Finally Trevor nodded.
Her stomach sank as if she’d swallowed a spur. “I can’t handle you keepin’ things like this from me. I lived in that world of half-truths and secrets for years, and I won’t ever again.”
“So did I. Which is why I didn’t tell you about him.”
They stared at each other for several excruciating minutes, at an absolute stalemate.
“So what now?” Trevor asked.
“I don’t know. I need some time to sort it out. And you and Edgard need to talk. Not only about what happened in the corral today, but about your unresolved issues from the past and why he tracked you down now.” Chassie removed Trevor’s hands from her face.
“I can’t be with you until that’s settled.”
“No buts. I’m goin’ to Wheatland to Zoey’s bridal shower. I’ll clear out for a day or so, just like I’d planned.”
A stark look darkened his blue eyes. “No. Baby, don’t leave me. We can work on it here, together—”
Chassie placed her fingers over his lips. “Trevor, I love you, but I’d be lyin’ to both of us if I didn’t admit I hate you a little bit right now.”
His whole posture slumped and his eyes were shiny with unshed tears.
She steeled herself against her need to soothe him. “Give me some space. Stay here, take care of the ranch, and talk to Edgard. I’ll be back.”
Trevor frowned. He paced to the door. He returned and got right in her face. “Okay.
But if you don’t come home to me within two days, I’m comin’ after you, Chassie.
You’re mine. And I ain’t ever lettin’ you go.”
Might make her a pathetic fool, but Chassie needed to be held by the only man who’d ever held her heart. She wrapped her arms around his waist, pressing her face into his chest, listening to the rapid thump of his heartbeat. “Promise me one thing.”
“Anything, baby, anything for you.”
“Please don’t turn to Edgard when I’m gone. Don’t touch him, don’t kiss him and don’t fuck him. Please, promise me.”
She backed away without looking at him. “I have to finish packing.”
“You sure about this, Chass? Sure that leavin’ is the best way to handle it?”
No. “I’ll have my cell with me, but please don’t call. I need some time to think. I deserve that much.”
She’d started for the stairs when Trevor called out, “I love you. I’ve never said that to anyone else in my life. Think on that.” The outer door slammed.
Chassie loaded her lone suitcase in the truck and climbed in. As she headed down the driveway, she glanced in her rearview and saw Trevor standing alone in the middle of the road, his hands jammed in his pockets, watching her leave.
Hit the brakes. Don’t go.
It was almost as if she heard Trevor’s thoughts.
With a renewed burst of determination, she hit the gas and the open road.
Edgard stayed in the barn and closed his eyes, wondering why’d he’d given in to his masochistic tendencies. Was he that much of a prick he’d hoped to come to Wyoming and find Trevor miserable? Married to a shrew? Longing for him? Filled with regret? Did Edgard expect Trevor would secretly beg Edgard to take him back?
Hell, Edgard didn’t know what he’d do even if that warped fantasy came true, especially after meeting Chassie.
Trevor’s wife was nothing like Edgard expected. In the years Edgard traveled with Trevor, Trevor’s taste in women could be described as trashy, trashier and trashiest. Easy girly-girls with a “do me, cowboy” gleam in their eyes and notches in their fancy rhinestone belts. Buckle bunnies with dyed hair, fake boobs, fake tans, fake nails, sporting expensive high-heeled fashion boots, low-cut shirts and low intellect. Real live cowgirls need not apply for a spot in Trevor’s stable.
Those loose women—young and old—knew the score. One night as a no-holds-barred sexual plaything, not only for Trevor, but for whichever cowboy buddy Trevor invited along. Usually Colby volunteered as the third player. Occasionally Edgard bucked up for the fun and games. Adventurous women took on all three men at once. Their reputations as bad boys of the circuit were well earned. Partners and the positions might’ve changed, but the rules never did: get off, get out, and get moving to the next town.
Even back then Edgard realized Trevor chose only horny, shallow women who didn’t allow him emotional attachment, because every sexual encounter was temporary until Trevor found the woman who shared his longtime dream for home, hearth and a family of his own.
Chassie West fit the bill.
She was one hundred percent Wyoming cowgirl. Inquisitive, stubborn, knowledgeable about everything from livestock to environmental issues to up-to-date technology. Upon first glance, her pint-sized frame made her appear far younger than her twenty-five years. Up close she carried herself like a gunslinger, shoulders back, chin out, venom in her eye, ready to take on anything or anyone that crossed her in any way.
