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Cowboy Accomplice Part 19

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He got to his feet. "I need to go check on her."

"No, let me." She rose, daring him to argue. "Get that old wheelchair out of the barn. We don't want her walking on that ankle once she's up and around."

He nodded, anxious for Cash to return with news. He hoped that herd in the Bighorns really was the Sundown Ranch's missing cattle. But this wouldn't be over until Claude Ryan was found. If it really was Claude who FBI agent Will Jarvis had wounded on the mountain.

"I think you should do the commercial," his mother said, her look speaking volumes. She thought he owed Reggie. He thought so, too. But it was more complicated than a simple debt, he thought, remembering their lovemaking in the cave.

As he headed for the barn, he saw the sheriff's four-wheel-drive SUV coming up the road. He walked out to meet his brother, afraid to hear what Cash had found up on the mountainside.



REGINA WOKE to sunshine streaming in the window. She blinked, afraid she was only dreaming. She was lying in a nice soft bed with warm covers over her. Her hair beside her head on the pillow smelled clean and fresh as the sheets.

She heard a sound at the open doorway and looked up. A beautiful blond woman stood there, her eyes the same color as J.T.'s.

"You're awake," the woman said, coming into the room. "How are you feeling?"

"Better," Regina managed.

The woman sat down on the edge of the bed and smoothed the covers as she smiled at Regina. "I'm Shelby McCall, James Thomas's mother."

James Thomas. She'd wondered what the J.T. stood for. "Regina Holland."

Shelby's smile broadened. "Oh, I've heard all about you."

"Really?" She wondered what J.T. had told her. Her face flushed at the knowing look in the pale blue eyes.

"You must be starved," Shelby said.

Regina's stomach growled on cue. She laughed. "I guess I am."

"Good, there is nothing wrong with a healthy appet.i.te," J.T.'s mother said, her gaze intent on Regina. "I have Cook making you some breakfast. We can visit while you eat."

The phone rang. Shelby McCall picked it up. She was beautiful. Regina could see where J.T. got his looks.

"It's for you," Shelby said, her look saying, It's a man. It's a man.

Regina didn't reach for the phone. "No one knows I'm here."

"He says his name is Anthony Grand?" Shelby said.

Anthony. Regina had completely forgotten about him, about the jeans company, the commercial, her life in Los Angeles. How was that possible?

She felt completely off-kilter. After everything that had happened, all the things that had been a matter of life or death in Los Angeles seemed silly. She really had been in a life-and-death situation.

But she knew that wasn't what had changed her priorities. It was J.T. McCall.

She took the phone. "Anthony?" She saw Shelby lift a brow and motion that she would leave. Regina nodded and smiled and waited until she disappeared before saying, "How did you find me?"

"It wasn't easy. I heard the most amazing story about you being a cow camp cook and then almost getting killed by some homicidal maniac?"

"A lot has happened," she agreed. "I got thrown from a horse."

"Oh, darling, what in heaven's name were you doing on such a beast?"

"It's a long story, but I'm fine. I just have to stay off my sprained ankle for a while." She heard a squeak in the hall.

"A while? Sweetie, you haven't got a while. We need to go into production ASAP. You have the contract, right?"

She took a breath, glancing toward the doorway. J.T. was framed in it. "I'm going to have to get back to you."

"I don't like what I hear in your voice. Your cowboy did sign the contract, right?"

"I'll call you later." She hung up before he could pressure her for more details. "A friend," she said to McCall.

He nodded, looking more than skeptical that it was a "girl" friend. He rolled an antique wheelchair into the room. "The doctor said you were not to walk on your ankle. Is everything all right?" McCall asked.

"Fine." She gave him a smile but she could see he wasn't buying it.

"How are you feeling?"

"Better."

He pushed the wheelchair over by her bed. "You want to have breakfast in bed?"

"Would you mind if I tried the chair?" She wanted to see the house. She felt like an invalid lying in the bed and she had so much she wanted to ask McCall. "So the J.T. stands for James Thomas?" Regina asked, smiling at him after he slipped his arms under her and lifted her effortlessly into the wheelchair.

"I'm named after my mother's grandfather."

She looked down and saw that she was wearing a beautiful cotton nightgown.

"My sister Dusty lent you a few clothes until I can go to town for some," McCall said, seeing her surprise. "The two of you are about the same size fortunately."

Regina vaguely remembered being in a bathtub filled with warm water and lots of bubbles and McCall washing her hair. The memory swept over her like the warm water and McCall's soapy hands. She felt her cheeks heat. "Thank you."

He snorted. "For what?"

She touched her hair and met his gaze. "Everything."

He looked away. "I almost got you killed."

"You heard something from your brother about what happened back on the mountain," she said.

J.T. nodded and told her everything that Cash had told him. "It looks like Claude Ryan is dead. They found another body not far from where FBI agent Will Jarvis said he wounded the man who attacked him, the man he said was Claude Ryan. It was Roy. Roy Shields. He was dead."

She looked surprised. "Roy. The quiet cowboy who never said two words. And you're sure Will Jarvis is an FBI agent?"

"Cash called. Agent Will Jarvis has been working with the Mexican government on the killings of the plastic surgeons and the possible connection to Claude Ryan," he said.

She seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. "What about the others?"

