You surprised? After your comment about it being “just sex” between you?

Then to add insult to injury, he hadn’t invited her into his bed. She’d lain awake in the guest bedroom after he’d come home, waiting for him to sneak in, scoop her up and drag her into his room for round three.

He hadn’t.

In fact, she was half afraid the click she’d heard was Abe locking his bedroom door.

Locking her out.

So she was trying to figure out this “new” sexually confident, sexually aggressive, but oddly ambiguous Abe.

Not that Abe had been a slouch in the bedroom during the time they were together. His passion for her was evident from the night they met. He’d made love to her so sweetly, so tenderly that first time she’d felt cherished. She’d fallen a little bit in love with him right away, even when she berated herself the next morning for sleeping with a drop-dead gorgeous cowboy hours after she’d brought him to her apartment. When he kept coming back, she’d known frequent sex was part of her appeal, but she’d also known they brought something to each other neither had found in previous relationships: comfort.

So maybe Abe hadn’t been the most inventive lover, but he’d always satisfied her. He always wanted her. Even when things were bad between them at the end, he’d reach for her in the middle of the night. Loving her with everything he had. But in the morning, he’d revert to the same gruff Abe. The sexy, sweet side he showed her in the dead of night hadn’t been enough to convince her to stay.

Would more of that smokin’ hot sex be enough to get you to stick around now?

Who knew? Focusing her mental energy on this situation allowed her to put the stalking issue on the back burner. She knew from past experience that obsessing over something she couldn’t control, could completely control her life. Besides, it’d take some mental fortitude to unravel the mystery of this new Abe. And she couldn’t wait to find out what she discovered next.

Since her car was still in the repair shop, Harper picked her up for work. And again Harper seemed distracted.

“Don’t feel obligated to drag me to the Split Rock every day just because I’m your boss,” Janie said off handedly.

“It’s not that.” Harper sighed. “I’m sorry I wasn’t good company last night either. I’ve just been preoccupied.”

“Anything you want to talk about?”

“This is gonna sound weird, but yesterday? I was waiting outside the office. The door was open and I heard Tierney . . .”

Please. Not another complaint about Renner and Tierney fighting. “You heard Tierney what?”

“On the phone, talking to Celia.”

Janie looked at Harper. “Celia? Really? I didn’t know they were friends.”

“I didn’t either.”

“But now that you mention it, they did hang out at your wedding reception after you and Bran left.”

“I figured as much. Here’s the really stupid thing. I was jealous. Celia has friends on the circuit. Heck, she has lots of other friends in Muddy Gap. But ever since Bran and I got engaged, even when I sort of figured out she’d set it up and was happy for us, I’ve felt her pulling away. It bugs me. After you and Abe were married, did your single friends decide since you were part of a couple you didn’t need them? Or did you end up having new friends? Couple friends?”

“I don’t remember.” At that time none of Abe’s friends were married. He and Max had always been tight but Max had taken a job out of state right after their wedding. Abe and Hank’s other pals—Bran, Kyle, Eli, Ike, Devin, Fletch—were around sporadically. Although she had female college classmates she saw weekly, Janie had felt isolated from everyone living on the ranch. She didn’t think it was wise to tell Harper the closest thing she had to a friend during that time had been Harper’s husband.

“Since Tierney lives here, same as me, I know Celia pulling away from me can’t be a location thing. Is it because they’re both single? What do they have in common?”

“I imagine people said the same about you and Celia,” Janie pointed out.

“True.” Harper smiled. “Now some of my best pals are the retired ladies who hang out at Bernice’s Beauty Barn.”

“Really? Them throwing you a bachelorette party wasn’t a farewell?”

“No. I miss the regulars who used to be my nail clients. Maybelle, Garnet, Pearl, Tilda and Bernice have me over for lunch every couple of weeks.” Harper looked at her oddly. “You do still get your hair cut at Bernice’s?”

“Yes. But I go in at the end of the day when there’s nobody there. It’s faster.”

“But you miss out on all the good gossip.”

“That’s exactly why I don’t go. I avoided anything resembling gossip when I lived here before.” Hadn’t that been one of Abe’s complaints? She acted as if she was too good for the locals?

“It’s weird. I thought since Tierney’s from the big city she’d feel the same way about that small town type of stuff. But according to my sources, Tierney has fit right in.”

“Tierney? Seriously? Surprises me she doesn’t go to Casper for her beauty fix.”

Harper’s gaze turned sharp. “Don’t you like her?”

“Actually, that came out sounding snottier than I meant. I do like her. Quite a bit. But my first loyalty is to Renner and Tierney knows that.”


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