“Thank you,” Trevor whispered against her crown.

“Let me go.”

“If I do will you talk to me? Give me a chance to explain?”

Chassie managed a pitiful laugh. “What’s to explain? You married me when you were in love with someone else.”

“Baby, it’s not what you think.”

“I don’t have to think. I know what I saw.”

The silence was broken by Edgard’s approach. Trevor’s whole body tensed.

But Chassie wasn’t about to back down. She wasn’t in the wrong. She blew the hair out of her eyes and met Edgard’s baleful stare dead on.

Edgard said, “I’m sorry. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

“It did happen and if you want him so goddamn bad, you can have him. I’m done with him. For good.”

Rather than snap off a nasty comment, Edgard did the unexpected: he cupped Chassie’s face in his hands and wiped her tears. “You don’t mean that, Chassie. You’re angry. You should be. But you need to listen to Trevor.”

“I’ve heard enough.”

“No, you haven’t heard the important part.”

“And what part would that be, Edgard?”

“The part that concerns you.”

Her scathing comeback dried up.

“Don’t throw away everything because of a stupid mistake. Or your pride.” Edgard smoothed his cold thumbs over her hot cheeks. “Nothin’ happened between Trev and me besides some angry words and some frustrated kisses.”

“You wanted something to happen.”

Edgard nodded. “But it didn’t.”

Chassie searched his eyes for a sign of regret or smugness but all she saw was pain.

“Talk to him, Chassie. Don’t walk away.”

“Why shouldn’t I?” she half-whispered.

“Because if you do, you’ll give me exactly what I want.”

“Which is what?”


Without waiting for Trevor to dispute the statement, Edgard hefted the saddle on his shoulder and disappeared into the barn.

And without asking, Trevor released her.

It took every ounce of Chassie’s nerve not to crumple into a pile and weep. She started toward the house, not caring if Trevor followed, even when she knew he would.

Her fingers fumbled as she removed her boots, coat and gloves, numb in body, soul and spirit.

In the kitchen she went straight for the liquor cabinet. After downing two shots of whiskey and nursing a third, she faced her husband.

A ghostly pallor replaced Trevor’s usual rosy glow. He snagged the decanter, swigging the alcohol directly from the bottle. One. Two. Three solid mouthfuls.

A million questions tumbled in Chassie’s head but one pushed front and center. “Are you gay?”


“Did I not just see you in a lip lock with your former male ropin’ partner?”

“Yes. Before you ask, I ain’t bi either. It’s just…” He gestured helplessly. “It’s just Edgard.”

Chassie couldn’t look at him, his mouth swollen from Edgard’s kisses, his cheeks reddened from razor stubble, the agony burning in his eyes. She needed to remain in control and keep the gut-wrenching emotions in check. She spun back to the window, but focused on the amber liquid in her shot glass.

“Don’t tune me out, Chass. Please.”

“I’m not. I’m just tryin’ to figure out a way to ask if you ever had sex with Dag.”

He sucked in a harsh, surprised breath. “God, no.”

Once again Chassie had that overwhelming sense of betrayal. “Does everybody suspect the truth about you and Edgard? Am I a laughingstock in the whole rodeo community? Everyone knew you took pity on poor Chassie West and married her because she was naïve and no one else wanted her?”

“No, baby, it ain’t like that. Not at all.” Trevor made a rough sound, a cross between a frustrated sigh and a snort. “You know how goddamned hard it is to keep a secret in that community. So if there’d have been rumors about me’n Ed, you’d’ve heard ’em.”

True. There’d been whispers about Dag’s sexual preferences for years, but she’d suspected her brother’s proclivities before she’d heard the gossip. “How long were you and Edgard…?”

“For two and a half years.”

“And during that time no one suspected?”

“Why would they? Edgard and I were together because we were travelin’ and ropin’ partners. And it wasn’t like all of a sudden I stopped chasin’ women. There were always plenty of women around.”

“That’s just another great visual I needed.”

“You knew a lot stuff about me before we got married.”

“Not this.”

“You think I wanna talk about this, Chass? You think I wanna relive all that past shit with my wife? You can’t believe I get off hurtin’ you. And I know this big mess is hurtin’ you bad.” She heard the slosh of alcohol as Trevor tipped the bottle and drank again. His voice was whiskey rough. “Hurtin’ you, when I love you so goddamn much is killin’ me.”