He shook his head. "They found the bodies of Slim Walker, Luke Adams and Nevada Black. Cotton's body was found part way down the mountain. He'd been shot in the back of the head."

Her eyes filled with tears.

He covered her hand, still feeling sick. "It's over. Claude Ryan is dead. He won't be hurting anyone else."

She nodded and turned his hand, pressing it to her lips. He could feel her breath against his palm, warm and moist, and he thanked G.o.d that she was alive and safe. He didn't know what he would have done if Claude had gotten her.

She looked up into his eyes and he felt desire spark and begin to burn through him. Desire and something deeper, something that made him ache to take her in his arms.

"I've decided to do your commercial."

She looked so surprised, he wanted to laugh.

She shook her head. "No, you don't have to do that. I don't want you doing it because-"

"I'm not." He wasn't sure what she'd been about to say. He didn't want her thinking he was doing this because of what they'd shared in the cave. "Make the arrangements. The sooner the better."

He just wanted to get it over with. He didn't want to delve into his reasons for agreeing after swearing that nothing could change his mind. He'd been wrong about that, wrong about a lot of things.

"This isn't the way I wanted it," she said, and he thought she might cry.

"I thought you would take it any way you got it," he said, unable to hide his surprise. "You said it meant everything everything to you." to you."

She shook her head and said nothing. He wheeled her down the hallway to the kitchen where his mother was waiting. She waved him away, saying she and Regina were going to get acquainted. He hated to think.

But as he looked out the window, he saw almost six hundred head of cattle coming across the valley toward the ranch. "I'm going to go help bring in the cattle," he said.

Neither woman seemed to notice.

As he left, he told himself he'd made the right decision about the commercial. A few years of grief over his backside was nothing. He couldn't let Reggie lose everything. He felt responsible, no matter what he said.

He tried not to think past that because he knew once the commercial was over and Reggie's ankle was healed, she'd probably be eager to get back to Los Angeles and her life there.

And that was just what he wanted too, he told himself as he went out to saddle his horse and go meet the herd.

SHELBY QUIZZED Regina over a breakfast of steak, eggs, biscuits with b.u.t.ter and honey, fresh fruit and juice.

Regina was surprised how hungry she was. A woman who'd never eaten breakfast in her life and she was eating like a truck driver.

"You really need to tell him," Shelby said when Regina had finished eating.

Regina looked up in surprise. "Tell who what?"

"My son James Thomas," she said. "You need to tell him how you feel about him."

Regina opened her mouth, closed it and opened it again. "I...I don't think that's a good idea. He already feels guilty enough about everything that's happened."

Shelby just smiled sadly. "He might be a little confused right now. He is is a man. They're easily confused. He's doing the commercial, isn't he?" a man. They're easily confused. He's doing the commercial, isn't he?"

Regina nodded, a little confused herself. What was it his mother thought she should tell him?

Shelby looked thoughtful for a moment. "Maybe it would be better to wait. At least until after the commercial." She got up. "Let me take you back to your room. You look as if you might fall asleep right there in that chair."

After Shelby helped her back into bed, Regina picked up the phone and dialed Anthony's number at Way Out West Jeans. "It's me."

"You don't sound good, sweetie."

"The commercial is a go. Get everyone up here."

"Your cowboy agreed to do it? Oh I knew you could pull this off." She wanted to tell him not to call McCall her cowboy. "Sweetie, why aren't you jumping up and down for joy? You did it!"

Yes, she thought. She'd done it. Unfortunately, it was a hollow victory. Her driving ambitions had changed over the past few days. Changed since she'd met J. T. McCall. But she wasn't about to tell Anthony that any more than she was McCall himself. She knew how he felt about city girls. Especially this city girl.

He'd only agreed to the commercial because he felt responsible for what had happened at the cow camp and the cave and he wanted to get rid of her. By the time the commercial was shot, her ankle would be strong enough for her to leave.

"I can have the crew there within days," Anthony was saying. "This is such great news for everyone here. You're going to pull this off, darling, so be happy."

"Yes," she said, finding herself close to tears. She'd forgotten that she wasn't the only one who was counting on this commercial's success. She had everyone at the jeans company to consider. She was doing the right thing. So why didn't it feel like it?

Because she knew the only reason McCall was doing the commercial was because he felt like he was to blame for everything that had happened.

She hung up, feeling miserable.

Chapter Fifteen.

Regina watched the filming from the bedroom window. Since she couldn't see it from the wheelchair, she stood, hiding at the edge of the drapes, not wanting to be seen.

She knew McCall must be hating every moment of it. She had been getting better every day and knew there was nothing to keep her here after today. The commercial shoot would be over, the crew would leave and she would have no choice but to go back to Los Angeles.

The problem was she didn't want to leave. She'd fallen in love with McCall. She wasn't sure when it had happened exactly but the thought of leaving here, of never seeing him again, broke her heart.

She'd also fallen in love with his family. Crusty old Asa was a sweetheart under that rough exterior. He reminded her of Buck but more cantankerous. Buck was out of the hospital and convalescing in the other guest room. Shelby was an amazing woman, very perceptive and loving.

Regina had come to know eighteen-year-old Dusty McCall. Dusty had been reserved at first but now came up to talk about boys with her. Regina smiled at the memory of their "talks."

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Cowboy Accomplice Part 19 summary

You're reading Cowboy Accomplice. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): B. J. Daniels. Already has 93 views.

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