Charming the Cowboy (Grape Seed Falls Romance Book 3)(9)

By: Liz Isaacson

And he could never give her that, even if he wanted to.

Levi arrived at the hospital before the sun rose, having slept for only a few hours. He didn’t want Heather to wake up alone. He found Dwayne dozing in the recliner in her hospital room, and Levi froze.


His best friend.

And that was the number one reason why Levi had imagined the spark that had jumped between he and Heather the previous evening.

“Oh, morning.” Janice Smithy stepped past him and over to Heather’s bed. “Heard you caused a ruckus last night, Mister Rhodes.” She gave him a sly look and a friendly smile.

“Not true,” Levi said. “It was Dwayne.”

The other man didn’t even move, and Levi guessed he’d probably stayed all night.

“Mm hm.” Janice checked one of the bags on Heather’s IV and made a note on her chart.

“Can she go home today?”

“Depends.” Her evasive tone wasn’t lost on Levi.

“Can you tell her she can’t take care of herself?”

Janice paused in her work and looked at him. Several years older than him, and one of the best singers in the choir, Janice was married with two sons. She was a no-nonsense kind of woman, and Levi wouldn’t want to cross her.

“Levi, what happened was an accident.”

“Yeah, I know.” But he couldn’t erase how responsible he felt. “But if you tell her she can’t take care of herself, she might let me do it.”

“You want to do it?”

“Yes,” he said, barely loud enough for her to hear.

Her eyebrows went up. “It doesn’t really matter what I think.”

“But she’ll listen to you.”

“Doctor Croster will talk to her.” She tapped Levi’s bicep with Heather’s chart as she walked out. “Good to see you, Levi. Been missin’ you at church.”

“Been busy,” he called over his shoulder. He felt a deep connection to God, but sometimes he struggled to go to meetings. So many people. A lot of eyes. The expectation of making friends, and talking, and swapping stories. Levi didn’t want any of those things. He had his cowhands, and his orchard bosses, and a handful of friends from childhood. He didn’t need anything more.

“Levi?” Dwayne leaned forward in the chair and wiped his hands down his face. “What’re you doin’ here?”

“Same as you.” Levi wouldn’t allow himself to look at Heather’s sleeping form in the bed. Dwayne would be able to read the emotions on his face. Out of everyone Levi associated with, only Dwayne knew about the money.

The secrets Levi held so close suddenly weighed so much. He longed to tell someone, but he was sure they’d look at him differently afterward. He didn’t need anyone to feel sorry for him, and he didn’t particularly want to share the misdeeds he’d done.

So he inhaled the desire to tell Dwayne everything that had happened in Kentucky and moved over to the small length of counter in the room. He leaned against it and pulled out his phone. He could catch up on emails from the orchard and make sure everything was set for the day at the stables, all from right there.

“You two again?” Heather’s voice sounded full of sleep, and pain medication, and disgust. “Why are you still here?”

“I went home,” Levi said.

“I couldn’t tell Mom I left you here alone,” Dwayne said. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I’ve been thrown from a horse, and let me tell you. I’m not seven anymore.” She groaned as she tried to sit up straighter, and Levi wanted to leap to her aid. He stayed put, hip leaning into the counter like he was waiting for a bus.

“We have to decide on some things,” Dwayne said.

“The sun’s not even up yet.” She threw him a disgruntled look. “Can it wait until after breakfast?”

“They’re going to discharge you, and you have nowhere to go.”

“I own a home right here in town.”

“Levi?” Dwayne looked at him with desperation in his expression.

Levi gazed back at him evenly, his heart anything but calm. He flicked a careless glance in Heather’s direction, glad he didn’t have to see how it affected her. “Heather can decide.”