When he ordered another shot, Lane shook his head at the bartender and she brought him a beer instead. “Can’t even get ripping drunk with you monitoring me, Lane.”
They moved off toward a table at the back that would hold all of them. Once they were settled, they stared at each other, nothing to say.
After a long moment and half his beer, Ryder lowered his bottle and said, “At least there isn’t a Calhoun kid on the way.”
“What the hell?” Buck said.
“Was there a chance you were unsure?” Wynonna leaned her elbows on the table, her hands upraised in exasperation.
He set the bottle on the table. “A bunny called me her baby daddy, but she had the time frame all wrong.”
“Jesus, Ryder. We can’t let you off the ranch.” West shook his head.
Some of the whiskey was taking effect and he was much mellower than he had been a few minutes ago. Which was good—he needed it to deal with his family.
“I don’t think we need to worry about Ryder’s bastard children as much as we should about our contracts for the show.” Buck’s ominous tone silenced them all.
Dipping his head into his hands, Ryder tried to give a damn that he might get kicked off Rope ‘n Ride. But he couldn’t feel further from that. “I lost my cool.”
“You think?” West dropped his sarcasm into the mix.
“You’d do the same if someone you cared about might face a scandal because she was filmed in a place she shouldn’t have been with a man she shouldn’t have been with.” His voice cracked.
They all looked at him. “What the hell are you talking about, Ryder? Or is it the whiskey talking?”
“No, it’s me.” He met each solemn gaze. “I was with Joy Humphries—”
“Jesus.” West smacked a palm on the table.
“You know how to choose the most untouchable woman, don’t ya?” Ridge asked.
Ignoring the outbursts, Ryder raised his hands for silence. “I’m only telling y’all because if anything comes of this…moment of anger I had, then you’d find out anyway. I don’t keep shit from you.”
“Except secret babies.”
He stabbed a finger at Wynonna’s nose. “The kid is not mine!”
“All right, let’s calm this down. Wynonna, you aren’t in any position to talk.”
She clamped her lips so tightly shut her face looked like it might turn inside out. Her auburn hair was loose and curly, looking like something boiling over. Her eyes echoed this.
Buck placed his hands on the table. “We’re all edgy with these people around us all the time.”
“Can’t get away from them,” Ryder spat. Can’t even steal a kiss without them—and America—knowing it.
Book 1 BUCK
Book 3 RIDGE