“What about your family? Any brothers or sisters? Parents?”
“Both parents deceased. I have three brothers. All younger. Cole is also involved with the business, just a different facet of the corporation. Chance is recently retired from the military and runs the ranch in Calico Springs. Seth lives in Los Angeles. We all try to get together a couple of times a year or whenever possible. Haven’t seen Seth in a couple of years. We stay in touch by phone or Skype.”
“You all grew up here? In this house?”
He shook his head. “No. Actually, we lived on the ranch.” He hesitated as if wondering whether or not to say any more.
“Please go on.”
“My...mother came from a ranching family. She learned early on to respect the land, and she was determined her sons would grow up in the same environment. Apparently Dad finally agreed, so, just before Chance was born, he built a house on some land his family owned. We attended the local schools and grew up checking out the wide-open spaces on the back of a horse. Seth is a half brother and was born and raised in LA.”
Wade rested his elbows on the table and linked his fingers. His gaze was directed at the far wall, but Victoria sensed in his mind he was a long way from here.
“Mom and Dad both believed a person should work for what they had and were determined for all of us kids to know the value of a dollar. Since we were living in Mom’s playground, those lessons were learned by mending fences, feeding the livestock, taking on the general responsibilities of ranch life. Later, after college, Dad introduced each of us one by one to the world of business. One day led to another and here we are.”
“You’ve never gone back? To the ranch?”
“I did for a while. But it’s been close to a year.”
“I think you should go,” Victoria encouraged. “I think you should take a week—or more—and revisit your memories. See if you can still saddle a horse.”
Wade laughed and the glitter of amusement shone in his eyes. “Maybe I will.”
“What...” She cleared her throat. “What did I do while you were away or working?”
Wade laid his fork down on the plate and seemed to give her question some thought. “I don’t think you did...anything.”
“That’s crazy.” She frowned, placing her fork across the gold-rimmed plate. “I had to do something. I mean, no one can just sit around and breathe day after day.”
Wade shrugged. “You went shopping. Went to the hairdresser. Visited your friends. I really don’t know.”
Now it was Victoria’s turn to look shocked. “I didn’t work? Didn’t help a charity? Arrange garage sales? Dig holes? Nothing?”
“Victoria, we didn’t really see a lot of each other. On average, I spend more than half the year traveling. When I’m not out of the country, I’m in meetings or working in my office in the city, where I also keep an apartment. Occasionally we do attend a social gathering together, but even then, you have your acquaintances, and I have mine.”
She was speechless. She couldn’t imagine living the life he described. It sounded horrible. For a married couple, it just didn’t make any sense. Somehow she knew within herself she was not the type to hide away day after day in this big house. And Wade had to take some downtime and enjoy life occasionally. No one could live as he’d described for years on end without paying for it physically, if not emotionally. Everybody needed time to relax. To laugh. To dream.
As she watched him eat his dinner, she realized she wasn’t seeing a man who was happy and content with the world in which he lived. She was seeing a man who marched to the drum his current life demanded. He was staying well away from any friends or relationships that would take his time away from his business, including his own wife. The question was why. He was polite to a fault, handsome, rich...and very much alone. Why had he married her? It was like the dog that finally caught the car it had chased for years. Now that he had it, he wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
It was just sad. Period. All of it. How he rarely returned to his childhood home and had little to no personal contact with his brothers except, she assumed, in emergencies. Flying around from one country to another and never realizing a true home... Maybe she could plan something to get his family together.
She took one last bite of her dinner, laying the fork on her empty plate. “This was excellent. I didn’t realize I was so hungry.”
An older man came into the room and politely inquired if either one would care for dessert. Victoria placed her hand over her stomach and declined. “I’m stuffed.”
“None for me either, Jacob. Dinner was good, thank you.”
The man nodded, took the plates and left the room.
“Do you feel up to looking at those design renderings?”
“Sure.” Her headache still had a dull throb, but it was slightly better than earlier today. She refused to let it keep her from sharing this time with Wade.
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