Good Together

By: C. J. Carmichael


Dedication


For Myrna—we’ve been friends through teenaged angst, myriad boyfriends, marriage, motherhood, losses, successes and now... the empty nest! My life has been so much richer with you in it—and a lot more fun!

Dear Reader,

What should you expect when you pick up Good Together? A love story, of course, one that makes you believe in the amazing goodness of the human heart. But there is also an end-of-love-story, one that reminds us that not all beautiful things last forever.

You should expect to revisit the Circle C ranch in Marietta, Montana. You’ll visit all four Carrigan sisters, as well as their austere father Hawksley. You’ll find out more about the troubles between Hawksley and his deceased wife Beverly. And you’ll get to spend some time with Sage Carrigan (from Promise Me, Cowboy) as well as her smoking hot boyfriend, Dawson O’Dell, and his precocious daughter, Savannah.

You’ll also be introduced to the Tennessee Walking Horses at Bishop Stables, and I want to thank Rick at Rick Wies Stables for giving me and my guy a tour of his operations in Big Arm, Polson. These are indeed beautiful horses, and I hope I’ve managed to convey why Mattie Bishop loves them so.

Two more stories will be coming this autumn for Dani and Callan Carrigan. You won’t believe the surprises in store. Make sure you sign up for both my newsletter, and Montana Born’s so you don’t miss them!

Thanks for being someone who loves books and reading!

CJ Carmichael





CHAPTER ONE


Mid-October

Mattie Carrigan’s subconscious figured out the problem first. She was dreaming that she and her husband Wes were in the airport. “You screwed up the reservation,” he was yelling. “We’re booked on two separate flights.”

She opened her eyes, heart racing, relieved to be in bed at their ranch in the Flathead Valley of Montana and not—as had been the case in her dream—trying desperately to get to Denver where one of their twin daughters had started college two months ago. They’d picked different schools, Portia and Wren, one moving south to Denver, the other west to Seattle, which drove Mattie crazy. It was difficult enough having her children leave the nest. Couldn’t they at least have chosen the same college?

The night was still, dark, and silent. Curtains fluttered in the breeze from the open window to her left. Wes was in the bed to her right, his naked back a wall blocking the digital time display on their alarm clock.

What time had he rolled in from his latest rodeo? This one, the livestock exposition and rodeo in Billings, was about a seven-hour drive from home. So if he’d left at five, like he’d said he would, he should have been back before she’d gone to bed around one a.m.

Maybe he’d delayed his departure to have dinner with friends. Or had trouble with the rig. In either case, he must have been dead-tired when he got here. Yet, judging from the Head and Shoulders scent of him, he’d taken the time to shower before crawling under their covers.

She wanted to move closer and snuggle up against his warm, tanned skin. But something—a nasty stew of resentment, fear and hurt—stopped her. He might have called to let her know he’d been delayed.

Again.

Pushing aside her covers, Mattie slipped to the bathroom down the hall. A weak nightlight—installed eighteen years ago when the twins were babies—kept her from stubbing her toes on Wes’s boots. Damn, why hadn’t he taken them off in the mudroom?

She’d seen his bull-riding scores posted on the Internet and they’d been low, so he wouldn’t have brought home any prize money. He hadn’t for the past six months. A sign that at thirty-nine, he was getting too old to be a rodeo cowboy.

The rosemary and bergamot infusion sticks on the back of the toilet tank couldn’t mask the odor of horse manure and cowboy sweat that permeated the pile of Wes’s clothes on the tiled floor. As she peed, she stared at his faded Wrangler jeans and old blue and white checked shirt.

Not that long ago—definitely less than a year—Wes would have woken her up when he got home, no matter how late. They’d make love and then he’d tell her how things had gone. The bulls he’d drawn and the scores he’d made. He’d fill her in on the latest gossip—who’d been injured and who was riding high. And the romances. Someone sleeping with someone else’s wife... it happened all the time.

Mattie stared at her reflection as she washed her hands. The low light was flattering, masking the new age-freckles that had popped out this summer. Now that she was almost forty, she had to be more careful with her sunscreen, she supposed, though she’d never been one for fussing about her appearance.

Her sisters would say she relied too much on the looks she’d inherited from their mother. And she knew it was true, and that she’d been lucky. Good bones and teeth, thick hair and pretty eyes. She’d taken these assets for granted, never guessing that one day they wouldn’t be enough for her husband.

Because that had to be the reason they were drifting apart, right?

He no longer found her attractive. Maybe he’d found someone new...?

Mattie put a hand to her chest, feeling the pain as she entertained this new suspicion... that her husband had fallen for somebody new.

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