Trevor spit tobacco juice on the ground. “Know the strange thing? I do believe you.

Besides, we both knew it was gonna happen sooner or later.”

Edgard was shocked Trevor had admitted that much.

“But see, I don’t know how to handle this stuff between us any better now than I did three and a half years ago.”

“You and me both.”

More uneasy silence.

Finally Trevor sighed. “I can tell you got something else on your mind.”


Trevor gestured to the hand Edgard jammed in his hair. “That hair thing. You still do it when you’re agitated. I remember you used to do it a lot around me.”

Jesus. It killed him that Trevor hadn’t been as aloof as he’d pretended. Or maybe Edgard had been so self-centered that he’d been aloof to Trevor’s perceptiveness.

“So spill it since we’re already hip deep in shit.”

Edgard caught himself touching his hair and dropped his hand. “I want you like fucking crazy, Trev. That hasn’t changed.”

“I know.”

“But do you know that I’m not gonna do anything about it?”

Trevor’s suspicious gaze snared his.

“I won’t be making moves on you while Chassie’s gone.”

That blue-eyed stare narrowed further.

“Betcha think that’s contrary to my behavior today?”

“Maybe a touch.”

Edgard laughed. “It’s true.”

“Lemme see if this washed-up rodeo cowboy has this right. You want me. You came all the way to Wyoming from Brazil so you could have me. Now that my wife knows what we used to be to each other, and she’s gone…you’re sittin’ on your hands?”

“Uh. Yeah.”

“I can’t believe I’m gonna ask why, but why?”

“I’d actually hoped to feel nothin’ when I saw you again. You are everything I remembered you to be, better actually, probably as a result of marrying Chassie. She is…”

“Is what?” Trevor asked sharply.

“Sweet. She doesn’t deserve this. I never want to see that horrified look on her face again.”

That comment sent Trevor back into full retreat.


After a while, Trevor said, “Know something funny? Chassie wants us to talk. She thinks it’ll help if we get everything out in the open.”

“So she doesn’t realize that was our issue? That we couldn’t be open?”

Trevor frowned. “First time you’ve said ‘we’ in that old argument, Ed. You always blamed me for us not holdin’ hands and shit.”

“I’ve learned the hard way maybe you were right about the kinda baggage other people hide when they’re showing a different face to the world.”

When Edgard didn’t elaborate, Trevor demanded, “You gonna explain that comment? Or you gonna sit there with that smug-ass look and make me guess?”

“Trying to explain it when you’re in a piss-poor mood would be a waste of breath.”

Edgard gave Trevor a cool once-over. “And for the record, I’m not acting smug. I’m just as screwed up about all this with Chassie as you are.”

“Right. I’m sure you’re happy as shit.”

Seething, Edgard snapped, “You never had the balls to tell me how you felt when we were together every goddamn day, so don’t you ever fucking presume to tell me anything about the way I feel now when you haven’t seen me for three and a half fucking years.”

“I didn’t mean—”

“Yeah, you did, so just drop it. Jesus.”


“Fine,” he retorted.

Meridian grunted and her tail slapped the wall again.

Time dragged on, yet there was no place Edgard would rather be than right there, even if they both were angry, frustrated and not speaking. Hell, it was practically normal for them.

Casually, Trevor remarked, “You’re playin’ with your hair again.”

Edgard lowered his hand. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be. Long as we’re bein’ honest and chattin’, all friendly like, I wanna know if you stabled a corral full of young studs durin’ the last few years? Or did you just pick one stallion to ride?”

For claiming to be a plainspoken man, sometimes Trevor’s verbiage confounded him. “A few one-nighters here and there. Guy named Reynaldo stuck around longer than most.”

“How long?”

Edgard shrugged. “Less than a year. I wasn’t sorry it ended, just the way it did.”

Rey’s outburst, “I won’t spend my life in the middle of a fuckin’ jungle with a dirt-covered rancher” , and Edgard had been glad to see the ass end of him.

“Bad break up with Reynaldo send you scurryin’ back to the States?”

Trevor’s tone smacked of conceit and Edgard sought to shatter his cool. “No. Rey was a great fuck. Nothin’ that boy wouldn’t do in bed. He wanted a sugar daddy, a citified papi with deep pockets. When Rey realized it wasn’t gonna be a free ride, he bailed to richer pastures. He never was worth a shit with the livestock.”

