Tied Up, Tied Down

Tied Up, Tied Down

Tied Up Tied Down 41

Page 41


  What she didn’t realize? That was not his family’s way to blab about personal issues…unless they considered her part of the family, which appeared to be the case with Sky.

  So why couldn’t Sky see that? Why was she so damn resistant to a permanent relationship with him? Why couldn’t he just buck up, tell her he loved her, and they were tying the knot whether she liked it or not?

  You’re taking control in every aspect of my life.

  Yeah. That caveman behavior would go over like a club to the head.

  “Kade? Buddy? You still here?” Cord asked.

  He looked up guiltily. “Sorry, just thinkin’ about something else. What’d I miss?”

  “Ben said Chase scored a ninety-one in the final go round in Lewiston on Sunday afternoon. Ended up in third place. ”

  “Cool. Which circuit is that?”

  “Dodge. The PBR had an off week, but you know him. He’s obsessed with bull ridin’ so he found another event to feed his habit. ”

  “Glad to see my little cuz is keepin’ the McKay name alive in the world of rodeo,”

  Colby said.

  “Rumor has it Keely’s makin’ quite a name for herself on every circuit too. ”

  Dead quiet.

  Cord slowly lowered his beer. “You’d better be explainin’ that statement, Bennett, right fuckin’ now. ”

  Cam and Colby shot him menacing looks too.

  “Whoa whoa whoa, guys, I ain’t trash talkin’ your little sister. I’m sayin’ cousin Keely is gettin’ a reputation as a miracle worker when it comes to non-surgical physical therapy alternatives with rodeo injuries. Chase said Justin Donahue told him that the Wrangler Sports Medicine team wants her to quit school and go to work for them full time for a helluva lot of money. ”

  “Then why didn’t Keely tell us about that this weekend when she was home?” Colby demanded.

  “She told me. ” When they all turned and gaped at Cam, he said, “What? You guys don’t listen to Keely most of the time any way. ”

  “And you do?”

  “Yep. I always have. She’s been too damn smart for her own good since the day she was born. ”

  Must be a girl McKay thing, Kade thought, because he knew even at four months, Eliza understood everything he said to her. He and Sky would have their hands full for the next two decades if Eliza was anything like Keely.

  Chet, Remy, Ben and Blake drifted to the back room to shoot pool and were suckered into a tournament. Luckily the various women who’d been circling their table like sharks in a feeding frenzy followed the single guys into the back room. Quinn ended up talking to an old friend up at the bar, then he took off, leaving Kade with Colby, Cord, and Cam.

  They discussed upcoming cattle sales, the start of haying, Carter’s impending art show, the hunting season, military life and horses. Kade was surprised to see two hours had passed.

  Cam wandered into the back room to watch the pool games.

  “How’s it goin’ with Eliza?”

  Kade smiled at Colby. “She’s something else. ”

  “How’s it goin’ with Skylar?”

  “Shitty. ”

  “That don’t sound too good. ” Cord set his forearms on the table. “You wanna tell us what’s up?”

  “Look, no offense, guys, but I doubt either of you had to go through any of the junk Sky and I are dealin’ with right now. ”

  “What kinda junk do you mean?” Colby asked. “Dealin’ with havin’ a baby type stuff?”

  “No, figurin’ out relationship stuff. ”

  “Why the hell would you say we don’t know nothin’ about that?”

  Kade scowled at Cord. “Didn’t you tell us that everything between you and AJ is perfect?”

  “I meant now. It sure wasn’t always that way, especially not on my end. ”

  “Get out. AJ’s so sweet sugar wouldn’t melt in her mouth. ”

  Cord snorted. “That tongue of her can be laced with arsenic, and she ain’t afraid to put me in my place. You weren’t around, but I about did the dumbest thing ever and let AJ get away from me. ”

  Colby nodded. “Channing disappeared for damn near three months after I got busted up in Cheyenne. I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again or if she’d even want a crippled-up former rodeo star. ”


  “Yeah. I don’t know why you think we had it easy. Hell, none of us, includin’ Carter had a smooth go of it with our wives. Fact is, I’d say most men are dumbasses when it comes to this sort of relationship junk. ”

  “That’s encouragin’. Maybe I do need another beer,” Kade muttered.

  So, armed with a liquid courage, Kade gave his cousins a run-down on everything that’d happened—from dating Skylar the previous summer, to the recent confrontation at Sky Blue.