Chassie’s sunny personality and genuinely helpful nature were completely guileless, yet those shrewd brown eyes missed nothing. From the first time he’d looked into those soulful depths, he’d seen her sadness and knew she recognized the same in him. Even when Edgard doubted her sorrow could be attributed to her feelings for Trevor, like part of his unhappiness was. Yet, her unspoken sense of failure, disappointments and guilt had been a bond of sorts between them, as much as the way they both felt about Trevor was an odd connection.
But was it the hidden glimpses of her waif-like stature that had drawn Trevor in?
Chassie wasn’t beautiful in the traditional sense. No artfully applied makeup masked the ethnicity of her sharp facial features. Her long mane was stick straight, usually braided, not teased and shellacked into a perfect helmet. Her work-roughened hands hadn’t ever seen the inside of a manicure studio. Her curves were in her hips and in her smile, not on her chest.
All in all, Chassie West Glanzer was something very special.
And that sucked because she deserved better than the treatment she’d received this morning. When Edgard realized she’d witnessed the encounter between him and Trevor, he experienced guilt on a level he’d never imagined. Upon seeing the horror and pain on her sweet face, Edgard had the overwhelming desire to race to Chassie and wipe her tears, hold her close and murmur platitudes, which was damn stupid, since his damn stupid actions and words caused her distress in the first place.
What a fucked up mess.
How could he make this right? For Chassie? For Trevor? And for himself?
Leaving wasn’t an option. Much as he liked Chassie, if the woman was foolish enough to walk away from Trevor for good, so be it. He’d be around to pick up the pieces. Besides, it wasn’t as if Edgard hadn’t warned her of his intentions.
So why did he still feel guilty?
Because he was. He’d done a stupid thing, which wasn’t really new when it came to his dealings with anything or anyone involving Trevor.
The far barn door slid open and Edgard tensed. Chassie’s truck had roared up the driveway not ten minutes ago. Knowing Trevor, he’d fly in, spewing accusations at him, tossing off hurtful remarks, doing his level best to goad Edgard into a physical confrontation.
Isn’t that what you did today? Pushed Trevor to see how far he’d go with you?
Fuck, he was a selfish bastard. He and Trevor were used to each other’s antagonistic behavior, poor Chassie wasn’t privy to how they’d normally settled their differences. Nor was she aware that Edgard and Trevor had ended up in dozens of knockdown, drag-out fistfights in their years together.
The last time they’d fought, Trevor’s need to win had been particularly vicious.
Edgard’s surrender consisted of allowing himself to be tied naked to the slats in the horse trailer, standing, his ass level with Trevor’s erect cock. Trevor had fucked him hard; hard enough bruises striped Edgard’s thighs. Trevor fucked him twice like that, not letting Edgard come, making him beg. Then Trevor released the ropes and sucked Edgard off to the most explosive orgasm he’d ever had.
Thinking about Trevor sucking you off isn’t helping you stay neutral about this situation.
Edgard willed his dick to quit pulsing, determined not to give into Trevor’s need to provoke him.
Sex would be off-the-charts fantastic, a little voice prodded him.
No. The aftermath would suck. Not only would Trevor blame him for them fucking like dogs, but the person it’d hurt the most was Chassie. And they’d both hurt her enough already.
But Trevor didn’t swagger in, full of fire. He merely walked to the far side of the stall, several feet away from Edgard and draped his arms over the top of the wooden partition.
Meridian was restless. She ignored her owner and flicked her tail in annoyance at nothing.
They didn’t talk; they didn’t fight. They didn’t fill the void with chatter; they didn’t hurl accusations back and forth. They just stared at the hay-strewn stall and skittish horse in hellish silence.
A solid twenty minutes passed. Edgard timed it in fifteen-second intervals so it stretched out like twenty hours.
When Trevor ran the back of his hand across his cheek where Edgard’s beard had abraded the skin, another punch of guilt tightened Edgard’s gut. “I’m sorry.”
Edgard let the moment linger. “So what now?”
“I dunno. Chassie left for a day or two. Said she needs time. Can’t say as I blame her. This whole thing is majorly fucked up.”
“But she is comin’ back?”
“Says she is.”
Trevor finally looked at him. “Don’t fuck with me, Ed. I ain’t gotta lotta patience left today.”
“I’m not.” Edgard shoved a hand through his hair. “Look, honest to God, Trev, I didn’t plan for that to happen. I just…” This was one of those times when translation was a bitch. He knew what he wanted to say, but couldn’t find the words for it. “Given all the shitty things we used to do to each other, I’m sure you don’t believe me.”