That much wasn’t a lie. Which was probably why this situation tore her guts out.

Even now she didn’t doubt Trevor’s feelings for her. From the moment they’d slipped on their wedding rings and repeated their vows, Chassie hadn’t worried he’d cheat on her with another woman.

The idea of him cheating on her with another man had never crossed her mind.

Trevor interrupted her thoughts by saying, “I take that back. One person did know.”


“Colby. Only because he was our other travelin’ partner and he ah…came in at a bad time one night. He didn’t understand, but me’n him have been friends forever. Colby is of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ mindset and Channing found out when she followed the circuit with us. Then Colby got injured and Ed went back to Brazil.”

A burst of anger ripped through Chassie. Her cousin Colby hadn’t warned her about marrying a man who was in love with another man? “Why did Edgard go back to Brazil?”

“Problems with his ranch down there. Problems with me because I couldn’t give him what he wanted.”

“Which was?”

“A monogamous relationship. I couldn’t be…” Trevor paced behind her. “Edgard is the only man I’d ever felt like that about and it freaked me out. Christ. I didn’t want to want him that way, but I did. Even after we started havin’ sex, I never quit bein’ with women. It wasn’t because I was in denial of bein’ gay or bi or any such shit. Edgard knew I wouldn’t give them up and he didn’t ask me to. That wasn’t fair to him. Hell, even if women had stopped appealin’ to me and I woulda been free to be only with him, I still wouldn’t have done it.”

“Why not?”

“I woulda lost everything. I know them kinda relationships are acceptable in a big city, but we both know that ain’t so out here.”

Chassie thought of her brother and the years he’d fought to hide what he was. That struggle led Dag to douse his bitterness with alcohol, causing him to make bad decisions and the combination had eventually killed him. “Was your time with Edgard just some kind of man-lust experiment?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then who am I supposed to ask, huh?” The smartass response tumbled out before she could stop it.

“I deserved that.” Clothing shifted. Liquor slopped against the bottle. “All I know, all I’ve ever known, all I ever wanted to be was a Wyoming rancher. Yeah, I chased the gold buckle due to family pressure, with my pa bein’ world champ and all. I fooled myself tryin’ to buy his pride by followin’ in his footsteps. Truth was, I hid on the circuit. I didn’t wanna go home and ranch with him because the thought of spendin’ every day of the rest of my life at my pa’s beck and call was the worst kinda punishment. Can you imagine how cruel my family—and everyone in the community—would’ve treated me if they’d known how I felt about Edgard?”

She froze. “How did you feel about him?”


“Did you love him?” Do you still love him?

“C’mere.” Trevor urged Chassie to face him. “It’s been three and a half years since I’ve seen or talked to Edgard, Chassie. I’m in love with you. You’re my wife. You’re everything I ever wanted. You’re the one I chose.”

“How can I believe that you didn’t settle for me because you didn’t have the balls to choose Edgard? Now he’s here. You’ve broken with your family. This could be your chance to finally be with him. You don’t have to settle for your second choice.”

Trevor trapped Chassie’s face in his hands. “Listen to me. You weren’t sloppy seconds or the goddamned consolation prize. From the moment we met, you were it for me, you understand? I fell madly, crazily in love with you. Just you.”

She didn’t want to cry, but dammit, the tears started falling again.

“Chassie, baby, you weren’t my last choice; you were my first choice. My only choice. I wanted to give you everything that I’d never given another human being: my loyalty, my faithfulness, my love, and my name. I cannot imagine my life without you.”

His fingers tightened on her scalp. “I’ll send Edgard away. He never should’ve come here and I shouldn’t have let him stay.”

“That’s not the issue.”

“Then what is?”

“You should’ve told me about him—who he was to you—from the start. I knew you weren’t a saint when I married you, Trevor. I could give a shit who you’d bedded before we met. Dammit, we’ve talked about some of the women you fucked, the women I know personally, and your preference for threesomes. Honestly, those didn’t bother me. But you not tellin’ me about your relationship with Edgard? That bothers me. You’ve assigned significance to him by keepin’ your past relationship with him hidden.” She scrutinized his too-blank face and felt as if a brick wall had sprouted between them. “He was very important to you, wasn’t he?”