Gone Country Page 57

Sierra glared at him. “The truth, Boone.”

“Fine. It’s a selfish reason. I know you’re working on a big project about McKay history. I thought if I helped you, I’d find out some West history. After all the bullshit and rumors going around, I got to thinking about the feud. Has anyone ever told you how it started?”

“No. Do you know?”

“No. But I’d like to.”

“Well, you’re in luck. When my Aunt Carolyn—”

“Our Aunt Carolyn,” he corrected with a grin.

“When our Aunt Carolyn told me I could access the McKay archives, I asked if she’d let me scan all the old family documents. She claims there are letters and stuff from the late eighteen hundreds. Even she’s not sure what’s in there. As far as she knows, no one has looked at the old stuff in sixty or seventy years. She just keeps adding boxes of updated McKay history.”

“What’d she say about you copying them?”

“No problem as long as I pass along an electronic copy of all the files in case something happened to the originals.”

“Do you have a scanner?”

Her look said, doesn’t everyone? “Yes.”

“Do you know I don’t even have a computer? I have to use the ones at the library.”

She had a computer and a laptop, which had never made her feel spoiled until now. “If you’re over here helping me with homework, you can use mine.”


“So are you busy today?”

“I work the graveyard shift tonight. Besides that, no.”

“Good. Because my dad retrieved the archives.”

Those beautiful brown eyes lit up. “Really? Where are they?”

Sierra pointed to the far wall.

He turned to look. “Holy shit. There’s got to be thirty boxes there.”


He groaned. “That’ll take weeks to scan.”

God, I hope so.

Boone faced her. “What did you say?”

“That we’d better get cracking.”

When Marin called the following week, asking if she could come over, Sierra almost said no. Being in pain was a legitimate excuse for denying visitors, but Marin probably knew most of the McKay family had been by, so she said yes.

Rielle escorted Marin upstairs. Sierra sensed Ree wanted to hang around. During their knitting sessions before Christmas, Sierra had mentioned her frustration with Marin constantly ditching her for Mitch.

Despite her closeness to her dad, he didn’t understand girl drama. His advice was to ignore Marin, stop complaining about her and find new friends. God. That made her want to scream. So she should just walk up to a group of girls in her class and say, hey, you wanna be my friend? like she had in preschool? No one did that. She’d rather eat lunch by herself every day and have no friends than come off that weird and desperate.

Sierra tried to talk to her mom over Christmas break about her lack of friends problem, but she’d gone on a rant about how all women were bitches, they all started out mean little girls and never evolved. The trick, she’d told her, was to become the bigger bitch. Don’t care what people think of you. Tell them to kiss your size two butt if they don’t like you. Then her mother also warned her that women would always be gunning for her because she was pretty and rich. Sierra hadn’t said much—she hadn’t needed to; her mother had gone off on another tangent—but she’d secretly thought that’d be a cynical way to go through life.

But her mom had been nearly hysterical when she’d heard about Sierra’s car accident. She swore she was leaving Paris and moving in with them until Sierra was healed up. As much as Sierra appreciated that her mom…well, was acting motherly, she knew having her here would put a huge strain on everyone. So they talked on the phone at least once a day. Her mom had sent her flowers and balloons, stuffed animals and candy. It seemed something came air mail every day. Fun things. Quirky things. Sweet things. Items that proved her mom had been listening to her.

How was it they’d gotten closer after her mom had moved across the globe? Sierra hadn’t mentioned the positive change in her relationship with her mother to her dad, because he’d make some nasty comment about how it wouldn’t last. She didn’t believe it made her a sucker for hoping the change was permanent.

She glanced up and realized Rielle and Marin were staring at her, waiting for her to say something. “Sorry. The pain pills make me spacey.”

“You’ll be all right?” Rielle asked.


“Okay. I’ll check on you in a bit and see if you need snacks or something.”

After Rielle left Marin said, “She’s nice. Is it weird that she’s acting like your mom?”

She couldn’t point out that her mother and Rielle were nothing alike. “Ree is awesome. She’s always there for me when I need her.” Unlike you.

“She’s still with your dad?”

