Harper became quiet again.

“That’s not all that’s on your mind, is it?”

“No. But I don’t know how to say this to you because you’re my boss.”

It stung a bit that Harper didn’t consider her a friend, even after they’d lived together for a couple of weeks when Harper had signed on to work at the Split Rock.

But you haven’t gone out of your way to befriend anyone since you’ve been here. You’re holding yourself off, just like you always do.

Like that was news. Every job she’d had in the last two years had been temporary. Getting close to people knowing she’d never see them again was pointless and that mind-set wasn’t easy to shake.

Maybe it’s time you actually tried to make a change.

The reason for Harper’s reluctance hit her. “This is about Abe.”

Harper nodded. “Everyone is concerned you’ll hurt him again.”

“Everyone?” she asked with a bitter edge. “Meaning … Bran, Hank, and Lainie?” She fought the urge to lash out and managed to keep her tone even. “Remind them that Abe insisted I move out to the ranch. Yes, Abe and I have a past. Not a volatile past, but there were plenty of things left unfinished between us.” She snorted softly. “Know the irony in all of this? Everyone had an opinion on our marriage back then. Living with other people, we were subjected to input we didn’t want or need, and yes, it affected us. But what ‘everyone’ is forgetting? Abe and I loved each other. But unfortunately, at that point in our lives, love wasn’t enough.” Janie’s eyes blurred with tears. “So you can tell everyone to back off. What goes on between us now is no one’s business.”

Harper didn’t speak until she parked in the employee lot. “I’m sorry. You’re right. I hope the fact I was coerced into bringing this up won’t affect our friendship.”

Janie was appeased Harper admitted they were friends. It drove home the point that she wanted to be the warm and affectionate type of friend. Not only with Harper, but also with others. What if she didn’t know how? How did she admit that failing? How long would it take her to become the person she’d always longed to be? To put herself out there? To be the first to offer her trust?

No time like the present to take a chance and just do it.

“Keep in mind any time you want to talk, Janie, I am here for you. I know you’ve got a lone wolf attitude, but you really helped me sort things out when everything was so confusing with Bran.”

“Thanks.” Janie looped her arm through Harper’s. “Now didn’t you say something about inviting me’n Abe over for supper and cards? ’Cause I’m thinking a casserole and canasta sounds like a helluva good time.”

Chapter Fifteen

Tierney had successfully avoided Renner all day.

Or has he avoided you?

Like a total chickenshit, the morning after the kiss in the parking lot, she’d left instructions not to be disturbed in her office, claiming she had rush projects to finish for PFG. When in truth, she’d caught up with her two best friends in Chicago. When Celia called, she’d offered financial advice, because God knew, relationship advice was out of her realm of expertise. After sending Harlow funny, bizarre Web site links that played on their childhood inside jokes, she’d browsed the Zappos Web site and ordered two new pairs of funky shoes.

She’d been bored out of her freakin’ mind all day and a little disappointed in herself that she’d reverted to avoidance behavior instead of acting bold. Her night hadn’t been any better; she’d dreamt of one pain in the butt cowboy whose full lips redefined kissable.

Yawning, slurping coffee, determined to do something productive, she’d just started plugging her monthly expenses into a spreadsheet when the door opened and slammed shut. Before she looked up she knew Renner would be looming over her desk.

And loom he did. All six feet two inches of him. His black hat cast a shadow over his eyes. She suspected his menacing posture meant his baby blues would be snapping fire.

Petty, but Tierney let him cool his boots for a minute before she glanced up with a prissy, “Yes?”

“We need to talk.”

“I’m busy.”

“Now.”

After releasing a long-suffering sigh, she said, “Fine. I’ve run across a couple of items I’m not sure how to categorize—”

“Tierney.” His hand enveloped hers as she restlessly rolled the mouse over the mouse pad. “Please.”

The softly spoken please brought her gaze back to his. No anger darkened his face, just unease. “What?”

“I wanna talk about what happened the other night at Buckeye Joe’s.”

“I don’t want to talk about it. Ever.”

“Tough.”

“Look, I’m sure you’re here to apologize—”

“That’s the thing. I’m not here to apologize.”

Tierney went very still. “Excuse me?”

“I’m not sorry I kissed you.” He paced to the seating area and back. “I’m not sorry you kissed me back. And before you go getting that superior look, can we be honest with each other just one goddamn time and admit this attraction between us ain’t gonna go away?”

She wanted to act cool and sophisticated but she blushed ten shades of red.

His eyes roved over every inch of her flaming face. “You are hell on my intention never to get mixed up with another woman like you.”

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