Raising Kane Page 45

“I moved to Wyoming a few years ago to take over my father’s law practice.”

“You’re a lawyer?”

Ginger almost laughed at the comical look on Daphne’s face. She half expected Daphne to blurt, “But you don’t look that smart!” Wouldn’t have been the first time Ginger had heard that. “Yes, I am. Are you originally from Sundance?”

“Born and raised in Lusk. Moved to Sundance to be with Lock’s daddy, but the man took off before Lock was born so it’s just been me and him.”

“Same,” Ginger offered.

“Men. Only good for one thing. Since my daddy took off too, I wanted something different for my boy, so I signed up Lock for that Little Buddies program.”

“It’s been great for Hayden.”

Daphne gave Ginger a curious once-over. “You mean Buck’s been great for Hayden?”

“That too.”

“Did you request Buck?”

“No. Hayden was assigned to Kane from the start.”

“Well, I specifically requested him.”


“Uh-huh.” Daphne pursed her pink frosted lips around the straw and sucked. “Those dreamy McKay blue eyes, that hard, toned body, that sexy grin? The man is prime. And now that he’s officially dropped out of the Little Buddies program? He’s fair game.”

All the air left Ginger’s lungs. “What?”

Daphne smirked. “You didn’t know Buck resigned from the program?”

Stunned, she shook her head.

“He called and left a message on our home phone yesterday. Supposedly to let Lock know he was quitting, but I can read between the lines.” Daphne leaned closer and confided, “He was letting me know he’s free. There’s always been a spark between Buck and me, even when I knew he’d never act on it because of what’d happened with Brandi.”

For Christsake. Who the hell was this Brandi person? And why did it seem everyone in town knew more about the man whose child she carried than she did?

“You don’t know what happened with Kane and Brandi?” Daphne prodded.

“No.” Ginger waited, expecting Daphne to confide in her.

But Daphne just gave her a smug smile and grabbed her drink. “See ya around.”

Ginger huddled into her coat and left the Golden Boot via the side door. Arctic wind gusts blasted her face as she returned to her office, but she scarcely noticed because she was absolutely numb. Maybe Daphne wouldn’t tell what the hell had gone on between Kane and Brandi, but she knew someone who would.

She dialed Stacy Lynnwood, director of Crook County First Start, which oversaw the Big Buddies/Little Buddies program.

Stacy’s assistant patched Ginger through. “This is Stacy Lynnwood.”

“Stacy. Ginger Paulson. How are you?”

“Great. Are you all healed up from your accident?”

All except for the accidental pregnancy. Ginger cleared her throat. “Yes, I am.”

“I hope you’re not calling me on an official legal matter?”

“No. A little more personal. Kane has been Hayden’s Big Buddy for two years and I’m wondering why he resigned without warning. Was it his choice? Or was it a decision the board handed down because he’d violated the board’s policy?”

A long pause ensued and Ginger assumed Stacy was mentally composing a brush off. Papers shuffled in the background.

“I’ve heard there’s been disciplinary action taken against Kane before. Is that true?”

“Yes. I suppose it doesn’t really matter now, anyway,” Stacy grumbled. “Kane McKay was put on notice from his very first Little Buddy assignment. He almost got kicked out of the program.”


“Inappropriate behavior.”

Rather than jump to conclusions, she said, “Meaning what? Inappropriate behavior on whose part?”

“One of the boy’s mother’s exhibited inappropriate behavior toward Kane. He immediately requested her son be transferred to another Big Buddy. The woman turned belligerent and accused Kane of punishing her son because she’d turned down Kane’s sexual advances.”

“What happened?”

“Kane was cleared because it was a lie. Several people substantiated Kane’s side of the story. Sadly, the woman’s son was banned from the program because of her actions.”

Ginger paced in front of the window. “Kane’s been in the clear since then? No misconduct?”

“He’s been an exemplary mentor. We are very upset to be losing him.”

Too bad for you, but I’m not going to lose him.

Ginger wasn’t about to wait around for Kane to come to her. Screw that. For the first time in a long time she’d be proactive, instead of reactive. No more keeping her heart hidden, afraid that Kane might crush it or break it.

No, Ginger was going to throw herself on his mercy and hope like hell he wouldn’t sentence her to a life of misery without him.

