HIS PHONE rang somewhere around Leadville. Shit, Ford Nixel hadn’t even known you could get cell signal in Leadville. He sure as hell didn’t have any luck with the satellite radio, for Christ’s sake. Thank God for hands-free stuff.
“Ford? It’s your Uncle Tyson.”
“Hey, old man. How are you?”
“Your secretary said you were on your way up to Aspen. You think you could come on out to the ranch?”
Ford swerved a little in surprise, then pulled off at the next wide spot before he hurt something. “Well, hey, I can meet you in Glenwood if you want to have lunch at Juicy Lucy’s.”
He hadn’t talked to Uncle Ty in person for… shit, three years? Maybe a little longer? He hadn’t been to the ranch in twelve years, and he had no intention of breaking that record anytime soon.
“No, son, I need you to come. Please?”
Okay, whoa. In all these years, Ty had never once asked, not after they’d had a blowout of epic proportions, at any rate. Some things you never recovered from all the way. “Are you sick?”
When he didn’t get an immediate response, he knew what the answer was, and he was glad he’d stopped the car.
“I’d rather talk to you in person, son. I haven’t seen you. Can you come?”
Ford wanted to just shout a negative, but Ty had never asked him for a thing in his adult life. How could he refuse now? “Of course I can. I’m just out of Leadville, so it will be suppertime. Should I get something on the way in?”
“No. No. Geoff is making potato soup and biscuits for the guests. There will be plenty.”
“Oh, you got a new cook?” Last time they’d sat down together, Ty’s old housekeeper slash cook had gone to Florida.
“Stoney hired him a few years ago. He’s a character and a half—a vegetarian that makes the best brisket on earth.”
“No shit?” He leaned his head back against his seat. “Sounds like a hoot.”
“He’s something else, but a good guy. I’ll have my guest room made up for you.”
“Thanks.” Oh, man, now he had to stay? Shit, this was bad. “I’ll be there late this afternoon.”
“I appreciate it, son. Genuinely.”
“You know you can always call, Ty. I’ll see you soon. Love you.” Ford hung up, marveling about how he hadn’t said those words to his uncle since he was at the ranch last, and that wasn’t really fair, was it? He did love Ty fiercely.
If only the man hadn’t taken in his jerk of an ex from college.
Ford shook his head, then keyed up his phone to call his assistant, Eileen, who worked at his office in Aspen.
“Good afternoon, sir. How’s it going?”
Eileen was so professional. So smooth. Nothing like his Santa Fe assistant, Patricia, who was half-Hispanic and half-Pueblo Indian. Lord, that woman was loud and bright.
“Not so great, lady. I’ll be stopping off at my uncle’s in Glenwood for the night. Can you push back my appointments tomorrow by an hour? I’ll need time to get into Aspen.”
“Absolutely. You’re not even booked until eleven, and I’ll get everyone rescheduled after lunch.”
“Thanks. Anything else while I’m stopped?” He might stop at the Golden Burro in Leadville for lunch if they were still open. Maybe Wild Bill’s for a burger.
“No, sir. Everything is good here.”
“Okay. Well, call me if anything pops up. We’ll do online signing if anything has to go tonight.”
“Yes, sir. I’m on it.”
He didn’t doubt that for a second. Eileen only needed him for his signature, and she was better at that than he was. He chuckled. “Thanks, lady. See you tomorrow.”
Ford hung up and chewed on his lower lip. He’d go get food, then head to the ranch. His frickin’ worst nightmare. The damn place had become his own personal boogeyman, the birthplace of pure cowboy evil.
The thought made him chuckle, shake his head, even as he caught himself grinding his teeth in rage.
There was nothing about his ex, Stoney River, that didn’t piss him off, full stop, 100 percent. The guy had made Ford believe they were a thing, hot and heavy, then left him for his ranch and his cousin, for fuck’s sake.
A man might be forgiven for never wanting to see that particular face again, right?
Still, if Uncle Ty needed him, he’d go. That was what family did. It had been twelve years, hadn’t it? Twelve years was a long time to hold a grudge against a broke-dick liar of a cowboy, and more importantly against the man that had hired said broke-dick liar and given him a place on the ranch that should rightfully have been his.
He’d do what he had to, because Uncle Ty was really the last of his family. At least that he’d ever met. Ford owed the man that much.
He sighed and started the car back up. Time to get a move on. Get this shit over with and move the fuck on.
Story of his whole damned life.