“You’re really not gonna come with me?” Eyes wide, Jace Mills stared across the driveway at the man who was supposed to be his best friend.
“It’s not that I don’t want to.” Leaning back against his truck, Tucker Jenkins drew in a deep breath and let it out in a huff. “Don’t you understand? I can’t.”
Jace ran his hand across his forehead beneath the band of his cowboy hat. “Because why again?”
“I told you already.”
“Tell me one more time, just so I can be sure I heard you right the first time.” Jace waited for the response. He already knew the answer but he needed to hear Tuck admit the foolishness out loud again. Maybe this time he’d realize how stupid he sounded.
Tuck sighed. “I have plans to go out with Becca and Logan and Emma.”
“And this double date of yours is to where, exactly?” Jace made sure he stressed the most ridiculous part—the cozy couples outing that somehow took precedence over Tuck riding in a competition.
Another sigh proceeded Tuck’s answer. “A winery in Drumright.”
“Yes, indeed. A winery.” Jace nodded, lips pursed. “You hate wine. Always have. You do remember that small detail, don’t you? Or did marriage give you brain damage or amnesia or something?”
He’d seen it before when a man got pussy on the brain, but Tuck was married to Becca now. That stage should be over.
“Listen, Jace. When you get married, you’ll see. A man has to choose his battles.”
And there it was—that annoying defense that all married men loved to throw in the face of smart, unmarried men like Jace. When you get married, you’ll see . . .
“Fine, Tuck. Pick your battles, but I’m telling you right about now would be a damn good time to stand your ground and fight. There’s fifteen-hundred added money. How can you pass that up? We don’t even have to travel far for it. It’s an hour away. Right off the damn highway in Shawnee.”
“I know, but apparently it’s this vineyard’s big annual festival and harvest event or some shit like that. They only have it once a year. Look, I’m not happy about it either, but I gotta do it.”
It was small consolation to Jace, but Tuck’s expression did say he’d rather be riding in Shawnee than sipping wine, any day. Jace figured it all came down to the path of least misery. Becca could make Tuck’s life harder than Jace could, so she won this battle.
“Look, Jace. Just go to Shawnee on your own, win the purse, and be happy I’m not there as competition so I can’t take it away from you.”
“Oh, you’re not my competition.” Jace shook his head, not willing to concede to Tuck’s boasting, just because Tuck had won a couple championship buckles way back when. “Maybe you used to be, before you got soft, but not anymore. Besides, you know how I feel. When I’m on the back of a bull, it’s me against him. I could care less who rode before or who’s fixin’ to ride.”
“Fine. I’ve gone soft. Whatever.” Tuck dismissed the insult with a wave of his hand, which didn’t give Jace as much satisfaction as it would have if he’d gotten a rise out of his friend “I still can’t ride tonight and there’s nothing I—or you—can do about it.”
“I don’t see why Becca and Emma can’t go alone. They can drive themselves to Drumright. Hell, it’s like twenty minutes away and she knows the way. You guys are always going there for that smoked bologna you love so much. What the hell’s the name of that restaurant again?”
“Yeah, Joseph’s. The point is, Becca can drive to Drumright without you. This wine tasting crap is a chick thing anyway. Or, hell, you know what? Logan can take the girls. He probably likes wine.” Jace felt far less camaraderie toward Logan since he’d stolen Becca’s sister Emma away.
“I already suggested that.”
“Really?” That was interesting. Maybe Tuck hadn’t handed his balls over to Becca at the wedding after all. Jace settled back against his own truck, parked next to Tuck’s in the driveway. “And?”
“It went over like a fart in church.”
Read more about Tuck, Becca, Logan, Emma and Jace in the Oklahoma Nights series
ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY (out now in paperback & eBook)
“Fish Out of Water” in the HE’S THE ONE anthology
TWO TIMES AS HOT
THREE WEEKS WITH A BULL RIDER