To Tame a Cowboy - Page 54

Listen Audio

Piper couldn’t blame Ryan for going back to rodeo. That was the life he knew, craved, loved. After his mother passed, he’d escaped to the circuit and had never known any other way.

Staying home, founding a rodeo school for children was a wonderful idea, but in all reality he probably wasn’t ready to hang up his rope just yet.

But by the time he decided to come back to Royal, would she be available? Would she just keep waiting for a time that may or may not come?

There was no one else she’d ever gotten that close with. And if he chose to sell his ranch, nix the school plans and travel around the country again, Piper would survive. She’d hurt more than she’d ever known possible, but she’d live through it.

Piper pulled into her drive and sighed at the unfamiliar vehicle. A very shiny, very new-looking full-size truck with a nice set of wheels. Who was blocking her garage door? The cost of a truck like that would complete all her necessary renovations, that’s for damn sure.

At least the roof was finished, as were the kitchen and bath. And finally, thank you, God, the A/C had been installed. All that was left on the inside was the trim work in the living room. Now she was slowly saving for new siding and stone, but that would be a while down the road.

That’s it, she told herself as she grabbed her purse from the seat. Think long term about living in this little bungalow she’d always loved and not long term about Ryan because that window of opportunity had slammed shut when she’d rejected his offer to go on the road.

But that was a depressing thought for another time because there was a man on her porch swing, looking very much like he belonged there.

And it wasn’t just any man. It was Walker Kindred, her father.

Piper squared her shoulders and tilted her chin as she hoisted her purse up onto her shoulder. She mentally prepared herself to face the man she used to call Daddy, yet hadn’t seen in nearly fifteen years—glimpses on television didn’t count.

As she approached the steps he came to his feet, slower than how she’d remembered him moving, whether from age or caution, she didn’t know.

She stared at him, unsure of what to say, and he stared right back. Obviously they were at a standstill, but if he had the courage to make it this far, surely he had the courage to start the conversation and explain what had brought him here after all this time.

Piper tried to tamp down the little girl inside her, the one who’d have given anything to have her father come to her. She was an adult now. She was tougher, but her father had come at a time when she was vulnerable. How many more blows could she take in such a short time?

She started forward, but froze when he spoke.

“You look beautiful.”

Piper stopped, her foot on the bottom step. “Well, of all the things I expected you to say, that wasn’t it.”

He grinned. “I wasn’t quite sure what I’d say, either. I had hoped something would come to me once I got here.”

Piper remained silent again. She hated the awkward silence, hated that she didn’t know how to act, how to feel around the man who’d given her life.

“I wasn’t sure when you’d be home,” he told her, taking off his white cowboy hat and toying with the edges. “I hope it’s okay I waited on your porch.”

Piper nodded as awkwardness settled between them. They may be family, but they were total strangers. Seeing as how she never thought this moment would come, Piper was at a loss for words. Well, seeing him brought back all the hurt, so she had words for him, she just thought it best to remain silent and not make this any worse.

Walker shook his head. “It’s just so good to see you, Piper Jane. I guess while I was sitting here thinking, I just imagined an innocent teenager pulling up. I forget you’re a grown woman.”

“I won’t get into the fact you could’ve seen me turn into that woman anytime you chose, but that’s in the past.” She crossed her arms over her chest, to keep the hurt from seeping in any further. So much for keeping those snarky words bottled inside. “What are you doing here?”

He took a step forward toward the edge of the porch. “I’m here to see you. I have some things to discuss. Is there a time that’s good for you?”

Piper looked at him, really looked. His skin was pale, wrinkles fanned out around his eyes and he was thinner than she remembered.

No matter how he’d hurt her, he was her father. She was still reeling over Ryan’s departure, so this was really sucky timing. Seriously, could she not catch a break?

Tags: Jules Bennett Romance