“Oh yes, we know her well. Unfortunately,” Scott said.
I jumped in to take over, since the last time Cyndi’s name came up Scott became quite angry and bitter, and Grace almost didn’t move in with us. Scott and I had talked it out after Grace had accused us of slumming, but I wasn’t sure she knew why that comment had hit Scott so hard that day. We probably would have told her the story, as there was no reason not to, but she’d gone and gotten herself kidnapped instead and unless Scott had said something, I was pretty sure Grace had no idea of our history with Cyndi.
“Remember that first night you stayed here, after that fight with Jake out behind the bar?”
Grace grinned at me, her mind obviously zeroing in on our first night to sleep together.
“How could I forget it?” She said with a sparkle to her eyes.
“Remember the next morning, when you thought we were slumming, and Scott here took that real personal? I told you it had nothing to do with you, that it was about something that had happened the year before?”
“How could I forget it?” She asked again, this time with the sparkle in her eyes gone. She shot a glance over at Scott before she continued.
“I didn’t know who you two were, and I overreacted when I found out. I said some mean things about sleeping with the help. What does that have to do with this?”
“Cyndi was our cleaning lady back then. She, umm, she came on pretty strong. To both of us. Long story short, she accused us of sexual harassment, saying that we made her do things with us.”
“She almost got away with it, too. Except we got lucky. One of the ranch hands got her on video when he walked in on us while he was still wearing the body camera he used in the corrals.”
“She set us up,” I continued. “She wanted money and lots of it. Once we showed her the tape she knew she wasn’t going to get any.”
We filled her in on all the details, and we answered every uncomfortable question Grace asked us, determined to be as open as we could be.
Grace handled it well, acknowledging that she knew we hadn’t been saints before she’d come along, and that she knew we’d shared the occasional woman before her.
Once we reassured her that Cyndi had been a one-time thing, and that we had actually resisted her advances for a while, cause we were never interested in a relationship with her, Grace seemed ok. We told her how we initially tried to keep the relationship purely professional, but we eventually gave in, both of convinced that Cyndi knew it would just be one fun tryst, and neither of us wanted anything more.
Little did we know that she planned the whole thing purely to cause trouble and walk away with a lot of cash. We almost lost the ranch because of her, and now we were having to deal with her again, only this time she was attacking something we held as being far more valuable than any ranch- our woman.
“So when she said she knew exactly who I was, and that I didn’t need Jake or his money anymore because I’d gotten my claws into you two, she was speaking from her own experience. And she said that I lied to get Jake in trouble, like she tried to do to you guys. So this is personal? She put that video online, or got one of her friends to, because she wanted to embarrass me like you guys embarrassed her?”
“That may be part of it,” I said. “Although, Cyndi doesn’t strike me as one who gets embarrassed easily. It almost seems more like…”
“Like you have what she was after- us, so she went after Jake instead,” Scott said.
“But that doesn’t make any sense,” Grace wondered aloud. “I mean, it would, if she wanted some kind of revenge against me. But I didn’t even know who she was. And I had nothing to do with her losing when she tried to go up against you guys. Plus, I’d already broken up with Jake, so it’s not like she was taking something from me. It’s gotta be something else. How would she even know that I’d follow her and try to talk her out of marrying Jake? I don’t think this has anything to do with me at all. I was just… convenient.”
“So what is her end game then?”
“It does seem odd that your ex, so to speak,” Grace corrected herself when Scott and I both started to protest her referring to Cyndi as our ex. “Your ex, who failed to ruin you guys, is now engaged to my ex, who failed to… what? Keep me? None of this makes any sense. Maybe it’s all just an odd coincidence? I mean, it is a small town. Maybe these two idiots were just bound to find each other at some point and we have nothing to do with it. God knows Jake isn’t smart enough to think up some kind of convoluted master plan.”
“As far as I know, Cyndi isn’t either. Or she would have played her part better with us. She had no proof we’d all even slept together. She had nothing to make it look like we’d coerced her, or threatened her. Hell, we could have denied we ever even slept with her. Then what? No these two are both stupid. I’m not sure what drives Jake, but I know exactly what drives Cyndi. Cash. Cyndi is out for Cyndi, and no one else, and she’ll do anything if she thinks there is a payday at the end of it.”
“That’s it! It has nothing to do with us at all. She sees a chance to marry into a rich family. Texas is a community property state, so once she marries Jake, his money is hers.”
“But Jake doesn’t have any money. Not of his own, anyway.”
“But his family does. Outside of us, Jake’s family is the richest family anywhere near here.”
“Ah ha! Now that does make sense. There probably isn’t anyone else anywhere that would date Jake after everything that happened, so when a cutie like Cyndi comes sniffing around…”
“She probably didn’t even have to try very hard. He’s thrilled anyone will have him, and her, well she sees a huge payday.”
“Her first words after she accepted his proposal were ‘Holy hell, that ring is huge!'”
“That’s got to be it. Wow, those two really do deserve each other. I hope they both get exactly what’s coming to them. I do wish they’d kept you out of it though, Grace. It was shitty to put you on YouTube like that. Although…”
“Although what?” Grace’s eyes narrowed in suspicion as she waited to hear what I’d say next.
“It is nice knowing that you’re the happiest woman in six counties.”
“And that we’re two gorgeous, loving, well hung cowboys who know exactly how to take care of a woman.”
“Be careful you two. Your heads are starting to swell. Pretty soon you’re egos won’t even fit inside those same six counties.”
“I’ll admit it, something was starting to swell watching you tell those women how happy you are with us.”
“Seriously? That turned you on?”
“Our woman crowing about how well we take care of her? Not being embarrassed to be dating us both? Proud of it, in fact? In all seriousness Grace, that was sexy as hell.”
“Yeah?” She said, smiling. Her skin was starting to turn pink again from our attentions, and it made her glow. I was tempted to show her just exactly how turned on she made me, but I wanted to float an idea past her first.
“I think we should show Jake up next Friday. Scott and I both, we could stand out on that dance floor ourselves, and get down on our knees, with two rings, both even bigger than Jake’s, and propose right there in front of every woman who insulted you in that rest room. Let’s see them put that on YouTube.”
Grace laughed and teased right back.
“Oh my God, wouldn’t that rock this little town right back on its ass? Hell, if I thought you guys were at all serious…”
Scott broke in, saying, “Nah, he’s just kidding. That proposal had no class. We’d do it better. Of course, we’d start by speaking with your father first, out of respect.”
“You guys, stop! You’re making me laugh so hard I’m gonna pee myself. Can’t you just imagine dad’s reaction? He’s come along way, but damn. I could just see his face if you two… Seriously, stop making me laugh.”
“Actually, he took it pretty well.”
“Uh huh, right. You guys!”
“What were his exact words, Adam? Do you remember?”
“Of course I remember. He said, ‘I don’t think that’s legal, guys. But if you have a way to pull that off without my Grace going to jail for bigamy, you have my blessing.'”
“You are so full of shit, you did not! Stop teasing.”
“And then he said, ‘If you two are what makes Grace happy, then I’m happy. If you two ever hurt her, though, I’ll kill you both myself, and I’ll make sure no one ever finds your bodies. And don’t you think I won’t. I’ve buried my share of huge, ornery bulls in my years as a vet, don’t think I can’t handle the two of you.”
“Oh my God,” she said again, only this time her eyes were wide with shock instead of closed in laughter. “Oh my God, that sounds exactly like something he would say. Are you guys serious? Did you really ask my dad for my hand in marriage?”
Stay tuned, Chapter 25 will be posted tomorrow
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