Charming the Cowboy (Grape Seed Falls Romance Book 3)(7)

By: Liz Isaacson

Tears gathered in her eyes, and she was thankful for the dim lighting in the room. She wanted to know what time it was, but she didn’t dare speak. He’d be able to hear the hitch in her voice then, and she didn’t want to give him an auditory version of her weakness.

At least I’m alive, she thought, and she settled back against her pillow and closed her eyes to keep the hot tears dormant. Thank you for sparing my life, she prayed. The emotion she’d experienced, however brief, earlier in the evening flooded her now, and she knew her outcome could’ve been drastically worse than a broken arm and a few sprains and bruises.

“Heather—” Levi started, his hand stroking her brows. Heather’s eyes flew open and met his a split second before the door opened. He yanked his hand back and practically jumped away from her.

But she hadn’t imagined that crackle of attraction. Had she?

She’d been harboring such a roaring flame for him for so long, it was hard to tell. But she swore something had just passed between them. Something he’d revealed in the strangled quality of his voice, and the heated edge in those dark, dreamy eyes.

Dwayne approached the bed like a hurricane, all flashing eyes and stormy demeanor. “You’re awake.” His tone turned rough and accusatory when he looked at Levi and said, “You said you’d text if she woke up.”

“I was about to.” Levi’s chin went up a fraction. Maybe unnoticeable to some, but Heather had been teaching eight-year-olds for a decade. She knew the nuances of body language.

“She’s been awake for all of four minutes,” he added.

It felt like four hours, but Heather wasn’t going to admit that to anyone. “Dwayne, I’m fine,” she said. “Honestly. When can I go home?”

He switched his displeased look to her. “Home? You’re not going home.”

Indignation rose within her. “Well, where else would I go, Dwayne?”

“You have a broken arm,” he said as if she didn’t know. “And bruises everywhere. Mom wants you at the house on Bartlett Street, but I said you should come out to the ranch.”

Heather scoffed and waved her good arm. The motion felt awkward and stuttered, so she let her hand fall to her side. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m fine to take care of myself.”

“And who’s going to feed that hoard of cats you have?” Dwayne folded his arms, and she saw the trembling in his right one.

“I do not have a hoard of cats.” She shot a quick glance at Levi and silently begged Dwayne to stop talking. The last thing she needed was her crush labeling her as the cat lady. An old maid cat lady.

“Felicity already went and got them,” Dwayne said. “They’re out at the ranch, and that’s where I think you should come too. Mom and Dad’s new place is too small.”

“The ground is really uneven at the ranch,” Levi said.

Dwayne and Heather looked at him. Heather’s surprise was only matched by her brother’s stunned expression.

“What?” Levi asked. “It is.”

“Not around the homestead,” Dwayne said. “She’ll be fine. I mean, she’ll need help, but she’ll be fine.”

“I don’t need any help.”

“You can’t drive,” Dwayne said.

“You can’t write,” Levi added.

“You can’t even walk.” Her brother looked at the other cowboy. “She really can’t do anything.”

“She’ll definitely need a lot of help.”

“And did you know she’s in charge of the Fall Festival photo booth?” Dwayne’s voice had taken on a false quality.

Heather rolled her eyes. “Stop it, you two. I can tell you’ve rehearsed this.”

Levi looked at her, more than a little resignation in his expression. “You really can’t go home alone. I offered my place, which is big enough and closer to town, but—”

Fear and yearning bolted through her, creating a noxious cocktail that left her feeling queasy.

“I said there was no way you’d go home with him.” Dwayne met her eye, and a sibling understanding passed between them. Dwayne knew about her schoolgirl crush on Levi, after Heather had told him last year.