CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

“Y’ALL HAVE THIS place locked down like it’s Fort Knox. I thought you boarded horses, not gold.”

Gretchen was out of control. Sawyer could not handle any more of her nonsense.

“Take her back, Harriet. She’s not welcome here,” Sawyer growled.

“I didn’t know she was in there,” Harriet insisted, following a stomping Sawyer to the front porch. “I swear to you I would not have let her come.”

He’d never been so angry in his life.

“Just get her out of here, Harriet.”

“Gretchen, let’s go,” Harriet said, but Gretchen had other plans. She was already walking toward the horse stables.

“I need to talk to my daughter!”

“I will call the police and report you for trespassing!” Sawyer shouted from the porch steps.

Heath came outside to see what the commotion was about. “Your mother again?”

Faith was leading one of the horses out of the stable to work in the outdoor arena. Her head fell back in frustration when she caught sight of Gretchen.

Sawyer ran over there. “Can you help me out? She snuck in in the back of Harriet’s truck.”

“Really, Mother?”

“Hey, ask him what he did before you get mad at me for simply coming here to talk to you. I wanted to see my daughter, and he has guards at the gate. What was I supposed to do?”

“I know what I’m going to do,” Sawyer said, pulling out his phone.

“Don’t go calling the police with all those paparazzi out there,” Faith said. “She can come with me to the arena until Harriet’s finished with you.”

Sawyer didn’t like that plan. Give Gretchen an inch and apparently she would take a mile. “She can’t stay here.”

“She’s not going to stay here. She’s going to watch me work while Harriet makes you beautiful wedding flowers for your wedding that’s happening tomorrow no matter what anyone has to say about it.” Faith looked pointedly at Gretchen.

“Sawyer wins. I’m not here to stop him. I’m here to talk to you. I’ve done all I can to knock some sense into him. I finally understand how my father felt. He’s probably having a good ol’ laugh up there in heaven. I got exactly what I deserved—a child as hardheaded as I was.”

“You and I are nothing alike. Stop saying that!” He hated that she kept comparing him to herself. She was the exact opposite of the kind of person he wanted to be.

“I got this,” Faith reiterated. “Go, plan your wedding.”

“And don’t think you’re going to bend Faith’s ear and convince her to talk to me on your behalf. She is on my side. She’s the one who’s always been on my side.”

That was all he had to say about it. He was not going to engage with Gretchen again. She could mend fences with Faith and Harriet, but their fences had been obliterated. There was no fixing anything between her and Sawyer.

Piper and her parents were on the bus with Harriet. Sawyer took a deep breath to regain his composure. There was something about that woman that rubbed him all the wrong ways. She was nothing like the mother he remembered. The one who took him hunting for toads down by the lake or told him stories about adventurous space travelers and rambunctious cowboys.

The mother from his memories was someone different. Someone who mattered to him. This Gretchen Stratton had nothing to offer him except her misguided opinions.

“So we can use these around the horses’ necks.” Harriet had taken down the flower garlands and was carefully placing them in a box.

“Everything coming along?” Sawyer asked.

Piper fixed her gaze on him. She seemed reluctant to speak. He hated that Gretchen intimidated her so much.

“I think we can reuse almost all of this,” Harriet said. “Everything okay out there?”

“It’s fine.”

“How about between you and me?” Harriet asked, obviously afraid he would take Gretchen’s surprise visit out on her.

“Did you know she was in the truck?”

“Absolutely not. I told her I was going and she said she would watch the store for me so I didn’t have to close early. I forgot your mother is relentless to a fault.”

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