Dedicated to my favorite avid reader, Rachel.
FOUR WEEKS LATER, COREY waited outside the police station, wishing Dirk Evans were still alive to corroborate his version of events. Yes, it was stupid that he and Dex were playing around with fireworks and one handful of bottle rockets launched into the hardware store catching fire, but it was an accident. It still shocked him that Dirk would confide all of this to Joe Adams, the one man who wanted nothing more than to see his life torn to shreds, all because they loved the same woman. For the past month, he and Dex became town pariahs, scoffed at, talked about as if there were nothing else happening in Endurance worth discussing. Now everyone knew they were responsible for the fire and held onto that secret for twenty years, causing the Scott family to take the insurance payout and leave town. Some people even accused him of doing it on purpose, so Nolan could benefit from the rebuilding, which was preposterous.
He raked a hand through his hair and started pacing, wondering what was taking Megan so long to come and pick him up. His last interview with the detective took five hours, and he wanted nothing more than to go home, put this nightmare behind him, and rebuild his life. He hated what this revelation had cost his parents, but especially how it affected Megan. She didn’t have to just deal with him spending a few nights in jail, but her brother as well. It was a double whammy for her, and if there was anything he could do to make it up to her, he vowed he would spend the rest of his life doing so.
His blue pickup made the turn into the parking lot and he smiled seeing Megan driving his truck like a pro. A sense of relief washed over him as his wife stopped in front of him with a bright smile on her pretty face.
“Get in, cowboy,” she said, leaning over to unlock the door.
Corey drew his eyes together, the hair on the back of his neck tingling, alerting him that something was up. He got into the vehicle, closed the door and turned to her. Before he could utter a word, she kissed him hard on the mouth, pulled back and winked.
“What are you up to?” he questioned, knowing that something big was about to happen.
“You’ll see,” she assured him, putting the truck in gear and taking off toward home.
“We’ve been cleared of all charges. They finally believe it was just an accident.”
Megan looked at him for a second, then turned her attention back to the road. “I know. Karen called and told me.”
The rest of the drive remained quiet as the scenery flew by, the warm summer day making Corey uncomfortable in his dress slacks and shirt. He couldn’t wait to strip out of his Sunday best and put on jeans and a T-shirt. He gazed at his wife again, noticing the summer dress she wore, his suspicions on high alert. Megan passed the turn to the ranch and he wondered where they were going.
“Hon, you passed the turn,” he said.
Megan laughed, the sound sweet music to his ears.
“I know where I’m going. You just sit back and be patient a few minutes longer.”
Corey reached over, resting a hand on her bare knee, loving the feel of her skin beneath his fingers, wishing she would pull over so he could make love to her right then and there. When she didn’t push him away, that gave him all the encouragement he needed to continue exploring. He inched his hand under her skirt, moving closer and closer to her womanhood, delighting in the sharp intake of breath from Megan. Before he could reach the apex of her thighs, she slowed the truck and turned onto the path that led to his favorite spot. Corey smiled. He couldn’t think of a better place to make love to her, and that thought turned him hard in an instant, ready to show her how much he appreciated that she stood beside him through all of this.
“I think maybe you should hold off,” Megan said as if she could read his thoughts.
He ran his fingers up and down her thigh. “Why is that?”
They reached the clearing and his eyes grew wide, shocked by what stood before him. Corey gasped, looked at Megan, back to the crowd before him and back again. “What have you done?”
Megan laughed and parked the truck. They got out of the vehicle and Corey stood by the front bumper in disbelief, unable to move forward as their family waited, standing on the foundation of the getaway cottage he intended to build.
She stood before him smiling, gazing up at him, her hazel eyes dancing. “Surprise.”
“I can’t believe you did this. How did you do this?”
Megan pressed into him and held him tight. “Well, you’d already had the plans drawn up, and it was easy to coax my brother-in-law to get things started. I wanted something nice for you to look forward to when this mess was over with.”
Corey held her close, closed his eyes and said a silent thank you to the man upstairs for the woman he loved. “I don’t know how to thank you for standing by me, for all you’ve done to support me these past few weeks.”
Megan pulled out of his embrace, took him by the hand and led him to where everyone waited. “I do. You owe me a wedding dance and I want to collect.”
Megan nodded to someone, and a slow song began to play. She led him to the steps and up onto the foundation, and then turned and melted into his arms. “I love you, Corey Brady, and I will always stand beside you. No matter what comes our way.”
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