When Matt started away, Rachel froze for a few moments, cemented in place by her rage. She forced herself to go after him and order up an explanation, even if she didn't exactly warrant one. He was free to do as he pleased, with whomever he pleased. But she refused to become a joke in the eyes of the townsfolk because her husband had taken up with some hussy before the ink dried on the divorce documents. He walked a few steps ahead as they crossed the gravel lot, while she intentionally stayed back. Granted, she should have her head examined, but she still appreciated his finer points, like the way he dangled his arms casually at his sides. Strong, manly arms to match his very manly hands. And well, his butt wasn't so bad either, and that was putting it mildly. Slim hips and great thighs encased in jeans that fit him well. She'd always been able to drive him crazy by tickling the back of his knees with her fingertips before she'd work her way up…
She shook her head as if she could dislodge those pleasant memories. As if she could forget all those nights when she'd explored every blasted inch of his body.
Rachel waited a few yards back while Matt unsaddled the gelding and finished loading him into the aluminum trailer. Several times they'd made love in the sleeper compartment in that trailer when Matt had served as an on-call vet in various cities in the state. It hadn't bothered them a bit that the space had been limited, Matt had always had a way of making do, and he'd always done it well.
If she knew what was good for her—which she apparently didn't—she'd banish those memories immediately. He deserved a piece of her mind, not praise for a past she needed to forget.
As soon as Matt turned around from closing the double doors, Rachel moved forward and leveled her ire on him. "Do you mind telling me what you were thinking?"
He rounded the trailer and opened the driver-side door of the truck before facing her. "If you're referring to the roping, if I want to enter an event, I'm going to enter it."
"I don't mean only the roping," she said. "I meant your efforts to relive your youth like you're thirteen, not thirty-two."
Without regard to his surroundings, Matt undid his shirt cuffs then worked the buttons on the placket. "I've been roping cattle most of my life and I still do from time to time in the course of my job. That's not reliving my youth. That's my reality."
"Again, it's not just the roping. You were pretty cozy with the rodeo queen."
"What's it to you anyway?" He shrugged out of the shirt and pulled the white T-shirt over his head before tossing the clothes into the truck. "Are you jealous?"
Yes, and extremely distracted when Matt just stood there, completely bare-chested and not in any hurry to cover himself. Funny, she'd seen his chest thousands of times in their years together, knew every detail of his body by heart and by touch. The scar along his left ribcage, the scorpion tattoo circling his right bicep, the slight shading of hair above his sternum and the ridged muscle below that. Yet for some reason, she gaped at him as if she'd never laid eyes—much less her hands—on him before. Since the moment they'd snapped the photo, she'd been acting as if he were some gorgeous, carefree cowboy she'd only met minutes ago. She shouldn't be so darned attracted to her husband after all this time, but she couldn't help it. And that attraction had only been enhanced with the knowledge he might be sharing his extremely remarkable attributes with another woman. Correction. Girl.
She looked up from studying his board-flat abdomen to meet his grin. "What?"
"You didn't answer my question."
Clearly most of her coherent thoughts had flown out of her brain the moment he'd flashed a little chest. "What question is that?"
"Are you jealous of Tina?"
Yes, not that she'd readily admit it. "Of course not, but I do care about what people think. I'd prefer not to become a laughingstock just because you've decided to chase after some nubile too-young blond bombshell, who also happens to be the constable's daughter."
After tossing his discarded clothes and hat into the truck, he retrieved a burgundy, short-sleeve polo and slipped it on. "You have one hell of an imagination, sweetheart. But since you're worried, I'll be more than happy to set you straight. Tina's going to take your place in the office, not in my bed."
That should give her some measure of comfort, but it didn't. "What does she know about running a busy veterinarian clinic? She probably barely knows long division."
He settled a baseball cap on his head. "She's got an associate's degree in business, plus she paid her way through college by working in a doctor's office. That makes her more than qualified. And since you're not taking care of my business anymore, I had to hire someone."
She had no doubt Tina was more than willing to take care of his business, and not the kind that involved accounts payable. "Don't act like I've totally abandoned you and the clinic. I've still been making deposits and paying the bills."
"But you've left the appointment scheduling to me, not to mention the supplies are getting low. I don't have time to see patients and run the office."
As usual, they were getting nowhere fast. "Fine. I hope it all works out with your new girl."
"I'll keep you posted."
"Spare me the favor."
He leaned a shoulder against the truck, looking much more relaxed than Rachel felt. "Speaking of favors, if you have some time to spare, I'd appreciate it if you stop by the clinic next week and show Tina the ropes. While you're there, we could talk about the assets."
Rachel had to think on that a minute, but only a minute. If she checked in on Matt's new hire, then she'd find out if more was going on than met the eye. She'd know if Tina had more on her mind than veterinary medicine. Question was, did she really want to know? "I could spend an hour or so Monday after lunch."
"Are you sure an hour's enough time to go over all the procedures with Tina and divide up our property?"
Yes, because she really didn't want anything from Matt, monetarily speaking. What she did want, he couldn’t give her. "An hour will have to do. I don't want to spend all day babysitting the help."
She planned to do just that for a change. After she turned to go, Matt called her name, forcing her to face him again. "What now?"
He favored her with the sexy smile that had always taken her by storm and spelled trouble. "Since you obviously liked what you saw a minute ago, you're welcome to polish my belt buckle at the dance tonight."
Like that was going to happen. "I'm going to be working at the dance and that won't leave any time for polishing anything that belongs to you." But she would still have to see him, unless she faked a headache and shirked her volunteer duties so she could go home early. That wouldn't be fair to the fire department auxiliary ladies who were counting on her help with the final fundraiser.
He had the unmitigated nerve to wink. "Not even one turn on the dance floor for old times' sake?"
"Not on your life."
Before she caved and gave into temptation, Rachel rushed away, the sound of Matt's laughter following her all the way back to the tent.
If she planned to get through this divorce, she had to avoid him at all costs, beginning tonight.
COPYRIGHT 2012 Kristi Gold