Page 9 of Faithful Cowboy (Whiskey Valley Bryant Brothers)

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When I walk into the dining room, they are all halfway through breakfast, and I spot Hailey immediately.

Paulina, the housekeeper and cook, walks in with a plate. “Here you go. You skipped dinner. I knew you’d be in for breakfast.”

I take the plate and thank her before making my way across the room. I sit down next to Hailey. “Hey.”

She smiles at me. “Good morning.”

I stare at her, and that’s when I realize Chance is on the other side of her. I’m surrounded by all my family, and they’re all staring at me. I grunt when Chance puts his hand on Hailey’s shoulder. “So I was thinking...”

I interrupt him. There’s no way I can sit by and let Chance show her around the ranch. I physically won’t be able to do it. “Hailey, I was thinking that you could make a list of everything you want to see and do, and we can mark it off as we go.”

Chance just leans back in his chair, looking all smug. King’s voice fills the room. “But I thought...” He looks at me, and I give him the look. He and Chance may have a secret connection or whatever, but he can surely understand shut up.

He slams his mouth closed and shrugs his shoulders at me. I always knew King was a smart man.

Hailey blinks at me. “That’s a great idea. I have some ideas already written down upstairs.”

She’s into me. It’s obvious by the way she has to catch her breath just looking at me. The feeling’s mutual. I don’t know if I can trust myself to be alone with her, but there will be ranch hands around. I bite my lip and hold back a grunt. We’re surrounded by my family right now, and I can barely refrain from leaning in and putting my lips on hers.

I don’t know how long we sit here and stare at each other, but the nudge on my shoulder has me pulling back.

“Uncle Griff, can you stop staring at Mrs. Young and pass the orange juice.”

I look over my shoulder at my nephew Eli. He’s smiling widely with a twinkle in his eye. He thinks he did something big by calling me out, but I don’t even care. I ruffle his hair. “Sure thing, Eli. But I can’t wait until you bring your first girlfriend home. Just you wait.”

Natalie gasps. “Oh no, let’s not even go there.”

I just laugh and grab my plate. “Take your time, Hailey. I’ll meet you on the porch.”

Everyone, the whole family, looks at me oddly, but I don’t care. I get up juggling my drink and my plate. Truth is, I want to touch Hailey. I want to badly. If I’m going to spend all day with her, then I need to put a little distance between us. Take a breather.

But as I walk on the porch and sit down, I swear I can still smell her sweet honey scent. Fuck!

Chapter 8

Hailey

I’m attracted to Griffin. I don’t want to be, but there’s no disputing it. I met his brothers King, Ryan, and Chance this morning. I met Paulina, who made the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten. I met sweet Eli, King and Natalie’s son. And I met Mia, Ryan’s fiancée. Everyone is so nice and welcoming, and already I’m dreading leaving here.

After Griffin went outside, I tried not to rush through the rest of my meal, but I couldn’t help it. I went upstairs, grabbed a notebook with my list in it and a pen, and headed toward the front of the house. By the time I make it to the front porch, I’m half out of breath, but it’s not from exertion... more like excitement.

I almost run smack dab into Griffin’s chest. “Hey!” I say, bending my head backwards to look up at him.

“Hey, honey. You ready to go?”

The endearment goes straight to my head, and all I can do is nod.

He leads me down the steps and to a golf cart-looking thing. I feel almost small and dainty sitting next to him in it. He holds his hand out. “Let’s see the list.”

I hand it to him, and as he scrolls down it, he grunts in disapproval.

I self-consciously try to take the list from him. “We don’t have to do everything... these were just some ideas.”

He holds on to the paper and stares into my eyes. We’re sitting so close I can feel his breath on my cheek. I should look away and put a distance between us, but I can’t. I never felt like this with my ex. We were friends, and it was comfortable. There’s nothing comfortable about Griffin. Just looking at him is exciting and leaves me breathless.

He clears his throat and takes the paper, folding it up and putting it in the chest pocket of his shirt. He pats it there. “We can do it all. You’re here for four days. Plenty of time.”

I lay my hand down in my lap. “I don’t want to take you from your responsibilities or anything. If there’s someone else—"


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