But leaving her here meant she had time to think about how life without me would carry on, and maybe she liked that too much. I need to show her that I make her life better. The sight of her clothes and shoes and makeup in her bedroom allows me to breathe a little easier. I clean up quick and then raid Calder’s closet. We’re about the same size. It’s Dallas, so I might as well wear the good shit—slacks, a white shirt, a sport coat. I forgo the tie. Fuck that, man, and I’m Texan so the boots stay on, but I have some black ones that haven’t spent time on the prairie and near cows. Those will have to do.
Birdie wiggles her eyebrows when I come downstairs. “You Justice boys clean up nice.”
“Hey, now, why are you looking at other men?” complains Calder. He comes up to Birdie’s side and places a hand over her eyes.
“I wasn’t looking. I just complimented him because I felt he needed the confidence boost.” She pulls his hand down and kisses it.
“I’m going to go now before you do any more damage to my confidence.” I tip my hat and go out onto the porch to wait for the copter to land.
Calder joins me a moment later. “She’s running because she’s scared.”
“Or because she wants you to chase her.”
“That’s more like it.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“No one in Texas does things in small measures. If Cam needs reassurance that I’m in this for life, then she’s going to need a big gesture.”
“What’s that entail?”
The bird lands, and the pilot waves for me to come over. “You’ll read about it in the papers tomorrow.”
I can’t make calls in the copter, but when I land, I immediately start making arrangements. My girl likes parties and big, splashy events and colorful shit. It takes money, a shit ton of favors called in, but since it’s the middle of the week, there’s some openings.
I stop by Birdie’s studio and meet her assistant Frederick.
“Oh, aren’t you a delicious piece. Something about that ranch air does all you boys good. I should spend more time out there.”
“Door’s always open.” I grab the tux in his hand and head to the fitting room.
“Is it? Or are you just saying that?”
“It is.” The ranch is big, and if there are too many people there, I’ll just head to my hideaway. There’s no reason that Cam and Birdie can’t have parties there every weekend.
“I might take you up on that.”
“I’ll tell Birdie to get a room ready for you.” I stop tucking in my shirt. “Maybe we should build some guest quarters. How many would you say would be good?”
“Guest quarters? Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe five or six?”
“Well, everyone can fly in from Dallas and you allow only the most special guests to stay. It will become the coveted thing. A golden ticket to stay at the Justice Ranch. Gosh! Imagine the raffle money you could raise.”
“I don’t like strangers coming over and staying. I’ll just donate the money.”
“Okay. That’s fair. I might have gotten carried away. Can I decorate one of the guest quarters or—oh my God, I have the greatest idea. You could do the home decorator showcase next year and each decorator would do a room and it would be written up in all the architectural and home design magazines.”
His words strike a chord in my memory bank. “Didn’t Cam participate in that once?”
“She sure did. She opened up the family mansion. It was in every design magazine from here to Paris. She loved it.”
“I remember.” She did seem to love it from the posts on her Insta feed. We’ve got the space and it’s something Birdie will love, too. I text a message to Calder, who shoots back a “why not” response.
“You done in there?”
“Yeah.” I step out with my bow tie draped around my neck.
“Do you need help there?” Frederick steps forward.
“Nah. I don’t think the tie goes with the rest of my outfit.”
Frederick frowns. “What do you mean? You wearing a cape or something?”
I point out the door. “No. I am riding a horse though.”
Frederick’s eyes nearly fall out of his socket. “What are you planning to do with that?”
“Go get my fair maiden, Frederick.” I slap him on the back and then march out the door. A woman like Cam deserves a spectacle, something that people will be talking about for months, and if a brass band and a white stallion don’t get people to talking, then everyone’s dead.
“Sweetheart, you are breathtaking. A Justice man will do you good.” Mom stands from her chair.
She of course got us a table at one of the best restaurants in the city. It’s inside the Emerald Collection Hotel. Not just anyone can walk in and get a table, even during off hours in the middle of the week. She’s been dating the owner for a few months, so she has an inside connection now. She must really like him because he’s held on to her longer than most.