Renner snorted. “I’ve driven that road in my sleep.”


“No buts. And no way will I listen to you nagging me all the way to Rawlins. Jesus. That’s my worst nightmare.” He leaned in until they were nose to nose. “I go. You stay. End of discussion.” Then he hustled out the door.

Right. Like she’d start listening to him now.

Tierney waited until she heard the roar of his truck; then she grabbed her keys, her coat and followed him.

Chapter Four

Renner put the pedal to the metal. Christ. Poor Janie. After what that woman had been through in the last three years . . . and now this? If she’d been sentient enough to insist Abe call him, he felt encouraged her injuries weren’t life threatening. Given Janie’s past, he couldn’t help but wonder if this had been an accident.

Think of something else or you’ll go crazy with worry and drive like an idiot.

He glanced at the speedometer. Ninety-five. He eased up on the gas, but his hands still white-knuckled the steering wheel. He tried to focus on practical matters. His thoughts kept circling around the question: What was he going to do without Janie on opening week?

She was an integral part of his operation. She’d helped him with the concept for a ranch and resort. A place where he could feed his social nature and share his love of the Western lifestyle. The process hadn’t been as easy as he’d imagined—and now he worried he’d devoted the last two years to creating something with no guarantee it’d ever truly belong to him.

As much crap as he’d taken from his buddies in the rodeo world about the Split Rock being a resort, he intended it to be as much a working ranch as an upscale hunting lodge and retreat.

Hunting. Right. His brain raced a million directions. With Janie possibly being out of commission, good thing he’d already planned for the week ahead. Hunting permits had been secured. He’d laid in an extra supply of ammo. The ATVs were tuned up. The hunting guides were ready to switch off.

Since Renner wasn’t much of a hunter, he’d hired two ranchers familiar with the lay of the land. The guys loved hunting so much they’d been happy to serve as guides in exchange for unlimited hunting rights. That’d been a cheap solution in the scheme of getting the Split Rock up and running.

The only cheap thing so far. The land hadn’t been that pricey. He’d saved enough cash to purchase an additional two thousand acres alongside the first parcel. He would’ve been in good financial shape to fund this entire enterprise himself had the stock market not crashed and wiped him out. At that time he’d already had the building plans drawn up. Paid the hefty retainer for the specialized contractors that were scheduled a year out. Hell, he’d even had the building sites leveled and concrete footings poured.

Then financial disaster struck.

He didn’t remember where he’d initially gotten the name of Pratt Financial Group. Gene Pratt owned a variety of small businesses in the hospitality industry, as well as a finance company loosely tied to his interests. It hadn’t occurred to Renner until too late that the reason Pratt owned so many companies was because those businesses had defaulted on loan repayment. Pratt Financial Group—PFG—boasted enough equity that Renner was surprised when Gene Pratt agreed to meet with him personally in Kansas City.

If Pratt had played coy or spun tales of instant financial security Renner would’ve walked away. But Pratt set him straight; chances of obtaining the funds from a traditional source, such as a bank, were less than five percent. He’d gone on to explain the real estate market was in the toilet, especially in the areas of luxury homes and private retreats. But Pratt admitted the potential of the Wyoming property interested him and he was willing to lend Renner the money—with a few conditions, which would be spelled out in the contract.

A contract Gene Pratt just happened to have with him.

PFG number crunchers projected a fifty percent chance of success and a ten percent return on investment if the resort could capitalize on hunting season, the holiday season and ski season. So PFG’s stipulation for lending Renner the money? The Split Rock Ranch and Resort had to be fully constructed, fully operational and fully staffed by October first.

Renner knew meeting the criteria was a Herculean task, but he was so damn desperate for the capital he’d signed on the dotted line. After construction was under way, Tierney Pratt called on her father’s behalf, announcing she’d be on-site as PFG representative to ensure the resort opened on time.

In the past few months the woman had dug in her high heels like an Old West homesteader with the promise of free land in exchange for proving fortitude. Since she was Gene Pratt’s daughter, Renner’s hands were tied. She’d invaded half his office space, a clear indication she wasn’t leaving anytime soon. And she’d gotten under his skin like a sand burr. It was more than her snippy attitude when she questioned him on every damn thing under the sun. It was more than the mesmerizing way her ass swayed in body-hugging skirts as she haughtily flitted away from him.

She annoyed him. Frustrated him. Challenged him.

Turned him on.

How f**ked up was it that the uptight woman did it for him in a bad way? He’d been stupid enough to fall for a rich daddy’s girl once; he had no intention of repeating that mistake.

Keep telling yourself that.

Renner continued to brood about Tierney because it kept him from thinking about Janie. Tierney had garnered his interest so completely he’d barely paid attention to Harper and Bran’s wedding last night; he’d been too busy watching her. Expecting to see boredom or derision, signs to remind him that she was a privileged, overeducated pain in the ass who’d look down on a small country wedding.


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