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No one was that lucky.

She stared at the dark panels of her door. She had no clue as to exactly what was going on, but she had a shrewd idea who might. After she visited Leda to tell her all the good news, she'd have to call Dakota.

Dakota sat outside the discreet side entrance to the small hospital and checked his watch. Willow trees surrounded the white building casting it in a soft golden hue. According to Grayson and his minions, Robyn usually visited her sister Leda about this time of the day. God, he hoped they were right. He had to get to her before she worked out what was going on and decided to cut and run completely.

Footsteps on the gravel alerted him to the presence of another person and he looked up. Robyn came toward him and stopped before she reached him. Her long hair was loose, the dark curls waving gently in the wind. He stood up slowly, afraid she would bolt.

'Dakota, I was going to call you.'



Dakota tried to look relaxed. 'Why was that?'

'Because I think you have some explaining to do.'

'About what?'

She shoved her sunglasses on to the top of her head and glared at him. 'Don't pretend you don't know. I might be slow but I'm not stupid.'

He stuck his hands in his pockets and blew out an airy breath. 'I've no idea what you're talking about.'

'Then why are you here?'

'Because I wanted to see that you were OK?'

'Right, and perhaps you also wanted to see if I'd received the unicorns, three wishes and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow you blessed me with last night.'

'shit, Robyn.'

She jabbed a finger in his chest. 'I'm perfectly capable of taking care of my own life, OK?'

'I know that, honey.' He winced as she jabbed him again.

'And I don't need you to make things better for me.'

'Understood.' He glared right back at her. 'And you don't need to push me away with some crazy delusion that you're making stuffbetter for me by leaving.'

'I was trying to do the right thing for once!'

'And is it making you happy?'

'No, I'm miserable as h.e.l.l. Self-sacrifice obviously doesn't suit me.'

'Dammit, I'm miserable too and I'm done not going after what I want. So what are we going to do about it?' He realized he was yelling and didn't care who heard him.

She stared at him, hands now planted on her hips. 'So why aren't you on your knees apologizing?'

'Because I'm not going to.' She opened her mouth to speak but he kept going. 'This is who I am. I want you to be happy, I want to protect you from the Damiens of this world and I'm d.a.m.ned proud to do it.'

'Wow, you're finally taking a stand about something and it's me? Your macho streak is showing, Dakota.'

'Good, because I sure as h.e.l.l mean every word I'm saying. You taught me to do that, to be true to who I am and what I want. I love you, honey. I want to take care of you and I'm not going to take no for an answer.'

She blinked at him and closed her mouth. Inwardly he braced himself for the blast of her fury.

'So why else are you here?'

He stared at her. What the h.e.l.l was going on? While she was being so benign he might as well take a chance that might completely misfire.

'I was hoping to meet your sister Leda.'

Robyn closed her eyes. 'Who told you about her?'

'Grayson. And don't worry; he'll keep it to himself.'

'I was wondering if it was Damien and if he mentioned what I did to her.'

Dakota frowned. 'You were in a car crash together. She was driving and a drunk driver hit your vehicle on the driver's side, forcing you off the road.'

Robyn bit down so hard on her lip that it started to bleed. It took all Dakota's strength not to reach for her and hold her close.

'Leda came out to get me. I called because I was so drunk I couldn't drive. If she hadn't come, she'd be fine.'

'Oh shit, Robyn.' It was too much; he drew her into his arms, felt the stiffness of her body and rubbed his hands up and down her spine. 'I don't know what to say. I don't know how to make it right for you. I only wish I could.'

She looked up at him. 'No one can make it right. All I can do is love and care for her to the best of my ability for the rest of my life.' She shrugged. 'I don't talk about her much, not because I'm ashamed of her or anything, but because she's such a special part of my life. I don't want her getting hurt anymore.'

'I understand, honey.' He rocked her slowly in his arms, his throat so constricted he could barely talk. What a burden to carry.

'But I made a mistake, I told Damien about her, I even let him visit.' She choked back a bitter sound. 'And that made it easy for him to blackmail me.'

Dakota kissed the top of her head. 'I'll never let him bother you or her again, I promise. I'll keep you safe if you'll let me.'

She pushed at his chest until he pulled slightly away and could see her face.

'Dakota Scott, have you any idea how nice you are?'

'Don't say that. Please don't say that.'

She reached up to touch his cheek. 'Do you think I don't know why all this good stuffhas suddenly happened to me?'

He shrugged. 'Not me, honey. My family. Blame them.'

'But they love you because you are nice. They want to do stuff for you.'

'So?'

'So, as I said, I'm not that stupid.' She took a deep breath. 'You're the only guy who has ever put me first in their life. Why shouldn't I let you be nice to me as well?'

He stared down at her, tears p.r.i.c.king at the back of his throat. 'I can be very nice.'

She kissed his mouth, 'Yeah, I know.'

'I'm cheap to keep, I don't mind if you become a big star again as long as you have some time for me and I'm quite willing to be a kept man.'

'All good things to know.' She kissed him again. 'Now, would you like to come and meet my sister Leda? I've told her all about you.'

He struggled to breathe as he recognized the trust and love in her eyes. 'Yeah,' he said softly, 'I'd like that. I'd like that a lot.

By the same author:.

Roping the Wind.

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?.





CHAPTER DISCUSSION