Charming the Cowboy (Grape Seed Falls Romance Book 3)(3)

By: Liz Isaacson


His voice cut off and he poked his head out of his office. He gave no reaction at all when he saw her. His face didn’t brighten. Or darken. Or register any recognition. She felt like a specter, completely invisible, and now her heart beat out pulses of foolishness and shame.

Which was ridiculous. Levi should feel like a fool. She’d eaten dinner at his family’s table. Dwayne had invited Levi to more than one Christmas dinner out at Grape Seed Ranch. Why he couldn’t even give her half a smile—something to show, hey, I know you. Good to see you—was starting to get old.

He ended his phone call, and Heather decided to do something different. Her methods of trying to get his attention these past two years obviously hadn’t worked. She paused in the doorway of his office and said, “Hey, Levi.”

He shuffled some papers on the desk and barely glanced up. “Hey, Heather. How’s Dwayne?”

So maybe he did know who she was. She admired his stubbled jaw, his strong fingers as he tapped on his laptop to wake it, the scent of aftershave and leather and man that was uniquely his.

Her voice wobbled a little as she said, “Doin’ just fine. What about you?”

“Just fine,” he echoed, settling into the squeaky office chair. “I have to put in a feed order, and then I’ll be right out.”

Heather understood conversation code, and he’d just said, “Go away, Heather. Stop bothering me.”

So she did, her footsteps heavy now for a completely different reason.

Outside, the beautiful autumn air lifted her spirits. Starscape held perfectly still while she saddled her, and once Heather hoisted herself onto the horse’s back, she’d almost forgotten about Levi.

Almost.

She seemed to live her life in almosts. She’d almost gotten married once. She’d almost gone back to graduate school. She’d almost won that beauty pageant in high school.

After glancing toward the open riding arena, she shook her head. Levi Rhodes was the most clueless man on the planet. The arena was filled with two dozen women, either alone, in pairs, or with their child.

And she was one of them.

Her stomach soured.

The open pasture on her left wasn’t much better. At least the women out there seemed to be interested in riding more than socializing. More than hovering as close to the stable as possible in the hopes that Grape Seed Falls’ most eligible and obviously fiercely sought-after bachelor would grace them with his appearance.

There was not a single man in the open riding lesson besides the hired help. No women over forty. No teenagers. Only children younger than probably twelve.

Disgusted with herself for coming again tonight, she opted for the pasture. Starscape liked grass better than gravel, and Heather could pretend she’d actually come to ride instead of for the man-candy who was still sitting inside.





Chapter Two





Levi Rhodes stared at the computer screen, his mind far from feed. He couldn’t believe he’d answered an after-hours phone call from his accountant. Levi normally let those calls go to voicemail, and then he’d text back later.

He didn’t care how much interest his bank accounts had made in the last quarter, and he really needed Bryce to just email him the information—which he’d never look at. At least Heather Carver hadn’t heard anything too sensitive.

It had been a long week, and Levi raked his fingers over his jaw, feeling the stubborn facial hair there. Shaving was as much a bane to his existence as accountants.

He sighed, and pushed his worries about his pregnant nanny goat to the back of his mind. Genie had been acting strange for days, and Levi was worried about her. Since he’d sworn off women, he had to have something to worry about. What did it matter if it was goats and not people?

He cared about his horses too, so he put the feed he required to run his boarding stable in his online cart and checked out. Wishing he could check out of his open riding lessons, Levi stood and stretched his back. He had good cowboys out there helping already. Maybe he didn’t need to make an appearance.

Then he remembered Sawyer’s words. You have to at least come out and chat with a few people. They like it, and when they’re happy, we’re all happy.

Levi wasn’t happy, but he was starting to accept that he might never truly feel happiness again. He’d much rather be free than happy, and it had taken several long years to obtain his physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual freedom. He wasn’t giving it up for anything.