Wild Cowboy Ways(140)

By: Carolyn Brown

“Maybe it does.” She smiled again. “See you Sunday after church. I guess dinner is at our place.”

“Lizzy…” He swallowed hard. “Thanks for being honest with me.”

She slipped out the door and Blue found his way back up through the trap door to stretch out on the rug in front of the sofa. Toby shut his eyes, glad that she’d made the first step. God, he hated it when women cried, which was probably the reason he didn’t let himself get roped into relationships. Toby Dawson was a player, plain and simple, and he had just dodged a bullet.

Lizzy let herself into the house quietly and went straight to her room. She heard the rattle of glass as her mother unloaded the dishwasher, but Lizzy didn’t want to talk to or see anyone that night. Especially her mother. Mama would’ve immediately sniffed out the lie, and the house would have exploded if Lizzy had admitted that she’d been screwing around with Toby Dawson almost every day for three weeks.

It was nothing short of a miracle that they hadn’t gotten caught.

Already the rumors were hovering like buzzards waiting for roadkill. From day one, the Lucky Penny couldn’t buy an ounce of good luck and everything that happened on the ranch was fodder for the gossip. Half the folks in Dry Creek, Texas, were hoping that Blake and his family joined the long list of folks who failed at trying to make the Lucky Penny a profitable ranch. The other half were rooting for the three Dawsons—Blake, Toby and their cousin, Jud, who would be joining them in the fall.

Lizzy pulled off her boots, kicked them somewhere close to the closet door and changed into a faded nightshirt that she pulled from last week’s laundry still tossed in the rocking chair in the corner. Cleanliness was a virtue, according to the Good Book, but neatness was not mentioned. Unlike her sisters, Allie and Fiona, Lizzy must have been out chasing butterflies or playing with baby lambs when they passed out neatness because she didn’t get a bit of it.

She fell back on the bed, legs dangling off the side and head nowhere near a pillow. Staring at the ceiling with nothing but the small bedside lamp to light the room, she let the past run through her mind again for the hundredth time since Mitch had called to tell her he loved another woman. He and the preacher’s daughter had decided to become missionaries and he would preach at the little church they’d gone to Mexico to build.

Her world had shattered. And then Toby had taken her in his arms at Blake and Allie’s wedding and she realized maybe all wasn’t over for her after all. He charmed her and made her feel alive again—like a woman to be desired. Toby Dawson’s moves had turned her every which way but loose in those wild nights they’d shared.

As Lizzy crawled under the covers and turned out the light, she couldn’t help wondering if she was really willing to let him go…

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