Chapter Nineteen

Although another vehicle was parked in the drive at Kane’s place, Ginger gathered her courage, got out of the van and scaled the steps. But she didn’t see a patch of ice on the top stair. Her feet went out from underneath her and she landed face first on the deck with a loud “Uff.”

The door flew open and Kane skidded to a stop in his bare feet. “Ginger?” He dropped to his knees beside her in the snow and rolled her over. “Are you okay?”

With the wind knocked out of her, she couldn’t speak.

“Goddammit, Red. Don’t do this to me.” He scooped her into his arms, as if she were a waif-like child, and carried her inside his trailer, shouldering past Kade who held the door open. Kane laid her on the couch and brushed the snow from her face and hair. He unzipped her coat.

Kane was oblivious to his brother standing behind him as he ran his hands all over her body with obvious familiarity. Starting at her neck and clavicle, down both arms to check her wrists and palms. Then down the center of her torso, individually poking her ribs, curling his hands around her hips to see if she winced. Venturing south, over her thighs, knees and shins. His hands stopped at the top of her fleece lined snow boots. He met her gaze.

“See?” she said. “It’s not the ankle-breaking shoes that are the problem, it’s me. I’m such a klutz and an idiot—”

He placed his fingers over her mouth. “Stop. Are you okay?”

She nodded.

“About gave me heart failure when I heard that god-awful crash on the deck.”

“About gave me heart failure when I heard you’ve been back and you haven’t called me, but you managed to call Daphne.”


Kade cleared his throat. “Ah. I’ll just be takin’ off. Call if you need me, bro.” The door slammed behind him.

“Did you come here to chew my ass?”

“Maybe.” The instant she was upright, Kane began to pace, which was completely unlike him.

“Why did you resign from the Big Buddies/Little Buddies program?”

That stopped him in his tracks. “How’d you find out?”

“Daphne told me when I ran into her at the Golden Boot. Is it true?”

Surly, he said, “Why you askin’ me? You already seem to have the answer.”

Ginger wagged her finger at him. “You don’t get to pull that bullshit evasion. I’m asking you to tell me all of it right now. Full disclosure, Kane.”

His voice dropped lethally low. “We ain’t in court, counselor. I ain’t some witness you’re cross-examining.”

She threw up her hands. “Fine. You’re right. I’m sorry. I found out because ninety percent of my job is research. After Daphne dropped the bombshell, I called Stacy.”

“And she just told you?” he said incredulously.

“Yes. You are assigned to my son, so your resignation does affect me.” She met his perplexed gaze head on. “I hated that you called Daphne and not me. I hated that Daphne acted as if she had a claim on you. After what’s happened with us the last couple months, it pissed me off. I have a claim on you first, Kane.”

Kane moved in and braced his hands on the back of the couch, forcing her to look up at him. “You have a funny way of showin’ it.”

“That’s why I’m here.”

“Because of Daphne? You thought… I told you once how I felt about Daphne. Dammit, Ginger. Do you think I fall in love with every woman whose son I mentor? You’re the first. You’re the only.”

When Kane realized he’d admitted he loved her, he immediately retreated.

But Ginger wouldn’t allow it. She grabbed handfuls of his shirt and held him in place. “You love me?”

He stared at her with that damnable inscrutable look.

“Answer the question, Mr. McKay. Do you love me?”

“Yes. Goddammit, I’m in love with you. Must you interrogate me about every damn thing?”

“Yes. And I’m not done badgering you. Second question. Do you love me because you care about Hayden so much?”

“No. If it weren’t for Hayden, we wouldn’t have crossed paths.”

“Because we’re so different, you and I? Because I wear heels and you wear boots? Because I study the law and you study the land? Because I’m a homebody and you used to be a party animal? Well, here’s a newsflash, Kane, I was too intimidated by you to make a move on you. For two years! You were this gorgeous gentleman cowboy and my son worshipped you.”

He laughed. “Are you serious? Wanna hear something totally fuckin’ sappy? I still remember what you wore the first time we met. A pink and white flowered dress and pink spike heels with the sexiest strap that crossed at the ankle. I acted as tongue-tied as a fourteen-year-old boy. Talk about bein’ outta my league.”

Her mouth dropped open. Kane recalled that vividly what she’d worn? She’d taken special care not to dress provocatively, and she remembered he’d barely given her a second glance. He’d focused all his attention on her son. And she hadn’t minded.

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