The Cowboy Way

By: Anna Alexander

Acknowledgments

You may have read or heard acknowledgements that begin with “this book would not be possible without…” and that is no less true for this book. Seriously, without the encouragement of Danielle Monsch, it might have taken years for The Cowboy Way to make it to the bookshelves. Thank you is not enough to express my gratitude for her mentorship, support and butt kicking. I also want to thank Carmen Cook, April Rickard, and Eilis Flynn for their encouragement and positive vibes for bringing Trey and Greta’s story to life.

Thank you. Gracias. Grazie. Merci.





1





“I’ve gone over your CT scan several times, Trey. Besides the mild concussion and dislocated shoulder, there is nothing wrong with you.”

Bullshit.

Trey struggled to keep the curse trapped behind his lips and shifted his body on the hospital bed’s scratchy white cotton sheets. “Then why can’t I remember?”

Dr. Grayson closed the folder in his hands. “It’s common not to remember the details involving a head injury.”

“What about the rest of it?” he bit out between teeth clenched against the rising panic.

“It’ll come back in time. You have a good-sized goose egg on the back of your head, but there isn’t any physical evidence of trauma to explain your loss of memory. The brain is a complex organ. Perhaps it decided it needed a break for a spell and is off on a little vacation and will return when it’s rested. You’ve been working hard these last few years.”

“Have I?” Because I don’t fucking remember!

Trey closed his eyes and expelled a long, hot breath out his nose and bunched the bed sheet in his fists like the reins of an out of control stallion. The gold band around the third finger of his left hand felt like it was encircling his chest, squeezing the calm right out of him.

For the last two days he’d been in and out of consciousness. Two days of his life. Gone. When he had finally came to enough to be able to formulate a coherent sentence, the rapid-fire questions from the hospital staff had begun.

“What’s your name?” a male voice had asked from his right.

“Trey, Trey Armstrong.”

“What do you do for a job?”

“I have a ranch.”

“What’s your wife’s name?”

“I don’t have a wife.”

The silence that followed had only lasted a few heartbeats, but the doc might as well have stuck a bullhorn right in his face and shouted, Wrong, buck-o! You’re married.

In his mind the ranch he had grown up on was as crystal clear as high-def television, and the memory of his parents, who passed away a year apart, was still a bitter ache in his chest. But when it came to a wife or recalling his daily routine, his past was as vast and desolate as acre upon acre of rolling green alfalfa.

Good God, what else could he be forgetting, children? Hell, he hoped not. A family of his own had always been on his horizon, but the thought of having one now made his heart sink into his stomach. Children deserved to be coddled and cherished. He wanted to be the kind of dad whose kids looked to him as a hero, and there was nothing heroic about him now.

What type of asshole forgets his wife?

“And you’re sure there isn’t a bruise, or bleeding, or anything going on up there?” he asked again. A physical condition meant he could heal. With the right treatment he would be as good as new in just a few short weeks. Please, Lord, let this setback be as simple as a little swelling that needed a few white pills to set him to rights.

“I’m positive, Trey. The best thing for you is a little TLC.”

Dr. Grayson checked the IV with a casual flip of his fingers, oblivious to the emotional tornado brewing in the hospital bed. Trey didn’t like vague. He liked answers and action. The lack of a quick solution chapped his hide and made him want to shout a string of curses until the walls turned blue. He wasn’t a patient man. At least, he didn’t think he was.

“If it makes you feel better, come see me if you don’t have some of your memory return in a week. Of course, if you start to have seizures or fainting spells, come in right away.”

“Thanks, Doc. That makes me feel loads better,” he muttered.

“We’re going to keep your shoulder immobile overnight,” the doc continued. “You’ll be sore for a while, and you shouldn’t do anything strenuous for the next few weeks. Keep off the horse and let your men do the ranching. Mark—do you remember Mark?”

Trey gave a tight nod. Yep, even the cynical grin of his best friend and foreman came readily to mind.

The doctor continued. “Good. As I was saying, Mark can take over the majority of the work for a while. Since you’ve been on IVs for a few days, I’m going to start you slow on food. I’ll have some broth sent in. How does that sound?”