Special thanks to hanna for giving me this idea! Hope you guys like it:)
Epilogue} Part 1
Toni watched as the deputy sheriff Adam Sterling rode back toward town after a long talk with her foreman. Wade had a pinched look on his face, and that was never a good thing.
“What did he say?” Toni asked.
“We talked about the rustlers,” Wade said.
“Well, he says that he might be familiar with this gang” Wade shoved his muscular hands into his pockets.
“Uh huh” Toni said, urging him to continue.
“He said that -if they were the men he thought they were- they go around looking for ranches who are poorly guarded or have women running them or any ranch that might be easy to steal from and take their best livestock” Wade said.
Toni’s temper flared. “The low-down cowards!”
“Hey now, he said that he might have a solution. It’s a strange solution, but it might work” Wade said.
“Keep going” Toni urged.
“He said that they might not keep coming after you if you were married. He said that they see you as an easy target because you’re a woman,” Wade explained.
“I resent that remark!” Toni grew infuriated.
“Calm down, Boss. There’s a solution, remember?” Wade said calmly.
“And what’s that?” Toni asked, narrowing her eyes at the foreman.
Wade took a deep breath and held it for a moment. “Marriage.”
“What!” Toni screeched.
“Wait, wait, wait” Wade held up his hands, palms forward. “It doesn’t have to necessarily be permanent.”
“How do you mean, Wade? Its marriage” Toni rolled her eyes at the absurd suggestion.
“Why not a temporary marriage? Just until the rustlers know that you mean business,” Wade said.
Toni shook her finger at him a few times. “This could work,” she said as she began pacing the ground in front of Wade. “We could even fake it for the cowpokes. The more they believe, the more likely the rustlers will, too. I could even get that land con off my back.”
“Exactly” Wade smiled.
Toni’s eyebrows furrowed. “Who could I get to be a fake husband?”
Wade looked over toward the corral where Erik was watching the saddled mustang.
“Erik?” She felt her whole face contort. “No, no, and no. Not happening, Dylan.”
“Why not?” Wade asked, crossing his arms.
“Because he… he…” Toni stammered for the correct word.
“He…” Wade pressed.
“He… irks me,” Toni said.
“I see. Can’t you endure a little irking for the sake of your ranch, Boss?” Wade asked with a smile.
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