Read Explosive Memories Online
Authors: Sherri Thomas
Instant cold ran up his spine.
“What?” Nick and Darcy asked in unison, walking into the room.
“The chief of police called, said they aren’t sure how, but April escaped from the psych ward sometime during the night. He assured me they’ll find her, and figure out how this could have happened, but wants us to be on alert.”
Trent knew they waited for a reaction, but numbness surrounded him as he poured a mug of coffee. “Maybe she skipped town.” He hoped like hell that was the case. The alternative was too disturbing to think about.
Sam stared at him, his lips pressing into a thin line. “Doubtful. When the nurse went in to her room this morning to give her breakfast and meds, she found pictures of you and letters addressed to you scattered on the bed.”
Chris entered the room and stopped in his tracks. “What’s the long faces about?” He pointed toward Trent with a jerk of his thumb. “You reminding him chores start at six a.m.” His chuckle filled the room. “You spend much more time in Jordan’s bed, you’re gonna have to make an honest woman out of her.”
Choking on the hot liquid, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “I don’t think so.”
“What’s that suppose to mean?” Darcy questioned with a frown.
“Nothing. Never mind.” He charged toward the table and set his cup down.
“You mean my friend’s good enough to sleep with, but not to consider marrying?” She crossed the room until the tips of her boots met his. “Don’t you use her, Trent Matthews. She’s suffered enough with the last asshole and doesn’t need her heart broken by you.”
“Calm down, darlin’. I don’t think that’s what he meant.” Nick placed his hands on her shoulders and rubbed. “Is it Trent?” he asked, scowling.
“He’s only saying he isn’t ready to propose,” Chris defended.
“His last engagement left the kid gun shy,” Sam added.
Trent placed his hands on the table and leaned forward. “Are ya’ll done discussin’ my life?”
All eyes bore down on him. Feeling cornered, beads of sweat broke out along his forehead. But even with everyone gawking at him, he refused to say anything he hadn’t even contemplated in his own mind.
I ever decide to get married, the engagement will be a long one, and that’s a big
. I don’t plan on making the same mistake twice. And while I enjoy spending time with Jordan, I don’t plan on walking down the aisle—”
The door banged shut, drawing everyone’s attention.
A dark blue gaze slammed into him harder than the bullets that had pierced his skin.
Jordan stepped back, blinking rapidly. One arm went around her midsection as her sights drifted sideways toward the others.
Whirling on her heel, she flew back out the door. A second later, he heard a vehicle start up.
“Aren’t you even going after her?” Darcy asked, her annoyance clear in the tight tone.
He rubbed the base of his neck where the tension started. “Maybe one of ya’ll should, since ya apparently have my life all figured out.”
“You need to talk to her. Don’t you think you owe her that much?” His future sister-in-law poked a finger in his chest.
“Sweetheart, let it go.” Nick grabbed her hand.
Trent closed his eyes to shut out the noise.
“I’d give her the moon, if I could.”
Jordan’s smile flashed in his mind. The way she brushed her hair back from her face. The way she cared for Peter and held the precious life she helped deliver. The soft sigh as she slept, and those sweet little sounds she made when she snuggled into his chest.
“Damn.” Grabbing his hat, he kicked the door open. The last thing he’d wanted to do was hurt her…again.
Jordan possessed no idea where she headed, but needed to get away. A little time to suture up the gash Trent sliced into her heart. Not that she’d expected a proposal tomorrow, but his words hurt. Plain and simple. And in front of his whole family to boot. She’d be the first to admit they needed time to explore the relationship, but hearing him put a stop to any fantasizing at all was like slamming the door in her face.
And what did he mean about making the same mistake twice?
Once again, pieces of his past he neglected to share. The one man she desired, the one she cared for—loved—closed himself off.
Tears clouded her vision, and she swiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. The vehicle suddenly hit a pothole, hard, jarring her body and almost causing her to swerve off the road. Slowing, she noted the thump, thump of a blown tire.
