A BIG SURPRISE—TIMES THREE!
The last time rodeo cowboy Tyler Buckham was in Cowboy Creek, he spent a steamy night with local beauty Shay O’Neill. Back in town for a quick visit, he’s hoping they’ll have another go-around before he heads for his next rodeo. But seeing Shay pregnant—with triplets!—leaves Tyler feeling as if his best horse has kicked him in the gut.
Shay swore she wouldn’t fall for an unreliable cowboy, and Tyler’s playboy past makes him even less likely to settle down. The whole town conspires to push them together, and Tyler insists he wants to do his duty by Shay and the triplets, but Shay knows she can’t count on promises from a cowboy. Besides, Tyler never once mentioned the word love…
“Come and take a seat,” Tyler urged Shay. “We might as well both be comfortable, because there’s no way I’m leaving until we’re done talking.”
“What if I have nothing to say?”
He laughed without humor. “You’ve said plenty already, even if you haven’t run off at the mouth. Leaving the Hitching Post yesterday was only the first of a long list of clues.”
She raised her chin belligerently, but he stared her down, waiting her out. He’d stay here all night, if necessary.
As if she could read that thought in his expression, she finally sighed and closed the dishwasher door. She crossed the workroom warily, the way a horse accustomed to mistreatment approached someone he feared would deliver more of it. A pang of regret flowed through him. Only his need to hear the truth from her kept him standing there.
When she came nearer, the light scent of her perfume surrounded him, unsettled him, bringing back a time he didn’t want to think about.
“Have a seat,” he said as pleasantly as he could. He gestured to the booth where he’d been sitting. “I’ve kept it waiting for you.”
She slipped onto the bench and tried to slide behind the tabletop. Her belly, nearly pressed against the table’s edge, made her movements awkward. The sight made him swallow hard. He took the seat across from her and knocked back the cup of water she’d given him along with his triple dip of ice cream.
She folded her hands on the tabletop in front of her.
Suddenly, his palms began to sweat. He wiped them on his jeans, rested his hands on his thighs and waited. Let her make the first move.
“Well, obviously,” she said at last, “you’re not here just because you had a sudden desire for my company. Or for ice cream.”
“And obviously, you’ve got something you don’t want to tell me.”
She looked away. The pale green shirt she wore rose and fell with her deep breath. Her reaction didn’t come as a shock. He knew what it meant. No matter what he’d tried to tell himself or that brief uncertainty he’d felt a few minutes ago, he had known the truth the moment she’d turned pale in the Hitching Post’s dining room.
She turned back to him, her green eyes glittering. “I’m sure you’ve already guessed. I got pregnant the night we slept together.”
“And you didn’t think to tell me?”
“Why would I?”
He stared at her, not trusting himself to speak.
After a moment, she lifted her chin again as if it bolstered her courage to attack. “How exactly was I supposed to tell you? You didn’t leave a forwarding address. And you never got in touch with me. What was I supposed to do, tell the Garlands I needed to contact you about a little something you left behind?”
“There’s nobody else?” Again her face drained of color, and he realized how she had taken what he’d said—because he’d phrased it like a fool. “I mean, is there anybody else in the picture now?”
“Why is that important?”
“It’s not, I guess.” Or was it? He needed to get his head together and focus on what did matter.
Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom. Barbara also loves writing, reading, and chocolate. Come to think of it, she enjoys writing about those subjects, too!
Barbara wrote her first short story at the age of nine, then typed “The End” to her first novel many years later…in the eighth grade. Now she’s writing contemporary romance on a daily basis, with an ongoing series from Harlequin Western Romance (The Hitching Post Hotel), a brand-new series from Entangled Bliss (Snowflake Valley), and many more books in the works. Sign up for her newsletter to keep up with the latest in her writing life: http://barbarawhitedaille.com/newsletter.
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