Big Man's Wife - Page 28

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“Troy, look—”

“No,” he snaps, cutting me off. “It doesn't matter. I was done waiting around for you anyway. I already sent someone else to do what you couldn't.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You haven't been answering your phone. Did you think I was just going to sit back and wait for you? I'm a businessman, Jenna, it's what I do. This shit has an expiration date that's far overdue.”

I sit in silence. He's actually sending someone else. Troy is determined to get this farm one way or another and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm not going to be able to stop him. His mind is made up and I won't be able to reason with him.

“I want you on the next plane home,” he continues to say. “If not, you're done. No more money, no more fancy things, no more school. I'll cut you off and disown you. You'll get nothing.”

I'm about to speak when the line goes dead. I'm numb. I can't feel anything, not even the floor beneath me. It's like he pulled the rug out from under my feet.

He's going to take my entire life from me.

The thought makes my stomach curdle. Everything I know, everything I have, everything I'm working toward will disappear in a blink of an eye. I'll be right back where I started, with nothing.

I can't let that happen. It will gut me to have to walk away from college and all my friends. I don't know where I'd go, I don't know what I'd do. But none of that matters. Troy made the choice for me.

I have to do it. I have to go home.

Hanging my head, I reluctantly push myself up off the floor. Setting my bag on the bed, I pull the clothes out from the drawers and closet, laying them on the bed. I'm folding them up, stuffing as much as I can into my small bag.

“What are you doing?” Ryder asks, leaning against the door-frame.

Glancing up quickly, I drop my eyes back to the pile of clothes. “What does it look like?”

“It looks like you're packing.”

“Bingo.” Shoving a shirt deep into the bag, I practically punch it in place.

“Whoa,” he says, coming to my side. Ryder grabs both my hands and squeezes himself between me and my bag. “What's going on? Why are you packing?”

Tears bubble up over my eyes, making it hard to see. But I don't want to cry, and I know if I blink the tears will start to fall, and I won't be able to stop them.

Looking up at the ceiling, Ryder studies my face. He knows me, he knows something is really wrong.

“Jenna, what is it?”

“I have to go back.” My lip trembles as I speak, and my hands are starting to shake.

“I don't understand. You haven't convinced me to sign yet, so you can't go.” There's a tone to his voice, a hidden plea, a soft beg. He wants me to stay.

“I know,” I say. Closing my eyes, the tears begin to fall, streaking down my cheeks. “But it doesn't matter anymore. I failed. I couldn't get it done, and now Troy is threatening to take everything from me.”

Ryder wraps me in a big hug, pressing my head against his chest. “Jenna, calm down.” He strokes his hand down my hair, and over my back. “Everything is going to be okay.”

“No, it's not.” My voice is sharp and almost hysterical. Taking a step back, I wipe the tears from my eyes and look up at him. “He's going to take everything if I stay here any longer. Even college, all of it just gone. I can't lose everything I've worked for. I can't let him do this to me. I need to go home.”

Ryder is quiet, his eyes steady on mine. He doesn't look upset or angry or sad. Turning around, he picks up one of my shirts and puts it in the bag. The silence is killing me. I need him to say something, anything.

“Ryder. . .” His name comes out of my mouth, barely audible.

“I get it, Jenna,” he says. Twisting back around, he reaches out and takes my hand. Pulling me in, he cups my face, wiping away more tears. “I understand what it feels like to lose everything. If you think this is what you need to do, then do it. I won't stop you.”

Stop me! Tell me not to go! All you have to do is say the words.

Tell me you love me. . .

My heart lurches for freedom, hoping and praying he says what I want to hear. His thumbs stroke up and down my jawline, and his eyes glint like gun metal as he leans forward and kisses my forehead.

“Do what makes you happy, Jenna. You can't live your life for other people. If there's something you want, then you need to do whatever it takes to make it yours. It's been nice having you here again, even if it was just for a short time.”

Tags: Penny Wylder Romance