Several men around the table chuckled, but Paul continued to look put off.
“Cara is pretty confident, too,” Ryan added. “She’s hardly left his side.”
Paul’s frown deepened and Ryan couldn’t help but smile inwardly. Ryan wasn’t one to stir trouble, but he really didn’t care for Paul Windsor. The man was arrogant and tried to rule everything and everyone by looking down his nose at them and pointing his finger, expecting people to ask “how high” when he told them to jump. Not only that, he was a notorious ladies’ man and, if Ryan’s count was accurate, was now searching for wife number five. That poor woman.
“Yes, Cara has been spending a great deal of time with him,” Paul all but grumbled. “But you know Cara, she’ll do anything to help people. I’m sure she’s spending so much time with him because she wants to help jog Alex’s memory.”
Chance jerked his head toward Paul, and Ryan felt like he was caught at an intense tennis match with his head bobbing back and forth.
“Cara is fragile and I’m not sure she can handle all the pressure,” Paul went on. “I imagine this will take its toll on her.”
Ryan nearly rolled his eyes at Paul’s inaccurate statement about his daughter. But when he glanced across to Chance, the man seemed intrigued as he leaned forward on the table, eyes on Paul.
“Cara is a strong woman,” Chance supplied. “But this whole situation could break the strongest of people.”
Ryan kept his mouth shut. He’d seen Cara, spoken with her, and he’d never seen a more determined woman...except Piper.
But, as much as he hated to admit it, Paul and Chance were right. Cara had endured a great deal of heartache, and Chance had been a source of comfort for her in Alex’s absence.
Still, Ryan had seen Cara’s face when she’d stepped into that hospital room for the first time. There was love in her eyes, worry and fear had been evident, as well, but Ryan thought for sure Cara and Alex would work through this.
Even though he knew never to try to get inside the female mind, Ryan couldn’t help but wonder if the lovely Cara Windsor had feelings for both men.
“Alex will likely be returning to the meetings next month,” Zach Lassiter said.
Ryan glanced to the end of the table where Zach sat. The self-made millionaire shared a downtown office with Alex, and Ryan knew Zach had been worried sick about Alex. They all had.
“I invited him today,” Zach went on. “I offered to pick him up, but he wasn’t feeling up to it. Not that I blame him... I was just thinking it might jog his memory if he was surrounded by people he used to know.”
“No need to force him to come back,” Paul declared. “We can carry on without him for now.”
Ryan wished Paul wouldn’t be so blunt about his disdain for Alex, but Paul was blunt about everything. From women to business, Paul Windsor made no secret that he always got what he wanted. And if he didn’t like you, he also made no effort to hide his feelings.
As the meeting continued, Ryan couldn’t help but think of Cara and Alex at the hospital. Was Cara just there out of guilt or obligation since they were engaged?
And he couldn’t think of them without thinking of the way Piper had watched the reunited couple—the hope in her eyes, the soft smile that had lit up her face.
Piper might say that she had no intention of falling in love or becoming a wife, but that woman couldn’t lie worth a damn. Her actions spoke volumes and it was what she wasn’t saying that intrigued him.
Piper pried the edge of her crowbar behind the next shingle and tugged until it came loose. With her gloved hand, she picked it up and sent it sailing in the direction of the small Dumpster she’d rented for this very fun occasion.
Some women chose a day at the spa; Piper chose to spend her time getting sweaty with manual labor.
Ripping off shingles before applying new? Yeah, this was just a blast. Even more so because the previous owners hadn’t removed the other roof before applying this layer, so Piper was in a double bad mood. But she was eager to see her new roof installed because she’d chosen dark brown dimensional shingles that would give her little bungalow more proportion and character.
So she got excited about roofing...that didn’t make her less feminine. Did it? Just because she knew her way around a ranch, had grown up wearing dusty boots and flannel as opposed to frilly dresses didn’t mean she was any less female. She liked to do her own work and didn’t care about the sweat and the mess.