He vowed to always be there for her…but not as her husband!
Winona Sheehan and Grant Culhane have been BFF’s since childhood. So when Winona’s sort-of-boyfriend ditches their ill-advised Vegas wedding, Grant is there…with his sexy smiles and way too much consolation! Suddenly, Winona trades one groom for another — and Grant’s baby is on the way. With buddy-boundaries crossed and a years-long secret crush fulfilled, Winona wonders if her husband is ready for a family…or firmly in the friend zone.
“I’m getting married!”
Grant Culhane pulled his cell phone away from his ear for a second in disbelief.
Winona. Getting married? Since when?
They spoke most nights, around dinnertime, and had done so for years. Growing up, Winona Sheehan was the best friend he’d ever had—and that hadn’t changed much as they’d gotten older.
He digested what she’d said, got a twitch in his gut he didn’t waste time registering and then scowled again. “Who the hell to?”
Grant heard her soft sigh. “To Dwight, of course.”
The boyfriend. More accurately, the long-distance boyfriend, a marine who was currently deployed in Bahrain. “Winnie, you haven’t seen him in nearly a year. Don’t you think you should spend some time together before you start planning a wedding?”
“I’m not planning anything,” she said. “We’re eloping.”
Grant’s back immediately straightened. “What?”
“I’m heading to Nevada tomorrow and meeting Dwight in Vegas on Thursday. He’s got a few days’ leave.”
She sounded happy. Happier than he’d heard her in a long time, actually. But still, marrying someone who had been in another country for over ten of the eighteen months you’d been dating didn’t seem like such a great idea.
“Winnie,” he said, dropping his voice an octave and using the nickname, funnily, that only he called her. “Don’t you think you should—”
“I’m tired of thinking,” she said, clearly exasperated as she cut off his words. “I overthink everything. That’s why I work in a boring job and have never ventured past the South Dakota state line. I’m sick of playing it safe. Dwight asked me to marry him and I said yes, so you could at least pretend to be happy for me.”
“Of course I’m happy for you,” he lied, since he wasn’t feeling that way inclined at all. Damn if he couldn’t figure out why.
“Are you gonna be there or not?” she asked abruptly, cutting him off again. “Dwight’s bringing his best friend from his unit, and to be honest, I’d like my best friend to be there, too. Can you get the time off work?”
Grant pushed back in his chair. He looked around at the four bland office walls. He’d been working fourteen-hour days on the same job for over a week and suspected he could certainly use a break. Plus, there was the current family drama that was taking up way too much of his thinking time lately.
Still, he wasn’t sure how he felt about seeing Winnie get married, either!
But how could he say no to her?
“Of course I can be there by Thursday,” he said, surprising himself a little.
He heard her relieved sigh and then felt better about his decision. If he was there, at least he had a shot at trying to talk her out of it, or maybe he could have a word with Dwight and get the other man to see that eloping wasn’t a great idea. For starters, Winona’s grandfather would certainly have something to say about his only grandchild racing off to marry a man she had only seen in the flesh a handful of times.
“Have you told Red?” he asked.
She sighed. “No. You know how he is. He’s going to ask me to wait so we can have a proper wedding.”
“He’d have a point.”
“It will be a proper wedding,” she replied. “All that matters is that Dwight and I want to do this now. Besides, he’s only got four days leave and Papa wouldn’t be able to travel that far on such short notice.”
That was true. Red Sheehan’s health wasn’t the best. The older man had been the foreman on Grant’s family’s ranch for years before a series of strokes forced him to stop working altogether. He still lived on the ranch, though, and helped out where he could. Grant’s oldest brother, Mitch, would always offer a home for the Sheehans on the Triple C.
“I’ll call you tonight,” Winona said and ended the call.
Grant slipped the phone into his pocket, got to his feet and walked to the window, staring out to the street below. He stretched out his shoulders, thinking about Winnie, his concern quickly gathering momentum. Of course, after nearly twenty years of friendship, he’d never known her to be impulsive—Grant didn’t even know if she really loved the guy. Sure, she regularly talked about the marine, but he wasn’t convinced she was doing the right thing by marrying him.
He wondered whether he should have tried to talk her out of it, or at least tried harder to get her to hold off for a few more months. The truth was, he probably should have seen it coming. But he’d been distracted lately—with work, with family stuff—and maybe he’d been too preoccupied to focus on what was going on in his best friend’s relationship. He’d try and get to the bottom of things once he saw her, he told himself—even if that was going to be on her wedding day.