Sierra nodded.

“Is that awkward?”

“Sometimes when I see them making out or if they both disappear and I know they’re off doing it. But it’s kinda nice, actually.” Almost like she had a normal family.

Marin perched on the edge of the recliner. “Speaking of doing it…are you and Boone West really doing it?”

“Why? Is everyone at school saying we are?” she demanded.

“Well…you guys were at that party together before your accident. And Kara and Angie said you’d locked yourself in the bedroom together for a long time. So is it true?”

“Is that the only reason you’re here, Marin? To verify gossip about me and Boone?”


“Why are you here? Because it’s not like you gave a crap about me since before Christmas. You’re so all over Mitch all the time you don’t have time for anyone else.”

Marin stared at her. “That’s what you think?”

“What else am I supposed to think? You never called me on the weekends or asked me to do anything. The only time I see you is at school.”

“And every time I saw you before Christmas, all you did was bitch, bitch, bitch about how freakin’ bored you are out here in this fancy house. How much of a jerk your dad was for not letting you drive. Do you know that’s all you talked about for months? How you couldn’t wait to drive. Oh, and you bitched about how much it sucks here and how much you’d rather be in Arizona. Yeah, Sierra, you were some fun friend to talk to. Can you blame me for not begging you to hang out?”

Sierra’s jaw dropped. That wasn’t true! That’s what Marin thought about her? She hadn’t been like that at all.

Had she?

“Then you came back from Christmas break and started partying with Angie and Kara. Did you ever think of asking me to go out with you? No. How do you think that made me feel?”

Like crap. A guilty feeling started to creep in and overtake her indignation. She closed her eyes and thought about their conversations at school. So maybe she did complain sometimes. But that wasn’t a reason to completely ditch her like Marin had. “Fine, I can see where you might take it that way. But every time you started talking about Mitch—”

“Mitch and I broke up during Christmas break.”

“What? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Marin rolled her eyes. “Because you were so busy bragging about how hard you partied in Arizona and how much you rock at beer pong. I knew you wouldn’t care so I didn’t bother. Besides, it was all over the school. Everybody knew.” Except you went unsaid.

Sierra’s chin dropped to her chest. She’d fucked up again on the friend front, and she’d hurt Marin, who’d never been anything but nice to her. She squeezed her eyes shut but that didn’t stop her tears from falling.

Then Marin sat beside her. “Hey. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“I can’t help it. I’m such a jerk.” Sierra sniffled.

“Maybe. It’s just…I’ve been so mad at you and I’m not good at saying stuff like that. I had no idea how to tell you that you pissed me off and hurt my feelings.”

“You did pretty good today.”

“Guess I’m kind of a jerk too for letting it slide.” Marin leaned her head against Sierra’s shoulder. “I’m sorry you were in a car accident. I bet it really hurts, huh?”

“Yeah.” Sierra cleared her throat. “Marin, I’m sorry for being such a total bitch to you. I know I haven’t been nice since I got back from Arizona, and I thought you deserved it for basically blowing me off before that. I mean, we hardly did anything together. Now I see I should’ve invited you over…I shouldn’t have expected you to make all the effort.”

“Part of the reason you didn’t see me wasn’t only because of Mitch. I had to get a job after Halloween and I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. Especially you, since you’re, well…you know…”

Rich. “Does that make it hard to be friends with me?”

“It’s not like you flaunt it. But I know it’s there. It was really hard for me not to be resentful when you complained about being bored out of your mind and I’m cleaning bed pans at the nursing home in Hulett every weekend.”

“So it sucks?”

“It sucks ass.”

Sierra snickered.

“But my mom and dad had a bad year on the ranch and my mom had to get a job too. You’re so lucky that you don’t have to work.”

Her guilt increased. Boone wasn’t the only one struggling. “Are you helping support your family?”

“No. I have to pay for my own gas and earn my own spending money and I wanted to make sure I could get my little brothers something decent for Christmas.”

“You are such a good person, Marin.”

“I’m glad you’re finally figuring that out, Arizona.” She elbowed her. “Enough about that. What’s really going on with you and Boone?”

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