I don't face things head-on. I’m a procrastinator. I know my faults, and that’s a big one. Which is why I’m not going to marry Daniel. Nope, I’m headed back to the Texas Hill country. I’ve already leased my own veterinarian clinic.
Except when I stopped by the ER to see my grandpa (he’s a doctor), I didn’t expect to see my old crush, Riley Buchannan, who’s still sexy as ever and still makes my heart beat just a little faster than normal.
Or that he would insist I stitch his leg because he has to get back to his ranch. His mare is about to drop her first foal. Is it my fault he didn’t ask what kind of doctor I am? I would’ve gladly told him I’m the new veterinarian.
Whitney’s home and all grown up. I guess I should’ve asked what kind of doctor she was before I insisted she stitch up my leg. She sort of owes me, but every time I ask her out, she turns me down.
Until her ex-fiance and her mother show up.
When she hires me to be her pretend boyfriend for the weekend, how can I say no? It’s kind of cute, her thinking I need the money.
But will my paid services extend to the bedroom?
I might not get the chance to find out when I underestimate Daniel. He’s full of all kinds of surprises, and none of them good.
I'd read in one of those silly relationship magazines that when the guy says he wants to talk to you about something important, then takes you to a fancy restaurant, he wants to end the relationship, and he doesn't think you'll cause a scene.
Daniel had it all down to a T. The fancy restaurant, and he mentioned he wanted to talk to me about something very important, and he wore a somber expression.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like Daniel. I did. I mean, I do like him. If I didn't like him, I wouldn't have been with him for two years, right?
I just have this problem with confrontations. I’ll put them off as long as I can. Yes, I’m guilty and I know it. Like the fact I’m moving back to Wolff Canyon, Texas — in a few days. I'd spent summers there on my grandfather's small ranch. I was a country girl at heart. When Hank, the local veterinarian, decided to retire, I jumped at the chance to lease his clinic. This was what I'd been working toward for the last seven years, and I was ready.
Everything happened so fast. I know, that’s no excuse for not telling Daniel, but I guess I was afraid he’d try to talk me out of going. There were so many reasons why I should stay: more money in the city, fine restaurants, theater, my parents were here in case I needed anything…
I sighed. But there was one huge reason I should go. My heart was in Wolff Canyon.
But that was neither here nor there. I was still the great procrastinator, which was why I would much rather work with animals than people. I probably wouldn't have even started dating Daniel except he worked in the same firm as my father. They were both lawyers. Dad was a senior partner. My parents loved Daniel. Me, not so much. But I did like him—most of the time. He could be a lot of fun when he wasn't acting all lawyerly.
So, I was excited when Daniel said he wanted to talk to me about something important, and he was taking me to one of the swankiest restaurants in Dallas, Texas. He even ordered champagne, and the waiter was hovering nearby, ready to pour us each another glass.
Maybe he wanted to get me drunk before he broke off our relationship. He shouldn't have worried about me making a scene. Not that Daniel wasn't a catch. He definitely got an A+ in the looks department. Very polished, very GQ, with every dark blond hair in place and always dressed impeccably in tailored suits, but I loved the country more, and it was calling me to come home.
“There’s a reason I brought you here, darling,” Daniel said, then smiled.
That should’ve been my first clue this wasn’t going to go as I had thought, but I was still hopeful.
He scooted his chair back, then looked around the room. It was Saturday night, so all the white linen-draped tables with red roses in the center were full. I was still confused. At least, until he dropped down to one knee and pulled a black velvet box from his pocket. I was pretty sure my face lost all color. No, no, no! This wasn't supposed to happen!
“Whitney Genevieve Griffin, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
The diamond that winked back at me was at least four carats. Oh damn, I was going to throw up. This couldn’t be happening.
He laughed lightly. “I know, it’s a bit of a shock that I would ask anyone to marry me when I’ve always proclaimed I was a confirmed bachelor, but Whitney, you’ve changed my mind. You’re the perfect partner for me.” He slipped the ring on my finger as the people around us began to clap.
“Well, bless your heart,” I murmured, still not quite connecting to what had just happened.
