Chapter 27

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Cade sat on the side of Faith's bed watching her sleep. It was all he could do to keep from crawling in bed and making love to her all night. It would be so easy to lose himself in her forever. He could have everything if he stayed here, a beautiful woman in his bed every night, a nice house and hot meals. No, this type life wasn't for him. It was for people like Levi, Cade, and Gilford. He was a loner and he liked it that way.

He reached out to caress her satiny smooth cheek then her hair. Something in his gut twisted. He had to leave before she woke up. Cade stood up and pulled a folded piece of paper from his vest pocket. He leaned over her, placed a tender kiss on her lips, then sat the paper on the pillow beside her head. Without a second thought he left her room, then the Second Chance for the last time.

The note she had been holding slipped from her numb fingers, fluttering to the floor. Faith knew he was gone, the note had said he was but to hear it was like a punch in the stomach. Somewhere in the deepest recesses of her mind, she had always known he would never be able to settle down. Men like him couldn't take the routine of day to day life on a ranch. They craved excitement and adventure. But her heart had held out a tiny speck of hope that Cade Jacobs would fall in love with her and stay.

John saw the paper fall and bent to pick it up. He wasn't trying to read it but the writing was facing him. All he saw was the word annulment. "You're married?"

Faith looked at him but said nothing, so he gently took her shoulders and guided her to the kitchen table. After getting her seated, he turned his attention to coaxing the glowing embers in the stove back to life. A short time later, John placed a cup of hot coffee in her hands then sat down across from her. Neither had spoken since he'd asked about the marriage. He looked at her, really looked at her. Faith's face was pale and there were dark smudges under her eyes telling him that she had not been sleeping well. She loved Cade and now he was gone! Dammit! He would give anything to have her feel that way about him! He'd seen it coming though; that had been the reason he wanted Cade to go on the cattle drive.

"Are." John cleared his throat, he could feel his face flame and his ears begin to burn. "Are you – expeting? Is that why you got married?"

Faith's head snapped up. She wanted to scold John for asking such personal questions. But they were legitimate questions under the circumstances. "Thank you," at his look of confusion she added, "for the coffee." John nodded but said nothing as he patiently waited for her to continue. "No, as far as I know, I'm not expecting. Yes, that is why we got married." A flush crept up her neck and kept going until she felt the tips of her ears burning.

She explained how Bart Hurst had been found dead and the sheriff had come to arrest Cade. She'd had no choice but to tell the sheriff, with everyone else around, that Cade had been with her all night. Levi hearing that had insisted they marry that night. The entire time she talked, her eyes were trained on her coffee mug.

"So are you going to file for an annulment?"

"I don't know. There are advantages to being a married woman. Levi has no say over what I do now, nor does any other man."

"Well, um your husband does." John stated softly.

Faith's eyes shot up to his and for the first time that morning, John saw the familiar spark in them. "Well, he's not here is he?"

"Marry me?" They both sat there with a stunned expression on their faces.

"What?"

His face was going to burn with embarrassment forever. He'd gone this far so, hell, he was going to go all the way. "Get your marriage annulled and marry me. I'll take care of you and I would never try and control or change you. I love you! I have since the day I found you in my ma's hotel."

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