Page 14 of Faithful Cowboy (Whiskey Valley Bryant Brothers)

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I’m about to give up hope when I finally hear Griffin’s gruff response. “Come in.”

I push open the door and stand in the open doorway. He’s in the bed, his back propped against pillows and the headboard. The sheet covers him from the waist down. I stare at his bare chest with the sprinkling of hair. I stay rooted to my spot and just look at him, taking it all in.

“Hailey... what are you doing up here? I thought you’d be out with Chance.”

He likes me. At least Chance said he does. Could Griffin be jealous or did I just imagine the jealousy laced in his voice?

I shrug and walk into the room, kicking the door shut behind me. “I canceled on him, but I think he was all right with it. Plus, I’d rather you take me around.”

He takes a deep breath, and I watch his chest rise and fall. I have to shake my head to pull my attention off him. His voice is gravely as he asks me, “What’s that?”

I walk farther into the room, trying to give myself courage. His room is all dark wood pieces and light blue walls. I would look at it and appreciate it more if I wasn’t so nervous right now. I set my supplies on the dresser and start unpacking it all, setting bottle after bottle on the dresser top. “You know, one time I wrote a book about a physical therapist. A man came into her office for rehab on his leg. He’d had surgery. Anyway, I had to do extensive research on what exactly a physical therapist would do, and I learned quite a bit from it.” I turn and look at him, and I swear I catch him looking at my butt. I try to hide my smile. “Anyway, after hearing that you were hurting... I wanted to help.”

He’s frowning at me. “No one was supposed to tell you.”

“Your family loves you, Griffin. Maybe they thought I could help you.”

He sits up farther on the bed. “You’re here to work. Not play caretaker for me. I don’t want to ruin your book. I know you have a deadline.”

I sit down on the edge of the bed. I’m down by his feet, out of his reach but trying to put us on the same level. “I’ll make my deadline. I’m not worried about that right now. I’m worried about you. I hate that I pushed you yesterday...”

“You didn’t push me. It was my idea to go riding.” He rubs his thigh, and I don’t even think he realizes he’s doing it. “Plus, whatever amount of pain I have now is worth it to see you yesterday. You loved riding Bessie.”

I laugh and nod my head. “I did. It’s the best feeling I’ve had in a long time.”

He lifts his shoulders. “See... worth it.”

I’ve never had anyone that put my needs or wants before theirs. Griffin knew he would be hurting today, but he still did what he did. It’s probably time I tell him the whole story. “You are not going to mess up my book, Griffin. It’s me. I’m the one that’s going to mess it up.”

He leans forward. “No, there’s still time. Between Chance and me, we can—"

I interrupt him. “No, it’s not because I don’t know anything about ranching... There’s more to it.”

When I don’t go on, he leans back on the pillow. “What is it?”

I look at the wall over his shoulder. I can’t admit this to him staring into his eyes. I take a deep breath and then blurt it out. “It’s hard to write about love when I don’t believe in it.”

Of all the things I expect from him, I don’t expect the expletive to come from his mouth. “Fuck!”

I stare at him open-mouthed, but he’s not done yet. “If your ex was anywhere around, I swear I’d punch him in the face right now. I know you know this, Hailey, but maybe you need me to say it. He didn’t deserve you. If he lied to you, cheated on you... then he doesn’t deserve you. You deserve a man that knows your worth. And as for the believing in love... you were hurt. Of course you’re going to question it, but I guarantee love exists, Hailey. I will never believe differently. I saw the way my parents loved each other. I know it’s real.”

I take a deep breath and let his words sink in. It would be so easy to fall for Griffin. He’s the whole package.

“Will you please let me help you?”

Chapter 11

Griffin

I watch her, and I’m being completely truthful with her. Even after everything I’ve been through, I have no doubt there’s such a thing as true love. If her ex-husband was around, I definitely would want five minutes alone with him.

When I don’t answer her, she asks again, “What about it, Griffin? Will you let me help you?”

“What is it?”

She smiles and gets off the bed. She mixes a few things together and comes back to me with a towel and a small bowl of what looks like ointment. “It’s a salve. It’s great for sore muscles.”

I swear I stop breathing. “It’s my thigh that’s hurt.”


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