Her head was shaking before the question was out of his mouth. He had to have known the answer before he had asked. Why would she be in Kentucky if Jake knew? Kit knew Jake as well as she did, maybe even better. They had been siblings longer than the two of them had been friends. He should know that there was no way Jake would allow her to leave, had he had the slightest clue.

She clenched Kit's wrists, her eyes pleasing with him. Tears welled almost immediately, but she didn't try to blink them away. They would help get her point across easier. Kit always understood why she cried, and did whatever he could to stop them. "No, he doesn't know. And you can't tell him. Promise me, Kit. Promise me?"

He nodded his head in the most miniscule way.

"How did you find me?" She couldn't figure it out. As far as she knew, she hadn't left any trace whatsoever. She had paid everything in cash, and had only purchased things she desperately needed. There was no way Kit had traced her, it was impossible.

His face split into a grin, making his handsome face shine. "It wasn't easy," he started, his chest rumbling with a deep laugh. "You're one hard girl to find, Samantha Forster. Ya cost me a lot of grief, and a lot of money. But it was worth it, believe me. Now I know you're alive, at least. I tell you, when Jakey called to tell me you were missin', I about had a heart attack. Jumped on the first plane home, and got me the best private detective money can buy. Don't think I'll be goin' anywhere for a long time. The man leeched my bank account. Took every dime he could get his grimy fingers on. But, boy, it was worth it." He dropped his hands on her shoulders, his grin growing. Her drew her quickly to his chest, her bulging stomach aligning with his hips.

"I'm so glad you're okay, Sammy. You don't have the smallest idea how worried we've all been. Is it okay if I tell everyone that you're okay? I won't tell 'em where you're at. I swear I won't. I'd just feel better if they felt better."

She nodded against his chest, unwilling to let go of him just yet. It felt so great to have a connection with her home. Since leaving, she had done everything in her power to keep it all pushed to the back of her mind. There was too much pain involved with thinking about everything she had no more.


Kit had been gone for at least an hour. She could see him pacing around the ranch yard, running his free hand through his hair. Occasionally, she could hear his voice, lifted to a shout at the person on the other line, but he was too far away for her to make out the words. If she went closer, he would know she was trying to eavesdrop, and would only move farther away. So, instead of trying to figure out the conversation, she busied herself with the horses still in the barn.

Kit had helped her turn out all the horses she had run the brush over. Only four had been left, including the laid back gelding she had fallen in love with. She saved him for last every day, preferring to spend extra time with the calm gelding. He had seemed to adopt her, as she had him. He reminded her of Ace, in a way.

She heard his boots in the barn long before she saw him, and realized with a small start that it had been some minutes since she had last heard his voice. He came to a stop at the closed stall door. She glanced up to see him leaning casually against the trim as though he didn't have a care in the world. But from the tense set of his shoulders, and the way his jaw jutted out, he wasn't the least bit happy.

When she didn't say anything, didn't ask what had happened, he sighed, and slid the stall door open and stepped inside. He closed it before picking up another brush, and moving to the other side of the gelding. They were silent for several minutes, and from her stolen glances, she could tell the repetition of the smooth strokes was calming him down.

Finally, he stopped and leaned against the gelding. She watched as he braced himself to accept the extra weight, and the corners of her mouth lifted into a small smile. He was a good horse.

"Jake threatened to disown me, ya know. Said I wasn't his brother if I wouldn't tell him where ya were." Her eyes shot up to lock with his. No, Jake wouldn't say something like that. He fought with his brothers like cats and dogs, but she knew he loved them all. He wouldn't give that up for anything. "I know, I couldn't believe it either. I tried to calm him down, but he wouldn't, so I called his bluff. He hung up on me and wouldn't answer when I tried to call him back. Quinn answered. Said Jake was blazing, and had stormed out of the house. Broke the front door cause it wouldn't open fast enough." He stopped to laugh at the image, but quickly grew somber again.

His gaze dropped to the dorsal stripe on the gelding's back, ran his fingers over it lightly. "Why'd you leave, Sammy? Why didn't you tell Jake? Or your dad? Hell, why didn't you tell anyone? You know you could've called me. I wouldn't've told a soul."

Sam turned, walked out of the stall, and sat on the closest bale of hay. She leaned forward on her knees, gripping the brush as tightly as she could. It didn't take Kit long to join her. He leaned back against the wall, and she could feel him staring at her back, waiting for her answer.

She sighed and put the brush on the ground in favor of wringing her hands together. He wouldn't see her side. She knew he would vote in favor of his baby brother, and ask her to talk to him, to tell him the truth. "I couldn't do that to Jake. I love him too much to ruin his life. I didn't want him to be tied down to a small town life, and a small town girl cause I was too stupid to realize I could get pregnant. If I had stayed, he would've done what he thought was right, and demanded we get married. I didn't want to put that on him. He has too much potential. He deserves someone as smart as he is, with a life that equals his own. Someone that he can love unconditionally, because he wants to love her. Not because he got her pregnant and was raised to do the right thing."