Gone Country Page 29


She squeezed Sierra’s hand. “Thank you. You are a miracle worker.”


Sierra squeezed her hand back a little harder than Rielle expected. “Stop saying shit like that. Now. What do you think of the hair?”


With her hair spiked every which way it sort of looked like she’d stuck her finger in an electric socket. But it worked. Conveyed a hip, edgy vibe without it seeming like she was trying too hard to be hip and edgy.


“It’s kind of funky, but you need to have a different way to fix yourself up, for when you go out.”


“I do like it.” She touched the top. “It’s easy?”


“Just as easy as what you do now. And when you’re feeling really daring? I’ll show you how to curl it so you look like an angel.”


Now that she’d pay to see. “I’ll take you up on that.”


Sierra’s hands landed on her shoulders. “Don’t get defensive on the next phase. Bear with me.” Then she steered Rielle toward her closet door.


“Oh hell no. You are not rifling through my closet, Sierra.”


“True. You are.”


When Rielle tried to spin around, Sierra held her in place in front of the full length mirror. “We are doing this. First, pick ten or fifteen pieces of clothing you love. Mix it up between jeans, pants, skirts, tops, shorts, dresses and sweaters.”


“Okay. I can do that.”


“Second, pick as many accessories as you want. Belts, scarves, leggings, shawls, jewelry.”


That’d be easy since Rielle had few of those items. “Is that it?”


“Yep. I’ve gotta check something and I’ll be right back.”


She was overcome with guilt opening the closet door because she’d packed so much shit in here after relocating from the upstairs master bedroom. Most of it she didn’t wear, but couldn’t part with because it was so damn ingrained in her not to be wasteful.


Then she felt resentful she was letting a sixteen-year-old fashionista boss her around.


But she’s hit the mark with the makeover so far. Admit you’re having fun. What else would you be doing? Working? Moping because you miss Gavin?


That put Rielle into the spirit of the moment and she tracked down her favorite pieces.


Sierra returned with a half-full garbage bag. The girl didn’t actually believe Rielle would throw away her clothes like on those TV shows?


“Show me whatcha got.”


Sierra nodded approvingly at the pieces Rielle had chosen. “When you’re done in the garden, or taking bread into town, or selling your stuff at market, what do you wear?”


Work clothes. Sometimes the same jeans or shorts she’d worn picking fruit or veggies. She’d wash her hands and put on the first clean T-shirt she could find. She flopped back on the bed. “You’re telling me to stop dressing like a bum?”


“Maybe. You’re hiding behind grungy clothes.” Sierra leaned over her. “Let me help you change that. It’s what I’m good at. And you won’t have to buy anything new unless you want to. We’ll work with what you already have. So what do you say?”


“I say, amen, sister, it’s way past time,” echoed from the doorway.


Rielle sat up and her mouth dropped open. “Rory?”


“In the flesh. But I have to admit when I decided to come home and surprise you, the last thing I expected was to see you getting a fashion makeover.”


She hurled herself off the bed and hugged her daughter. “What a great surprise! I was just thinking about you and here you are. So how long are you staying?”


“All weekend.” Rory hugged her back, but her focus shifted. “Hey. You must be Sierra. I’m Rory.”


“Hi. Wow. You look exactly like your mom. And she, uh, talks about you all the time.”


Rielle noticed Sierra acted nervous, twisting her fingers in the plastic garbage bag handles.


“Look, I’m sure you guys have stuff to talk about so I’ll go.”


But Rory stepped in front of her and shook her head. “No way. You’re staying. After I snuck into the house, I listened in the hallway and I have to admit I’m impressed that you’ve accomplished something I’ve been trying to do for years.” She mock whispered, “You’ll be my hero if you can get rid of all the tie-dyed clothing.”


Rielle flapped her hand at Rory, but she and Sierra were too busy laughing to notice.


“So the makeup and hair is your doing?” Rory asked Sierra.


“Uh-huh. Ree is gonna teach me to knit and I wanted to teach her something useful. This is the only thing I can do that can be considered a skill.”


“You’re what? Sixteen? Plenty of time to develop other skills.” Rory settled cross-legged on the bed. “Pretend I’m not here and finish what you started.”


Since she so rarely got to see Rory, Rielle wanted to blow off the fashion show. But she wasn’t surprised her thoughtful daughter wouldn’t let Sierra feel left out.