He pushed back at the niggling jolt racing up and down his spine and worked out his next move—go to Vegas and try and talk some sense into her.
After that, maybe he’d go home for a while. He’d lived in Rapid City for seven years, moving there after completing four years of college in Sioux Falls. But Cedar River, South Dakota, would always be home. Situated in the shadow of the Black Hills, it had once been a vibrant mining town. Now, it was mostly a stopover for tourists and commuters heading for the state line. There were several tourist attractions, though, including the famous O’Sullivan Hotel, numerous dude ranches and a couple of the old mines, now operating as tourist centers. Grant loved Cedar River and, more importantly, he loved the Triple C Ranch and his family. The second youngest of six children, he looked up to his older brothers, particularly Mitch, who had gained guardianship of them all when their father had bailed. Grant had been just twelve years old at the time, and still remembered the day his father left. He’d raced after his father’s truck, begging him to take him with him. It was a memory Grant tucked away, determined to keep buried.
If only Billie-Jack would let him.
Billie-Jack Culhane had been a deadbeat dad twenty years ago and Grant had no reason to think he’d changed. Except that two weeks earlier, out of the blue, he’d received a call from his long-lost father.
He hadn’t recognized the number and let it go to voice mail. The message was short and to the point—Billie-Jack wanted to reconnect. Numb, he hadn’t a clue how to react to the memories that he’d struggled for years to hide and which had quickly resurfaced. Three days later, Billie-Jack called again. But Grant wasn’t going to be pushed into seeing him. And he knew any of his four older brothers and younger sister, Ellie, wouldn’t be interested in seeing the old man, either. No, it was better he kept the information to himself for a while. Besides, now that Winona had dropped her bombshell he had other things to think about.
Grant sighed, stretched out his shoulders again and walked back around the desk. It was going to be a long afternoon, he figured, and sat down. He usually had no trouble concentrating on his work. He liked his job and the company he’d been employed with for the last few years. He’d loved gaming as a kid, but in high school, one of his science teachers noted his skills and encouraged him to pursue computer science as a career. Intrigued, he took the teacher’s advice. Now, he worked wherever the company sent him, doing program design and sometimes high-end tech support and program installation for companies up and down the west coast. He had an apartment in Rapid City and spent most of his time there, traveling when needed. And he liked his life. He had a nice home. Good friends. Money in the bank. Yeah, life was sweet.
Except…his father wanted to make a comeback.
And Winnie was getting married. To some guy she hardly knew, no less.
Well, he’d just have to talk to her again—to make sure she was certain that marrying the marine was what she really wanted.
With his mind set on a plan, Grant got back to work and managed to push through until the end of the day.
He was home by six, showered and eating a swiftly put together stir-fry by seven-thirty. Nothing he did, though, could push thoughts of Winnie from his mind.
He wasn’t sure why, but the idea of her getting married made his insides churn. It was just his protective instincts jumping into action, that’s all, he figured. Of course he wanted to make sure she was safe. He cared about her. After all, they’d grown up together on the Triple C. They were best friends. They knew everything about each other. And he certainly would never have expected this kind of bombshell from her. Most days he forgot she actually had a boyfriend, since the marine was half a world away and she hadn’t seen him too often during the months they’d dated.
He and Winnie had been there for each other for as long as Grant could remember, for everything. She taught him how to throw a curveball in middle school; he’d taught her how to ace a math quiz. He’d been the shoulder she’d cried on when she was dumped by her first boyfriend. She’d been the first person he’d called when he’d discovered he was valedictorian in senior year. He teased her when she got braces; she dissed his taste in music. They talked about everything, from bad dates, religion, the environment, to her insistence that one of his work colleagues had a thing for him. The plus one for weddings and parties. That one friend who mattered above all others. They’d supported one another through loss, grief, heartbreak and failed romances. Yeah…they were best friends, and even if he didn’t agree with her planned elopement, he’d still be there for her. Because no matter what, she would do the same for him.
Not that Grant had any plans to get married…ever.
After dinner, he booked a flight to Vegas and then picked up his cell and called her. She didn’t answer and he didn’t bother leaving a message. He was just starting to type out a text message when she called him back.
