Tangled in Divine:Divine Creek Ranch 14(7)

By: Heather Rainier

He waved his hand, cutting her off. “That money is for you. I’m staying out at Roger’s for the time being, so you don’t worry about me. Hopefully this is temporary, if…”

“Temporary? If what?”

He looked up at her, a deep furrow between his graying bushy eyebrows. “Roger is getting the funds together to buy the place when it comes up for auction. Zephyr too. He’s looking into it but it’ll take a little doing to get the money together. In the meantime…”

“What?” Hope and worry raced neck and neck, forcing her heart to pound. Roger Bedford and her father had been friends for only a couple of years so she didn’t know what to think of their arrangement. He was placing an awful lot of trust in the man. But he also knew him better than Gwen did.

“If you want to go back out on the circuit for…one more go-round. One more winning year. We could pay him back. He’s a good friend. He’d do it for us.”

Go out on the road for another year? “Wait. To get the kind of money we’d need, I’d have to win every event I entered.”

“You’re retiring at the top of your game, baby. It’s conceivable. Every win would help. He’d be willing to finance the rest.”

Gwen didn’t know how to feel about the deal her father had worked out. As far as she could tell, Roger Bedford was a decent man. Had been a good friend. But she knew he was also a shrewd businessman.

The thumping up and down the stairs continued until the boot steps rang in her head. “I need to get out of here.”

“Roger is already on his way over here. You can rest at his place and have time to figure out your next move.” Her dad gently squeezed her shoulders. “I’m so sorry, sweetie. I feel like every bit the failure your mother told me I was before she left. Every bit of it.” He appeared to have aged twenty years during their conversation.

She couldn’t formulate a reply to his self-degrading statement. All her emotions were knotted up into a lump in her chest so that she felt everything and nothing all at once. She was in shock, and she needed to gather her thoughts and decide what to do. Quickly. “Are you coming too?”

Her father shook his head. “No. I’ll be over later. The hands are all packing up and I want to see them off. I feel like hell for turning them loose with so little notice.”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Why wait until today? You could’ve told me anything and I would’ve been here sooner. We could’ve stopped this from happening.”

“I thought until the last minute that it would all work out. Then when it went south…I was too ashamed to tell you.”

The humiliation and vulnerability in his eyes broke her heart. She’d hesitated leaving him to run the ranch alone after her mother had left him and filed for divorce five months before, but he’d assured her that it would be a good distraction and that he could handle things. Obviously, he’d overestimated his ability to distance himself from the pain of losing the woman he’d loved for forty years.

He’d told her back then not to worry about him, or the situation. He’d said that one thing remained true. Even if marriages ended or people died, the land would always be there for her. It would last. Now even it was gone.

* * * *

Chris Potter stood with his best friend, Julián, looking at watches at Clay Cook Jewelers while they chatted with Lily Cook, who also happened to married to their boss, Del, and his brother Clay. The gorgeous redhead removed the fancy watch Julián pointed at from the case so he could take a closer look at it.

Chris heaved a disgusted sigh. Chickenshit. Chickenshit. Chickenshit.

Julián glanced at him and showed him the watch. “What do you think?”

I think you’re being a chickenshit. “Eh. It’s okay.”

Julián tilted his head. “You don’t think she’ll like it?”

On numerous occasions, Chris had seen the way Julián acted after phone conversations with Gwen. Saw the way he looked when he got a text message from her, or when he gazed at her pictures on his phone. The guy was in love with her. And he was looking at watches?

“It’s a nice watch…I guess.”

Julián grimaced and handed the watch back to Lily, and she said, “Would you like me to give you some time to browse, Julián?”

Julián smiled at her and replied, “No, Lily, he’s right. This woman means something to me. A watch is not quite…”

Lily smiled back at him and said, “Want a recommendation? From a friend?”

Now this is more like it. Tell him, Lily.