His Marriage to Remember - By Kathie DeNosky Page 0,1
woman climbing the steps to the section of seats reserved for the wives and girlfriends of the riders and rodeo personnel. Even with everything that had happened between them—all the angry accusations and painful disappointments—Bria Stanton-Rafferty still took his breath away, still made his heart beat a little faster whenever he saw her. He had a feeling she probably always would.
When their gazes met, his chest tightened and a knot twisted in his gut. They had reached an impasse and he wasn’t going to stand in her way, if ending their marriage was what she really wanted. He cared too much about her to try forcing her to stay in a situation that caused her so much unhappiness.
“Get out of the way, Rafferty!”
The urgent shouts of his brothers and the personnel behind the bucking chutes suddenly broke through his disturbing introspection.
Turning to see why they were so intent on trying to gain his attention, Sam heard the angry bellow at the same time he caught sight of two thousand pounds of pissed-off beef coming at him like a runaway freight train. A big brindle bull had somehow escaped the channel of fence panels and was loose behind the bucking chutes.
With no time to scramble to the top of the fence and nowhere else to go, Sam knew his best hope of avoiding disaster would be to use his hands to try to push off the animal’s head and launch himself to the side. Doing just that, he might have been successful had there been more room. But the close quarters in the section of fence panels prevented him from completely avoiding the bull’s pass and he felt his head collide with the steel gate at the same time he heard a woman’s terrified scream.
Pain shot through his skull with the intensity of a lightning bolt a moment before a dark curtain descended around him. He tried to fight it, tried to keep his eyes open. He needed to reassure Bria, needed to tell her that no matter what happened to him, he wanted nothing but the best for her and for her to be happy. But the throbbing ache in his head was excruciating and closing his eyes, Sam had no choice but to give in and allow himself to sink into the peaceful black abyss of unconsciousness.
Standing in the hospital waiting room, Bria wrapped her arms around herself as she tried to chase away the chills. It did no good. In spite of the fact that it was early June in Texas and already extremely warm, she couldn’t seem to stop shivering.
Terror like nothing she had ever known had clawed at her insides as she’d helplessly watched the angry bull slam Sam into the fence, then pummel his limp body repeatedly with its large head. Thankfully, the bull didn’t have horns and therefore Sam hadn’t sustained any puncture wounds, nor had he been stepped on by the massive animal. Nate and Sam’s foster brothers had immediately jumped into action and diverted the bull’s attention as quickly as they could. But it seemed as if they’d all moved in slow motion and took forever to get the beast away from him so the emergency medical crew could move in and take over.
She drew in a shuddering breath. There was no getting around it, she was responsible for Sam’s accident. If she had only waited for another day, another time to bring the divorce papers for him to sign or if he hadn’t seen her and been distracted, she wouldn’t be standing in the waiting room while he underwent tests to see just how badly he was injured.
But the rodeo was only a two-hour drive from her new home in Dallas and she had wanted to get the papers signed and everything finalized before she started her new job as a marketing consultant for one of the major department stores. If she hadn’t run into a traffic jam on the interstate, she would have arrived with plenty of time to get things taken care of and left before the dangerous bull-riding event even started.
Her breath caught on a sob. It didn’t matter why she had been running late or that she had wanted to get on with her life. Sam was the one having to pay the price for her impatience.
“Have you heard anything, Bria?” Nate called from somewhere behind her.
Turning around, she watched Nate and his brothers hurrying down the hall toward the waiting-room entrance. Tall and ruggedly handsome,