“Hey, there,” she said. “Sorry I missed your call. I was in the middle of sending Dwight a message.”
Grant bit back a comment. “No problem. Okay, I’ll be at the hotel around three o’clock,” he told her. “I’ll text you when I’m there.”
“Okay, great,” she said and then hesitated, her voice scratchy.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I feel bad for not telling Papa. And Ellie,” she added. “You know how she loves organizing things like this.”
That was true. Grant’s little sister was a party-planner extraordinaire. “They’ll get over it,” he assured her, ignoring the sudden and ever-present twitch in his gut. “Once they see how happy the marine makes you.”
She laughed. “You know, he does have a name.”
“I know,” Grant said humorlessly. “I’m just giving you a hard time about it. I hope he appreciates you, Winnie.”
“He loves me,” she replied and sighed. “That’s all I want.”
Grant figured that’s all anyone wanted. But he’d never been a great believer in the idea of true love. Sure, he believed in attraction and lust and he liked sex as much as the next person, but love always seemed to fade. And worse, ruin lives. He’d watched his father fall to pieces when his mother had died. He’d witnessed his brother Mitch endure divorce from the only woman he’d ever loved. Even though Mitch and Tess were back together now, that didn’t erase the years of pain in between. And when his other brother Joss had lost his young wife to cancer, he’d been put through hell by his in-laws as they tried to gain custody of Joss’s two daughters. Yeah…love wasn’t for him.
“Winnie,” he said after a moment. “Are you sure you’re—”
“Positive,” she replied, cutting him off. “And promise me you’re not just coming tomorrow to try and talk me out of it?”
Grant held off for a second, figuring she’d know exactly what he planned on doing. “Well, I only—”
“I know what I’m doing,” she assured him. “Please support me in this.”
Grant’s gut plummeted. Despite his misgivings, he knew he would absolutely support Winnie if she wanted to tie herself to the marine. It was her life. Her choice. And as her friend, he’d support that—even if the idea tied his stomach into knots.
“Okay,” he relented. “I promise.”
He heard her relieved sigh. “Don’t tell Krystal you’re heading to Vegas, though,” she teased, “or she’ll be booking herself on the flight with you.”
Krystal Heller worked for the same company he did and although she was nice enough, pretty and friendly, and had made it clear she was interested in him, he wasn’t feeling anything other than a respectful working relationship. And he’d never believed in messing around with someone he worked with—it had complication written all over it.
“Give it a rest, will you.”
She chuckled. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said and chatted on excitedly for another few seconds before signing off. “Love ya,” she said, the same words she ended the call with every night.
“Ditto,” Grant replied, as he always did, and then realized something that was oddly unsettling—that it might be the last time he said it to her. She would be married—another man’s wife. She’d move to a new town. Probably a new state. And he would rarely see her. Their nightly phone calls would cease. She wouldn’t be the last voice he heard before he fell asleep each night.
And he couldn’t figure out why the mere idea of that cut through him so hard that for a moment he could barely breathe.
Life was about doing what made a person happy, Winona Anabel Sheehan thought as she looked around the Las Vegas hotel room.
And taking chances.
Not that she’d taken a lot of risks over the years, but that was about to change. She had a lot to be thankful for. First and foremost, she loved three things. Her grandfather, Cedar River and Grant Culhane. Well, of course she actually loved all the Culhanes—but Grant was extra-special to her. He was her best friend.
Four things she loved, she corrected, shaking her head as she carefully draped her wedding gown across the bed. She loved Dwight Kelly, too. He was good-looking and funny and she’d fallen head over heels for him eighteen months ago. He’d been in Cedar River visiting a friend and they’d met at Rusty’s bar, hitting it off immediately. Originally from New Mexico, he’d joined the marines at nineteen. He was finishing his current tour in three months, but insisted he didn’t want to wait that long to get married. Winona had accepted his proposal via Skype without a second thought. When he finished his tour they would settle at Fort Liggett, California, for a while and Winona was looking forward to the move. She’d lived in Cedar River all of her life, only venturing as far as Sioux Falls for a couple of years to attend a community college there. Yeah, she was about as hometown as a girl could get, and at twenty-six was more than ready to venture out into the world.
