To Tame a Cowboy - Page 61

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Piper jumped back. She’d been so caught up in the blissful moment she hadn’t heard the back door open, nor had she heard her father step in. While she wasn’t a teen, she was still embarrassed that he’d seen her getting hot and heavy with Ryan.

“Piper?” Ryan asked, glancing between her father and her.

She smiled. “A lot happened while you were gone.”

Walker stepped forward, extending his hand. “From what I heard and saw, I think I should say welcome to the family.”

Piper and Ryan laughed.

“He hasn’t proposed, Dad.”

Ryan shook Walker’s hand. “No, I haven’t. I think he just did it for me.”

Stepping back and sliding his hand into his pocket, he pulled out a small box. Lifting the lid, he got down on one knee.

“I know you aren’t one for mushy or traditional things,” he started, “but I have to propose the right way.”

Piper stared at the simple band of diamonds. Placing a hand over her mouth, she tried not to start crying again like some lovesick woman.

“I’ve loved you since you punched me in my face. I’ve never met anyone who cares for people the way you do. I’m not worthy of your love, but I’m asking for it anyway.”

From the corner of her eye, Piper saw her father step back. The fact that he was present for the most important moment of her life was not lost on her. He had been absent for nearly everything, but now, when she was starting a new chapter, he was there.

“The band is flat because you work with your hands a lot, but we can get something else if you want.”

Piper grabbed his hands and tugged until he came back to his feet to stand in front of her. “This is perfect,” she told him.

“It’s got diamonds all the way around and it’s called a Forever band.” He removed the ring and slid it onto her finger. “I didn’t want traditional, not for you. And forever seemed to sum up my feelings perfectly.”

Piper stared down at the band on her finger and couldn’t suppress her tears or her smile. She’d cried so much lately, but she didn’t care. Ryan had come back to her and so had her father. All those tears were worth it.

“You were pretty sure of yourself, cowboy.” She looked back up at him. “Coming here with a ring.”

“I wasn’t sure of myself. I was a nervous wreck. But I was sure of us.”

Piper threw her arms around Ryan and whispered in his ear, “I love you. And when my father isn’t looking, I’ll show you just how much.”

He wrapped his arms around her and whispered back, “Can you send him to the store for more groceries?”

“Okay,” Walker said across the room. “I may be old, but I can still hear. You two need privacy. I’ll just go...out. Somewhere. For a few hours. Um...yeah, I’ll find somewhere.”

Piper laughed at her father’s stuttering, his red face. “Seriously, Dad. You can stay. I love having the two most important men in my life here with me. Besides, I have no clue how to get started on preparing this Thanksgiving feast for tomorrow.”

Ryan stepped back, unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled up his sleeves. “Well, Red, you’re in luck. I used to help my mama in the kitchen and Thanksgiving was her specialty.”

As they started preparing dressing and pies, Piper’s heart swelled. In her tiny, remodeled kitchen they worked and she couldn’t have been happier. Ryan and her father spoke of the rodeo. They’d traveled on two separate circuits, but the level of respect was evident from both men.

“And you needed to help your partner?” Walker asked. “Did he find someone to fill in already? Someone as good as you?”

Ryan shrugged as he continued to tear bread and throw it in the bowl for the stuffing. “He’s no slacker. I just worry about Joe not getting that championship money.”

“I’ll give it to him,” Walker said easily.

Piper spun around from the counter where she’d been pouring filling into a pie crust. “What?”

“I told you I worked my ass off and have more money than I know what to do with.”

Piper’s gaze shot to Ryan’s, then back to her dad’s. “Wow, um. That’s great, Dad.”

Ryan nodded. “If you’re serious, Walker, then we’ll split it, but it’s not necessary for you to pitch in. I had already thought of just giving Joe the money so he could relax and not be so stressed and his family wouldn’t have to worry anymore.”

Tags: Jules Bennett Romance