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Wild for you, p.7
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       Wild For You, p.7

           J. C. Reed
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  “I don’t think that’s necessary. I wasn’t being serious.”

  “Still…I’ll have Josh get you a copy.” At my questioning look, she adds, “Josh is my son, so if you need anything and can’t get a hold of any of us, my son’s the one to call. Or Kellan, Cash’s brother. He doesn’t live far from here.” Reaching into her purse, she pulls out a sheet of paper and pushes it across the table toward me. I peer at the neat scribbling—rows and rows of names, their connection to Cash and the corresponding phone numbers.

  I stare agog. There’s at least forty people on there, all friends and family.

  “It’s a close community. We all care about Cash,” Shannon says softly. “I don’t know if Trent showed you what happened to him, but for a good few minutes we all thought he was dead.”

  “What happened?” I find myself asking even though I know I shouldn’t be prying or gossiping, and particularly not when it involves a patient. But I’m curious and eager to find out more about Cash’s life, not least because I’m not sure Trent revealed the entire magnitude of the bull riding accident. Relatives can be just as traumatized as the patients. I can imagine that he has yet to come to terms with what happened to his son.

  Shannon draws a sharp breath and releases it slowly before she speaks. “Cash has been obsessed with bull riding ever since he was a child. It’s a bit of a tradition around here. Something young people do for fun. The bulls are vetted and mellow. Nothing too dangerous, you understand.”

  She raises her eyebrows. I nod, interested, even though I’ve heard the story before, and she continues, “Anyway, a few years back, Cash decided to take it to a whole new level, go pro. He signed up for one competition after another. Some people are addicted to skydiving or other dangerous activities. Cash gets his adrenaline rush from bucking bulls, and he’s always looking for the most temperamental bull he can get. I wish I could say this was his first accident, but it’s just one in a very long string of incidents that could have cost him his life. He’s convinced that he can and will conquer every bull.”

  Frustration seeps from her voice.

  “Obviously, I don’t know him, but he seems like someone who knows what he’s doing,” I say. While I understand her concern, it is his life, after all.

  She grimaces. Her blue eyes are overshadowed by worry as her hand squeezes my arm. The motion is gentle, but I can feel the unspoken imploration and urgency in it. “Is that what he told you?”

  I open my mouth to appease her but she doesn’t give me a chance. “He doesn’t know shit. The real reason I’m here is because I wanted to see you.”

  “You wanted to see me?”

  “Yes.” She nods her head gravely. “I’m not sure whether Trent told you that Cash had a head injury three years ago.”

  “No one mentioned that.”

  She begins to stir sugar into her coffee, absentminded, and then takes a sip, grimacing. “A bull stomped on his head, cracking his skull. He spent weeks in the hospital, the doctors warned him to stay away from bull riding. You think he would have listened.” Grimacing again, she stirs more sugar into her coffee—this time with such fervor I fear the mug might shatter and spill its contents all over the dining table. “Of course, he wouldn’t. He jumped right onto the next bull. And the one after that. And so forth.” She stops stirring and raises her gaze to meet mine. “He didn’t take the warning seriously. He doesn’t believe that another head injury could kill him. You see, Cash is Cash. He doesn’t care if his life’s at stake. Or that we’re all worried sick about him. That he only dislocated his hip and broke a few bones in the process was a blessing for us. I know what I’m saying sounds horrible, but it’s the truth.” Her eyes shimmer with guilt, seeking my sympathy, understanding, approval. “What happened to him is bad, but we’re also relieved because we still hope this might open his eyes. Or so we did until—” Inhaling a sharp, shaky breath, she spreads her hands on the table, her posture going rigid.

  “Until what?” I ask, sensing what she’s about to say.

  “He said he’d do it again, if he could only walk. And we believe him.”

