Chapter Nine

Late Thursday morning, Quinn was wrenching on an old tractor outside the barn when a Crook County sheriff’s car pulled up. He wiped his hands on a rag and squinted at the familiar driver.

His cousin, Cam McKay, had signed on as a deputy after his return from Iraq. The door opened and all six-foot-five inches of Cam unfolded from the vehicle.

“Mornin’,” Quinn said.

“Mornin’, Q,” Cam replied, slamming the door.

Cam’s limp was noticeable as he ambled over. Quinn focused his attention on Cam’s face rather than his disability. “Out makin’ the rounds today, Deputy McKay?”

“I wish. Is Libby around?”

“Nah. She’s at a conference in Cheyenne all week.”

“That explains it.”

“Explains what?”

“This.” Cam held up an envelope. “Why I’m serving you with papers from Ginger Paulson, Attorney-at-Law.”

Quinn’s stomach pitched. “You’re shittin’ me.”

“Nope. Sorry.” Cam passed over the envelope. “This part of my job sucks worse than dodging bullets.”

“When did you get this?” Quinn asked as he ripped the flap open.

“First thing this morning. I grabbed it soon as it was dropped off. I figured you’d rather get it from me than from Sheriff Turnbull.” Pause. “Unless you plan on shooting the messenger?”

“Not hardly. Ain’t your fault and my gun is in my truck.” Quinn didn’t know squat about legal procedure, but he had a pretty good idea what kind of papers were inside the envelope. The rag fell to the ground as he scanned the document.

A Summons and Complaint, filed by Ginger A. Paulson, Attorney-at-Law, on behalf of Libby Adams McKay, Complaint. Dated…Tuesday morning.

Son of a bitch.

Quinn’s face grew hot, his eyes smarted. He felt like he’d been bucked off a bull—breathless, blindsided and stupid.

“Q? Buddy, you okay?”

He couldn’t look at his cousin. The pity in Cam’s eyes would do him in. “No. I’m about as far from fine as a man can get.” Spilling his guts. Nice. Maybe he oughta throw himself in the dirt and start bawling too.

“Look, I ain’t tryin’ to be a dick, or to stick my nose in, but Ben made it sound like you and Libby had gotten back together last weekend.”

“I thought we had.”


Finally, Quinn glanced up and waved the paper. “This ain’t some kinda mistake?”

Cam shook his head.


“Have you talked to Libby since she’s been in Cheyenne?”

“Once. She’s always so damn busy at those conferences she don’t have time to call.” Come to think of it, when he’d called her Tuesday night, she had acted more distracted than usual.


Because you showed her your darker side. It scared her and she’s rethinking whether she wants to spend her life with you.

No. Libby had wanted to see it. Hell, she’d demanded to see it.

Then why with all your sharing of feelings and hours of lovemaking didn’t she tell you she loved you?

His heart nearly stopped.

Surely Libby had uttered those three little words at some point over the weekend.

Hadn’t she?

He’d said them to her, but now that he really thought about it…his wife hadn’t reciprocated. Not one time. Why not? Was this past weekend a way to get him to open up before she leveled the killing blow to their marriage?

No. Libby wasn’t a cold, vindictive woman—even when the divorce petition clutched in hand suggested otherwise. So what in tarnation was going on with her?

Only one way to find out.

Quinn’s boots kicked up dust as he raced to his pickup.

Cam called out, “Hey! Where you going?”

“Cheyenne.” Within two seconds, his cousin jerked him around and got right in his face. Damn. Cam was scary fast and stealthy, even sporting a fake leg. “What?”

“I can’t let you go, Q, if you’re planning on doing something stupid.”

“Jesus, Cam, you think I’d ever hurt her? I love her. She’s everything in the damn world to me.”

His younger cousin gave him a hard cop stare.

“I’ve hurt her enough. Only stupid thing I’m doin’ is standin’ here, tellin’ you what I oughta be tellin’


Cam grinned. “That’s all I wanted to hear. Drive safe.”


Four hours later, Quinn hit the state capital. The parking lot of the Sheraton was jam-packed. He rolled the papers up and shoved them in his back pocket.

Inside the convention center, he checked the electronic display board listing class times and rooms.

