KELSEY WOKE WITH A start. It took a few moments to focus her eyes on her surroundings. Grayson was still asleep oblivious to the rising sun. She gently eased herself out of the bed and walked to the window. As she stared out at the horizon she recalled a glorious dream from the night before. Kelsey closed her eyes and tried to remember every miniscule detail of the dream. In the dream she felt Grayson behind her tickling her ear with his warm breath. She searched her mind for any other details, but could only remember the faint sound of Grayson whispering I love you. She opened her eyes again and wished that the dream had been true.
She was still standing at the window when his arms came around her. The moment called for quiet solitude and she was happy to oblige. The moment didn't last long.
They packed with efficient speed. Grayson stepped out of the room to go tend to the horses. She was about to follow him out of the room when she heard him speak to Duke in the hall.
"After everything that happened last night, you still spent the night with her?"
"Duke, it's not what you think. She has trouble sleeping by herself right now."
"Well, I hope you never meet the father you're trying to save because I would just bet he would rather her sleep alone and be dog tired than sleep with a man she's not married to."
"What do you want me to do, Duke? I can't push her away. Believe me I've tried, but I just can't."
"Then you need to think about what that means."
"Don't you think I have? It's all I can think about. Listen, I don't want to talk about it anymore. Let's just finish this job, and I'll worry about everything else later."
"Fine Grayson, but just so you know, it's okay for you to find happiness. It's what they would have wanted."
Kelsey heard Grayson storm off down the hall, and wondered what Duke's last statement meant. She knew she shouldn't have eavesdropped on their conversation, but she needed to hear what Grayson said. She was jubilant to know that he cared for her, but at the same time it stung that he didn't know what to make of his feelings. She finished packing her things and headed to the kitchen.
She fixed a picnic lunch to take with them. Once their lunch was prepared and packed, Kelsey walked out onto the porch to find Grayson and Duke waiting for her. She smiled in greeting.
"Duke, I hope you don't mind, I took the liberty of preparing us a lunch. I'll be happy to repay you for the supplies."
"There's no need for that. I'm sure I'll enjoy the picnic later."
She smiled and walked up to her horse. The big mare blew warm air in her face and nuzzled her neck.
"Well Bonnie girl, are you ready for another long day?"
"Bonnie sure is a fine name for a horse." Duke said. "With all those spots I would have named her Freckles."
She burst into laughing, "I did name her Freckles, but Grayson thought it was too plain, so he renamed her Bonnie."
Duke laughed in return.
"Well, if that don't beat all."
She looked at Grayson while they discussed her horse's name. His red ears were a testament to his embarrassment. He still chafed when he came over to help her mount Bonnie.
He walked over to Rio and climbed on his back while Duke mounted his horse. The three of them set out on the open Texas plain with the singular purpose of finding Kelsey's brother and restoring her family's name.