Colby was dead tired. He’d spent all day worrying about leaving Channing alone as he faced another McKay family situation. Lying to his wife didn’t sit well with him.

She’d been mighty upset regarding Edgard’s surprise reappearance in Wyoming and Chassie’s not-so-surprising impromptu visit. He had an aversion to upsetting Channing with more bad news.

All that coupled with ten hours spent with his brothers, staring at each other like a bunch of idiots as they waited for word. Compared to stressful days like this, it’d been easy getting thrown off the back of a bronc or a bull.

Stay out of it. It ain’t your concern.

Like hell. He’d always felt guilty about Chassie. She was a sweet, hardworking woman who’d lived with family drama and disappointment. The gossip of her brother’s not-so-secret preferences was partially what’d justified Colby to keep the truth about Trevor and Edgard under his hat. He’d seen what a few missteps and rumors had done to Dag’s career. When Dag started losing, then Dag started drinking. It’d spiraled from there.

Dag’s fatal accident sent Uncle Harland to an early grave. But had the crises sent Chassie into the arms of the first man who noticed her?

No, Trevor hadn’t taken advantage of Chassie. Trevor was a decent, honest, hardworking guy. A good guy.

A good guy who’s been mooning for another man for years.

Fuck. Colby couldn’t let it slide. Not this time.

He propped his feet on the coffee table and hit speed dial number four on his cell phone. It rang once.

“What the hell are you doin’ callin’ me at eleven at night, McKay?”

“I got some stuff to say to you. Stuff that can’t wait.”

“What kinda stuff?”

“It has to do with your wife.”

Chapter Eleven

Trevor’s grip increased on his phone. “What are you talkin’ about?”

“Where’s your wife, Trev?”

I don’t know.

When he hadn’t heard from Chassie, he’d panicked and looked up her friend Zoey’s number in Wheatland. She’d informed Trevor that Chassie had called with her regrets earlier in the day. So Trevor looked like a fool for not knowing the whereabouts of his own wife.

Trevor admitted he and Chassie had a tiff before she’d left and she wasn’t answering her cell. He’d jokingly offered the soon-to-be newlywed advice: never drive away mad. It seemed to allay Zoey’s concerns.

But not Trevor’s.

He’d paced all damn afternoon, troubled something might’ve happened to her.

Edgard suggested they check her favorite local haunts and the silent drive through the snow-covered county roads proved fruitless, as did the scan of the diner, the feed store, all three of the town’s honky-tonks. Trevor was half-afraid Chassie’d hit the interstate for Denver and the comfort of her cousin Keely McKay.

As much as Trevor liked Keely, she was the dead last person he trusted with the secret of his past with Edgard. He suspected hotheaded Keely would suggest Chassie dump Trevor and move on. Then Trevor realized if Chassie hadn’t gone to Keely, his phone call would tip Keely off something was up between them.

So he did nothing. Worried sick about his wife, he’d tried not to punch holes in the wall to mark his hourly frustration.

“Trevor? You still there?”

“Yeah.” He stalked to the window and glared into the inky darkness. “To be honest I don’t know where the hell Chassie is. I’m goin’ fuckin’ crazy, man.”

“Take a deep breath, buddy. She’s here.”

Trevor’s heart rate doubled. “Chass is there?”

“Yep. Channing said she’d been here most of the day, talkin’ to her and playin’ with my son.”

“Jesus, that’s good news.” He pressed his forehead to the cold glass and closed his eyes. “Thank God she’s okay.” His stomach pitched. “She is okay, isn’t she?”

“Not really. She’s seriously fucked up about you and Edgard.”

His sick feeling intensified. “She told you?”

“Who else was she gonna go to? Chassie’s hurtin’ big time. Why the fuck didn’t you come clean with her when Ed first showed up?”

“I don’t know.” Liar. You didn’t tell her because you were afraid this’d happen; she’d leave you. “I thought maybe…”

Colby snarled, “Maybe? I’m pretty goddamn sure you knew exactly what’d happen with you and Ed, no maybe about it. It sucks that Channing and I had to fill in the blanks about personal shit that should’ve come from you. Should’ve come from you a helluva long time before now.”

“You think I don’t fuckin’ know that?”

“No. I think you don’t know which way is up when you get within a foot of that Brazilian, not to mention not havin’ a fuckin’ clue as to what to do about this situation with your wife.”

