From Rinelle Grey, a deleted scene from Dragon’s Cowboy.
(This scene is first draft material, and may contain bad grammar and repetitive sentence structure. It also contains spoilers for Dragon’s Cowboy. If you haven’t already read the book, please wait to read the following scene.)
JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS
When Chase takes Wayrian back to the station alone, he knows his father is going to jump to the wrong conclusion, and decides to use that to his advantage.
Speaking of his father.
Chase saw his dad’s bike pulling out of the trees that bordered the creek bed a few hundred metres away, and winced.
He’d been hoping to get Wayrian back to his house and settled without his father even realising he was there. He really didn’t want to face the inevitable barrage of questions his father would throw at him.
His father had already asked him if his absences were due to a woman. He had neither confirmed nor denied it, either way would have only lead to more questions.
Maybe he could use this to his advantage. His dad was constantly telling him he’d be better off if he found a good woman and settled down. He might just approve of Chase’s absences if he thought he was with a girl.
“Sorry about this,” he said, glancing sideways at her. “Looks like we won’t be avoiding my dad after all.”
Wayrian looked confused for a few moments, then she saw the vehicle approaching, and paled. “What should I say to him?” she asked nervously.
Chase hesitated. Even discounting the fact that it would make his life a little easier if his father thought Wayrian was his girlfriend, he really couldn’t think of a single excuse for bringing a woman back to the station other than that she was his girlfriend. But he still felt very uncomfortable saying that.
“He’s going to wonder why you’re here,” he said slowly. “And I’m not sure that telling him you’re a dragon running away from a reporter is really the best plan.”
Wayrian’s eyes widened. “You don’t trust your father with that knowledge?”
Chase considered that question for a moment. Did he trust his father?
He was pretty sure that his father could keep their secret, he decided. That wasn’t the issue. “I’d trust him,” he said. “But unless you plan on transforming as proof, I don’t think he’s going to believe us. And I’d rather not face the laughing.”
He could just imagine how much his father would laugh. “He’d say it was the lamest excuse for bringing a girl home he could think of, and tell me I really was a lousy liar.” He couldn’t help giving a rueful laugh. The situation would be funny, even if it was at his own expense.
Wayrian though, was considering his words thoughtfully. “What will you tell him then?”
Chase slowed down as the bike approached, waiting to roll down his window. He needed more time. “He’s going to assume you’re my girlfriend.”
Wayrian’s nose wrinkled. “Is that, like, your mate?”
“Sort of,” Chase agreed. “It’s not as serious. More like someone you’d like to become your mate. Someone you’re getting to know, who you think might make a good mate.”
Dragon relationships were so different to humans. He hadn’t spent a lot of time in their lair, but he’d been there long enough to pick up that. Even if he hadn’t, he’d heard all the details from Lisa.
It was hard to really have a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship when sleeping with someone three times meant you were mated for life.
Not that dragons waited until they found ‘they one’ before having sex. Not at all. They were more than happy to sleep around. Just only once. Rarely, twice.
Wayrian was nodding slowly. “I don’t really understand, but if that is what you want to tell him, I will… agree.”
He would have liked to push her again, for double confirmation, but his dad’s bike was pulling up alongside the ute, and he was already staring in curiously. If Chase didn’t open the window, the grilling would be even worse than it was already going to be.
And besides, as Wayrian had said, this would only be for a few hours. As soon as Karla called and told them it was all clear, he’d be taking Wayrian home. Then she’d never have to see his father again.
He took a deep breath, and lowered the window. “Hi, Dad,” he said, forcing his voice to be cheerful and light.
His dad skipped the pleasantries. “Who’s this?” he demanded, his face twisted in a scowl. “We have a fence town in the top paddock, you don’t have time for fooling around.”
For a moment, Chase was a little embarrassed. Lucky he wasn’t bringing a girl home for real. She’d probably take one look at his dad, and run for the hills.
Even if he was interested in someone, he couldn’t imagine any woman would put up with living here on the station with his dad.
And he couldn’t bring himself to abandon his dad, despite his temperament. He’d never manage the farm on his own. And without it, he’d have no purpose in life. This station was everything to him.
And, Chase had to admit, to him too.
He couldn’t imagine waking up each morning in the city. Even a small town like Mungaloo. It was too small, too close. He loved the space.
And no matter how early his mornings were, at least his tasks were varied and interesting, and he was his own boss.
“I’ll take care of it,” he promised. “Just as soon as I get Wayrian settled.”
His father stared at Wayrian, and she stared back, silent.
Was she put off by his father’s blustering nature, or did she not want to risk saying the wrong thing and breaking their ruse?
“So is this the girl who’s been dragging you away from your chores then?”
Chase knew his father well enough to know that he’d moderated his tone for that statement. But he could only imagine that it must sound very accusing to Wayrian.
He spared a glance over at her, only to see that she’d dropped her gaze down to her hands, a blush staining her cheeks.
Her demeanour made him feel protective.
It wasn’t a new feeling. He felt protective of Lisa all the time. There were several instances in which he’d had to use all his willpower to stop himself punching her father in the face. But he’d always told himself it wasn’t his place to step in.
This time, it was.
“This is Wayrian,” he said quietly to his father, giving him a stern look. “And I’m hoping you’ll make her feel welcome.”
His father cleared his throat. “Wayrian, huh? Well, uh, welcome, lass.”
Wayrian looked up at his words, and managed a shaky smile. “Thank you, sir.”
The deferential address must have appeased his father’s ire. He cleared his throat again, and then said, “Well, you get her settled, and I’ll go start on this fence. Join me when you can.”
Chase nodded. “I won’t be long,” he promised. Then as his father pulled back, he wound up his window, and drove off down the drive.
Wayrian was very quiet, and though Chase looked over at her a couple of times, she didn’t meet his eyes. “Don’t mind my dad,” he said. “He’s a bit gruff, but he means well.”
“That’s okay,” Wayrian said quickly. “I just… I hope I’m not going to be in the way…”
“You’re not in the way,” Chase said firmly. He looked over at her again, and in that moment she raised her eyes to his, and he stared at her.
She was beautiful.
How had he not noticed that?
Aside from her extreme shyness, he wouldn’t be surprised to see her gracing the covers of a magazine. Her wavy blonde hair framed her pale and elegant face perfectly. But what made her spectacular, was her eyes.
Their deep blue was so perfect that he could easily get lost in them.
Chase forced himself to turn back to the road and focus on where he was going. He wasn’t on the open plains out here, there were things to run into.
And the way he was starting to feel about her unsettled him.
He wasn’t getting involved. Sleeping with one of the dragon princesses, that was different. Everyone knew that was a one off. A bit of fun, nothing more.
Sleeping with Wayrian, that would be different. He had an inkling that if he did, he wouldn’t be able to step back.
And that way, pain lay.