She didn’t own the confidence to toss off a brash there is no other woman like me, baby. Heck, she just stared at him because he was looking at her like he wanted to eat her alive and she was seriously tempted to let him.

“You denying you feel this pull?” he asked softly.

“No.”

He closed his eyes and exhaled. “Good. That’s . . . good.”

“So while I’m obviously not immune to your cowboy charm, I’m also not an idiot. Why else are you here?”

“Am I that easy to read?”

No. You confuse me more than any man I’ve ever met. Tierney shifted in her chair. “Yes.”

“Oh yeah? So what am I thinking about right now?”

“Bulls?”

He rolled his eyes. “Wrong. Try again.”

She gave him a considering look. “Horses?”

“Nope.”

“I give up.”

His smile disappeared. “I need access to the money in the escrow account.”

Of course this was about money. She masked her disappointment that their banter had led straight back to business, even when she was the one who’d steered it in that direction. “For what?”

“Material for fences. And for wages to hire a guy to help me build the fences. Before you ask, this doesn’t have anything to do with my stock contracting business. The hunting guides pointed out sections where the fence needs fixed.” He scratched his head. “A lot of fences in the outlying areas need to be ripped out and reinstalled. Not for aesthetic reasons but for guest safety. I wanna do it while the weather is holding and the local building supply has fencing supplies twenty-five percent off this week.”

She forced a bland expression to keep her worry from showing. Renner had used up the money in the building escrow account last month. She couldn’t transfer funds from the operating costs account because they were barely squeaking by since the resort hadn’t regularly hit full capacity yet. But if she told him no, he might call her father and ask for an extended line of credit. In her opinion, Renner was already overextended and the last thing she wanted was for him to be even more indebted to her father and PFG.

Doesn’t that make you a traitor to the company? Considering giving the advantage to the lendee and taking it away from the lendor? The lendor that’s allowing you to be in Wyoming?

No. This situation was different. The more time Tierney spent at the resort and with the people who wholeheartedly believed in it, the more she wanted to see it succeed. Plus, she didn’t feel she was here on PFG’s behalf, since technically, they weren’t paying her. So she had to do whatever it took to keep the Split Rock afloat until the place could survive on its own income. “How much are we talking?”

“Fifty thousand. That’s cash up front when I place the order.”

“After the discount?”

He nodded.

She whistled. That was a lot of money. Way more than she expected.

But not more than you have. . . .

Her personal account could cover the cost, but that’d bleed her cash reserves dry.

What else were you planning to do with the money anyway? If you really believe in this place, for once, put your money where your mouth is.

Could she really do this? Go against everything she’d been taught? Purposely put herself at financial risk?

Yes. Because in some ways, if the Split Rock failed, she’d feel like she failed too.

Mind made up, she opened a couple of files, hoping he didn’t peer over her shoulder. “That will drain your escrow account completely. You’ll have less than five hundred dollars remaining.”

Renner’s eyebrows rose. “That’s it?”

“Yes. So this has to be the last expense. No exceptions.”

He paced in front of the door. Stopped and said tersely, “Do it. I don’t have a choice. It’ll cost me less now than if I wait a few months.”

Relief allowed her constricted lungs to fill with air again. If she played this right, no one would know she was bucking company policy and personally investing in a business under contract to PFG. Renner would have a shit fit if he ever found out she was personally lending him the money—even temporarily, so she’d have to keep it on the down low. “I’ll make the transfer today, but the money won’t appear in the operating account until tomorrow morning. In fact, why don’t I close the escrow account completely?”

“That’ll work. I’ll get the order set up and swing by tomorrow to pay for it.” He rubbed the stubble on his jaw. “Thanks for takin’ care of this, Tierney.”

“You’re welcome. But it’s my job.”

“True. And I appreciate you bein’ up front and on top of everything with the finances. I’d be lying if I said I understood half that money jargon.”

And isn’t it lucky for you that Renner had that attitude?

He leaned forward, completely invading her space. “Now that business is out of the way, can we please talk about what happened the other night and what happens next?”

The phone rang. Tierney picked up the receiver midring. “Split Rock Ranch and Resort.” She met Renner’s eyes. “Hey, Dad. No. That’s okay. Strangely enough, we were just talking about you.”

Renner’s lips flattened into a grim line.

She said, “Can you hang on for just a second?” and hit the HOLD button.

But Renner already had the door open. “I won’t keep you.” Then he was gone.

***

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