Daniel stood, pulling me to my feet and hugging me close. He quickly stepped back, then smiled at the crowd. Yes, Daniel loved drama, whether it be in or out of the courtroom. As he took his seat once again, I dropped to my chair with a thud. Oh hell, what was I going to do? I didn't want to marry Daniel.
I looked around at all the people. Even I wasn’t crass enough to tell him there was no way in hell I was going to marry him. I had my life planned out, and right now, it didn’t include Daniel, or any man for that matter.
The waiter congratulated Daniel and me as he poured us each another glass of champagne. I downed every drop of mine in nothing flat, and the waiter refilled it.
Daniel smiled. "I know this is a special occasion, but from now on I think you should watch your alcohol consumption. You'll have certain standards that you'll need to adhere to as a lawyer's wife. Or should I say, a junior partner? I'm pretty sure I'll have the position within a few weeks. Your father has been dropping some pretty strong hints."
And that was Daniel. And that was why I would never marry the guy. I’d probably turn into an alcoholic. I downed another glass and motioned for the waiter to fill me up again. Daniel didn't seem to notice as he continued on. Not that I cared one way or the other.
“We’ll have such a wonderful life together. You won’t even have to work.”
I frowned. “Then why did I become a veterinarian?”
He reached across the table and squeezed my fingers. “Because you hadn’t met me yet, darling. Now you won’t have to be around all those smelly animals.”
The room blurred for a moment. I rapidly blinked my eyes until it came back into focus. No more champagne. I needed my wits about me. I frowned. “I like those smelly animals.”
He shook his head. “Stubbornness does not become you. I’m sure you’d much rather stay at home and take care of the children that we’ll be having. Probably two—a son and a daughter.”
“What if I have triplets? Are we going to put one up for adoption?”
His brow wrinkled. “What? Never mind. You can always busy yourself with charities until then. Just like your mother. Which reminds me, I was speaking with her the other day and I mentioned your wardrobe.”
I looked down at the pale blue dress I was wearing. “What’s wrong with my clothes?”
He cast another condescending smile in my direction. “What you’re wearing is fine, in fact, it’s quite lovely, but when you go to the clinic, you’re always wearing those scruffy boots, worn jeans, and a t-shirt. You’ll have to keep up appearances after we announce our engagement.”
He continued to talk about how fantastic our life would be all through dinner. I don’t think he even noticed my silence. Of course, I had to admit some of that was due to the amount of alcohol I'd consumed in a short period of time.
He mentioned all the functions I would be required to attend, the parties I would be hosting, and I could even join my mother’s bridge club, which was very exclusive. Only certain women were invited. I hated cards.
He was still talking by the time we pulled up to my apartment complex. I couldn't stand it a moment longer and turned to him. "Daniel, I'm not going to marry you." I pulled the ring off my finger and handed it to him. I suddenly felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was doing the right thing. His world wasn't my world.
He automatically took the ring, looking crestfallen. “I don’t understand. We love each other.”
For just a moment, a thread of doubt weaved its way through me. Was I making the right choice? Or totally screwing up my future?
No, I was positive going back to Wolff Canyon was the right thing to do. “That’s just it, I don’t think I love you. We can still be friends.”
“But we’re perfect together.”
"I don’t think so. I’m not going to give up being a veterinarian. I love working with animals. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. A marriage between us wouldn’t work. You’d resent the fact that I couldn’t be the wife that you want. Goodbye, Daniel.”
I was already out of the car and going inside the apartment building without giving Daniel a chance to say another word. I think he was still in shock. I glanced over my shoulder as I opened the door. He was still sitting inside his car.
No! I refused to feel guilty!
I could almost hear a judge’s gavel slamming down. “Guilty as charged!”
I hurried to the elevator and pushed the button for the second floor. After I let myself inside my apartment, I went to the window and peeked out from the curtains. I breathed a sigh of relief that he was gone. Thank God that was over. Along with the guilt, there was also a feeling of immense relief.
I really didn’t know why I procrastinated so much when it came to dealing with people. I always had a feeling of relief when I faced something head-on. Well, this hadn’t been exactly head-on, but close enough. I glanced around at all the empty boxes I still needed to fill with my stuff.
By now, I had so much nervous energy that I changed into something more comfortable, and not on Daniel’s list of approved attire, and began to pack. Excitement flitted through me. I was going home where I belonged.
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