Charming the Cowboy (Grape Seed Falls Romance Book 3)(8)

By: Liz Isaacson

“Why won’t you go home with me?” Levi asked. “I have main floor living, so you wouldn’t need to worry about the ankle. I have a…um…private chef who comes a few times a week. You wouldn’t have to do or worry about anything.”

“You have a private chef?” Dwayne asked.

Levi pushed his cowboy hat lower over his eyes. “And I could help you with whatever you did need,” he said, his voice barely louder than the beeping heart monitor—which started skipping. And racing.

Dwayne glanced at it before stepping beside the bed and yanking the cord out of the wall. Silence descended on the three of them.

“I told him he could help you with your sub plans,” Dwayne said mere moments before a team of nurses burst into the room, their eyes frantic.

“Out,” one of them said, pointing to the door. “Both of you cowboys. Get out now.”

“I’m fine,” Heather said, though she’d started drowning at the mention of sub plans.

Two nurses hurried toward her, stethoscopes out and charts being flipped. The male tapped the heart monitor and then sighed. “It’s been unplugged.”

“That was the old one,” Heather said, satisfied at the outraged look on Dwayne’s face as he exited the room.

“Visiting hours are over,” the lead nurse said. “You really do need to go. It’s late, and Heather needs to rest.”

Levi hovered for another moment, and his voice was like music to her heart when he said, “Think about it, Heather. You’re more than welcome at my place.”

Oh, how she wished he’d say those words to her under different circumstances.

Chapter Four

Guilt hadn’t gutted Levi like this since the day his son had died. And this wasn’t even close to being that bad. Heather had broken her arm. Had a few cuts and bruises. She’d heal. Starscape was fine too. Scared and agitated, but fine.

The memories of holding his stillborn child brought him to his knees, somewhere he spent a lot of time these days. He couldn’t seem to make it through a single day without pouring his soul out to the Lord.

Help me, he prayed. He thought he’d moved past these debilitating emotions. But they came out of nowhere at random times, and being back in a hospital had been extremely difficult. This time, it had been his fault. Last time too. And he couldn’t box up the memories or the emotions.

So he leaned his forehead against the soft fabric of the sofa and weathered the storm his life had once been. The debilitation only lasted a few minutes, and then a sense of peace cleansed him.

He wasn’t the man he’d been a decade ago. He didn’t have to live with that shame. Not anymore. He’d returned to his roots, sought the forgiveness he needed, and used his money to do something he loved.

Levi got to his feet and moved through the stale house and into the kitchen at the back. Sure enough, Juan Carlos had been there, as a pan of lasagna sat on the stovetop, covered with shiny foil. Levi didn’t want food, though. He’d eaten while he watched Heather sleep, wondering why he felt so protective of her.

He still didn’t know. All he knew was that he couldn’t leave her side until he knew she was okay. Waiting in those hard seats while they set and cast her arm had been torture. Listening to her heart monitor and the sound of her breathing while he watched had set his patience on fire. And why had he held her hand, kissed her skin, touched her face?

He pushed out of the double French doors and stepped into the night. Well past midnight, the temperature had finally cooled. He pulled in a lungful of air, trying to find the answers to his behavior.

He honestly couldn’t.

“Please prompt her to come stay with me,” he whispered to the stars. Everything he and Dwayne had rehearsed was true. Heather would need more help than she realized, and Levi had nothing but time to give her whatever she needed.

And blast it, he wanted to help her. Wanted her close to him so he could make sure she wanted for nothing.

He gazed up to the stars, utterly confused. This was Heather Carver. And he wasn’t interested in women. Period.

Especially one who would push him for the truth, who wouldn’t settle for anything less than the absolute core of him.