And Then You Kiss (Crested Butte Cowboys Series Book 3) (9 page)

“Cups by the sink,” Jace pointed.

“You get the ice?”

“Bucket’s next to the cups.”

“Coke?”

“Nah. Crown’s good.”

Tucker handed him the red solo cup. “Here’s to her,” he said.

“Why’d you have to come back?”

“What’d you expect when you told me you were going to see her?”

“Why Tuck? Why is she affecting us this way? Shit. I thought I was in love with Irene, and she didn’t get under my skin this way.”

“Yeah, she did.”

“She did?”

“She’s all you thought about when you were in Spain.”

“So why Blythe?”

“I don’t have an answer for you bro. I feel the same way you do.”

“I wanted to rip your face off when I saw you kissin’ her.”

“I know.”

“Best thing would be for both of us to leave her alone.”

“Not happenin’.”

“You’re not gonna give her up?”

“Nope.”

“So it’s up to me?”

“Yeah, it’s up to you.”

“She isn’t gonna want to have anything to do with either one of us.”

“Don’t matter.”

***

“I think you should come to work for me.”

“What are you talking about?”

“For RodeoChat. It’s growin’ faster than I can keep up with. I need help.”

Blythe laughed. “You want help from a girl who doesn’t know shit about rodeo?”

“You don’t seem to have any trouble attracting cowboys.”

That made Blythe laugh again. “We did have fun last night, didn’t we?”

“Sure enough. But I’m not kidding. I need help. You can learn. I need someone who can help with interviews, make sure we’re on top of all the rodeos, not only around the country, but also around the world. Most of the job will be research, and it’s somethin’ you’ll have to be on daily.”

“You’re serious?”

“Yeah, I’m serious. Dead serious.”

“Where would I work?”

“You can work from home. You can work wherever you want.”

“Where do you work?”

Lyric told her she was based in Tennessee, but with all she did, she spent most of her time traveling. “I’ve been thinking about moving to Colorado for quite some time now.”

“Yeah?”

“Yep.”

“I might have a place you can stay.”

Blythe’s parents had a rental house in Palmer Lake that had recently become vacant. She and her dad were supposed to get it ready for the next tenant. She wouldn’t have been able to afford to move in by herself, but maybe with Lyric, they could swing it.

Blythe would have to see if she could work at the tea house and for RodeoChat at the same time, but why not give it a try?

“So what’s the job pay anyway?”

 

Blythe called her mom and told her she’d be bringing Lyric down to their place for lunch, and that they wanted to talk about renting the house by the lake.

“We have to be back in Denver by seven though,” Lyric overheard her tell her mother.

“You’re goin’ back tonight?”

“I have a job to learn, don’t I?”

Lyric high-fived her. “Yep, you sure do.”

***

Billy had just taken a drink of water when he saw Blythe walk by. She wasn’t close enough to them that Jace would necessarily see her. He started to cough and Jace smacked him on the back.

“You all right?”

“Yeah, went down the wrong way, thanks.”

What the hell was she doing back here? Last night Renie told him that she wanted to get away from Jace and Tucker. Now she was back? She was a pain in the ass, that Blythe. Billy hoped to hell Jace rode before he discovered she was here. And where was the twin? Was he here tonight? Jesus, he was starting to feel like damn babysitter for these Rice boys.

***

Tucker was sitting in the box waiting for the rodeo to start. Billy told him Liv and Ben would be coming again tonight, and Renie would be coming with them. No one expected Blythe to come along, so there was an extra seat he was welcome to.

He pulled out his sketchbook when the hair on the back of his neck stood up. He looked up and saw her. She was back. This was an interesting development.

She was with the girl from the night before. Blythe had introduced them, but now he couldn’t remember what her name was.

He wondered if Blythe had actually gone home at all. The girl disappeared and no one saw her again, right after Blythe disappeared. It seemed obvious what had happened.

It looked like the two of them were chatting up a couple of cowboys. He watched as Blythe pulled out a notepad. The girl was talking to her, and Blythe seemed to be taking down everything she was saying.

Tucker sketched her doing it.

The cowboys left, but the girl kept talking. And Blythe kept writing. Soon two more cowboys walked up and the process began again.

“Do you know who that lady is?” Tucker asked a guy sitting in the row behind him.

“Where?”

Tucker pointed up to where they were now seated, looking as though they were in an intense conversation with two men. Blythe was still writing.

“Yeah, that’s Lyric Simmons. She hosts RodeoChat. She posted somethin’ on Twitter earlier sayin’ she be here tonight with her new sidekick. Guess that’s her. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, that Lyric.”

 

First he and Jace argued about Blythe, but finally, they came to an agreement. They decided to back off. Neither of them would pursue her. They’d give her some time to breathe. They both admitted they’d been coming on way too strong.

Now that she was here, Tucker wondered if he’d be able to keep up his end of the deal. He wanted nothing more than to scoop her up and carry off—caveman-style. He laughed to himself at the thought.

He looked up again, and she was looking straight at him. He tipped his hat, and she looked away. This would be fun, to see how Blythe reacted to being ignored.

***

“Did he see me?” she asked Lyric.

“Yep.”

“Is he heading this way?”

“Nope. He’s just sitting there. Looks like he went back to whatever he was doing before he saw you.”

“Interesting. Maybe he got the message. I don’t want anything to do with him or his brother.”

“Careful what you wish for, I always say.”

“What about you Lyric? You think they’re so hot, why don’t you go after one of ’em?”

