The Cowboy Way(3)

By: Anna Alexander

The corner of her lip lifted. “The inside is different. It’s more modern.”

Trey smiled back. “The house is pretty old. Three generations. I think.”

“You’re right.”

Score one for him. “I remember Mark, and Ben, and Julio.”

She nibbled on her full lip. “Julio doesn’t work for us anymore.”

“Really? Oh, well, I remember Roscoe too.”

“He left about a year ago. Look, Trey, don’t worry about remembering everything. You had quite a fall.”

“I did? What happened?”

A frown touched her brow. “They didn’t tell you? “ He shook his head. “No one knows for sure. You were out on your horse Lucky. Do you remember him?” He shook his head again. What the hell had happened to his horse Chance, he wanted to ask, but she had already moved on. “Mark had been trying to reach you and you didn’t answer your cell. The guys spread out to search and found you out on the far side of the property near the stream. You were on the ground, bleeding, unconscious. Lucky was by your side. They called for the air ambulance and rushed you here.” She blinked against the tears in her eyes but wasn’t able to keep them from her voice. She stopped and took a deep breath while looking at the floor.

In a sick, twisted way her tears gave him comfort. She cared for him. He hated causing her pain, but her obvious distress over his welfare must mean that they were close and he wasn’t alone.

“I’m sorry.” She straightened her shoulders, visibly shaking the sadness away. “I haven’t asked how you were. Do you need anything? Ice, water, another pillow?”

“Another pillow would be nice.” He didn’t need it, but he wanted an excuse to get a closer look at her.

Greta moved with swan-like grace to the closet and collected a pillow, then approached him with cautious steps. Her lips were pinched tight, and her gaze skittered away when their eyes met. Gentle hands helped him lift up as she carefully arranged the pillows. Her touch on his back and shoulder was more polite than amorous, but the heat of her hands seared him through the thin gown.

With her standing so close, he noticed her rich brown eyes were rimmed in red. Tears clung to the lashes, ready to spill over at a moment’s notice. Seeing her pain and uncertainty pierced his chest. He wanted to reassure her that everything was just fine, but he couldn’t. He was tempted to give in to tears himself, but squashed the urge like a bug under his boot. That wasn’t the cowboy way. He would forge on however best he could and that was all there was to it.

Still, her sorrow called out to him, and before he realized it he latched onto her hand. They both gasped at the sudden movement, their gazes glued to where they touched. His hand looked so big and clumsy compared to her soft smooth one. Her little hand trusted him to look out for her, and now he didn’t remember her. He had failed her.

“I’m sorry,” he rasped.

Surprise lit her delicate features. “Why?”

“I don’t remember you. I wish I did. I can’t imagine how you must feel right now. Please know that the last thing I want to do is hurt you anymore, but I gotta know what I’m missing. Do—do we have kids?” he whispered the last part.

She gasped, then licked her lips. “No, we—uh, we don’t have any children.”

“I’m sorry I have to ask this now of all time, but I don’t know what I’m forgetting, and I already feel like an ass for not remembering you. I’m so sorry. I just wish things were like they were before.”

For a second, he thought he saw fear flare in her eyes before she squeezed his hand. “I understand, I really do, Trey. Don’t worry about remembering. We’ll manage somehow. I’m just glad you’re okay. Well, that it wasn’t worse, anyway.” Her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. “We’ll just take it one day at a time.”

Trey nodded, not knowing what else to say. He knew what he wanted to do. Pull her close and kiss the tears from her eyes. But it was way too soon for anything husbandly like that.

A knock on the door preceded a nurse entering the room with a tray in her hands.

“Here is your broth, Mr. Armstrong.” She set it on the table near his bed. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Armstrong, visiting hours have been over for a while, and Dr. Grayson wants him to rest.”

She nodded. “I’ll be just a minute.”

Panic gripped him at the thought of her leaving. Greta was his only link to his past, and her presence was a great comfort. He clasped her hand tighter to keep her close for just a little longer.

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