Home > Deacon (Unfinished Hero #4)(6)

Deacon (Unfinished Hero #4)(6)
Author: Kristen Ashley

He came toward me but I took a step back.

He stopped approaching and his voice was quiet too, and cajoling. “Babe, life isn’t about work. I thought we’d come up here and take on these cabins but do it havin’ a good time.”

“We could have but we couldn’t do it the way you wanted to do it, Grant. We didn’t have the money. And I’ll repeat what I’ve been trying to get through to you for months, I thought us working side by side would be a good time. Not having drinks and laughing and getting frisky, that kind of good time. But the building a life together kind of good time that led to the other stuff that wouldn’t be good. It would be better than good because we earned it.”

“You talk like your father,” he said and it wasn’t entirely accusatory. It also wasn’t entirely not.

Then again, Grant had grown up in the town where Obadiah Swallow was well-known and well-respected, because he worked the ranch he inherited, which was a ranch his father had inherited, and his before him, and he loved his family.

The first was hard work. The second was easy but there weren’t many men like Dad who found it easy to let it show like he did.

There were men who respected men like that and showed it.

There were men, like Grant had hidden in the beginning, but it came out more and more, who dated Obadiah Swallow’s daughters and found the specter of a supremely loving father and esteemed man a shadow it wasn’t easy to escape.

And I was learning the hard way that Grant’s problem was that he didn’t get he didn’t have to escape it. He just had to do whatever it was he needed to do in his own way to create his umbrella of protection over Obadiah’s girl, making her his girl.

Thus he didn’t mean what he said as a compliment. But I took it as one.

“That’s because I’m his daughter.”

And I was Obadiah’s daughter. I could have been Grant’s woman. I wanted to be. I claimed him as my man and he was apparently down with that.

He just didn’t claim me back.

Grant took in a breath before he stated, “I’m not ready to throw in the towel, Cassidy.”

“And I’m not prepared to live the way we’ve been living. If you kick in, we can work on us. If you keep on like you’ve been keeping, Grant, I’ll show you the door.”

“An ultimatum,” he muttered, staring at me.

“Yes, but a necessary one,” I replied softly.

We stood there, neither of us moving, both of us holding the other’s gaze.

Grant broke the silence, and when he did, I experienced a resurrection.

“I’ll install those lights tomorrow.”

I felt my shoulders slump, such was the relief, and Grant caught that too. I knew it when his face got soft and he moved to me.

This time, I didn’t move away so I was right there when he got there.

And when he got there, he wrapped his arms around me. “Not sure what I’d do, wakin’ up and not seein’ those eyes first thing.”

I loved that. I loved it.

That was my old Grant.

I leaned in to him and slid my arms around him. “Not sure what I’d do, waking up and not having your arms around me.”

He touched his nose to mine and murmured, “Not been good of late, cuddlin’ my girl.”

He hadn’t. And that, maybe more than all the rest, hurt.

“Missed that, darlin’,” I whispered.

I watched the look in his eyes change and he whispered back, “I’ve missed a lot of things about you, Cassidy.”

I leaned deeper in to him, tipping my head back.

Grant pressed me in to the door and accepted my invitation.

When he did, hope again filled my heart.

But I would find out in a variety of ways, all of them hard, that was me. Time and again, not one of them smart, I let hope fill my heart. And my head. And my gut. So much hope, it leaked out my pores.


I did that.

All the time.

I was a loser that way.

Chapter Two


“Yo!” a male voice shouted from the other room.

I was in the bedroom, stripping sheets.

I left the bed half-stripped and walked into the living room. When I did, I saw John Priest standing in the open front door to cabin four.

It had been five months since his last visit.

Five months and nothing had changed.

Except for the fact that Grant was in Oklahoma and I was still here.

“Hello, Mr. Priest,” I greeted, moving through the living room, which I had to say, even if it was tooting my own horn, looked fan-freaking-tastic with it’s warm mushroom-colored walls, large, thick braided rugs in muted tones covering the refinished, gleaming wood floors, and interesting prints of buffaloes on the walls.

In fact, all the prints in this cabin were of buffaloes. This was why I thought of cabin four as the “Buffalo Cabin.”

What I didn’t see, but knew was there, was the fabulous kitchen behind me.

Seeing as kitchens in cabins didn’t have extensive countertops, I’d been able to strike a deal with a local contractor to buy his remnants. That meant none of the kitchens were the same. Some of them had butcher block countertops. Some had tile. A couple even had gorgeous slabs of granite.

The countertops in cabin eleven, though, were a glossy treated cement. I liked the rugged look of them. Actually, the entirety of cabin eleven was rugged and masculine, the only cabin that wasn’t outfitted in a warm and welcoming gender neutral.

I didn’t allow myself to think about why I did eleven that way. I just did it.

Grant had gotten around to putting in the light fixtures so that meant there were quiet, but attractive ceiling fans with lights over all the cabins’ living rooms, straight up showstopper pendant lights hanging over the bar portion of the kitchens, and attractive wall lights fixed beside the beds for maximum reading and relaxing potential.

That was pretty much all Grant got around to doing before I kicked his ass out.

“Eleven open?” Priest asked without greeting.

Eleven, by the by, had turned into the Pinto Cabin, seeing as all the prints on the walls there were of pinto horses.

I didn’t offer this information to John Priest.

“Indeed it is,” I answered, stopping in front of him.

As ever, he didn’t look me up and down, not that there was much to see. Still, we were having a warm Indian summer so I was in cutoff jeans shorts, a babydoll tee, and flip-flops. My shorts weren’t Daisy Dukes or anything but I fancied they looked okay on me. My legs were tan, though, and everyone knew that anyone looked better tanned.

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