She should have known she’d find him like this.
Shelby looked down at the oil-stained driveway to the denim-clad legs protruding from underneath the ancient Ford. The hem of the jeans was frayed, the worn cowboy boots dusty and with a few stains of their own.
She propped her hands on her hips, doing her best not to tap her foot in irritation. It would do no good. If there was one thing she’d learned in her time as Ritt McCoy’s wife, he had his own timetable and to hell with anyone else’s.
“I said, I need to talk to you.”
“And I said, just a minute,” his muffled voice returned.
Shelby bit back a growl and used the thick packet of papers to fan herself. That was one thing she didn’t miss about Texas—the heat. But with any luck and the good Lord’s grace, she’d only be here another few minutes, an hour at the most, and then she’d be on her way back to California.
A trickle of sweat ran down between her shoulder blades and into the small of her back. Shelby fanned harder and checked her watch. She’d been waiting twenty minutes for Ritt to finish whatever it was he was doing to the truck and sign on the dotted line. That was nineteen more than she cared to wait.
“I need you to sign these.”
“In a minute.”
“Now. I have a plane to catch.”
She jumped back, nearly snapping the heel off one peep-toe pump. They had been a special purchase for this trip along with the form-fitting black dress that hugged her like a second skin. Scrambling to get out of the way, she managed to maintain her balance as Ritt pushed the creeper from under the truck.
And there he was, the boy who stole her heart, took her virginity and married her all in one summer. Well, he’d had her heart for years before that. And he wasn’t a boy any longer; though the years, she grudgingly admitted, had been very kind to him.
“What?” he asked. Even lying down, he looked taller, broader, more. She was glad to have the advantage, standing over him like she was.
“I’m in a hurry.”
“Not my problem.” He disappeared in a quick swoosh back under the truck. But he left his image behind. Dark blond hair curling from under a ratty Longhorns baseball hat. Dirt smeared T-shirt covering a chest she didn’t remember as having quite so many muscles. Long legs, firm lips, square jaw.
“I’ve flown over a thousand miles to get you to sign these. The least you could do is get out from under there and do it.” Her voice rose in pitch, the whine she’d been tamping down rising to the surface. Couldn’t he see how they needed this? That it was time to move forward?
There was a loud clunk, which sounded like head versus oil pan, then a muffled curse.
He rolled out again, and before she knew what had happened he was towering over her. She took a couple of steps back for good measure, unable to meet his blue-gold gaze as he studied her face.
“What is it, Shelby? What is so important that you flew all the way out here to grace me with your presence?”
She was wrong. The years had been more than kind to him, they had outright adopted him. Had he always been this tall? This broad? This…masculine?
He had, she decided. But after seven years away, she had forgotten what a man her Texas boy had been.
She licked her lips, the sight of him bringing back more memories than she cared to delve through. Prom night, at the lake after the baseball games, Saturday afternoon in the canyon…
He raised his brows. “I’m waiting.”
Waiting? “Oh, the papers,” she squeaked. “I need you to sign the divorce papers.”
“You flew all the way here for that?” He picked up a rag and started wiping his fingers on it. Shelby could smell the oil on him, the fabric softener in his shirt and the heat from his body.
“I didn’t think you’d sign them any other way.”
“You didn’t trust me to sign them.” He tucked the stained rag into the back pocket of his Levis and adjusted his hat.
“My attorney has sent them twice now.”
“I lost a set in the move.” He jerked his head toward the house he had lived in his entire life.
Shelby took a deep breath, doing her best to formulate her most persuasive offense. “No problem. I happen to have a set right here.” She pulled the papers from the manila envelope and flattened them against the hood of the truck. They ruffled in the breeze as she dug around in her purse. “And here’s a pen.” She handed it to him triumphantly. She was minutes away from being a free woman. Free of Ritt McCoy and free to move forward.
“Sign, please.” Her words came out confident and true. There wasn’t a waver in her voice, no sign that being this close to him had her tied in knots. He could always do that to her. They brought out the worst in each other. A divorce was for the best.
“I haven’t had a chance to look over them yet.”
“My attorney sent them to you last month.”
“I need you to sign—”
“I think I should have a chance to read them—”
“I flew all the way out here—”
“I mean it’s only fair—”
“No one told you to come out here.”
When had he stepped so close?
“Sorry you had to dirty your precious bohemian feet to come to mean old Texas. But I ain’t signin’.”
Shelby took another deep breath. “Why are you being so stubborn?”
He glared at her.
“What do you want, Ritt? A signing bonus?”
Oops. Wrong thing to say.
His eyes narrowed, his jaw ground together, and that good ol’ boy look froze on his face. “Funny thing you should mention that, sugar. ‘Cuz that may be the only thing that’ll get me to sign.” He turned on his heel and stalked to the porch. “Come on, Clyde.” A fat basset hound stood and stretched and followed behind his master. Without a backward glance, Ritt jerked open the door, then he and the dog disappeared into the house.
The wind blew the papers onto the desert-hot driveway. Shelby bent to pick them up, crazy nostalgia nearly choking her. She should have known that seeing him again after so long was a bad idea. She should have known that he wouldn’t make it easy for her. But she hadn’t thought her own emotions would get in her way. This is what she wanted. What she needed. She bit her lip and stared at the front door of the house.
She’d give him a few minutes, then she’d try again. She had plenty of time before she had to get back to the airport. Plenty of time to convince him to sign. Well, it would help if she knew why he wouldn’t sign. It wasn’t like they had a real marriage. They’d only lived together a couple of months. A couple of passionate, turbulent months.