Strong Silent Type(2)

By: Lorelei James

“First of all, you have to stop takin’ Libby for granted.”

“I’ve never taken her for granted. Never.”

“Fine then. You gotta show her how much she matters to you. You gotta…woo her.”

“Woo her?” Baffled, Quinn stared at his brother. “How the hell am I supposed to do that?”

“Act like you did when you were dating. Bring her flowers, wine and dine her with candlelit dinners, take her to the movies. Spend time just makin’ out and tryin’ to cop a feel in the truck.”

Quinn leaned forward. “I’m reminding you I’ve been with Libby for fourteen years. We started dating when we were sixteen. I married her the month after she graduated from college. We’ve been man and wife for nine years. So I’m a little rusty on my wooin’ skills.”

“Then it’s past time to brush up on ’em, Q. Because if you don’t use ’em on her, you’re gonna need to use ’em on someone else.”

Shame burned and he dropped his gaze to the table. “Then I’m doomed. I never done any of that romantic crap with her.” Or any other woman. Libby was the first girl he’d dated. The first and only woman he’d had sex with. The only woman he’d ever wanted. The only woman he’d ever loved.

And I’m about to lose her.

“Never?” Ben prompted.

Quinn shook his head. “Libby’s always been practical. That’s one of the reasons I fell for her. She didn’t need any of the superficial junk other girls did. She didn’t expect me to be a rodeo star or go to trade school. She knew I’d never leave here because ranchin’ is in my blood. She was fine with that. She wanted that life…or so I thought.”

Things—no, Libby had changed in the last year. It had started out with small modifications. New furniture, repainting a room or two, hanging new draperies, trying out new recipes from faraway places. Then she’d started dropping hints about them doing “couple” activities.

When Libby had returned to her job as the school librarian after summer hiatus, she went on a diet and lost twenty-five pounds. He’d always loved her curvy body, but she seemed happier thinner. She’d tossed out her old duds and bought new ones. Gone were the long denim skirts, loose shirts, bulky sweaters, baggy sweats and oversized T-shirts she’d worn for years. Ditto for neutral colors.

No, Libby—his Libby—began wearing tight, low-cut jeans. Clingy blouses that accentuated her ample chest. Short skirts in vivid colors. Just as he was wrapping his head around those changes, she’d trotted off to Denver for a professional makeover. She’d chopped her long, honey-brown hair into a short, trendy cut and added blondish-red highlights. She’d never worn much makeup, so it’d shocked Quinn to see her freckles covered, her lips glossy red and black eyeliner emphasizing her blue eyes.

At that point he’d begun to worry, wondering if she’d met a man she was trying to impress.

When Libby asked him how he liked the “new” her, Quinn replied honestly: He’d liked the old her just fine.

A day later he was living in the horse trailer.

“Dammit. You aren’t even listenin’ to me, are you?” Ben demanded.

Quinn ignored the taunt and focused on Libby sashaying off the dance floor. The smile she allotted her dance partner didn’t reach her eyes like it did whenever she danced with him. Her shoulders were bunched up to her ears. Her normally graceful body movements were forced. Unnatural. She looked as if she were merely going through the motions.

Just like him.

The truth hit Quinn as viciously as a horse hoof to the head. He’d gone about dealing with this misstep in their marriage the wrong way, expecting Libby to come to him. He had to fix it, to man up, take the bull by the horns, grab the tiger by the tail, climb on the horse that threw him, reclaim what was rightfully his. Clichéd phrases, but truisms to lead him in the right direction—the only direction—straight back to her.

“Quinn? You okay?”

“Nah. I ain’t been right since she kicked me out, Ben. Dammit. I miss her something fierce.”

Ben froze. “Ah shit, Q, you ain’t gonna start with that, I love you man, kinda drunk talk, are you?”

“Hell no.” Quinn shoved the pitcher aside and propped his elbows on the table. “But I have been listening to you yammer on, and you’re exactly right. I’ve gotta do something. And you’re gonna help me.”

“Help you do what?”

“Help me come up with a plan to win my wife back.”

Chapter Two

“Second shelf on the bottom row.”

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