Chapter 12

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Cade saw her sitting atop a boulder at the crest of the hill. She was looking into a small valley where most of the herd was for the night. Her back was to him and her horse was grazing about twenty feet away. He pulled up beside her horse, dismounted soundlessly, and walked up behind her. Kneeling down, he leaned forward to say something but instead, inhaled the soft vanilla scent that clung to her. Cade closed his eyes for a second and tried to think if he'd ever known a woman to smell so good. Shaking his head slightly to remind him why he'd come looking for her in the first place, he reached up and firmly grasped her shoulders.

"What in the hell are you doing out here?" His tone was low but his words were sharp and there was no mistaking the anger in them.

Faith had been sitting there for almost an hour. She knew she should have finished her rounds but it was just so incredibly peaceful. A soft warm breeze caused to taller grass to sway to and fro and the silvery light of the half-moon bathed the valley with enough light for her to see the cattle below her. Most of them were settled for the night,

She gave her mind free rein to roam where ever it wanted to. Unfortunately, it kept roaming back to Mr. Cade Jacobs. Faith told herself it was none of her business what he did and with whom he did it as long as it was on his own time. The only reason she was upset at all was because he'd missed his watch and she'd had to do it for him. Faith just didn't think it was right for the other men to have to! It would be different if Cade was sick, not at a saloon doing God knows what.

Without warning, her shoulders were grasped from behind in a frighteningly firm grip. Her entire body tensed and her mouth fell open to scream as she prepared to fight. But before she could to more than gasp, the person behind her spoke, causing her to sag with relief. A firmly muscled chest was behind her as strong arms came around her to keep her from falling. Her contentment lasted long enough to take a deep breath, then she was struggling to free herself.

The odor of alcohol, stale cigarette smoke and cheap perfume fueled her efforts. Faith scrambled to her feet, then faced the now standing man. "What do you mean, what in the hell am I doing out here? This is my ranch, in case you've forgotten Mr. Jacobs!" Faith spat as her nostrils flared with anger.

Cade took a deep breath, one he never argued, with anyone. It was always pointless. Two, he hadn't expected her to fall against him or the surge of excitement it caused when she did. "You know damn well what I mean. Why aren't you at the house?"

"Well someone had to take your watch, seeing as how you thought going to town to drink and whore around were so important!" Faith drew herself up to her full height and held her shoulders back as if she were preparing to do battle.

Cade felt the sting of her words but was too angry to contemplate their meaning. "Why would you care what I do? That is of course, unless you're jealous." Cade managed to drawl, not showing the slightest bit of the anger he felt. He liked it that she stood up to him, most women were attracted to him but were afraid of him at the same time.

Faith curled her lip. "Jealous? I assure you Mr. Jacobs that I am not now, nor will I ever be jealous of the company you keep. I'm angry because you chose to shirk your responsibilities. What you do or with whom you do it with on your own time is none of my concern!"

Cade opened his mouth to say one thing, but something altogether different came out. "It's a good thing you aren't jealous, because a woman like you could never satisfy a man, any man." What in the hell was wrong with him? He did not argue and he certainly never said anything to purposely hurt someone feelings. Okay, he didn't really like people and never really talked that much, but this? The look of hurt on her face at his words almost did him in. Here he stood, on the top of this hill, under the moonlight with the most beautiful and spirited woman he'd ever met and he was fighting with her!

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