Home > Escape (Getaway #3)(9)

Escape (Getaway #3)(9)
Author: Jay Crownover

Lane ran a hand through his nearly black hair, messing up the dark strands even more than they already were. “You like sushi? Since when?”

My guess would be the little girl’s tastes were widening and expanding in any multitude of ways now that Emrys and her father had shown her just how big and exciting the world could be. I’d never wanted anything more than to find my place and make my home in the familiar comfort of the Wyoming wilderness, but Daye, she was too smart and had already lived too much life to accept what was as what will always be. She was embracing change with vigor and excitement only found in youth.

“She’s a California girl now. Of course, she likes sushi.” I let the laugh out as Lane scowled at me, still barely containing his disgust at the idea of eating raw fish. “Don’t worry. I’m sure they have something on the menu that you can eat.” I inclined my head toward the rental car. “Want me to follow you or meet you at the house?” I was going to have to GPS my way back. There were a lot more roads in northern California than there were in Sheridan and a lot more traffic. Everything was busy and moved so fast, driving felt like a full-contact sport on these roads. Getting back to Sutton’s place was going to take nerves of steel and white knuckles on the steering wheel now that I didn’t have a missing cowboy to distract me and occupy my mind.

Lane gave the sensible rental a once over, and then shifted his gaze to where his lifted, beast of a truck was parked. I’d seen the mud-splattered, red four-by-four from a mile away, and the familiar sight made my heart thump so loudly I couldn’t hear the blaring horns honking at me as I dared to drive the speed limit. That truck meant Lane was close by and everything would be okay once I could touch him, and talk to him. Everything would go back to normal and the home I had sacrificed for would once again be a place where I felt like nothing bad could ever touch me again.

“Follow me. We’ll eat there and grab something to take back to the house. That gives Sutton another hour to do whatever it is he’s doing with Em.” The knowing gleam in his gaze said he knew exactly what it was that his older brother was doing with Emrys. “We can drop Daye and the food off and then head back to the airport so you can ditch the rental.”

I blinked at him in surprise as I tried to follow his train of thought. “I was just going to drop it off when I flew home.” I didn’t see any reason to make an unnecessary trip to the airport. All the people coming and going was overwhelming. It was like I’d stepped off the plane into a whole new world, one that was waiting to swallow me whole and run me over.

“When were you planning on flying home?” Gentle curiosity colored his tone as he watched me carefully.

I shifted anxiously on the heels of my boots and nervously tugged on the ends of my long hair. “I don’t know. I bought a one-way ticket since I didn’t know how long I was going to have to beg and plead with you to come back to the ranch. I figured I would leave my options open in case you sent me on my way without hearing me out.” Dread that he wouldn’t even see me when I came all this way ate at my insides from the moment I stepped on the plane until his arms had wrapped securely around me in a hug that I would never forget. Being in his arms felt more like coming home than any time I’d walked through the door of the ramshackle home my mother kept on the reservation, or anytime I’d managed to hide away at the Warner ranch.

He cocked his head to the side and narrowed his eyes at me. “I’ve always listened to what you had to say, Brynn. Even when the words hurt.”

The “yes” that ended everything we may have been to one another. I could still feel the way that word ripped my heart to shreds and turned my future upside down.

I sighed. “Things are different now, Lane. You left.” I couldn’t keep the hint of betrayal and hurt that colored my tone hidden.

A frown pulled at the corners of his mouth as he moved away to put his boots on. He was looking at the ground, tension tight along the line of his broad shoulders when he muttered, “I know I did. I took the easy way out. I thought things would be even harder than they already were if I stayed.”

I scoffed and gave my head a shake. “Things were worse with you gone.” At least I was far worse without him there.

I broke Jack’s heart, and that made me feel terrible. He didn’t deserve to come in second to a man who couldn't or wouldn’t love me the way I’d always wanted. But as bad as hurting Jack made me feel, the guilt of those emotions couldn’t touch the gnawing ache that consumed my insides at not being able to talk to Lane about how wrong everything had gone. He was my constant. He was my equilibrium.

When he left, he took years of reassurance and comfort with him. I didn’t belong on the ranch when Lane wasn’t there. The place I tried so hard to make mine felt like it was too wide and open when the youngest Warner wasn’t there to take up the extra space with his effortless wit and charm. I didn’t fit without him there to fill in the gaps. He represented my reason for being there. With Cy doing his thing with Leo, and many roads and state lines separating Sutton from Sheridan, Lane was the last stronghold for my place on the ranch. Without him there, I had no purpose and was left floating adrift and not tethered to anything.

He arched a dark eyebrow. “I’m in no rush to get back to the mess I’m sure we both left behind. I was planning on hanging out with Sutton for a few more days then making my way back home. There’s no reason we can’t make the drive together . . . unless you would rather fly?”

I stared at him in silence for a long moment, weighing his words carefully. It had to be more than a thousand miles between Sacramento and Sheridan. That was hours and hours of him and me alone in his truck. We purposely avoided being alone when we were at the ranch. There were many awkward moments of silence and words we wanted to say but couldn’t. On the one hand, it was all I ever wanted. Lane Warner, with no place to escape me and our tangled, tormented history. We would finally be forced to put the past to rest, whatever that meant for us moving forward. On the other hand, the idea of being alone with him, trapped in that horrible, uneasy silence that plagued us since the second I said “yes” all those years ago made my skin crawl. There was no guarantee that Lane was ready to lance the wounds we’d both caused that had long been infected and festering. He seemed content to pretend things were fine when they were anything but.

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