The Cowboys Heart: 3
was she on my porch like
this? “Why didn’t you use your key?” I asked as I climbed the steps up to the
    “I lost it,” she said.
    I frowned. She lost my house key? That was comforting. I
made a mental note to have my locks changed.
    “Please don’t look at me like that,” Michelle said, standing
and following me inside. “It’s probably somewhere in all my boxes.”
    Right. She was in the process of moving. I’d forgotten.
“How’s that going anyway?” I asked as I kicked off my shoes and turned on the
lights. The scent of my lilac air freshener filled the room and made me smile.
It was so much better than the smell of that awful cleaning solution they use
at the hospital.
    Michelle shrugged. “It’s going slow. Jax isn’t making it
very easy on me. Every time I go to the house to get more stuff, he’s there,
begging me not to leave, to give him another chance.” She plopped down on the
couch. “I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. I’m so close to
giving in.” She said as she looked up at me for judgment.
    “Oh, Michelle, you can’t do that.” I sat beside her and gave
her a hug. “Every time you feel like going back, remember what he did to you.”
    “I know.” She sighed. “But Nana and Grandpa always told us
to forgive and forget. It’s the quickest way to a happier life.”
    I smiled at the memory of my grandparents and how they would
always say things like that. They were wonderful people, taken from us much too
soon. “Yes, they did say that, but they also always told us not to be doormats,
remember?” I shot back at her.
    She nodded, but remained silent.
    “Jax has been mooching off you for over a year, Michelle.
He’s refusing to get a job; he’s blown your savings, and you caught him
cheating on you.” I shook my head and gave her a sympathetic smile. “Forgive
him if it will make you feel better, but don’t forget what he’s done, and
please don’t take that loser back.”
    At that, Michelle laughed. “Thanks, Becca. You always know
how to make me feel better.” She hugged me then stood. “I’m sorry I was lurking
on your porch like some weird stalker.”
    I laughed. “You don’t ever have to apologize for coming
here. My door is always open to you. And probably to the rest of this town, too,
thanks to a lost key.” I winked.
    Michelle groaned. “I swear I will find your key.”
    “Thanks. You hungry?” I responded.
     “Starved.” She told me.
    Despite being grateful for my job, I was not grateful for
the weird schedule I was on as a result of it. Working nights really messed
with my internal clock. Here it was, almost midnight, and I was starting dinner.
This was not good for my waistline.
    “I’m not sure what I have, but I’m sure I can throw
something together.” I went to the kitchen, and Michelle followed. After a
quick inventory of my cabinets and refrigerator, I found some leftover chicken
and pasta. I tossed them into a baking dish, covered it with a jar of spaghetti
sauce and mozzarella cheese, and put it in the oven. Not my most gourmet meal, but
it would do.
    I turned to find Michelle sitting at the breakfast bar, arms
propped on the counter top, watching me. I smiled and asked, “What?”
    “Nothing.” She shook her head and straightened. “How was
    I shrugged. “Same old, same old. Broken bones, runny noses,
heart attacks. Nothing exciting.”
    “If you hate it so much, why don’t you quit, Becca?”
    I hated how intuitive my sister was; she knew me too well.
It was impossible to hide anything from her, and I knew she’d heard the
melancholy in my voice. I sighed. “I don’t hate it, but I just wish I was doing
something more fulfilling, you know?” I shrugged and turned to check on my
impromptu casserole.
    “Well, you know what I think of your career choice.”
Michelle said as she joined me near the stove, opening the cabinet and
retrieving two plates. “Mom and Dad totally strong-armed you into

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