  “I don’t think he’d—”

  “You don’t know him the way we do,” Shannon says. “He hasn’t given up on this passion of his. He hasn’t learned anything from his mistakes. My son told me that Cash already inquired about entering the next competition. Which, if you ask me, is insane. He is insane.” Tears form in her eyes, and her voice is shaking. “He takes one step, then another, and that’s when things begin to escalate. That’s what they always do. They escalate until there’s no going back. Until it’s too late. Why can’t he see that?” She leans back, her face drawn in pain and frustration, her hands shaking. “I don’t know how to stop him. None of us knows. This recklessness, foolishness, stupidity of his needs to stop. He isn’t even back on his feet, and he’s already thinking about playing with his life again. Why doesn’t he see the pain and worry he’s causing us?” She leans forward, her eyes narrowing on me as she squeezes my hand, the sudden gesture startling me. “I’m here because I need you to understand the magnitude of this. I need you to make sure he stays out of trouble. Don’t encourage his passion. Don’t tell him you admire it. Because the next time Cash is back on a bull, breaking a few bones won’t be the only bad thing happening.”

  Her words chill me to the core—or maybe it’s the grain of truth I sense in them that make me doubt the sanity of getting Cash back on his feet.

  “I had no idea.”

  “This is what I wanted to ask of you. Please, make this clear to him. He hasn’t been listening to his family. Maybe a stranger, a professional who’s seen many injuries, will get the message across.”

  “I can try.”

  “Thank you,” she says. “Trent said there’s something about you, Erin. I think I agree. We all want him to walk again. But we also want him to return to the city, to that job of his, away from this brutal sport and the things that tempt him. If you could kill that passion of his, we’d all be grateful to you. God knows, all the Boyd boys have their vices, but none of them is ready to break their neck in the process. Not like Cash is.”

  Kill that passion.

  She looks so hopeful; I find myself nodding my head, even though I don’t even know how to get through to Cash, let alone talk him out of risking his life for fun.

  Why the hell would he even listen to a stranger when his own family’s wishes mean nothing to him?

  “I’ll try my best,” I repeat.

  “Thank you,” she says. “I want to give you something.” She retrieves her handbag and adds before I get a chance to decline, “It’s just a little something to show you my gratitude.”

  I peer at her, uncomfortable, as she retrieves her purse. “No, please.” She looks up, a frown perched on her forehead, as I continue, “I’m not doing this job for the money. I do it because I love it.”

  “You do?”

  “Yes.” I nod in the hope she won’t persist. Trent’s already paying me too much for doing nothing. I can’t take her money, as well, and then end up crushing her high hopes.

  It wouldn’t be right.

  She looks at me for a few seconds, then stashes the purse away. I can sense the change in subject before she speaks. “So, you are from Chicago?”

  I nod.

  “Is there someone special waiting for you back home?”

  “I’m not seeing anyone,” I say, unsure where she’s headed with this.

  “Your heart isn’t back in Chicago then.”

  I laugh. “No, it certainly isn’t.”

  She regards me intently for a few moments. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9. You see, I believe everyone should be where their heart is, be it a place, a person, or even something they love doing.”

  “In that case, my heart’s a nomad.” I clear my throat to get rid of the sudden cotton sensation coating the cave of my mouth.

  I thought my heart had found a home. Now I
m sure that home was rather an old, dilapidated tool shed than my castle in the sky.

  “You’ll find it someday. Maybe even sooner than later.”

  “I’m not sure I want to,” I mumble. “I haven’t been excited about a place or a person in a very long time.”

  “Let me tell you something. I’ve been married three times. But I haven’t given up hope on meeting that someone special one day, even though I’m not even sure the right one would put up with me.” She laughs at my expression. “I can be quite overbearing. Bossy. Independent. Not many men are strong enough to deal with that.”

  “There’s someone for everyone,” I offer even though I don’t believe that myself.

  Shannon glances at her watch. “I would love to chat with you some more, but I’ve got to go,” she says and jumps to her feet, back to her previous chirpy self. “The fridge is stocked up. I’ll be back in a few days. If you need anything—”

  “The list, I know.” I follow her out into the hall.

