Say You Won't Let Go (Page 7)
“What do you think?” Grace answers a question with a question.
I hate that.
I groan. “I think a year’s worth of squashing feelings has just been let out. The sparks between us were instant, and being with him was so easy. It is truly the way you describe bein’ with Trent.”
“If it’s easy, then it’s right. You’ve liked him for a while. And I know he’s liked you for just as long. I guess the question is, what are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know.”
Grace huffs. “You know, if I remember correctly, you’re the one who told me to stop bein’ stupid not too long ago. Don’t you think you should do the same and go after the first guy you’ve actually shown interest in since college? Cooper isn’t just some guy.”
She’s right. This is totally different. This isn’t just some guy… He could be so much more.
A knock at the door stops me from answering. One of the roadies opens the door with a big bouquet of roses. “Emily Young?”
“That’s me.” I smile. “Are those for me?”
“Oh, Grace! I just got two dozen roses!” I take the card from the holder and grin.
“Cooper?” she asks with excitement.
I read the card: A flower for every kiss I plan to share with you.
“I think so. Whoever it was didn’t sign the card.” I clutch the words to my chest and grin. It has to be from him.
“Well, he’s very romantic and a good guy,” Grace replies. Trent’s voice echoes in the back. “Em, the baby woke up, and Trent doesn’t have boobs.”
I laugh. “Okay, kiss Hannah for me.”
“I will. Love you! Call him!”
“Well, well, well, Wade Rycroft as I live and breathe.” I clap his shoulder, and he stands.
Wade grips my hand and shakes. “Cooper Townsend. I heard you were in town.”
“Yeah, just a few days. I was hopin’ to run into you. I’m here for the new expo. How are you, man? How’s your family?”
Our families have known each other for a long time, and our fathers are good friends. They were both young ranchers who met at an auction and stayed in touch. Wade and I bonded over the years in the rodeo circuit. He was better than I was. I’ll never tell him that, though.
I grab the seat next to him at the small bar I found by the hotel. Today was draining, and I had to fight myself not to drive to Houston to see Emily. So, instead of staring at the white walls in my room, I opted for a drink.
“You know my brothers, they’re the same. Rowdy as fuck and always in trouble.”
“Yeah.” I laugh. “As much as I wish I had brothers to help run the ranch, I’m glad it was just Presley most of the time.”
“Exactly. You still in the Army? I didn’t know you were back in town.”
Wade drains the beer in front of him and shakes his head. “Nope. I’m out.”
“Well, thank you for your service.”
He lets out a short laugh and motions to the bartender for another beer. She returns quickly with another round for both of us.
“How’s the ranch?”
“I’m actually working for a security company, McKay-Taggart. Best around. Since I’m chock full of useless knowledge that doesn’t apply to bein’ a rancher. Army didn’t prepare you for what happens when they kick you out for injuries. Nice, huh?”
There’s an edge to what he says, and I realize just how much he’s changed. The Wade I knew was funny and full of life. The man on that barstool is battling something deep. I was there not all that long ago. I didn’t want my farm. I wanted to do anything else. I always wished I could’ve joined the service, but Pop needed me to take over. With my sister off in Philadelphia, it fell on me.
Being saddled with burdens I never meant to carry changed me. Left a bitter taste that made it hard to swallow. I see the same thing in Wade.
“Well, I’ll buy you another beer, and you can tell me all about it.”
Wade and I sit and catch up. He tells me about the McKay-Taggart security company he works for, how he isn’t married, and how different it is with both parents gone. Dad attended Mr. Rycroft’s funeral, said it was horrible watching all those boys look to Wade.
“Is the ranch workin’ without you being there?” I ask him.
“My brothers have it handled.”
He tells me more about his time in the service and the missions he went on. And, although I can’t really imagine what it was like or what injuries he sustained that brought him back here, I admire what he’s done.
“The company you work for now?” I press.
“Good men, most former military, which helps when it comes to this shit. You want to know whoever has your six knows what they’re doing,” Wade explains.
“I can understand that.”
Wade nods. “I can’t complain too much. I’m making good money and I’m never bored.”
There’s no mistaking that he’s capable, it’s in the way he watches everything happening in the room. I haven’t glanced at the door once, but his eyes shift each time.
“You on a job now?” I ask.
“No. I just finished one and am waiting for my next assignment.”
I’d be lying if I said a part of me wasn’t jealous. Living a life where there’s a little danger and mystery would be far more interesting than my own life. Cows are cows.
My phone vibrates in my pocket, and Emily’s sweet smile fills my screen. Her long blonde hair is pulled over her shoulder and her bright blue eyes make my heart squeeze. “I need to take this,” I explain to Wade and answer the call, moving toward the back of the bar.
“Hey,” I answer.
“You finish your show?” I ask, wondering how long it would take me to drive to Houston. It’s insane, but now that I’ve had a taste of her, I want it all.
Emily sighs. “I did.”
I wish I could’ve seen her perform. She is truly made to be up there. You can’t take your eyes off her when she’s on stage. I don’t think I understood what she meant when she said that music was inside her until I saw it myself.
Emily Young comes alive when she sings.
And two days ago when I watched her show, even if she wasn’t singing to me, it felt like it. I know she was on that one song, but it was more than that. She made every man in that room feel like they were on the brink of something. I could feel it around me, building inside me, and at that moment, I would’ve done anything for her.
“You sound sad,” I say as she lets out another low sigh.
“I am. I miss you, Cooper.” Her voice is filled with uncertainty and fear. I want to take that away from her, and I’d be lying if I said knowing that she’s even a little torn up about me doesn’t make me happy.
At least I’m not the only one struggling.
I groan. “Fuck, Em. How am I supposed to wait to see you again?”
She giggles. “You could be here in just four hours.”
“And then what?”
“Come and find out.”
This is what has always drawn me to Emily Young. She’s bold, sexy, and not afraid to say what’s on her mind. She isn’t like the other girls I’ve known. Everything about her is alluring, and I want to uncover every layer she has. The only issue is that she’ll never fit into the life I have. Emily won’t ever be content settled down in Bell Buckle. She’s meant for the spotlight, and I’m not.
That doesn’t stop me from wanting whatever I can get, though.
“Don’t tempt me.”
Emily’s voice is warm and soft. “I wouldn’t want you to miss the reason for your trip.”
I don’t give a fuck about my trip.
I don’t even remember why the hell I’m here.
She’s what has taken up every ounce of my headspace. It’s as if I’ve glimpsed at Heaven, and it’s all I can see anymore. I need to go back, taste more, see everything, have it all because I don’t know if I can survive without it—even if it’s only once.
I say the only thing that makes sense. “We’ve waited a long time for this, Emily. I think we owe it to ourselves, don’t you?”
“I’ll be waitin’ for you.”
The phone disconnects, and I need to go.
“Hey, I need to take care of something,” I try to explain to Wade.
He smiles. “Sure you do.”
“You know how it is.” It’s the way it’s always been and how it always will be. “Listen, I’m only in town for a few days, but I’d love to catch up.”
Wade writes his number down, and I shake his hand. “I’m around this week, but if I get a job, I may be gone without warning.”
“I get it. It was good to see you.”
“Good to see you, too, Coop.”
We part ways, and I find myself practically running to the car. Now that I know I’m going to see her, I need to get to her immediately.
During the drive, I think about all the responsibilities I’m blowing off right now. I’ve never been one to walk away from something that involved the ranch. My sister was able to turn her back on things, but I couldn’t.