The Cowboy's Virgin Baby Momma - Page 79



As he worked up a sweat in the barn with Houston, mucking out stalls and spreading down fresh hay, Austin’s mind was focused on Paige. He’d taken Gina’s advice, probably a bit too far, and spent the last ten days trying to assassinate his jealousy. But with the fucktastic memory of Paige and Johnny, all cozied up with one another, constantly spooling through his brain, Austin’s little green-eyed monster continued partying like a frat boy on spring break in Cancun. He couldn’t slit the throat of his jealousy and rationally dissect fact from fiction when it came to Paige and Johnny’s playful interaction at the ice cream social.

Austin hated not believing Paige. But trust—outside Club Cravings—was a double-edged sword. He had the scars to prove how sharp its blades were and how quickly it could slice him in two. He didn’t need a shrink to tell him he was still letting his past dictate his future. Paige had already pointed that out. Austin simply didn’t know how to cut those scars from his soul and bury them with the past, once and for all.

He wanted to put his heart in her hands, but…

Cowardice and indecision weren’t in his vocabulary. Unfortunately, they had him by the balls. He couldn’t pry them off and crush them under his boot until he’d exorcised his demons and cleansed his soul. If he didn’t, he’d spend the rest of his life floating in this void of purgatory.

“Hey.” Houston clapped him on the back, jolting him from his thoughts. “Where are you at? I asked if you were ready for me to move Rumor and Glutton out to the paddock…four times.”

“Shit. Sorry, man. I just got a lot on my mind.”

“I hear ya. There must be something in the water.”

“What’s going on with you?”

“Nothing you need heaped on your shoulders. I’m all right.”

Austin knew his brother was lying. Knew that if he had his own shit together, Houston wouldn’t hesitate to share his problems. Which only drove home the fact that it was past time for Austin to pull his head out of his ass, make a damn decision about Paige, and let the pieces fall where they may.

“So…do you want me to bring momma and her baby or not?”

“Yeah. Their stalls are clean and ready to go. Thanks.”

The words had barely left his lips when a siren began blaring in the distance. As it grew louder, he and Houston exchanged a worried glance, then jogged toward the front of the barn. The scream continued growing louder. Without a doubt, it was heading their way. They were reaching the mouth of the driveway when the ambulance whizzed by. Cody Tanner was behind the wheel, eyes glued to the road, wearing a grim expression.

Austin’s blood turned to ice as he yanked out his phone from his pocket and punched Paige’s number.

“Austin. Oh, god,” she sobbed, answering on the first ring. “I don’t know what to do. I’m so scared…I-I can’t… He won’t wake up.”

A fist of panic punched his chest.

The sheer terror and helplessness in Paige’s voice completely gutted him.

“Cody and Zander should be pulling up now,” he assured in a firm, even tone. “Breathe, little girl. I’m on my way.”

With one hand, Austin ended the call and shoved his phone away while tugging the keys from his pocket with the other.

“Shit, man. Is Old Man Nelson dead?” Houston asked, jogging beside him as Austin headed toward his truck.

“I don’t know. She said he was unconscious. I assume that means he’s still breathing. But she’s so freaked out and worried, I don’t know if she thought to even check.” Yanking the driver’s door open, he hopped in. “Tell Pa…I don’t care what the fuck you tell him. I’ll be back…whenever I can.”

“I’ll handle everything. Go.”

Houston didn’t need to tell him twice. Gunning the engine, Austin sped down the driveway. The instant his tires gripped the blacktop, he slammed his foot on the accelerator and shot down the road. A long minute later, he jumped from his truck, sprinted to the house, and ran inside.

Crossing the foyer, Austin followed the voices coming from the other room. As he rounded the corner, he saw Cody and Zander frantically attaching electrodes to Nelson’s pasty-gray inert body. Austin worried the old man wouldn’t make it.

Zander glanced up and jerked his head toward the kitchen, then got back to work. When he locked eyes on Paige, hunched over the kitchen table, frantically writing something on a piece of paper, he was glad she wasn’t in the other room watching the EMTs tend to the old man.

“Paige,” he said softly to keep from startling her.

As she snapped her head up, the pen slid from her fingers and her red-rimmed eyes, still spilling a river of tears, flashed in relief. Seemingly frozen in place, she choked out a sob and sent him a watery smile. Like a kick to the balls, he could actually feel her crumpling before him.

Tears stung his eyes and his throat closed up.

In that moment, Austin knew he needed her as much as she needed him.

In three long strides, he ate up the distance between them, then lifted her off the floor and into his arms. Paige clutched him as if he were a lifeline, buried her face against his chest, and fell completely apart.

Austin nuzzled her neck and breathed her in as her mournful wails bled through his shirt and heated his flesh.

“I’ve got you, sweetheart,” he murmured. “It’s going to be okay… I’ve got you.”

“We’re getting Raymond ready to transport,” Cody announced. He pinned Austin with a grim stare before lowering his voice. “We need to move fast.”

“We’ll be right behind you,” Austin assured. Easing Paige onto her feet, he cupped her cheeks and forced her gaze. “Where’s your purse, your cell phone, and your charger?”

As she pointed to the counter behind him, Austin realized she was barefoot and dressed in a robe.

Aw, hell.

“We need to get some clothes on you, pronto.” Austin clutched her hand, grabbed her purse, then ushered her past Cody and Zander as they began loading Raymond onto the gurney. He tucked Paige against his side and raced down the hall. “Where’s your room.”

“There.” She pointed to the last door on the left.

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