  She opens the door but stops in the doorway. “One more thing. The family’s having a little get together this weekend. Nothing major.” She waves her hand in the air. “We insist that you come. We all want to meet you.”

  I freeze on the spot, my hands suddenly cold and clammy. She’s just being friendly; I’m aware of that, and yet I can’t shake off the sudden tightening sensation squeezing my chest. While I don’t mind meeting my patients’ relatives, this does feel a little too personal.

  “I don’t think Cash should be moving around too much.” My voice comes out a little too shaky.

  “That’s why we’ll be hosting it in his backyard,” Shannon says, oblivious to my reservations. “I’ll call you with the details, but don’t tell him. We need to rely on the surprise element of it. Otherwise, he might throw the door in our faces and lock himself inside for the next few weeks. That’s what he did last time we tried to cheer him up.” She winks at me.

  I’m not sure whether she’s joking or being serious, so I just nod my head.

  Shannon grabs me in another tight hug, and then she’s out the door, leaving me with a sense of unease in the pit of my stomach.

  As I clean up the kitchen, her words keep ringing through my mind like an echo.

  Prior to his accident, Cash suffered a head injury. And yet he continues to risk his life.

  I want to help him, I really do. But what if I get him back on his feet only for him to climb on the next bull?

  Maybe next time he won’t be so lucky and survive a fall.

  Chapter Ten


  I don’t trust many people. I can count the number on one hand. My brothers, Kellan and Ryder, are two of them.

  Doesn’t mean I don’t hate their guts right now.

  Expecting my family to respect my privacy and need for solitude is too much to ask, which is probably why I moved away from Montana in the first place. Buried in my office, I only hear the turmoil of chatter and laughter when it’s too late to slam the door in my visitors’ faces.

  I draw the curtains and head out through the secret door connecting the office with the walk-in closet in my bedroom. While my business ventures don’t involve any criminal activities, some of the people I deal with aren’t so transparent.

  For that reason, I came up with the idea of hiding my private office from plain view and anyone who would want to rummage through my contacts, contracts, and receipts.

  To the unaware, the door looks like an ordinary mirror. In the early remodelling stages of my home, the office was supposed to be turned into a panic room. Not that you’d ever need a panic room in Montana, but in my job, I deal with shady figures on a daily basis, so I figured it might not be such a bad idea.

  Now, with my family grating on my nerves, and visitors coming unannounced all the time, the panic room has been turned into an office with a couch, refrigerator, and my very own microwave—just in case I need my privacy from the world for a while.

  The real panic room is underground, and features nowhere in the remodelling plans.

  Not that anyone but my close family and friends know where I live.

  And now Erin.

  I grimace. Just thinking her name causes a sudden stir inside my pants, which I attribute to my dick’s lack of action and her being female. She is bestowed with a great pair of tits that she likes to hide behind the most unflattering work attire I’ve ever seen. And she has the most gorgeous lips I’ve ever kissed—soft and full.

  She caught me off guard when she left my bathroom with only a towel wrapped around her. That kissing her would turn me on came as no surprise. What surprised me was the fact that, for a moment, she took the lead, as though she wanted more but didn’t dare go for it.

  I can be a total asshole when I’m sexually frustrated—and I’ve rarely been frustrated in my life. There’s something about her that drives me mad and unable to think about anything but her, her body, her scent, her taste.

  I want to blame it all on the accident and the subsequent lack of action between the sheets, but the truth is, I’ve lived a monk’s life for the past few months. Abstaining was bearable.

  Since Erin’s arrival, abstinence has become no longer an option. She’s someone I’d rather hear moaning my name in ecstasy than have her look at me with pity in her eyes. Combine that with the fact that I’ve never needed help from anybody, and particularly not from someone like her, and it’s an explosive blend that’s turned me into a walking rod of anger since her arrival.