  Both men were quiet until Kade couldn’t stand it any longer. “What?”

  “Let me get this straight. You’ve been crazy about Skylar for over a year, when you found out you knocked her up, you moved in with her to learn how to be a father to Eliza, the sex is off the charts good, and you’ve asked her to marry you numerous times, and you’re lookin’ out for her safety?”

  “Yeah. ”

  “Buddy, I hate to tell you this, but there ain’t a whole lot more you can do,” Cord said.

  “Geez. Thanks a fuckin’ lot for that stellar advice. ”

  “For once I agree with Cord,” Colby added. “It seems you ain’t the one with the problem. Skylar is. And if she can’t see what’s right in front of her face, K, then maybe you oughta give her some distance so she gets a different perspective. ”

  Kade blinked. “What do you mean? Walk away? Move out?”

  “Maybe. ”

  “No way. I’d miss her and Eliza like crazy, and goddammit they both need me, even if that stubborn woman won’t admit it. ”

  “I wasn’t ready to admit I needed AJ until she left me,” Cord offered.

  “With Channing and me, time away just reinforced the truth that we belonged together. ”

  “You guys ain’t kiddin’, are you?”

  “How many years was AJ right in front of my damn face and I didn’t notice her?

  And even after I’d fallen for her I didn’t want to admit it to her or anybody else, but mostly to myself how I felt about her. We can be our own worst enemies. ”

  “I’ll betcha Skylar would figure it out pretty damn quick how she feels about you if you weren’t around. It don’t hafta be permanent, just for a coupla days. Besides, ain’t we startin’ hayin’ the south section tomorrow? You ain’t gonna wanna drive sixty miles at ten o’clock at night after you’ve been on a tractor for sixteen hours, just to turn around eight hours later and do it all again. ”

  “Colby’s right. ” Cord pulled his ringing cell phone from his shirt pocket. “Hey, baby doll. ” He grinned. “Really? Don’t move. Ah-ah-ah, no buts. I’m on my way. ”

  “What’s up?”

  Cord stood and threw a twenty on the table. “Gotta go. ”

  “Right now?”

  “When your wife calls and says the kid’s sound asleep and she’s naked in bed, sorry guys, you lose every time. See ya tomorrow and good luck, K. ”

  “Thanks. ”

  Colby squinted at the bar clock. “I’d probably best get on home. See what trick my darlin’ wife has up her sleeve for tonight’s sexcapades. Funny thing is, she thinks I don’t know what she’s up to, so I’m not playin’ hard to get. ” He clapped Kade on the shoulder.

  “Good luck. ”

  Kade pondered their advice as he finished his beer. Why did men and women have to play games?

  Then again, being straightforward and honest hadn’t done him a bit of good either.

  Chapter Twenty-four

  After saying his good-byes to his cousins, Kade walked down the street to his truck.

  The promise of an e
arly fall teased and the evening air was chilly. Clouds covering the moon made the night seem even darker than normal. He’d hunkered into the collar of his coat and didn’t see the man step out of the shadows until it was too late and Kade smacked right into him.

  “Hey. Sorry. ”

  “You’d better be sorry, you son of a bitch. ”

  “Excuse me?”

  “No excuse for you because I know you were fuckin’ my wife, McKay. ”

  Was this man drunk?

  “What kind of loser fucks another man’s wife?”

  Kade attempted to back up. “Wait a second, pal, you’ve got the wrong man. ”

  “The hell I do. ” The big bear of a man pressed closer. “I followed her, so I know she was meetin’ with you. ”

  “Me? Since when?”

  “Two months ago I saw you and her laughin’ and jokin’ in that restaurant downtown.

  Then you two snuck into that massage parlor and didn’t come out for a coupla hours. We all know what kinda shit happens in them places. ”

  “See, now I know you’re mistaken, buddy, because I’ve been livin’ out of town for the last year. ”

  “Makes it convenient when she sneaks away to meet you, which I know she’s still doin’ ’cause she ain’t around at night. And when she is she’s damn secretive, which pisses me off. ”

  “I’m tellin’ you, it wasn’t me. ”

  That information didn’t calm the man down; it incensed him. “I know what I saw.

  And I saw you. ”

  Shit. This was where family resemblances sucked. The man this had seen might’ve been any one of Kade’s cousins. The man could’ve been Kane. That was the most likely explanation, even when Kane had a strict no married women policy. It was unlikely the guy would buy the laughable “I have an identical twin” argument, but that didn’t matter.