The Texan's BrideBy: Linda Warren
“Jessie, we need to talk.”
Cadde’s deep voice demanded Jessie’s attention.
She looked up, trying to appear as innocent as possible. “About what?”
“You know damn well about what. We spoke last night and you seemed in agreement about the next steps for Shilah Oil.”
“I didn’t promise you my vote.”
“Oh, no, you’re way too smart for that.” Anger now edged his voice. “Do you get some kind of perverse pleasure out of blocking my every move?”
“Then what the hell is it?” He waved a hand around the green-and-white room. “If the oil company goes under, so will all of this. Why are you keeping Shilah stagnant? It’s me, isn’t it? You’re not comfortable with me taking over Roscoe’s position so you’re trying to stick it to me every way you can.”
She shook her head. “No. I think you’re more than qualified to fill Daddy’s shoes.”
“Then what the hell is it, Jessie? What do I have to do to get your support? What do you want?”
“It’s quite simple. I want a baby.”
CADDE HARDIN ALWAYS THOUGHT he’d eventually get married. He just never dreamed it would be a marriage of convenience.
And a pain in the ass.
“One of these days I’m going to wring her damn pretty neck.”
He threw his briefcase onto the desk, scattering piles of folders, and slam-dunked his body into a leather chair, which protested with loud, annoying squeaks. He was so angry he could barely breathe.
How many more times was Jessie, his wife, going to stab him in the back?
His brothers, Cisco—known as Kid—and Chance stood in the doorway. “Is it safe to come in?” Kid asked. Cadde nodded.
“What the hell happened?” Kid wanted to know. “You said you had it handled, but once again Jessie shot down your proposal.”
Cadde yanked off his tie. “I’m well aware of that.” For a whole week he’d been telling Jessie how much he needed her vote at Shilah Oil’s next board meeting. The company had to move forward. She had agreed, but evidently she’d changed her mind, voting against expanding drilling outside of Texas. He could feel his blood pressure rising by the minute.
“What did she say when you told her about the proposal?” Chance asked, taking a seat.
Cadde threw the tie onto the desk. “She said it sounded like something her father, Roscoe, would do. He was always a wildcatter, a risk-taker.”
“Did she agree to vote your way?” Kid plopped into a chair and rested his boots on the desk. Usually, Cadde would knock them off, but today he wasn’t in a mood to fight with Kid. Jessie and her about-face was all he had on his mind.
“No,” he muttered.
“Sounds as if she’s still pissed about the marriage,” Kid commented.
“I didn’t force her into this arrangement. Roscoe was dying and he wanted me to protect her, to take care of her, and I agreed.”
“For a piece of the pie,” Kid murmured under his breath.
He glared at Kid. “Don’t start with me today.”
Chance spoke up. “Face it, Cadde, she has to be upset at having her husband chosen for her.”
“She was there when Roscoe made his wishes known. She didn’t object or get angry. She accepted her father’s decision.”
“Dammit, Chance.” Cadde swung out of his chair and stood to gaze at the view of Houston, but all he saw were Jessie’s dark eyes. Swinging back, he said, “Don’t you think I’m aware of that? I’m at my wit’s end on how to handle Jessie.”
“Since I’m an expert on women—” Kid formed a steeple with his fingers and looked at Cadde over the top “—I’d say Jessie wants something…and she wants it from you.”
“What would that be, Kid?” Cadde asked in a sarcastic tone.
“I don’t know, but whatever she’s angry about is aimed at you.”
“That’s for damn sure.”
“Shilah Oil is going nowhere without her support on the board,” Chance said. “So your best bet is to have an honest-to-God talk with her.”