The Wife:Book 2 in The Bride Series

By: S Doyle

One





Ellie

Two weeks after the storm (aka the day Jake kissed me)





So that happened.

Oh. Wait. I should probably catch you up with everything. Well, you remember my dad died, I was underage, so Jake stepped up and married me. We agreed to the arrangement until my eighteenth birthday.

Except a month before my eighteenth birthday, a major Arctic blast took out half my herd and two thirds of my calves. Oh, and Jake’s old house on the property he was going to buy back—as soon as we got divorced and I gave him the money my dad left him in the will.

No house.

No money to buy the land.

Massively in trouble cattle ranch.

What did all of that equal?

No divorce.

Which meant Jake and I were going to stay married. And you might think what was the problem with that? After all, we did it for sixteen months, no problem.

Okay, one problem. About a year in I started to have… feelings. Yeah. Those feelings. I fought it. He mostly ignored it, but I could tell he was a little upset about it. He liked me. He didn’t want to hurt my feelings when he… you know… divorced my ass.

So we pretended I didn’t feel anything, which was fine because the divorce was only a couple of months away. Then he would leave, I would get down to the business of running my ranch, and all those…feelings would fade away.

Except now we weren’t getting divorced.

Enter problem number two.

Jake had kissed me. I had unhooked my karabiner from the safe line and lost my way in the storm. Thankfully, Jake had found me. But he’d been pissed.

Super pissed.

Angrier than I had ever seen him. And he’d kissed me. It was hot. It was—well, this is probably going to sound super profound… but the kiss was about life. Two people who had survived, and while the whole feeling thing was weird between us, there was no question we loved each other.

We were Ellie and Jake. Jake and Ellie.

Now there was this elephant in the room. Because while the kiss had happened under extreme circumstances which we might have been able to write off, him telling me he wanted to do it again…

Leading to problem number three.

We’re married. Jake didn’t want folks to think he would ever take advantage of an underage girl, because he wouldn’t. Except now I was very close to not being underage, and we had kissed.

You’re thinking sex was the natural conclusion to that day?

You would be wrong. Instead we’d rented equipment and pulled dead cows out of a pen all day, then buried them in a mass grave. Totally not sexy times. We’d fallen asleep after being dead on our feet and we didn’t talk about the kiss, his stunning confession, and his very real anger at himself for feeling that way.

Anger that kind of, sort of, leaked out towards me.

It was not fun times.

Which gets us to now.

Two weeks later.

“I don’t think I understand what that means,” I told Mr. Connelly.

Mr. Connelly was the Vice President at Heartland Bank. Heartland Bank held the note on Long Valley. I had done some research and had come up with a plan to free Jake. Jake didn’t think the plan would work. Still, he’d come with me to the bank.

“You’re asking for a loan? Correct?”

That’s what it means when you go to the bank and ask them for money. We were going to have to do this anyway. We had to buy more cows if we were going to restore the operation within the next few years. Since I was taking a major hit on what I was going to be able to sell at the end of summer, I was going to have to borrow the money anyway. Not a big deal. We had the land as collateral, and that was worth a lot.

“Yes,” I said, like he was a little thick.

“And you and Jake and have worked it out and decided to stay married? Correct?”

I hated the way he said correct after every question. But I was digressing. This was part of the plan. I was just going to borrow more money than I needed. Jake and I worked out the numbers. The least amount we needed to borrow to buy the cows to replenish the herd. Then I added twenty thousand to that number.

I would pay him his money and we could get divorced.

Because FYI, being married to someone who didn’t want to be married to you… also not fun.

Which meant we fought about it constantly, because I apparently was the only one looking for a way out.

I’d told him he had a hero complex and that he should divorce me.

He’d told me to shut up.

I’d told him I was going to divorce him and he had no say in the matter.

He’d told me to shut up.

I’d told him about my bank plan, and he’d said it wouldn’t work. And now it seemed it wasn’t working.

“Uh, does that matter?”

Mr. Connelly laced his fingers together and gave me what would be my first, but not my last, what I would come to know as the banker smile.

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