A Cowboy For Christmas – Chapter 2
“You’re going to have to come clean sometime. Your brother’s not stupid, babe. He’s going to take one look at you and know you’re hiding something – something big. Let’s be honest here. You’ve never been able to lie to Steve, no matter how hard you try.”
‘I know, dammit.” Sarah sighed. “I’m sorry, Chey. I didn’t mean to snap. I know you’re just worried about me. The thing is, if I tell him before I get there, I’ll break down. When that happens, it’s going to be ugly and messy. And I don’t have the emotional strength to deal with it right now.”
Sarah turned Chey away to watch the ebb and flow of people around her. Anything to avoid her best friend’s sympathetic gaze. She and Cheyenne Kent had met in fourth grade, and when it came to their friendship, there was no one more fiercely loyal and loving than her best friend. The downside of that was the woman knew her better than anyone else. Cheyenne knew she was lying when she’d said she was doing okay.
She felt a soft touch on her hand as it rested on her thigh.
“I’m sorry this happened to you, and I’m sorry you got so badly hurt in the process. But you deserve better than him. Truthfully? I’m so glad he’s out of your life.”
Wrapping an arm around the other woman, Sarah took a deep, calming breath. “I know, babe. You only ever have my best interests at heart. And I love you for it. I promise I’ll deal with all of this. I just need to do it in my own time.”
Cheyenne nodded, then changed the subject. “When does your flight arrive in Denver?”
Sarah could have kissed her friend for taking the hint. “Tomorrow evening around six thirty. My layover at Heathrow is somewhere around eight hours, I think. I was going to get another flight from there to Boulder, but Steve said he’d pick me up in Denver since he has business there and may as well kill two birds.”
Seeing the look on Cheyenne’s face, she braced. She knew it was unlikely she’d like what her friend said next.
“Sadie, I know you don’t want to talk about it, but you’re going to have to tell Steve something,” Cheyenne said softly.
The childhood nickname brought a lump to her throat. Heaving a big sigh, Sarah turned to her friend. “I know you’re right, Chey. It’s just too raw right now. You know? I feel like such a fool for having fallen for his bullshit. I mean, it’s not even like he treated me well. And I still can’t explain to you why I put up with it. For two frigging years!” Shaking her head, she fought back the emotions threatening. “I just need time.”
Wordlessly, her friend squeezed her hand. They sat in silence for long moments before Cheyenne straightened in her chair. “Come on. There’s still an age before you have to go through security. Let’s go grab something to drink,” Chey said, wiggling her eyebrows.
Thankful for her friend, Sarah grinned for the first time in what felt like forever.
“You’re on. First one’s on you.” Sarah gathered her things and came to her feet, blissfully ignorant of the admiring glances she was garnering.
With a laugh, her friend responded, “Girl, you’re on.”
Sarah was grateful Cheyenne offered a respite from her thoughts. She’d have to face them eventually – her friend was correct; her brother would definitely want to know what was going on. Only, she wasn’t ready to face it head on just yet.
In the week that had passed since her world had come crashing around her, Sarah had gone through a range of emotions. She careened from numbness to drowning in the heartbreak, denial, and depression, and back again. Possibly the worst, though, was the humiliation. She shuddered at how gullible she’d been, believing his lies – not once questioning too closely things that hadn’t always added up. As the strong woman her parents had raised her to be, the shame at how easily she’d surrendered her sense of worth to a man who wasn’t deserving of it ate at her.
As she’d reflected on her two-year relationship with Greg, she cringed at how she’d allowed him to treat her. He’d undermined her at every step, treated her appallingly, and she’d accepted it because she’d believed he loved her. Cheyenne had called her on it numerous times, and she’d always made excuses for him. Every. Damn. Time.
Looking back, she died a little inside, knowing she’d been a fool. How the hell was she supposed to admit any of this to her family? They’d be so disappointed in her. Lord knew, she was bitterly disappointed in herself.
The server placing their drinks on the table jolted Sarah out of her morose thoughts. Looking over at Cheyenne, she lifted her mug of hot chocolate and smiled at her. “Here’s to a new start.”
“I’ll drink to that,” her friend replied.
Making small talk, they ignored the elephant in the room until it was time for Sarah to go. Dealing with the shitstorm that was currently her life would come soon enough.
When her flight was called, they hastily made their way to the security point. Cheyenne pulled her in for a tight hug, and Sarah couldn’t prevent herself from hanging on tightly. This woman was everything to her. She was going to miss her more than she could express. But she needed to get away or risk losing her sanity.
Finally, stepping back and wiping tears away, Cheyenne cleared her throat before she said, “You’d best get going. I don’t want to be the reason you miss your flight. Take care of yourself, girl. I love you madly. Don’t forget to call me on your layover at Heathrow, yeah?”
Choking back the sob that was lodged like a rock in her throat, Sarah nodded. “I love you madlier,” was all she managed to whisper.
Trying her best to hold it together, she grabbed her suitcase and dashed to the nearest security checkpoint. Passing through, cleared to go, she turned to her friend, and with one last goodbye wave, she headed to her boarding gate.