Papa will understand, she said to herself. Red Sheehan had raised her since her mother ran out when she was nine. Winona didn’t know her father, only that he was Brazilian and her mom had hooked up with him in Reno for a weekend and she was the result of that tryst. She knew his first name, which was Paolo. But no surname. No picture. She’d accepted his absence from her life long ago—just like she’d accepted having a mother who didn’t really want her. But she had Red, the greatest grandparent in the world. And she had the Culhanes, too. Particularly Grant, and Ellie, who was more like a sister than a friend.
And now she had Dwight—her future husband.
Winona stared at the satin-and-lace gown the saleswoman had said flattered her figure, and pushed down the hankering she had for something more traditional. It didn’t matter what she wore. All that mattered was that she would be standing at an altar with the man she loved.
With both of them!
Oh, God, snap out of it, girl!
Winona shook off the thought. As a teenager she’d secretly and longingly pined for Grant Culhane to look at her as something other than his best friend—only admitting the truth in the diary she wrote in—but never letting Grant know how she felt. As she grew up, she accepted that she was in the friend zone and that’s where she would stay. She stood by and watched him fall in love with a girl in high school, and then fall out of love just as swiftly. She remained his sidekick as he hooked up with one woman or another over the last decade, always ending the relationship within a couple of months. Grant didn’t do serious. He didn’t do commitment and he certainly would never do marriage. But he was the shoulder she always cried on. And she did love him—but she wasn’t in love with him anymore, like she had been back in high school. That would be an obvious waste of her time. Now she was in love with Dwight. It had worked out exactly as it should have.
Her cell pinged and she grabbed the phone, recognizing Grant’s number.
I’m in the foyer and all checked in.
Winona’s heart skipped a beat. The hotel wasn’t the flashiest in Vegas—but it was the best she could afford. She’d told Dwight she would make all of the arrangements, including booking the honeymoon suite. The room was huge and almost hideously decorated in shades of lime green, gold and red, with embossed velvet curtains and ornate furnishings. She was sure Grant would have something to say about the outrageous color scheme—not that she expected him to see the suite. No, she’d be sharing the room with her husband in just over five hours. Dwight was on his way. He’d called her that morning and they spoke briefly, making arrangements to meet at the chapel. Winona had thrilled at hearing his voice, and suggested they catch up at the hotel first, but he’d teased her, saying it was bad luck to see one another on their wedding day.
She grabbed her key card and tote and quickly left the room, heading downstairs to the foyer. The place was busy, and she noticed a bride and groom walking toward the elevators. Newlyweds were certainly in plentiful supply in Vegas. Winona spotted Grant immediately—he was hard to miss! Well over six feet, dark hair, broad shoulders and dark green eyes that were blisteringly intense. She saw a few women glancing at him appreciatively. He was hot, no doubt about that.
He hauled her into a hug the moment they collided and held her close. His arms had always made her feel safe and she hung on tightly for a few extra seconds. He smelled good, too, his cologne woodsy and familiar.
“What?” he said when he released her, holding her a little away, and looking at her jeans and shirt. “No bridal gown?”
“It’s upstairs,” she replied and laughed. “Don’t want to get it wrinkled before the big event.”
He glanced at his watch. “Countdown in two hours. Enough time for us to have a drink and catch up.”
She gripped his arm. “As long as you keep your promise not to try and talk me out of it?”
He sighed. “I’ll do my best. Where’s the marine?” he asked and looked around.
“Dwight will be here soon,” she assured him, thinking that he never used the other man’s name. “He’s meeting me at the chapel. He said it was more romantic that way.”
Grant rolled his eyes a little. “Okay, Winnie, let’s find a cozy spot at the bar over there and you can tell me exactly why you want to marry this guy.”
“You know why,” she refuted and walked him toward one of the bistros. “He loves me. I love him. That’s why people usually get married.”
The hotel was busy and several people were milling outside the bistro, but Grant quickly wrangled them a booth seat inside. He ordered drinks—an imported beer for himself and wine spritzer for Winona, her usual when they went out.
“Did you tell anyone?” she asked once the waitress left their booth.
Grant tapped several fingertips on the table. “You asked me not to breathe a word of your plans, remember?”
One thing she knew for certain—she could trust Grant. “Thank you.”
“So, what happens after the wedding?” he asked. “Are you coming back to Cedar River?”
“In a few days,” Winona said and nodded. “Dwight has to head back on Monday, so I’ll return home then and probably stay for a couple of months. His tour finishes in seven weeks. After that I’ll move with him to Fort Liggett.”
