Ben relaxed. A little. Until Mason insisted on picking up his bag from the baggage carousel and carrying it outside to his truck and Dan slowed his pace to a crawl to match Ben’s. These were the things that drove him mad. He wanted to be the man he always had been. He wanted to pull his own weight and then some. Instead everyone treated him like an invalid.
Mason kept the conversation light on the way to the ranch. They wound along narrow, curving two lane country roads flanked by wide pastures, with farm houses in the distance. “You came at exactly the right time,” he said as they pulled up in front of Crescent Hall. Ben eyed its clapboard siding, wraparound porch and wide, circular tower. He could see why Mason loved it so much; the house had character. “The Harvest Festival kicks off this weekend. There’s a dance and everything.”
“Don’t think I’ll do much dancing anymore,” Ben said shortly.
“Hell, Warren. Don’t be like that,” Dan said. “Slow dancing’s the best part anyway. You can handle a slow dance.”
“Sure, if I had a woman willing to stand in place with me. What woman wants that?”
Mason got a gleam in his eye Ben didn’t like the look of. “Plenty.”
“Bullshit. I don’t want anyone’s pity.” He opened his door and got out, then planted his cane firmly on the uneven ground. Hell, more stairs—a whole bunch of them—led up to the front door.
Mason came to stand beside him. “I’m not talking about pity. I’m talking about women being crazy for Navy SEALs.”
“Holy hell, man, you are dead set on feeling sorry for yourself, aren’t you?”
Stung, Ben turned to face him. “Wouldn’t you in my place?”
“Maybe. But then I’d get on with living. Lots of people have bigger problems than you.” Mason grinned suddenly. “I know what you need—a little motivation.”
“No, I learned from the best. What would my aunt Heloise do?” He stroked his chin.
“This oughtta be good,” Dan said.
“Don’t even go there.” Ben had heard all about Aunt Heloise. The woman had put Mason and his brothers through the wringer when she designated them heirs to this ranch, if and only if they all married and one of them had a child within the year. They’d pulled it off—but not before they had come close to losing it all. The way that woman got Mason and his brothers to dance to her tune was nothing short of ridiculous. He didn’t want anyone calling the shots with him like that.
“What is it I have that you want?” Mason mused. He brightened. “I know. My 1851 Colt Navy revolver.”
Ben straightened. “Are you kidding?” He’d collected historical firearms since he was a teenager and the revolver Mason had mentioned was one he’d long wanted to get his hands on. “Is it a replica?”
“Hell, no.” Mason looked offended. “It’s the real deal. My Dad picked it up at a gun show in Texas, but later he inherited a similar one that was used by a family member in the Civil War, so if you want it, it’s yours—if you ask a pretty girl to the Harvest Dance on Saturday night.”
“Do I just have to ask, or does she have to say yes?”
Dan laughed and Mason chuckled along with him. “She has to say yes and you have to dance with her through at least one song.”
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