Page 8 of Faithful Cowboy (Whiskey Valley Bryant Brothers)

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He shakes his head. “What about her? Natalie said she’s really nice.”

I grunt. “She is.”

Chance looks between us. “How nice we talking?”

I raise a finger up at him and poke him in the chest. “Don’t even think about it.”

Both of their mouths drop, and they are surprised by my reaction. Chance holds his hands up. “I wouldn’t even think about it.”

I level him with a stare that dares him to challenge me on this. I’m not fucking around.

King looks up from the clipboard in his hands. “What’s the problem?”

“She wants to ride a horse while she’s here. She wants to do all kinds of shit. Shit I’m incapable of doing.”

“You can...”

But I’m not ready for King’s motivational bullshit right now. “I don’t want to hear it, King.”

He lets out a breath. “Fine. Have Chance show her around.”

I gasp and look at Chance. He’s frowning until he notices me looking at him. “Yeah, I can show her around... you know, show her the ropes.”

I take a step toward him until we’re chest to chest. I’m mad. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, thinking of Hailey in the bedroom right next to mine. I tried to lie as quiet as I could just to see if I could hear her tossing and turning. And then all I could think about is how she’d never be mine, so needless to say, I woke up in a pissed-off mood. It wouldn’t take much for me to whoop Chance’s ass right here.

King puts a hand between us. “Stop. First of all, you know Chance, and as soon as he opens his mouth, this woman’s going to run in the opposite direction.”

Chance just laughs. “I should probably take offense to that.”

King rolls his eyes. “Too bad you don’t. You might straighten up a little and realize you don’t have to tell it like it is all the time. You make people uncomfortable with your ‘in your face’ attitude.”

Chance shrugs. “If they don’t like it, they can fuck off.”

King points at Chance. “See, exactly. I can’t have Chance...”

“I’ll be nice,” Chance says.

King and I both look at him, and he’s looking pointedly at King. Here we go. Forever, Chance and King have had the kind of relationship where they can talk... without really talking. Chance is the second-oldest brother to King, but I’m only a year younger than Chance. However, that one year gave him and King some kind of connection that Ryan and I can’t touch.

King blows out a breath. “Okay, fine. I’ll have Chance show her around.”

I rear back as if he’s slapped me. “What?”

King shrugs his shoulders. “Well, you obviously don’t want to do it, and I don’t want to get you messed up with your physical therapy or anything. You’re right. I should have asked Chance to do it in the first place. He can do it.”

I stand there with my mouth hanging open, and King turns to Chance. “Be nice to her. I’m not joking on this. From what Natalie says, she’s had a rough time lately, and I don’t want anyone here messing with her.”

That brings me out of my stupor. “Rough time? What do you mean?”

King rolls his eyes. “Geez, Griff. Do you even pay attention at the dinner table? Forget it. I’m not going to gossip all morning with you two. You want to know, go search for it online. Natalie says it’s everywhere. Now can we get a few things checked off before we go in for breakfast?”

I tell them I’m going to check on the herd in the south pasture and get on the side-by-side recreational vehicle. I go along the fence and look to make sure there are no holes or anything, check on the cows, and then I can’t put it off any longer. I take my phone out of my pocket and search for Hailey Young. I bypass the first one that I know goes to her website and start reading the rest. One in particular stands out. She writes romantic love stories but can’t keep a husband.

I click on the link and am pissed for her. The more I read, the more pissed I get. Hailey Young writes about love everlasting, but she couldn’t keep her own man. The word is Mr. Young wasn’t satisfied with his wife who put more effort into her love stories than her own real life, breathing husband, so he had to go and find satisfaction elsewhere. Oh well, I guess it’s a good thing Hailey has a lot of book boyfriends to rely on.

I read through the blog’s comments and am glad to see the number of people that commented in support of Hailey. One even said, “Cheating on your wife is never right.” Hell, yeah! I keep reading and realize that I’m going to be late for breakfast. I pocket my phone and take off toward the house.

I think about Hailey the whole way, and when I get to the driveway, I stop and take the front steps as quickly as I can, ignoring the pull of the muscles in my thigh.

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