smile when I thought of my brothers. It was clear they were both happy, and I was happy for them. A part of me was envious of their lives, but I wasn’t even remotely ready to settle down. At least, I didn’t think I was. Every time I thought about it, though, I couldn’t help the emptiness I felt in the pit of my chest. I had no idea what in the hell I was longing for, and the more I tried to figure it out, the more pissed off and frustrated I became.

After driving down the long driveway that led to the ranch barn, I pulled up and parked. The moment I got out of the truck and shut the door, Trigger made it known she knew exactly where we were.

Home. Even she was happy to be here.

I smiled and walked back to the trailer where I opened the gate and quickly walked in. I ran my hand over Trigger’s solid body and smiled. “You know we’re home, don’t you, girl?”

She bobbed her head, causing me to laugh. “Okay, let’s get you to the barn so you can say hi to all your buddies and eat. Then it’s out in the pasture you go.” I led her out of the truck and into the barn.

“What in the hell is this?”

The sound of my brother Ty’s voice caused me to stop and turn to face him. “What? You’re not happy to see your little brother?” I asked with a grin.

Ty shook his head and made his way over to me. He gave me a quick hug and slap on the back before his eyes swept over me, most likely looking for the obvious injury that had me coming home early. My folks thought I’d be home for Christmas Eve, but that was still a week away. “Is everything okay? Dad told us about Colorado. That’s awesome, Tanner.”

I nodded. “Thanks, and yeah, everything is okay.”

“You’re so close to that world-record time, I figured you would be heading to the next event to ride the high.”

With a forced smile, I shrugged and resumed walking Trigger to her stall. “We decided to end the year on a high note.”

When he didn’t say anything, I turned to face him. His eyes narrowed in on me. “I thought you weren’t coming home until closer to Christmas, bro, what happened?”

It was best, to be honest, especially with Ty. He always seemed to know when something was off, and if I tried to hide it from him, he’d see it all that much m

ore. “Chance needed a break, and to be honest, I needed one too. My head hasn’t been in it the last month or so. I think we’re both just tired from going at it so hard. And Trigger here, she needs a break herself.”

“You only have her?” Ty asked, glancing back at the trailer.

Chance and I both brought two horses out on the road with us. Just in case anything happened to our go-to horses, we always had a backup. “Yeah, I left Hank with Banker and Miller. Chance is going to turn them all out together. It will be good for them to stay with each other. Trigger could care less about those three, and simply wants to be spoiled here and given apples every day by Mom. Banker and Miller, I swear, are best buds.”

Ty ran his hand over my horse’s back. “She wins you a shit ton of money, she needs to be treated like a queen and she knows it.”

I smiled and started to lead her into the stall. After getting Trigger settled with fresh water and some food, I closed her stall and released a deep breath. I’d turn her out in a bit, but for now she needed to chill in the barn, especially after that long ride from Colorado. “Damn, it’s good to be home,” I said.

“Mom’s going to be over the moon. She missed having you here.”

With a scoff, I shook my head. “She got used to me being home with my ankle.”

“Hell, she ain’t the only one. I miss your hands helping out on the ranch.”

“You’ve got Brock,” I stated as we made our way out of the barn. When I stepped outside, I paused for a moment and took in the view. The Sapphire Mountains to the east were covered in snow. As my eyes moved down the range, I saw the open pastureland that was part of my family’s ranch. Crystal Lake stood at the base of it all, reflecting the mountains in her crystal-clear blue water. My three older brothers and I learned to fish and swim in that lake. Simply seeing it brought a peaceful feeling over my entire body. I couldn’t see the log cabin that sat to the side of the lake, but I felt that familiar pull to it. Someday when I retired from roping, I was going to talk to my folks about buying it. There was nothing more beautiful than this ranch.

“Damn, that sight never gets old,” I said as I looked up at the clear blue sky, then back out over the ranch. The pastures were clear of snow, and the cows grazed lazily along with the horses.

Ty followed my gaze. “No, it sure doesn’t. Come on, let’s get you up to the house so Mom can smother her baby with attention. It will give Lincoln a reprieve for a bit. Mom’s been all over her with this pregnancy. She swears it’s a girl because Lincoln has been so sick these first four months.”

“A girl again?” I asked. “What does Brock want?”

Ty smiled. “A healthy wife and child.”

I nodded. “I don’t blame him for that.” I glanced over at my truck.

“Don’t worry about the trailer. I’ll have one of the guys take care of it,” Ty said.

“Nah, that’s okay. I’ll do it so I can drive my truck up to the house.”

Ty stared at me for a moment. “You staying in the main house or the lake house? Or you could bunk with Greg and Jimmy again.”


Tags: Kelly Elliott Meet Me in Montana Romance
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