Harley and I had our whole lives planned out, until her plans changed, and those plans didn"t include me.
After years spent trying to get the love of my life out of my head and repair my too-damaged heart, I thought I was finally moving on"but life sure has a funny way of letting you know when those best-laid plans are about to be turned upside down.
My entire world was rocked when Harley unexpectedly moved back to Oak Springs. Every miserable moment I"d spent trying to get over her and every hour I"d wasted trying to erase her from my life came back to haunt me the minute she walked into my office, fear in her eyes, and asked me for help. Would I"or better yet, could I walk away from her this time after all that she had put me through"
What I really needed to know is would I be able to forge ahead with the future I had so meticulously planned"one that didn"t include Harley"or will her return finally open my eyes to a future full of endless possibilities"Books in Series:Cowboys & Angels Series by Kelly ElliottBooks by Author:Kelly Elliott Books
Spring break, Senior year in college
I pulled in next to Harley"s father"s truck. I smiled when I saw Harley standing in the middle of the field looking out toward the west. The sun still had a few hours to set, and her eyes closed while she soaked in the sun. This was her favorite spot to come on her folks" place, and I"d known she would be right here. Something hadn"t been right over the last two days.
"Hey there, beautiful."
Glancing over her shoulder, her mesmerizing light-emerald eyes lit up. Those eyes had haunted my dreams for months after she left for college. They were a stunning green with specks of gold.
"What are you doing here"" she asked, her arms unfolding and dropping to her sides.
"Your folks said you needed some air, so I figured you"d be here."
Her smile was soft, barely reaching her eyes. I knew Harley Carbajal like the back of my hand. We"d been friends forever and had dated since high school. I already had an engagement ring ready for after our college graduation. I promised both her daddy and mine I"d wait until we"d finished before I asked her. We only had a few more months; they never said I had to wait until after graduate school.
"Yeah, I needed some fresh air."
I nodded and walked up next to her. "Feel like company""
"If it"s you" Always."
Pulling her into my arms, I leaned in and kissed her. It didn"t take much to get Harley to melt in my arms. If I wanted her, all I had to do was talk a little dirty, and she"d be begging for me to take her right here. She was my first, and I was hers. It didn"t take us long to figure out we both liked to have a bit of fun when it came to sex. Harley liked it romantic"and sometimes a little rough.
"What"s going on in that pretty little head of yours""
She smiled, but this time I knew it was a forced one. "Nothing, really."
I decided to let it go and tell her my good news.
"Dave Hassell was pretty happy about me getting in UT"s law school. He"s offered me a position at the law firm this summer. I mean, I won"t be doing anything major. More like an intern, but I"m going to take it! This is a great step toward starting my own law practice."
This time her smile was real. "That"s amazing, Tripp! I"m so proud of you."
"The even better news" He"s going to offer me a partnership in his law firm when I graduate from law school. I know it"s a few years away, but just knowing I"ll be able to come back home and start practicing law right away means a lot. We can build that house we dreamed of, and you can start building up your veterinary practice, and who knows" Maybe kids will be in the picture a few years after that."
Her eyes filled with tears.
"Doc Harris already has a practice in town," she said softly.
"Then you can work for him. Who knows, maybe he"ll offer you a partnership as well. He"s gotta retire one day, right""
Her eyes drifted to the ground. "I don"t think that"s going to happen."
I pulled her into my arms. "You never know."
"Tripp, have you ever thought about not living in Oak Springs""
Laughing, I replied, "No. Never. This is our home. I can"t imagine leaving my family and moving away. Besides, our dream has always been to own one of those old houses off Main. I"d love to have my law offices out of one."
Harley pulled away from me. "That"s the whole thing. It"s your dream, Tripp. Not mine."
My heart felt like a brick as it fell to my stomach.
She folded her arms over her body. "I don"t want to settle down in Oak Springs. I want to travel and see the world. I want to know what it"s like to live in a big city. Maybe a loft overlooking the hustle and bustle of everything. My Aunt Tanya told me about some of the amazing places she"s traveled, and I can"t stop thinking about how fun that would be."
My brows pinched together. "So, is this something you"ve just decided, Harley" We"ve always talked about settling down in Oak Springs."
"No, you"ve always talked about it. I"ve just listened."
I swallowed hard and turned away from her. My head was spinning. Racing through the catalog of endless conversations we"d had had about our future"I realized she was right. The conversations were always one-sided, and I"d been too caught up in the excitement of our future to notice that she"d not been participating in the plans I was making.
What in the fuck happens now" I can"t lose her. I won"t lose her.
Facing her again, I forced a smile. "Then, that"s what we"ll do."
Her eyes widened. "What do you mean""