Forced to pull over, she wiped the remaining wetness off her face with shaking hands. A beep sounded from the passenger seat, and seeing a text from Darcy, she picked up the cell phone.
U ok? Where r u? Please come back so we can talk?
I’m fine. Went 4 a drive 2 clear my head & put things in2 perspective. B back b4 2 long,
she typed, then pushed the Send button. Almost immediately, the device sounded again, indicating a voice mail. Not sure when she missed a call, she hit a few buttons and held the mechanism to her ear.
“Hello, Jordan. This is Dr. Sheffield. I was calling to let you know there’s a part time position opening up within the next few weeks. If you want it, the job’s yours. Now, I know you were hoping for full time, but it’s a start, and as fast as things change around here, you’ll be working sixty hour weeks before you know it.” He chuckled. “Call me back.”
Jordan hit the End button again and groaned. Now what? She had to take the job of course, but there was no way she could remain on the ranch or work there now. Which meant she’d need to find an apartment in town and another job until the alleged sixty hour weeks started. Maybe a waitress job. They made good tips.
She ran a hand through her hair.
Frustrated, she threw the phone back on the cushion. She sure as hell couldn’t stay here all night. Praying the rental had a spare, she glanced out the window for oncoming traffic before edging the driver’s door open. A big truck slowed and pulled up behind her. A tall cowboy with a low riding black hat climbed out of the cab. If she hadn’t recognized Trent by the outline of his body, the slow swagger would’ve been a dead give away. Not ready to deal with him, she rested her forehead on the steering wheel.
The door opened all the way. “Car trouble ma’am?”
She lifted her head, but stared out the windshield. “Nothing I can’t handle.”
“Looks like ya blew a tire. These roads can be rough.”
Inhaling, she made a move to exit the vehicle, but his big body blocked the path.
Trent bent, removed his Stetson, and placed the hat on her lap. Warm hands bracketed her face before his mouth caressed hers.
Hands fisted on his chest, she was ready to shove him away, but instead found herself clinging to his shirtfront. Those inviting lips soothed her battered soul, making thinking impossible. He kissed her with more tenderness than she’d ever known. He make her feel treasured and loved.
“Please, stop. This isn’t going to help.” Mustering the strength, she dragged her mouth away and glanced down the road, wishing for someone to come along to keep her from giving into temptation. Much to her dismay, they seemed to be the only travelers.
“We need to talk.”
“We can’t very well carry on a conversation on the side of a highway.”
“This is an old logging path. I only knew to go this way because Charlie was outside and saw you make the turn.”
. Even when she wanted to get lost she couldn’t.
Jordan glanced at him, then out the windshield, seeing nothing but dirt and trees. “I’m leaving the ranch in the morning,” she blurted.
He blew out a noisy breath. A warm palm caressed the back of her head, then guided her cheek to his chest.
She felt the rapid beat of his heart and shut her eyes, savoring the feel of him one last time.
“I’ve held a lot back and hurt you in the process,” Trent said in a rough voice, one full of emotion. One she’d never heard before.
He raised her face and stared into her eyes. “But that wasn’t my intention. I figured the past was better forgotten.”
Jordan waited, wanting to hear more, wanting him to tell her, but he volunteered nothing further. God, she wanted to hit him. “After everything I’ve told you and all we shared, why can’t you open up to me?”
He stood staring at her until she fought the urge to scream.
“Forget it. If you can’t tell me even now, this is just over.” She shoved his hat at him and pushed past. Going to the back of the vehicle, she found a small jack, a tire iron, and a half-decent spare under the bed.
“Let me.” Trent tugged the jack from her hand and set to work on the tire.
Jordan shook her head. “I can do it.”
“Please. We need to talk, and the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can straighten things out.”
She whipped her head his way. “And are you going to talk, Trent? Are you going to trust me enough, as I’ve trusted you? Or do you think sex will make up for everything?” She was aware her voice rose and was thankful no one else was around.
He stood and slid her hair back behind her ear, sending a jolt through her body. She held herself ramrod straight, refusing to give him the satisfaction of knowing how he affected her.
