Abe turned around. “This time when you marry me, you will take my last name.”

Her jaw dropped.

Then he was right there, his rough fingers under her chin. His mouth covered hers in a warm and gentle kiss. A kiss packed with promise and forgiveness. And love.

Love that he confessed the instant he broke the seal of their lips. “Janie. I love you. So much.” He kissed her softly. “Wanna hear something crazy? In the hours I laid in bed missing you, I decided if you left, I’d follow you. No matter where you went.”

“What?”

“I figured since I have a college degree, I could find a job doin’ something besides ranching.”

Her confused eyes searched his. “But you love the ranch.”

“Yeah, I do. But I love you too. Last time I picked this place over you. I should’ve chased you down and I didn’t because of my pride. I never thought I’d get another chance and I ain’t dumb enough to blow it. So if you’ve really got your heart set on livin’ someplace else—”

She shook her head and didn’t bother to hide her tears.

“Hey, now.” Abe’s thumbs wiped the dampness from beneath her eyes. “None of this. Your cheeks will freeze when we get outside. Can’t have my bride-to-be wearing permanent tear tracks, now can I?”

Janie stared at him. “You really want to marry me again?”

“Yep. Right away, too. But like I said, there are a couple of conditions.”

“Change my name. Check. What else?”

“No running away for you or clamming up for me if we hit a rough patch. We talk it out, figure it out, and if we can’t do it on our own, then we find a professional to help us sort it out. Though I doubt it’ll come to that this time, I wanna make sure we’re on the same page.”

“Deal.”

“Also, I want kids.”

There was that catch in her heart again. “Soon?”

“As soon as you’re ready. I’m ready now. I know your career is important to you and that’s fine by me.”

“How much did Hank and Lainie’s baby have to do with this need to reproduce?”

“Some. Not a jealousy thing, or a competition thing, but a you thing.”

She peered up at him. “A me thing?”

“When I see you, Janie, I see a future, our future, and that future includes kids. And you and me bein’ pruny together in fifty years.” Abe smiled. “Now that’s out of the way, we’ve got cattle to feed. I’m grateful for your help since Hank is too busy admiring his baby girl and fussing over his wife.”

“Harper told us all about Lainie’s close call. I’m relieved everything turned out so well.” She bit her lip. “Do you think your family can ever forgive me for leaving you? Let me be part of the family again?”

“It don’t matter what they think, Janie, because I forgive you. And you and I are already a family. We’ve been building it since the moment you moved in.”

She buried her face in his chest and held him tightly, grateful for the love of this amazing man and second chances.

As they grabbed the mugs and headed out the door, Janie knew they had more to discuss. Lots more. Not everything would get solved today. But they had a damn good start on it.

Chapter Thirty-seven

Two weeks later . . .

“Call me back, dammit.” Tierney angrily punched the END CALL button on her phone.

Janie glanced up from where she sat at Renner’s desk. “He’s still not taking your calls?”

“No. What is wrong with him? What if the Split Rock burned down and I needed to get ahold of him?”

“At the risk of pissing you off, he’d probably be happy because the insurance money would cover the damages and then he could afford to pay back the PFG loan.”

Tierney crumpled up a sheet of paper and lobbed it at Janie. “Not funny.”

“If it makes you feel any better, he’s not returning my calls either.”

“Actually, that doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel . . .” Lost. Alone. Unsure whether I’ve done the right thing.

Then Janie’s hands were flat on her desk as she stuck her nose in Tierney’s face. But Tierney’s gaze automatically focused on the brand-new two-carat diamond, centered in a white gold wedding band, surrounded by square-cut amethysts. Thrilled as she was that Janie and Abe worked out their differences and had gotten remarried last week, she still felt a pang of jealousy.

“Renner is always incommunicative when he’s on the road this time of the rodeo season. The truth is he’s too busy during the day with back-to-back events. At night, he’s too exhausted. The cycle starts anew each day.”

“But I don’t have the luxury of time. We need to move on this now. I can’t do anything until I hear from him.” She’d come up with a plan to pry the resort from her father’s clutches that was so perfect, bordering on sheer brilliance, that she couldn’t wait to get Renner’s approval and input.

“How much time before the note is due?”

“Three weeks.” She held up her hand to stop Janie’s rebuttal. “Don’t say plenty of time. I need a full week for the money to clear all channels. So I’m desperate to get in touch with the elusive man.”

“Well, there’s nothing you can do beyond tracking him down and kidnapping him.”

Tierney stilled. Kidnap. Huh. What a great idea.

***

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