“Why don’t you tell me what I should do?”

“Man up.”

Trevor snorted. “Man up? For Christsake, what kind of bullshit advice is that, McKay?”

“I’ll make it plain as day. Forget about livin’ up to anyone’s expectations or ideals but your own. Do the right thing for the first time in your life.”

“Are you suggestin’ I…let her go?”

“I’m just sayin’ it’s an option if you ain’t got the balls to admit what you really want to her or to Ed. I’d rather see her heartbroken and able to move on, than miserable, livin’ a fuckin’ lie. Your lie, not hers.”


“But nothin’. I’m done talkin’. She’s comin’ home tomorrow. You’d better be ready to deal with this, ’cause we both know it’s been hangin’ over your head for years.” Colby hung up.

With deliberate care Trevor closed the phone. He didn’t move, just watched his hot breath leave jagged patches of steam on the cold windowpane. He sensed Edgard behind him, even when Edgard didn’t utter a sound.

Finally Trevor turned around.

Edgard retreated, keeping a healthy space between them, his gaze somber. “She’s okay?”

He nodded and saw Edgard’s posture relax.

“Thank God.”

“Guess she asked Channing a buncha questions. Played with Gib all day.” He smiled faintly. “Chass does love babies.”

“She mentioned wanting a brood of her own.”

“When did she tell you that?”

Edgard shrugged. “Before you get bent out of shape, I’ll remind you I’ve hung out with Chassie a lot in the last two weeks. Way more than I have with you.” His gaze searched Trevor’s face. “What else did Colby say about…?”

Trevor narrowed his eyes. “About us?”

“No, about the situation, because it hasn’t been about ‘us’ since you met Chassie, regardless if I was here or not.”

“But you are here now. And I hope you ain’t suggestin’ that your showin’ up out of the blue had nothin’ to do with Chassie takin’ off today.”

“Is that what you want, Trevor? For me to admit fault?”

Dammit all to hell, he’d gotten trapped by the pain in Edgard’s eyes once again. He shook his head.

Edgard sighed. “If I would’ve stayed in Brazil this wouldn’t have happened. But you cannot stand there and tell me that this situation is one-sided.”

“You kissed me, remember?”


Trevor’s cheeks heated. “What was I supposed to do?”

“Push me back with disgust. Knock me on my ass. Scream that I’m a perverted fucker.” Edgard threw up his hands. “Jesus. You should’ve threatened me. Become enraged by the insult that I imagined even for the slightest moment you might like fucking me. Demanded I get the hell away from you and never come back. But you didn’t do any of those things.”

I couldn’t. God help me, I didn’t want to.

“Would you have acted angry and offended if you’d known your wife was watching us?”

I don’t know.

“Are you sorry I’m here?”

I don’t know.

Edgard rubbed the heel of his hand on his forehead. “Don’t answer. I don’t know if I could stand it if the answer was yes.”

“Didn’t you tell me you were prepared for my rejection from the minute you showed up?”


Trevor wanted to shake the answers out of him. “Why?”

“I’d already lost everything in my life that mattered to me, so I stupidly thought I had nothin’ else to lose by coming here.” Those golden eyes flickered. “I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Pointless to discuss now. I’m goin’ to bed though I doubt I’ll get a lick of sleep.”

“Jesus, Ed. you can’t drop that on me and walk away.”

“Yeah, I can. I’ll see you in the morning.” Edgard ducked through the kitchen doorway. The stairs creaked without pause and his bedroom door locked with a click of finality.

The house was silent. Trevor had never felt more confused or alone.

The sun’s pinkish rays lit the horizon, ending Trevor’s night of tossing and turning.

No need to dress since he’d slept in his clothes. Half a pot of coffee later, he headed out to do chores.

When he returned to the house, Edgard sat at the kitchen table. The man always looked damn fine in the morning, freshly showered, wearing clean, crisply ironed clothes, his cheeks and jaw shaved smooth as a baby’s butt, a spring in his step and a sparkle in his eye. Annoying, really.

But today Edgard looked a little worse for the wear. Dark circles emphasized his tired eyes, stubble coated his angular face, and he wore the same clothes as yesterday. He mumbled into his coffee cup. Edgard’s usual chipper self must’ve slept in.