The Cowboy Way(7)

By: Anna Alexander

In the walk-in closet, his work shirts hung alongside Greta’s sundresses. He liked seeing their clothes together. It made their connection more real.

Greta gestured to her right. “The bathroom is through there.” She took a position near the door and didn’t seem inclined to venture far from the spot.

He walked in only to draw up short. “Now this is different.”

The cream tiled floor and Jacuzzi tub had definitely not been there when this had been his parents’ space. Visions of him and Greta relaxing under the jetted sprays after a long day’s work filled his mind. Trey blinked rapidly to clear his head. Focus, concentrate on the here and now, he reminded his body. They’d make it there eventually.

As he turned back to the bedroom, something struck him as being all wrong. The manly room was just that. Manly. Where was the jewelry spread across the dresser? Why weren’t there picture frames set out, or makeup littering the bathroom counter? Except for the clothes in the closet, nothing indicated that Greta lived there too.

He eyed her protective stance near the door and tamped down his frustration. Her eyes darted everywhere as her weight shifted from one hip to the other. Hesitancy he could understand, but she was acting downright fearful. Down the back of his neck his skin tingled with warning, much like the way a horse tensed when sensing a predator approach. The world was not as it should be.

Well, if he was going to get his memory of her back, now seemed like a good time to start asking questions. “So. This is our room?”

Her brow crinkled with confusion and she tilted her head. “Yep.” One foot was pointed toward the door as if ready to bolt.

He nodded and relaxed his stance, measuring his breath in and out, deep and even. He hooked his thumb into his belt loops and lowered his shoulders as if nothing was amiss. She was just like a wild animal and he didn’t want to startle her with any sudden movement. “You’re either very tidy, or you don’t spend a whole lot of time in here.”

Her breath lodged in her throat and made a small strangling sound. “What does that mean?”

“It means that for a woman as creative as you, I would think there’d be a more feminine touch in here.”

She snorted and planted her hands on her hips. “You know how busy it gets around here. Like I have time to decorate.”

“Your workroom has your personality all over it. That looks like a place you’d spend all of your time in.”

Her eyes widened before she shut down all expression, but he saw the flinch nonetheless. His oh-shit meter began to climb. “Is that what you do? Spend all day in there? Do you—do you sleep in that tiny bed?”

“Sometimes.” She shrugged casually, but the way she suddenly found the carpet interesting suggested that it was more often than sometimes.

“That’s just ridiculous.” And entirely unbelievable.

There was no way in hell he’d allow his woman to sleep in a dinky little bed. Even if she had fallen asleep in her workroom, he would have scooped her up to cuddle with through the night. What did that say about him as a husband to leave her cramped and alone while he slept in a king-sized bed large enough for a lot of lovin’?

“Trey, it’s no big deal.” She forced a laugh and edged closer to the door. “You know how it is on the ranch. Things happen at all hours of the night. You’re not always home either.”

Why the hell not? His dad made it home every night, because family was just as important as the land. What kind of a husband was he?

“Well, that’s changing. This is our home and our bed, and we are going to sleep in it like a normal married couple.”

“Trey, it’s not important.”

“It is to me. It’s my job to provide for you, and that means giving you a comfortable bed to rest in.”

“Trey, really—”

“No! Damn it, Greta.” He took a step toward her.

She backed up so fast she bounced against the wall. Her body trembled, her eyes widened with fear, yet she was braced for violence that she seemed to expect.

Trey stopped short as an icy wave washed over him. Good God.

No. No. It wasn’t possible. His throat seized but he forced out the words. “Jesus, Greta. Have I hurt you?”

Greta’s jaw dropped. “What? No.” She shook her head. “No. You’ve never hit me.”

You’ve never hit me. But he had hurt her. The shaking, the protective stance, the rapid breathing, all screamed it. The knowledge that he had caused this woman harm twisted in his chest like a hot branding iron.

“I’m sorry, Greta. I didn’t mean to come at you. I’m not going to hurt you.” Hurting a woman, any woman, went against everything he had ever been taught to believe about what it meant to be a man.

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