Home > Kissing the Cowboy (Circle B Ranch #5)

Kissing the Cowboy (Circle B Ranch #5)
Author: Kennedy Fox

 

Prologue

 

 

ETHAN

 

 

“Isaac just fucking broke up with me through text message,” Harper says on the other end of the line. Her voice shakes, but I can also hear the anger in her tone. She and Isaac have been together for four years—the last two years of high school and the first two years in college. Breaking up with her that way is so damn disrespectful that I’m ready to track him down and hog-tie him.

“I’m sorry, Harp. What can I do?” I want to tell her how much of a piece of shit he is and how he’s always seemed like the jealous type, but it wouldn’t be helpful.

“Come to my dorm? I just need someone to talk to, and I don’t want to be alone.”

A small smile hits my lips. “Sure. Give me about an hour. I need to finish some things, then I’ll be right there.”

“Sounds good.” She sucks in a deep breath, then exhales slowly. “Text me when you arrive so I can let you in.”

“I will.” The call ends, and while I shouldn’t be happy that douchebag dumped her, I selfishly am. He wasn’t good enough for Harper and never treated her the way she deserved. Nine times out of ten, he acted like she was an inconvenience when she wanted to do something other than barhop.

Just the thought of him doing that to Harper pisses me off all over again.

I close my livestock genetics book and check the time. It’s just after five, and I’ve been studying for hours since finals are in just a few weeks, but I’ll drop everything for Harper when she needs me.

Always have. Always will.

Grabbing my keys, I go to my truck, but instead of heading straight to Harper’s, I pick up her favorite meal—a chicken burrito with all the fixings. Considering Eldorado, our hometown, has no fast food, we consume a ton of it during the semester. I also stop and get her the largest frappuccino with extra caramel drizzle and whipped cream.

On the way to her dorm, I think about how busy she’s been lately with trying to help her mom come up with new ideas to expand the family’s business, Big Hart Boutique, while also preparing for finals. She’s been juggling so much, and Isaac has selfishly wanted to be the center of her attention.

If Harper didn’t drop everything when he wanted, they’d have an argument. She’d spend the rest of the week making it up to him, trying to prove how much he meant to her. I can’t even list how many guilt trips she’s had when she chose to study instead of going out drinking with him.

Once I park in front of Harper’s dorm, I grab everything and walk toward her building with my hands full.

Three flights of stairs later, I twist the knob to Harper’s door and enter. It’s often left unlocked because her roommate's boyfriend lives on the same floor, so she’s in and out.

I hear Harper chatting in the bathroom and realize she’s on the phone, so I set down our food and patiently wait. She has no idea I’m here yet.

“I know, Hads. You were right.”

She’s talking to one of her friends we grew up with in Eldorado, Texas. It’s a few hours from San Antonio, where Harper and I attend college together. Hadleigh’s a year younger than us and is going to nursing school. Since she spent a lot of time on the ranch during the summers with my cousin Kane and was always around, we all became good friends.

“I just never thought he’d give me an ultimatum about spending time with Ethan. He’s my best friend, and that’s it. For Isaac to accuse me of sneaking around on him…” Her voice cracks with rage. “I’d never do that. I’m not a cheater.” She pauses briefly as if she needs to collect herself. “I just thought we’d be together forever. He acted friendly around Ethan, so I always assumed he liked him. Now I realize it was all a lie.”

My heart rate quickens, and my hands ball into fists. I’m shocked to hear that was the reason, but I’m grateful Harper chose our friendship and didn’t bend to his will. Seems he was looking for any excuse to break up with her and picked the lowest hanging fruit.

She clears her throat, then loudly blows her nose. “I can’t believe it’s really over, after everything we’ve been through.”

I only tolerated him because Harper wanted us to get along. He was an egotistical man-child. They were long distance in high school, so when I heard he’d gotten accepted to the same college as us, I wasn’t happy. I thought they’d break up before the first day of class, but Harper was determined to make it work.

Over the past two years, I hadn’t seen her as much during the week as I’d like, but we still made time to study or watch movies when our schedules didn’t clash. Then when we’d go home during breaks, we hung out nonstop.

Moments later, the bathroom door swings open, and Harper notices me. Mascara streaks down her cheeks, and her cute little button nose is red. Her dark hair is messily piled on top of her head, but it looks adorable. Her face immediately lights up when our eyes meet.

“You didn’t text me to let you in!” she playfully scolds, and I can tell she’s trying to be strong.

“My hands were full,” I say, but really, I wanted to surprise her.

“How long have you been here?” She closes the space between us.

“Couple minutes.” I don’t want her to know that I overheard her speaking to Hadleigh.

I open my arms, and she falls into them. As I hold her tight, she squeezes me, and her emotions break free.

“I’m so upset,” she mumbles into my chest, the tears turning on again. “And mad.”

I pet her hair, trying to soothe her. “I know. But guess what?”

“What?” She pulls back slightly, and her big blue eyes meet mine.

“There are more fish in the sea. More cows in the pasture. More cookies in the oven? I’m not great at analogies, but you know what I mean. You’ll find someone else, Harper. Someone who’ll appreciate you and treat you the way you deserve.”

Harper snort-laughs, and it makes me happy to hear. It’s a sound I would bottle up if I could.

“Thank you.” She lets out a long sigh. “And you’re right. Hadleigh told me that I should enjoy my hot girl summer and have fun being single for the first time in four years.”

I lift my eyebrows and try to be supportive even if I don’t like the sound of whatever that implies. “Where’s the lie, though?”

“Ugh. Dating apps are a total miss back home. Just ask your cousins.”

I grin, recalling how they’ve all said the same thing. Eldorado is small, so everyone’s either taken, too old or young, or related to you.

“Truthfully, I have no desire or plans to date soon. Hadleigh was right about enjoying being single for now, but I think I need to take some time to find myself first. I’ve been with Isaac since junior year. Who am I even?”

“You’re my best friend who always laughs at my corny jokes, who’d give her last dollar to someone else who needed it, and who is willing to work for what she wants,” I tell her sincerely. “You haven’t lost yourself. You were just comfortable with the way things were. Now you get to do whatever you want.”

“You’re too good to me, Ethan Bishop.” Her tears are long gone, and she smiles wide, then finally notices the brown bag and drink on the counter.

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