  The last few days, I made it my priority to avoid her while getting a good look at her whenever she ventured into the backyard. She seems to have developed a routine: search the veranda while calling my name a few times, then sit down on the stairs to type a few text messages, her whole body rigid with what I’m pretty sure is anger.

  I don’t know whether she’s angry with me or the person she’s communicating with. But either way, her anger doesn’t distract from just how beautiful she looks in the bright sunlight, with her head bowed, unaware of the fact that she isn’t alone.

  I’ve been wondering whether she always kisses her patients, or whether I’m the exception to the rule. While the former wouldn’t particularly please me, I want to repeat the experience.

  “Cash. Get your sorry ass out here.” My brother’s voice reaches me a moment before he pounds against the door. If he keeps at it for another minute, I’ll be sending him the bill for replacing the wood with steel.

  “Kellan,” I mutter and open the door, stifling the need to punch him in the face. Yeah, that’s what family does to you.

  I head outside, making sure to close and lock the door behind me. Not that it’s necessary. My brothers are the only ones who know of my panic room which is also my very own private space.

  That’s when I hear the chatter of voices and realize Kellan’s brought the whole troop with him.

  Needless to say, I’m not pleased.

  “There you are. What the heck are you doing in there when you should be out here, celebrating?” Kellan points behind me with the leering grin of someone who wouldn’t be surprised to find three chicks spread out naked on my bed.

  “What exactly are we celebrating?”

  He cocks his head. “Dude, don’t you know what day it is today?”

  “No. Why don’t you enlighten me?”

  His lips twitch. “Don’t tell me you forgot your own birthday?”

  My face falls.


  Is that today?

  “Happy birthday. You look older than you are.” Kellan lets out an annoying laugh, then shouts to the commotion on the terrace, “Hey, folks. Cash is now also suffering from dementia.”

  “Keep the fuck quiet.” I shuffle around the bend on my crutches, taking slow, mindful steps.

  “Dude,” Kellan continues, oblivious to my need for solitude. “I’m telling you. Hiding from the world all the time makes you mentally challenged.”

  “I very much doubt that,” I mumble. “As for
the hiding, I’ve had a very good reason.”

  He cocks his head to the side, regarding me intently. “I can’t think of one, but please share it with me.”

  “I’ve been hiding because—” How can I spell out the obvious to my brother who seems to have forgotten all about the bachelor life he used to live before his soon-to-be wife, Ava, came along and put an end to it. There are certain rules involving the intricacies of dipping your dick into the dating pool without actually swimming in it. One being: don’t ever let a woman invade your private space, unless you want her to take over.

  “I’ve been avoiding Erin,” I mutter.

  “You’ve been avoiding your physical therapist?” Kellan repeats like I’m speaking Chinese.

  “Yes.” I nod slowly. “And I’d like to keep it that way.”

  His brows draw together. “Why?”

  “Because Dad should never have sent her. I don’t need anyone’s help. I’m doing just fine on my own.”

  Kellan stares at me for a second, then bursts out in the kind of laughter that would grate on a saint’s nerves.

  “What?” I shrug my shoulders grimly. “What’s so funny?”

  He continues laughing. I glare at him until he’s calmed down, but the flicker of amusement in his eyes doesn’t blow out. “Don’t tell me you haven’t just broken your leg, but also your brain. If I weren’t walking down the aisle soon—” He smacks his tongue, meaningfully. “Seriously, if I were you I’d seriously consider whether I might have lost more than just the mobility of my leg in that accident.”

  “What the hell are you talking about?”

  “Your dick. I’m talking about your dick.” He sighs and wraps an arm around my shoulders, drawing me closer. “Listen, bro. The way I see it, you should thank Dad for being an intrusive jerk. He’s just tossed you a hot piece of ass right in front of your door, and you’ve been nothing but a sulky little kid about it. Don’t tell me you haven’t been thinking about tapping Erin because if you haven’t, you don’t need physical therapy. You need a shrink.”

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