“Okay. Here goes.” Sierra used the pieces Rielle had chosen and put together a dozen different outfits. All casual and unique without being weird. She changed an outfit from professional to funky just by mixing and matching accessories.


With the back and forth between Rory and Sierra, Rielle started to feel like a third wheel, even when she was amused by their fashion banter.


Finally, Rory asked, “What’s in the bag?”


“Stuff I had in my closet I never wear,” Sierra said. “I wasn’t sure if she’d like any of it, or if she’d think it was—”


“Too young for her,” they finished at the same time.


Was she really that predictable?


Rory’s gaze zipped over Sierra. “It’d probably fit me better than her anyway. How tall are you?”


“Five ten.” Sierra fished out a few items at a time, trying each piece with each outfit to see if it’d add impact. A slim fit white rayon blouse went into the keep pile along with a tweed jacket and a butter-yellow-colored turtleneck.


“You sure you want to get rid of this stuff?” Rory asked, fingering an orange sequined tank top.


“Take it if you want it. A hand-me-down is recycling—the responsible, green thing to do.”


Rielle grinned. “Ooh, Rory, she totally has your number.”


“Which is awesome, because I’m gonna be the belle of Laramie in this tank top on New Year’s Eve.” She pawed through the bag. “What else do you have that’s too young for my mom?”


Rory ended up with more clothes from the bag than Rielle did. Her thoughts drifted and she wondered what Gavin would think if he was here, seeing how well their daughters were getting along. She missed him, more than she imagined she would and she didn’t know how to feel about that. She had a sense of unease that Gavin hadn’t thought about her at all since she hadn’t heard from him, but she knew he’d kept in contact with Sierra.


“…with a strap-on.”


Her gaze flew to her daughter’s and both Rory and Sierra laughed.


“You weren’t listening to us at all,” Rory complained.


“Sorry. What?”


Sierra’s gesture encompassed the bed. Then she shook her finger at Rielle. “I’d better not see you heading to town in your gardening clothes. You aren’t a bag lady. You are an entrepreneur. You have several chic outfits to choose from. And you need to own the fact you’re still young and hot.”


Rory laughed. “Yeah, Mom, she’s got your number too.”


“My work here is done for tonight.” Sierra bowed and slipped out of the room.


Rielle hugged Rory again. “I’m so happy to see you.”


“Let’s have a drink and you can tell me all about Gavin Daniels.”


She stiffened. How had Rory known she’d gotten involved with Gavin? “What?”


“Gavin and Sierra. They’ve been living here months. Are you ready to move into my cabin yet?”


Not even close. In that moment, Rielle decided not to tell Rory about her relationship with Gavin. Luckily, her daughter was easily distracted. “You’ll never guess who I ran into at the hardware store last week.”


“Who?”


“Remember Connor? The cute guy who installed the replacement electrical line in the barn?”


“Oh yeah. Definitely some electricity there.”


“Funny you should say that, because he asked about you.”


“Really?” Rory went off on a tangent and Rielle had a reprieve.


Chapter Nineteen


After four days attending to business in Phoenix, Gavin was damn glad to hit the wide open spaces of Wyoming. He called Charlie, letting him know he’d fetch Sierra from the bus stop. He’d missed his daughter, but her random texts amused him.


He’d missed Rielle too. It was a new feeling, missing a romantic partner. Missing the whole of her, the way she smiled at him, their conversations, the way they’d end up twined together. He hadn’t texted or called her. Would she be annoyed with him?


Maybe you oughta ask Sierra for advice since you’re acting like a teenaged girl.


Gavin waved at the assorted McKays, huddled in big pickups at the bus stop as they waited for their kiddos.


Sierra hustled to the car, fighting the fierce Wyoming wind. He remembered when his little girl threw herself at him, assuring him she’d missed him. In recent years he’d considered himself lucky if she even acknowledged him in public.


“I didn’t think you got back until later tonight.”


“I switched to an earlier flight.”


“I’m glad you’re here.”


He smoothed a wisp of her dark hair from her cheek. “Me too, sweetheart.”


“Can I drive?” she asked hopefully.


“In this wind? No.”


“Damn.”


Gavin laughed and pulled onto the highway. “I imagine Charlie let you drive?”


“Every day. I practiced parallel parking, which he says I rock at. Then we had hot chocolate and pie at the diner before we drove home on the back roads. He’s so sweet and funny.”

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