“That’s great.” She beamed. “You’ll be awesome at this, Ryan, I just know it. Having a rodeo school for kids is perfect for you.”
Ryan loved her smile, and it warmed his heart that she was just as excited as he was about the project.
“Any more from Alex?” he asked, trying to stay off the topic of his hormones and the fact she was sex on a stick tonight.
“Cara didn’t return my call earlier, so I haven’t heard anything.” Piper eased forward, resting her elbows on the white cloth. “I hate to bother her all the time, but I care for Alex and I worry for her. I don’t want her to feel like I’m just neglecting her.”
“Cara has so many friends who care for her. She’s overwhelmed, but just the fact you called tells her you care. She’ll be fine, Piper.”
Piper smiled. “See, you went ten whole seconds without flirting or talking about sex.”
“I know something that will kill your...personal issue,” Piper said. “I have to go replace the emergency equipment that was destroyed in the break-in at the clubhouse’s day-care center. I didn’t get there the other day.”
“That still pisses me off. To vandalize where children will be watched and cared for all because some insane person doesn’t want women in the club? It’s too late to change that, so let’s just move forward and stop creating more of a mess.”
“That’s why you’re so awesome.” She smiled. “You don’t agree with those who believe women have no place at the TCC. I think it’s a great thing and the day-care facility is brilliant.”
“Any idea what you have to replace?” Ryan asked, taking a long pull of draft beer from his pilsner glass.
“I was told there are several first-aid kits that were damaged and the CPR cart. The entire lock cabinet was shattered, too. I told them I would get everything in order so the safety inspector can come finalize the area.”
Ryan watched Piper’s delicate hand as she used a fingertip to circle her wineglass. Those hands had saved lives, held on to loved ones who were in fear; they’d lassoed horses and even helped bring foals into this world. His Piper was one very intriguing, diverse woman and he couldn’t wait to feel those hands on his body.
“I thought that was you two over here.”
Ryan turned as Piper did and saw Dave Firestone and Mia Hughes approaching their table. Dave was Alex’s business rival and his beautiful fiancée, Mia, was Alex’s housekeeper. A little conflict there, but they were making it work. The newly engaged couple stood hand-in-hand and Ryan was so happy that they had worked out their problems and were now headed down the aisle...like so many others in Royal lately. Engagements were becoming an epidemic.
“You look beautiful, Mia,” Piper exclaimed with a wide grin across her face. “Are you two celebrating anything special other than being engaged?”
Mia patted Dave’s arm. “Being engaged and the fact Alex is home. We’re trying to pin down a date for the wedding right now.”
“Have the police contacted you again since Alex was found?” Dave asked.
“We talked to them at the site and then I went down the other day to tell them all I knew,” Piper said.
“Nathan Battle stopped by the ranch several days ago,” Ryan said, mentioning his friend, the sheriff. “I just hope they catch the bastard who was behind that. Nathan was pretty thorough when he and I talked. And since he and Alex are friends and he’s invested, I know he won’t rest until he gets to the bottom of this mess.”
Dave wrapped his arm around Mia’s waist. “At least we can move forward with the wedding and not feel like someone is missing.”
“Have you found a dress?” Piper asked.
Mia’s smile widened. “I did and it’s perfect.”
“What color are your bridesmaids’ dresses?”
“I’m thinking of going with a neutral so the flowers really pop, but I’m not sure.”
Ryan watched as Piper’s face lit up at the wedding talk. She may think she wasn’t bride material, but Ryan could totally see her in a long white gown, all that fiery hair spilling down her back.
He shook the image off. Was he really and truly ready to be the man at the other end of that aisle?
“I’m really happy for you guys,” Ryan told them. “Would you care to join us? We were just about to order dessert.”
“Oh, no.” Dave shook his head. “We’ve already had the chocolate cake. We’re actually thinking of having them do our wedding cake, so we wanted to sample it again.”