To Tame a Cowboy - Page 58

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“Oh, Piper,” he murmured as his arms enveloped her. “I’ve missed you.”

Piper cried. Damn it, she couldn’t be strong another second. She cried for the little girl who’d never really known her father. She cried for the woman who broke it off with Ryan. And she cried for the reunion   she was having because, God help her, she wanted this to last. She wanted this relationship more than she thought possible.

“I love you, Piper,” her father whispered.

Piper squeezed her eyes as tears slid down her cheeks. “I love you, too, Dad.”

Sixteen

Only one night after the first show, Ryan was already restless. This was not the life he’d wanted, not the life he’d planned when he’d hung up his rope and chosen not to be a Header anymore.

Now he was in a hotel room, same hotel smell and same tacky decor as all the other countless ones over the years. But it had never bothered him before. When he’d sat in his rooms in the past, he’d either have a few beers with his partner or some other members of the circuit or they’d hit a honky-tonk and dance with some mighty fine ladies.

But there was only one lady tonight who he was thinking of. Only one lady who was occupying his time, his thoughts, his every breath. And being on the road was pure hell.

Nearly every second since he’d left, Ryan had wondered what Piper was doing, how she was feeling and if she would ever forgive him. Would she blow him off? Would she try to be all prideful and pretend he hadn’t hurt her? Or would she light into him and let him know exactly how much she hated him?

Only seven more weeks until he would officially be done. He would be taking a break for the holidays but he doubted he’d be welcome in her home.

Pain sliced deep through him. Why hadn’t he insisted she come? Why hadn’t he done something to make her see he wasn’t brushing her or their relationship aside?

Instead of fighting, he’d watched her cry, watched her pour her heart out through tears and then turn and quietly walk out of his life.

What the hell kind of man did that?

A man who didn’t think he’d truly lose the woman of his dreams. A small sliver of hope still lived within him that all was not lost, but he hadn’t heard a word from her since he’d left. His cell was quiet and Ryan feared with each passing moment of silence, the wedge between them was growing wider and wider. Over the past several days Ryan had pulled out his phone to call her, but he always backed out because he was a coward. The thought of her rejecting him terrified him, so he thought it best to just let her think, let her have some space.

At last night’s show, he’d not performed to the best of his abilities because his mind had been elsewhere. Joe would’ve been better off with another partner who was invested and had his head in the competition. Ryan had merely been filling a spot and nothing more.

Another first for him. Never in all his time on the circuit had he allowed a woman to come between him and the love of his job. No one had ever been important enough or worth the distraction. Distractions could get cowboys hurt; he’d seen it numerous times over the years and had sworn that would never be him.

Because he had to finish what he was doing, help secure Joe that championship cash so he could save his ranch because the man was too prideful to take a handout. But Ryan was going to try again because this scenario of trying to help was not working. Then when Ryan went home, he’d do so with a ring and a promise. He wouldn’t leave Piper again.

Ryan was a firm believer that if something was supposed to happen, it would. And in his heart, he knew that he and Piper were not over. They’d hit a bump, one he’d placed in their path, but they would get over it together. If he had to carry her over it, they would make it.

He crossed to the wide window overlooking downtown Dallas and raked a hand through his hair. He should just call her. The worst she could do is tell him to go to hell and hang up, but he really didn’t think she would.

He’d been the one to make this mess; the least he could do was try to smooth things over so it didn’t get any worse.

Just as he pulled his cell from his jeans’ pocket, someone knocked on his door. Confident it wasn’t a buckle bunny, since he’d checked in under an alias, he moved through the room and checked the peep hole. His partner, Joe, stood on the other side.

Ryan slid the chain across and opened the door. “What’s up?”

“There’s a nice group of very interested ladies in the bar downstairs. We were all wondering where you were. Since I’m married, they aren’t so interested in me.”


Tags: Jules Bennett Romance
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