The texas renegade reurns(10)

By: Charlene Sands

 “You’re a good sister, Gabriella. And a good friend to me.”

 Gabriella’s friendship was important to Cara, and they were becoming closer each day. Though no two people could’ve started out any rockier. Gabriella had walked in on Cara crying on Chance’s shoulder when she’d found out she was pregnant with Alex’s child. Cara had thought herself the biggest fool for sleeping with him right after he was released from the hospital and right before his true identity was revealed to the world. Twice she’d been fooled.

 Gabriella found Cara in Chance’s comforting arms and assumed the rancher she’d come to love was playing with her heart. She’d run off and Chance had to do some fast talking to convince Gabriella he wasn’t still in love with Cara.

 Only Gabriella and Chance knew about her pregnancy.

 “That means a great deal to me, Cara. I want so much for us to be good friends and I thank you for your trust in me.”

 Trust she didn’t dare give to Gabriella’s brother. “I know you had no part in the deception. You explained it all to me.”

 “Sí. I am angry with my papa. He kept me in the dark about Alejandro. He never told me my brother lived under an assumed name. He never told me what my brother planned to do, only that business took him away from Mexico.” Gabriella’s voice trembled. “Alejandro almost died, though. It is hard for me to stay angry with my brother.”

 Cara saw her point. “We can be friends, Gabriella. We won’t let Alex come between us. If you forgive him, it won’t change our friendship. I am grateful to have you to talk to now that you are with Chance.”

 “My papa is not happy I have moved into Chance’s home. He feels like he has lost control. And he worries. I have been sheltered most of my life, but now I have grown up. I have a good man. I will not let him go.”

 “Chance is a good man. And he’s lucky to have you, Gabriella. I wasn’t the right woman for Chance, but you are.”

 “He had nothing to do with Alejandro’s kidnapping.”

 Cara pictured Gabriella as a four-year old child growing up without her mother. How sad for her. How devastating for the whole family to lose a woman they all loved to murdering kidnappers. She understood why Gabriella couldn’t stay angry with her brother. Learning of his disappearance had to rekindle horrible memories for her. “I’d bet my life on it. Chance isn’t made that way.”

 Gabriella’s sigh of relief carried over the phone line. “I’m glad you believe it.”

 “Will you promise to keep my secret a little longer, Gabriella? I know it’s asking a lot of you, but...I’m not ready to—”

 “I understand. When I lost faith in Chance, I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. Time will help you decide. We will keep your secret. Chance and I... We will not betray you.”

 That made her the only del Toro who wouldn’t. Cara didn’t hold Gabriella’s bloodlines against her though.

 “And remember, I am here, whenever you need me.”

 “Thank you, Gabriella.”

 The conversation ended, and Cara clicked off her phone. Tonight, Alex had revealed to her that he’d regained most of his memory and, on the drive home, he’d asked for her promise to keep it a secret. If he believed it would help him clear Chance’s name and find out who’d had him kidnapped, Cara wasn’t going to stand in his way.

 It was one more secret to keep.

 A quiet sigh blew from her lips. If only she’d fallen head over heels in love with Chance McDaniel. Life with him was easier. He was a good, honest, simple man.

 Unfortunately, only Alex del Toro put butterflies in her stomach. Among other things. It was getting crowded in there. Butterflies and babies.

 Cara laid her hand over her plank-board belly where a little strawberry grew.

 And a teeny-weeny smile emerged.

 * * *

 “You know, your sister is a much better rider than you are,” Chance McDaniel said over his shoulder.

 Alex nudged his horse, and the mare caught up to Chance’s mount as they traveled the McDaniel land, far into the hills. “That’s because while she was out learning French and English and taking riding lessons on our land with only the best horsemen in all of Mexico, I was busy learning the family business.”

 Chance lowered the brim of his hat to the morning sun. “Yeah, well, look where that got you. Cara is barely speaking to you. You’re in hot water at the Cattleman’s Club and you’re still not sure if the people who kidnapped you are planning a second course with you on their menu.”

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