Librarians roamed the halls. Mostly females. Luckily in Wyoming no one paid attention to just another man in a cowboy hat.

He paused outside the door to Conference Room B and took a deep breath. Rounding the corner, he scanned the women congregated around the beverage station and scattered in groups of twos and threes.

Bingo. There she was, looking pretty as a picture in a clingy purple pantsuit, chatting with a lady twice her age and half as tall.

Quinn strode toward her.

Libby glanced up when ten feet separated them. Her eyes widened. “Quinn? What on earth?”

“I’m happy to see you too, darlin’ wife.”

The older woman tittered.

Color rose in Libby’s cheeks. “Why are you here?”

“Because I got hold of some interestin’ papers today and I wanted to talk to you about them.” He slipped his arm around Libby’s stiff shoulders and smiled at her companion. “Ma’am. If you’ll excuse us.”


He sensed Libby fuming as he attempted to steer her out of the room. She dug in her heels. “I’m busy.

This is not the place to discuss this.”

Quinn placed his lips near her temple. “Wrong. Unless you want me to hoist you into a fireman’s hold and drag you outta this room, you’d better keep movin’.”

She jerked back. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Try me.” After a couple seconds of her indecision, Quinn flashed his teeth at her. “Fine. If that’s the way you wanna play this.” He bent down, intending to throw her over his shoulder.

“No! Wait.” Libby grabbed his hand and hustled him out the side door. She kept dragging him along at a good clip until they reached a deserted corridor. She whirled around, hands on hips. But he could tell she wasn’t really mad, just…worried.

“What happened between us last weekend?” Quinn asked. “Was it only about sex?”

She shook her head.

“It wasn’t one last tumble before you moved on?”

“Moved on? Why in the world would you say that? You were there, Quinn. You know how everything changed between us.”

“Yeah, but I thought it was a change for the better.”

“It was. It is.”

Quinn reached into his back pocket and held out the rolled-up papers. “Then how in the hell can you possibly explain this?”

Libby’s eyes darted away. “It was supposed to be a surprise.”

“A surprise?”

“We’ve never done anything like that. I thought it’d be fun.”

“Fun?” he repeated. “Since when is a surprise divorce fun?”

“What are you talking about?”

“This.” Quinn waved the papers. “A signed document from Ginger Paulson, Attorney-at-Law, starting the divorce proceedings at your request.”

“Gimme that.” Libby snatched the papers and unrolled them. All the blood drained from her face and she wilted against the wall as she flipped through the pages. “No. No. No! This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

“Then how did it?”



“Last Friday, I’d given up hope. I thought you didn’t care—”

“I remember that conversation. We’ve been through this.”

“You don’t know this part. Earlier that day I signed the Complaint paperwork. I put it in my outbox, intending to mail it…and then you were waiting for me in the parking lot. Since I was out of town this week, someone at the school must’ve thought they were doing me a favor and sent it off.”

“Some favor.”

“This wasn’t what I wanted.” Libby looked at him beseechingly. “You have to believe me. I forgot all about it. Especially after we spent the weekend trying to work things out.”

“Did we work things out, Libby?”


Relief like he’d never felt swept through him. “So if you would’ve gone into the library on Monday?”

“I’d have ripped this into shreds.” Her chin wobbled. “God, Quinn, I’m so sorry. You probably were thinking all sorts of horrible thoughts about me.”

Quinn pulled her into his arms. “Never. I was just mighty confused and needed to get to the bottom of it straightaway, since we talked about not keepin’ things from each other.”

“So you…?”

“I hopped in my truck and headed for Cheyenne right after Cam dropped it off this mornin’.”

“Your cousin delivered this to you?” She cringed. “That oughta be fodder for the McKay gossipmongers.”

“Since it was official business, I doubt he’ll say anything.” He swallowed his pride. “But I wouldn’t mind reassurance from you that it ain’t gonna be grist for the mill.”

She tipped her face up to look at him. “Like?”

“Like…do you still love me?”

“Of course I still love you. I never stopped loving you.”

“Say it again.”

Libby stood on her tiptoes and peppered his face with kisses. “I love you. Love, love, love you, with my heart, my soul, my everything. Quinn McKay, you are my everything, and if you think for one moment I’m ever letting you go, after all we’ve been through—”