Tangled in Divine:Divine Creek Ranch 14(8)

By: Heather Rainier


Lily gestured to them both and they followed her down the row of cases until she stopped behind one filled with fancy rings. Julián scratched his neck, suddenly looking a little uncomfortable.

Lily put out a reassuring hand and said, “Hear me out. These are fashion rings, not engagement rings.”

There’s a difference?

“Let’s just say that you think about her a lot—and you want her to know that—but you’re not proposing…yet.” Lily smiled as she lifted a ring from a case and showed it to him. Julián made a speculative sound and Chris leaned closer so he could have a look at it.

“It’s yellow gold, and all the tiny diamonds are set so they won’t snag on anything, so she could wear it all the time”—she smiled broadly—“and think of you every time she sees it. There’s plenty of room inside the band if you’d like to have something romantic inscribed, too. The diamonds are all good quality but very small so I don’t think she’d feel overwhelmed. It’s a very sentimental gift. And it’s not an engagement ring.”

Chris finally spoke up. “She’s right. You can go with the watch, if you want, but this little ring seems understated enough that she won’t freak out but nice enough that she knows you care about her.”

Julián still looked unsure and handed the ring back to Lily. “I’m not sure. I don’t want her to take it the wrong way. It might shock her.”

Chris wanted to land his fist on the top of Julián’s head and knock some sense into his brain. The guy practically mooned over that woman.

Another customer waved at Lily in the busy store, and she said, “Why don’t I give you gentlemen a few minutes? I’ll help this customer and come right back to you.”

“Sounds great,” Chris said. Long enough for me to pound sense into this guy. He nodded toward the quiet spot by the front door and Julián followed him.

“I’m sorry, Chris. I know it’s getting late—”

“It ain’t that, Julián. Lemme ask you something. Is there a chance you may never see her face-to-face again? If she’s busy with her new career and you’re busy here or wherever else you move on to? Will you lose your chance if you don’t do something about it—like now—to let her know how you feel?”

“We didn’t have that much time together, alone, Chris. I’m worried she’ll think I’m a stalker.”

Chris scoffed. “Last time you were on the phone with her it was for over an hour. She knows you’re not a stalker, damn it. It’s a little ring, a nice ring, but not an engagement ring. I think she’d like it. And maybe it would get her thinking too.”

Julián arched an eyebrow at Chris. “You gonna don a diaper, little golden wings, and a golden bow and arrow next?”

“Just fucking call me Cupid. You look happy when you talk to her, even if it’s only on the phone. I think you need to go for it. Fucking carpe diem.” An elderly customer grimaced in shock at him as she moved past them. “Sorry, ma’am. You weren’t supposed to hear that. How’re you doin’?” He winked at her and grinned, and she flapped her hand at him as she blushed and snickered.

“How someone can be such a damned coarse oaf and still charm women is beyond me,” Julián said as the old lady winked back and went on her way.

“It’s a gift I have, Julió. Go buy your lady that ring. It’s a nice one.”

As they returned to the case containing the ring, Chris wondered if someday he’d find someone who’d want to wear his ring. He joked around a lot about being charming but it was all bullshit. And it was easy to flirt with elderly ladies. He’d honed that skill watching his father, uncles, and older brothers charming all the women in their family. Charming women he was attracted to was entirely different. He was big, and he was mature enough to admit he was pug ugly. It was a fact of his life.

* * * *

Gwen sat on the cold, stiff, cracked seat of the idling truck, her old Dodge Ram dually, and stared at the literal and figurative crossroads before her. Roger and her dad had tried to get her to stay at least for the night at Roger’s ranch but she’d refused. If she sat down or stopped, she might not be able to get up. She might fall apart. By getting right back on the road, she didn’t miss a beat. She’d done it before—or close. Arriving home one day and leaving the next.

Still uncertain which way to turn out of Roger’s long driveway, she lifted her phone from the seat when she heard the soft tone.