Loving Cara / Page 51

Page 51


“Yeah, and where did that get me, J? She fucked anyone who looked at her sideways and abandoned my kid.”

I flinch and roughly rub the back of my neck.

“Why didn’t you say anything to me about her?”

I don’t even pretend to not understand him. “What was I supposed to say, Z? ‘She doesn’t belong here’? It’s not like it was gonna be a forever thing anyway. I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth, I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by telling her she was not welcome here.”

Zack shrugs and looks over the pasture to the mountains and takes a deep breath. “She never would have fit in here. City girls rarely do.”

“That didn’t have anything to do with it,” I murmur. He looks back at me, then shakes his head ruefully. “Besides,” I chuckle, “it’s not like she’s from the big city.”

“No, but she grew up in town. What could she possibly know about this life? It’s hard for us and it’s in our blood.”

“True.” I nod. “Well, it’s just a good thing it didn’t turn out to be forever.”

“We’re all better off without her. I have so much to make up for with Seth. I had no idea things were so bad when I was gone. I don’t think it was always the case. I hope it wasn’t.”

“You’ll work it out, man. Seth will be fine. The change in him from the day he arrived to now is like night and day.”

CARA

“But I really, really want to go fishing.” Seth has folded his hands as if he were praying and is begging to play hooky from today’s lesson.

“Seth, we took Friday off for the Huckleberry Festival. We don’t want to get too far behind.” I smile softly at the handsome boy. He’s in his usual long jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers. He’s in desperate need of a haircut.

I’ll have to take him to town for one this week.

“Cara, you know I already know this stuff. I’ll ace the tests. Pleeeeeeease?”

“I don’t think so. Where is Thor today?”

I watch as Seth slumps dejectedly in his chair. “He’s at the vet. He has to get fixed.” He wrinkles his nose and then turns his big hazel eyes on me again. “Please, Cara? I really want to show you how good I am at casting. Dad showed me a really funner way to do it.”

“Showed you a more fun way to do it,” I correct him, and chuckle when he rolls his eyes at me.

“A more fun way. It’s awesome, and the creek isn’t very far away. We can totally walk to it in just a few minutes.” He can see I’m softening because he goes in for the kill with “I really want to spend some time with you at the creek. It’s my most specialest place ever.”

“We really need to work on your grammar,” I murmur.

“You’re gonna love it, I swear. The poles are still outside by the back door.” He points to the back door, his face is happy and hopeful, and I cave.

“Why not?” I ask, and he lets out a whoop. “Come on.”

We head out back, and as he gathers the poles and a bucket of worms—gross—I pull my phone out of my pocket.

“Who are you calling?”

“Josh. I need to let him know where we’re going. It’s not safe to walk about the ranch and not let someone know where we are.”

“I think I hear him talking out front.”

I stop and listen, and sure enough, I hear voices at the front of the house. “Oh, cool. Okay, I’ll run around and let them know we’re going, and I’ll be right back.”

I saunter around the house, and as I get closer, I hear both Josh’s and Zack’s voices, and what I hear has me stopping in my tracks, right out of their sight.

“What was I supposed to say, Z? ‘She doesn’t belong here’? It’s not like it was gonna be a forever thing anyway. I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth, I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by telling her she was not welcome here.”

Josh’s words are hard and hit me like a punch to the gut.

“She never would have fit in here. City girls rarely do.” I hear the disgust in Zack’s voice.

“That didn’t have anything to do with it,” Josh murmurs. “Besides”—he chuckles humorlessly—“it’s not like she’s from the big city.”

“No, but she grew up in town. What could she possibly know about this life? It’s hard for us and it’s in our blood.”

“True. Well, it’s just a good thing it didn’t turn out to be forever.”

I’ve heard enough.

Before I hear another word, I turn silently and walk back around the house where Seth is waiting for me.

What the hell was that?

“There you are!” Seth exclaims as I join him on the back deck. “What took you so long?”

“Nothing.” I shake my head and force a smile for him. “Ready?”

“Let’s do it!” He lifts the poles and pulls them out of my reach when I try to take them from him. “No way, the girl doesn’t carry the poles.”

“That’s very chivalrous of you,” I praise him, and ruffle his hair.

“The girl carries the worms!” He laughs and dances out of my reach as I try to tickle him.

“No way!” I cringe and stick my tongue out in disgust. “You get the poles and the worms, kid.”

Seth laughs, grabs the bucket, and we take off through the pasture to the creek.

“What’s chivelrist?”

“Chivalrous,” I correct him.

“Yeah, that.”

“It means ‘gentlemanly.’ ”

“Dad says that you should open doors for girls and carry stuff for them and crap like that.”

“Yes, your dad is very chivalrous.”

“Is Uncle Josh?” Seth swings the bucket back and forth.

“If those worms come flying at me,” I warn him sternly, “I will beat you with that fishing pole.”

He just laughs hard and continues to swing the bucket. “You will not.”

“Will too. Anyway, yes, Josh is chivalrous.”

When he’s not regretting asking me to move in with him.

“You really like him, huh?” Seth watches me out of the corner of his eye.

“I do.”

“Are you gonna marry him and have babies and all that other gross stuff?”

“It’s early days yet,” I murmur, evading the question. Until about ten minutes ago those things seemed to be a reality, and now I’m not so sure.


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