(3 book romance bundle).., p.9
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       (3 Book Romance Bundle) "The Cowboy's Love" & "Sex with the Billionaire" & "Loving the White Billionaire", p.9

           Julie Allen, Carla Davis, & Monica Brooks
 

  ***

  It took me about an hour to finish up the rest of my tasks and get cleaned up. I felt like I was peeling off layers of skin scrubbing all of the dirt and sticky dried sweat off. I still hadn't milked the cows, but I figured they could wait until evening.

  I came back out into the living room with some nice jeans on and a tee shirt. My hair was back down and blow dried to the best of my ability. But more than anything I felt better.

  As I peeked my head into the kitchen I saw Jonathan filling our glasses with tea. I was skeptical because he definitely wasn't from the south. He didn't even have a Texas accent. I took a sip as I leaned against the counter, and I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted like something straight out of Georgia. "Have you ever lived in Georgia?" I asked offhanded, but I was surprised when he nodded.

  "I've lived a lot of places," he explained as he walked with me to the living room where we sat down to relax with our tea. It felt nice to just sit there and relax with someone else in the house. "My family moved around quite a few times because of my father's job. I spent the bulk of my childhood in Ohio, though. Texas was the last place we ended up, and for some reason it just suited me."

  I looked at him strangely and took another swig of my peach iced tea. What he was saying just didn’t fit the image I had of him.

  "So, I'm sorry for this, but I'm still a little confused as to how you knew my parents. I guess I must have been in college when you met them, and I was too out of it at the funeral to really push for any information."

  "Yes, that's right. I got to know them, your father in particular, pretty well about three years ago. You must have been at college. I became an advisor of sorts to them."

  That still seemed pretty vague. But I didn’t see any reason to push him out of the house for it. It just wasn't my business yet. So, I decided to leave it alone.

  "So, is it just you or do you have a boyfriend here with you?"

  I wasn't sure if it was just making conversation or if he was asking for a reason, but I was quick to answer.

  "It's just me which seemed like a good idea until now. Until about a week ago, it hadn't been a big deal. I had a lot of friends who I grew up with in town, but they've all kind of moved out and on, you know? One's married; she's the one who went through all this with me. I took her to the airport last night to force her to go be with her new husband. She wanted to stay behind for me, but I couldn't let her do that."

  "I couldn't imagine how hard this must be for you, especially facing this practically alone. I'm no expert, and I don’t know you, but it didn't seem like any of the family was very helpful or very close to you. How are you holding up?" Other than Rachel, for the most part, he was the first one to actually want to know the real answer to that question. Everyone just dismissed or assumed things about my feelings.

  "I'm just doing the best I can. I certainly didn't expect to lose them both at once or so soon. I mean, they were headed off to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The timing was bad. Of course, not that there's good timing for that, but it just feels wrong. And now I have their ranch, and it almost feels selfish. I didn't want it because they passed. And I just keep replaying that night in my head, how they were so happy when they left and then the next time I saw them..." I trailed off, pretty sure he didn’t want the gory details of that.

  "You can talk about it if you want. If not that's alright, but I would imagine keeping things to yourself just makes the grief build," Jonathan suggested. There was a comfort in his presence and in his words that felt like it was keeping me there alive. And the way he honestly cared made me feel like he must have had a good heart.

  "It was just, when I got there I had to identify my father's body. And my mother was on the verge of being a vegetable. I had to decide to let her go. It was almost like the worst possible scenario for me." I looked down at my feet as the conversation got serious. Jonathan sat in respectful silence as we sipped out tea.

  Eventually, though, I knew he would have to leave. That was the worst thought because anything was better than being on that ranch alone at that moment. But soon he stood up to go. "Well, I don't want to keep you. I'm sure you have a lot more to do here." He nodded and got up, walking towards the door. But as he opened it he turned back around and looked thoughtful. "Would you like to go out for dinner?" he asked suddenly. I wasn't sure if he meant right then and there or some time.

  "Let me think about it," I offered, not sure what else to say. So, he gave me a card with his number on it and I waved goodbye. Once he was gone, all I was left with was silence.

  I took care of the cows and finished everything else up before putting the horses back in their stalls. As I entered the empty kitchen it seemed haunted with the family that once occupied it. Suddenly, dinner alone in an empty kitchen made me want to vomit. I pulled out my phone and dialed the number Jonathan had given me.

 

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