“California?” He raised both brows. “That’s a long way from South Dakota.”
“It’s only for a couple of years. After that, we’ll probably come back to Cedar River and settle down. Dwight plans on leaving the army and, once we have kids, I want to make sure we’re close to Papa. I think I told you that Dwight’s parents are divorced, and since he hardly sees his dad and his mom got remarried, he’s happy to live in Cedar River.”
Grant leaned back in the seat, one hand around the untouched beer. “Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out.”
She didn’t miss the judgment in his tone and shrugged. “I’ve got plans for the future, like most people.”
His mouth flattened. “If that’s a dig, I’m not biting.”
“I guess some people just aren’t the marrying kind,” she said and sighed. “But I am.”
“Which is why you’ve agreed to marry a guy you haven’t seen for the last ten months,” he said quietly.
Winona frowned. “I know what I’m doing. Dwight is a good man. Once you get to really know him, you’ll think so, too.”
He didn’t look convinced and it was exactly what she expected. Grant was concerned about her and she understood why he had reservations. To an outsider, it might look as though she didn’t know Dwight all that well. True, they hadn’t spent a lot of physical time together since they first met, but he’d visited her in Cedar River a couple of times in the first six months of their relationship. And they talked every week, and texted almost every day, while he was deployed.
“We’ll see,” Grant said and sipped his beer and then sighed heavily. “Okay…I’ll try.”
“And you’ll behave yourself when we’re at the chapel, won’t you?” she urged, feeling a little panic rise up and curdle in her belly. Since she’d been surprisingly calm since Dwight had proposed, the sudden attack of nerves startled her. She didn’t want to have doubts. She didn’t want to live a life with her glass half-empty. She wanted stability, family, real love. And she wasn’t going to let her commitment-phobic best friend make her feel any different. “I mean, you are kind of my maid of honor, after all.”
He looked appalled by the idea. “If that’s what you wanted, you should have invited Ellie along to this gig.”
Winona loved Ellie like a sister, but the other woman had a reputation for speaking her mind. “Ellie would have blabbed to your family and to my grandfather. You know you’re the only one I trust.”
Her words made him stare directly at her. “I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“I won’t,” she assured him. “But I appreciate that you’re looking out for me.”
“I always will.”
She knew that. “You know, Dwight knows how important you are to me.”
That much was true. Although her fiancé wasn’t entirely thrilled about her close friendship with Grant. For a while she suspected Dwight wasn’t convinced that their relationship was strictly platonic. But it was. It always had been.
“Where’s your engagement ring?” he asked, looking at her bare left hand.
Winona shrugged. “There wasn’t time for that. And the chapel said they could supply wedding bands.”
He raised a quizzical brow. “Did you purchase the complete bridal package online?”
She smiled. “Something like that.”
“Organized down to the last detail, I see,” he said and grinned.
She smiled. “You know me.”
He nodded. “That I do. You know, I’m gonna miss you when you leave for California.”
Winona met his gaze and her throat tightened. She’d been so caught up in the excitement of Dwight’s online proposal, she hadn’t taken much time to think about the consequences. Like living in another state, or being away from her grandfather for the first time in years, or being separated from the only home she’d ever known. From her grandfather. From her friends. Especially Grant.
“I’ll miss you, too,” she said, feeling the meaning of her words down to the soles of her feet. “More than I can bear thinking about. We’ve been a part of each other’s lives since we were kids.”
“Since Red took in his wildcat granddaughter,” Grant reminded her. “You were what…eight years old?”
“Nine,” she corrected. “And you were twelve. Do you remember finding me in the hayloft that first day?”
He nodded. “Yeah…you were angry at the world.”
“But you understood,” Winona said as the memory kicked in, tightening her throat. “Because you’d been there yourself. And you’re right, I was angry and hurt. My mom had just left me. But you were kind to me that day. You talked me down from the loft and taught me how to halter a horse.”
Winona recalled the moment as if it were yesterday. Her mother had dropped her at the ranch, with nothing but a pink backpack and her favorite books. It was just for a few weeks, she’d said. Looking back, Winona knew her grandfather didn’t believe it. And when her mom finally made contact over twelve months later, Winona chose to stay with her grandfather after that. Looking back, it was the right decision—even though at the time she’d experienced the range of emotions associated with being abandoned by her only parent. And still did, she suspected. But rationally, she knew she’d had a much happier childhood growing up at the Triple C with Red than she would have had she stayed with her mother. The first day had been hard—but Grant had made her feel so welcome, so much a part of things—and from that first day she developed a little bit of hero worship.