“But I’ll bet he was a pretty boy, huh?”

“Yep. Thought I’d try since that type ain’t ever been my taste.”

Trevor grimaced. “And yet, somehow I’m offended by that statement when I got no right to be.”

“Sorry to burst your bubble, Trev, but you ain’t been pretty a day in your life. You’re hot as shit in that, don’t-fuck-with-me-I’m-totally-hetero way, but definitely not pretty.”

“This conversation is deteriorating.”

“You brought it up.”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Turnabout is fair play. How many bunnies hopped on you in that same time frame?”

“Way too many. I could lie and say I was such a fucktard because I’d been drinkin’, but mostly I was stone cold sober after the first six months after you left.” Trevor picked at a chunk of wood in the gate top. “I was miserable drunk and miserable sober.”

Edgard lived that existence too. “Damn good thing I barged my way back into your life and livened things up, eh?”

Trevor laughed. “Asshole. You always could make me laugh. Especially at shit that ain’t funny.”

How pathetic did it make him that Edgard lived for those moments of Trevor’s unrestrained laughter?

“We had some good times, Ed. Easy to forget we were friends first. Even when we were nailin’ each other at every chance, we were still friends.”

“Sometimes I miss that constant companionship more than the sex.”

Trevor appeared to be weighing his response—probably disbelief.


“Speakin’ of missin’ companionship…she ain’t been gone an hour and I already miss her. We haven’t spent a single night apart since I moved in.”

Be petty to point out after Trevor and Edgard became lovers they hadn’t spent many nights apart either.

“Think that’s sappy? Think I’m pussy-whipped?”

“No. I’m jealous as hell. But if you get too lonely, remember, you can always crawl in bed with me. I’ll warm the cock-les of your heart.”

“Goddammit, you’re offerin’ to polish my pole after all that ‘I ain’t touchin’ you’ line of bullshit…” Trevor’s voice trailed off when he noticed Edgard’s big grin. “Real funny. You’re a fuckin’ riot, Mancuso.”

“Just trying to lighten things up. I know this is serious stuff, but I’m tired of standing around doing nothin’. Don’t you have fence post holes to dig or some menial, backbreaking, punishing shit work?”

Trevor rolled his eyes. “What part of livin’ in the tundra is confusin’ to you, jungle boy? The ground is frozen solid.”

“There’s gotta be other chores that need done.”

“Trust me, there’s plenty to do around here, especially with Chass gone.”

Meridian neighed loudly and flopped to the ground.

“Shit.” Trevor opened the door to the stall. “This’s been goin’ on for days. I have no idea what’s wrong.”

“Do you want me to call the vet?”

Trevor tossed off, “Can’t afford it. You’re way better with horses. You wanna give me a hand? Maybe between the two of us we can figure something out.”

For the next few hours they worked side by side. Without sexual tension. Without covert looks. Without accidental touches. Just two ranchers doing a job that’d been a normal part of their lives, separately, but never together.

And for Edgard, it was enough. For now.

Chapter Nine

Chassie was such a basket case that she drove around for over an hour without remembering her destination.

Wheatland. For her friend Zoey’s bridal shower.

Right. Like Chassie had any business passing out marital advice.

But she couldn’t go home, not after she’d made such a point about needing time to sort things out. She could check into a motel. Hole up in misery and anonymity. Or she could drive to Denver and pour her heart out to her cousin Keely.

Damn humbling to realize she didn’t have any place to go and few people in her life she could really talk to. Even if she claimed a dozen close girlfriends, the my-husband-is-in-love-with-another-man scenario smacked of an episode of Jerry Springer and wasn’t a topic she felt comfortable discussing with anyone. She suspected whoever she told would tell someone else—in complete confidence of course—and that person would tell another person, and so on. The gossip, which Trevor and Edgard had managed to avoid for years, would run rampant.

Not to mention people would gape at her with pity. She’d grown up being the brunt of those soft-eyed expressions. First because she was mixed race, unclaimed by her mother’s tribe and shunned by most of her father’s relatives. Didn’t help that Chassie’s family history included her father, who’d built a reputation as a real asshole, her mother’s status as a doormat, and the rumors about Dag before and after his tragic death. Chassie was the little half-breed with the weird name who’d worked herself damn near to death to keep a ranch her lazy father had never wanted.