“Don’t you think that hasn’t crossed my mind. I’m gonna take a little step backwards and wait and see how this thing with you plays out. Then…who knows? That Jace Rice is mighty fine. You’ll get no argument from me about that.”

“What about Tucker?”

“Girl, there isn’t a woman with eyes who wouldn’t see that Tucker’s your man. You haven’t figured it out yet, but he’s it.”

Blythe was stunned. It was obvious? That obvious? He made her heart beat faster, absolutely. But in the long run, she wasn’t sure she could deal with all the drama. She laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“Too much drama with Tucker. If you knew me better, you’d see the irony.”

“I can only imagine. Okay, back to work. We have to figure out a way for me to interview Billy Patterson without you getting involved.”

“Renie will be here later, she can set it up.”

“Perfect. Now, let’s make a game plan for the rest of the week.”

 

Blythe had her laptop out and was posting day sheets from some of the rodeos, and results from others. Lyric told her she didn’t need to worry about her lack of rodeo knowledge and she’d been right. So far, it hadn’t mattered. It would in the future, when Blythe was ready to take over some of the interviews, but until then, there was plenty she could do to help.

When the announcement came over that the rodeo was about to begin, Blythe couldn’t believe it. She’d been here two hours already, and it seemed more like minutes.

“I love it already,” she told Lyric.

“I can tell. You’re so focused.”

Yep, she hadn’t thought about Tucker or Jace since she turned her computer on.

“Hey, I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” said Renie. Tonight she had Willow with her, who was dressed like a little cowgirl.

“Oh my gosh,” said Lyric. “Is this Billy’s daughter?”

“This is
our
daughter, her name is Willow,” answered Renie.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it Renie.”

“It’s okay. Very few people know she isn’t my biological daughter and we want to keep it that way. When she’s old enough, we’ll tell her about her mama, but until then, I’m the only mama she’s got.”

“I like that, you’re a good mom Renie.”

“Thanks Lyric. I appreciate it. Won’t be too long before Willow has a little brother or sister, will it baby?”

Blythe wasn’t sure what to say. Hadn’t Renie said she was going back to school? Now she was pregnant?

“Oh Blythe, calm down,” Renie laughed. “When I said, not too long, I meant a couple years from now.”

“You damn near gave me a heart attack. Can you Fairchild women slow down with the breeding please?”

“What’s she talkin’ about?” asked Lyric.

“My mom and Ben are having a baby.”

“They are?” Lyric looked shocked.

“She’s not that old Lyric, she’s forty-one. I can assure you, there are many women her age having babies.”

“But she’ll be in her sixties by the time the kid graduates from high school.”

“You two are meant for each other.” Renie shook her head.

Lyric asked what she meant, and Renie told her to ask Blythe to explain it to her. Currently Blythe was buried in her laptop, not paying attention to their conversation.

“I’ve never seen her like this. And I’ve known her since we were five.”

“I think she likes her new job.”

Blythe heard that part, and Lyric was right. She felt she finally found the thing she was so supposed to do, and she’d just gotten started.

***

“Shouldn’t tell ya this.”

“Yeah? But you’re gonna anyway?”


Shit.
Blythe’s here.”

Jace scowled. “You shouldn’t have told me.”

“God, who am I? I don’t know why I did.” Billy scratched his head. “I saw her a couple hours ago, and I wasn’t gonna tell you, but you rode pretty damn good last night. Thought it might help to know she’s watchin’.”

He didn’t have any idea. Did his ride last night have anything to do with her, or was he determined to do the best he could because he was so pissed off at her and Tucker?

He walked over to see if Tucker was still in the box. Yep, he was. Looked like he was sketching. Probably her. At least he hadn’t gone chasing after her.

Jace had another good ride. His scores were low, but at least he didn’t buck off. Billy rode great, and was one of the leaders so far. Jace had a hard time believing Billy was going to retire. The guy could ride broncs in his sleep. He wondered if Irene wanted him to quit. No, that didn’t sound like her. If Billy was retiring, it was his decision and no one else’s.

***

“We’re goin’ to the Grizzly Rose after. Wanna come?”

Blythe shot Lyric the glare of death when she heard her invite Renie out with them.

“I don’t think Blythe wants me to go,” laughed Renie.

“It isn’t that. If you go, so will Billy, and then Jace and Tucker will come along, and…”

“Tucker said they’re backing off.”

“He said that to you?”

“Yep,” Renie confirmed. “In fact, he told me to tell you so if I saw you.”

Interesting. They were backing off. Well, she did disappear last night. As Lyric said, be careful what you wish for.

“Well, then, sure. Come along with us. If they’re gonna leave me alone, then I don’t care whether they come or not.”

Blythe didn’t miss the raised eyebrow look that passed between Renie and Lyric.

“I’m serious. They’re too much drama.”

Renie burst out laughing.

“Shut up,” Blythe muttered. “You’ve gotten to be worse than I am.”

“No,” Renie spit out between giggles. “No one will ever be more dramatic than you Blythe.”

Lyric was laughing now too.

“You jump over to her side mighty quick, don’t ya boss?”

“I can’t help myself. You two crack me up.”

***

“I thought the whole point was to stay away from her.”

“It was, sort of. I mean if we’re where she is, and don’t ask her to dance, or if neither one of us is workin’ hard to get in her panties, she’ll realize
faster
that we’re backin’ off,” Jace told Tucker.

“I don’t know. I’m having a pretty hard time as it is not thinkin’ about her panties. It might be more than I can handle, watchin’ her dance. And what if some cowboy comes on a little too strong? You’re not gonna be tempted to go save her?”

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