Over time, that turned into a serious crush—and by her thirteenth birthday she was convinced he was the love of her life.
Silly, she supposed, to think about that now, just as she was about to marry Dwight.
Thinking about her fiancé made her sit up straight and then shuffle out of the booth. “I have to get ready,” she said. “Meet me in the foyer in an hour.”
“How are we getting to the chapel?”
She checked her watch. “Taxi.”
Winona took off and headed back to her room. Once she was inside, she showered, slipped into the white lace underwear she’d splurged on, before doing her hair and makeup. Not too much, since most days she went makeup free, but she swept her long black hair into an updo and added the pearl earrings Grant had given her for her eighteenth birthday. She stepped into her lace gown, which was long and figure hugging, off the shoulder in design, and pushed her breasts up in a flattering way.
Giving herself one final look, she double-checked her purse to make sure she had all the documentation she needed and then headed downstairs. Since brides in white gowns were obviously the norm for the hotel, she barely got a glance from the people she passed in the corridor, or in the elevator. Although one older lady did smile and say she looked lovely.
Grant was waiting for her in the foyer and gave her a long and appreciative look.
“You look beautiful,” he said when she reached him.
Winona took in his dark suit, white shirt and tie and raised a brow. “You look pretty good yourself.”
He smiled. “Do you have everything?”
She nodded and rattled her purse. “Just need to get to my groom.”
“Lead the way,” he said and grasped her elbow.
Ten minutes later they were at the Love Is All Around Wedding Chapel. There was a couple just finishing their ceremony and Winona watched from the waiting area, nerves settling big-time in her belly. She looked around, noticing how quaint and nicely decorated the place was, and thought it looked exactly like it had online.
The couple at the altar came out arm in arm, laughing happily, and nodded in their direction, with the minister and a well-dressed middle-aged woman following in their wake, throwing confetti. Once the other couple were out of the chapel, the minister approached her and she confirmed their appointment.
And waited for her future husband.
At ten minutes to four, when Dwight still hadn’t turned up, Winona got twitchy. “I’m sure I told him 3:45,” she said to Grant and looked at the time on her cell again. “The minister said we needed about fifteen minutes to fill out the paperwork.”
“He’s only five minutes behind schedule. Maybe his flight was held up, or he’s at the hotel changing into a suit.”
She shook her head and called Dwight’s number. “He’s wearing his dress uniform. But you’re right, he’s probably caught up in traffic or something.”
When the call went to his voice mail, she left a message and then sat back down, the uneasiness in her stomach increasing as the minutes ticked by. And then, after she tried his cell twice more and the time clicked past four o’clock, Winona knew something wasn’t right.
The minister approached her at ten minutes past four and said he had another ceremony booked in twenty minutes and couldn’t hold the spot much longer. Winona was about to call his number again when her cell pinged with a text message. She looked at the caller ID. It was from Dwight. Her stomach churned and then she took a breath. She was imagining the worst for no reason. He was late, that’s all. He was stuck in traffic or his flight was delayed. Right?
Except, when she read his message, her hopes were crushed.
I’m so sorry, Win. I just can’t do it. I’m not ready for a commitment like this. I know you probably hate me right now, but this is for the best. I’m sorry. D.
Her hand shook and she gasped, pressing her other hand to her chest.
Grant’s voice. Suddenly, he was sitting beside her and she turned to face him, her hand still shaking. She held the phone up and shuddered out a reply. “He…he’s not coming.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” he asked in disbelief.
She shoved the phone at him with a shaking hand. “Read it.”
He took a couple of seconds and then wrapped his hand around hers, placing the phone in her lap. “Winnie, I’m so sorry. But…maybe this is for the best.”
“I don’t understand…he promised…”
Winona’s insides hurt so much she could barely breathe. And then, somehow, Grant’s arm came around her and she dropped her head to his shoulder. He held her, murmuring that he’d take care of everything, he’d make sure she wouldn’t be alone. Oddly, despite the hurt and the chaos screeching though her brain, she felt better.
Because Grant’s arms were exactly what she needed to shelter her from the pain of being abandoned.