“I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
Not quite believing him, she raised one eyebrow.
Seeing nothing but honesty in his open arm stance, she nodded. “I’m telling you, Trent Matthews, if you hand me a line of bullshit, I’m leaving…for good.”
“Duly noted, ma’am.” He placed his Stetson on her head and set about changing the flat. “Looks like you ran over some type of metal.” He pulled the object out of the sidewall of the rubber. “Must have been sticking out of the road. Certainly is an odd angle to get wedged into.”
Jordan inspected the piece he handed her. A metal nail file? How on earth had that happened?
“Maybe it was in there a while, and hitting that divot punctured the tire further.” He tightened the bolts and put everything away. “That should do it.” Opening the driver door, he gestured for her to get in.
Sliding past him, making sure not to touch in any way, she sat behind the wheel and stared ahead. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure, ma’am.”
She heard the smile in his voice and glanced up at his face. A calloused finger stroked the side of her cheek, and she had to steal herself against the desire to close her eyes.
“Follow me?” he asked.
Knowing she’d never forgive herself if she drove away without answers, she simply nodded and watched him climb into his truck.
The smell of him lingered in the cab of her vehicle. His Stetson on her head left her dizzy with what it implied. She knew most cowboys didn’t give up their hat easily. So what did it mean? For most, it signified she was his, but for others, the act meant nothing. Right now, she could not be his, and the self-inflicted pain made it difficult for her to breathe. She switched on the radio to drown out the nagging voice in her head.
Dusk fell quickly as she kept up with his taillights, cursing herself for being every sort of fool. His turn signal flashed, and she followed suit, but halfway down the dirt drive, recognition shocked her. This was the way to the shack.
The place contained too many memories for her to remain objective, yet she wanted his explanation, needed to hear the words come out of his mouth.
At the end of the path, she parked beside him and debated what to do. Staring out the windshield, she caught a glimpse of a shadow moving toward the trees, but the only thing in sight were a couple of squirrels.
Her driver side door opened.
“You gettin’ out?” A note of edginess lined Trent’s tone.
His nervousness gave her momentary pause and a sliver of confidence.
“Yes.” Shutting off the engine, she stepped from the vehicle and followed him inside their shack.
“Hopefully, the lantern still works. I’d even settle for a few candles. It’s gonna be pitch black out here soon.” He rummaged through the two cupboards and produced both. Setting the lamp on the table, he switched the knob, but nothing happened. He flipped the object over and tinkered with the battery.
“If you give me the candles, I’ll light them while you mess with that thing.” She placed his hat on a peg on the wall and extended her hand.
“There should be matches in the drawer.”
Not giving into the strong urge to glance his way, she found the matches and lit the wax.
“The terminals are corroded.” Trent pulled out his pocket knife, scraped the remnants off the battery, and reassembled the pieces before he flicked the knob. Light sputtered, then illuminated the room. “You can blow out the candles. We’ll keep ’em close by in case the lantern doesn’t last.”
Jordan glanced around. The cabin appeared clear of debris and cobwebs. A total contradiction to their last visit. Maybe that’s why he brought her? To show her and remind her of the time they spent together? “You cleaned the place up.”
He shook his head. “Wasn’t me, but someone obviously has.”
“Maybe Darcy and Nick snuck away to be alone.”
“Don’t see why when they have their own place.” Tension radiated off him, and she wondered what his stress was all about.
Not really caring who tidied up the space, she shrugged and doused the wax sticks.
He grasped her hand and motioned for her to sit on the cot, then lowered himself next to her.
His lips brushed hers and half of her melted. The other half rose in defense. “Huh-uh.” She extracted herself from his arms and scurried to the end of the bed. “You promised we’d talk.”
He blew out a breath and scooted over until the wall supported his back. Raising one knee, he rested his forearm across the bone. “What I said back at the house had nothing to do with you—”
“Sounded like it had everything to do with me.”
“Do you wanna listen or argue?”
His tone remained light, yet she sensed his uneasiness, and instead of answering, zipped her lips, for now.