A classic tale of a new generation of cowboys staking claims to their land—and the women they love …
Like his celebrated ancestors, who tamed the wilds of Arizona, Jesse McKettrick’s Indian Rock ties run deep. The Triple M Ranch is in his blood, along with the thrill of risk. But with his land at stake, this world-class poker player won’t be dealt into Cheyenne Bridges’s gamble—despite the temptation she brings.
Cheyenne grew up in Indian Rock and left its painful memories behind to become a self-made woman. Now her job is to convince Jesse to sell his property. Jesse’s not the kind of man Cheyenne could ever forget, but he’s too wild and dangerous for a woman committed to playing it safe. Yet sparks of attraction fly, tempting Cheyenne to lay it all on the line for the passion she sees in Jesse’s eyes.
McKettrick land, Cheyenne Bridges thought stoically, as she stood next to her rented car on a gravel pullout alongside the highway, one hand shading her eyes from the Arizona sun. A faint drumbeat throbbed in her ears, an underground river flowing beneath her pulse, and she remembered a time she could not have remembered. An era when only the Great Spirit could lay claim to the valleys and canyons and mesas, to the arch of the sky, blue as her grandmother’s favorite sugar bowl—a cherished premium plucked from some long-ago flour sack—to the red dirt and the scattered stands of white oak and Joshua and ponderosa pine.
It had taken Angus McKettrick, and other intrepidly arrogant nineteenth-century pioneers like him, to fence in these thousands of square miles, to pen their signatures to deeds, to run cattle and dig wells and wrest a living from the rocky, thistle-strewn soil. Old Angus had passed that audacious sense of ownership on to his sons, and the sons of their sons, down through the generations.
McKettricks forever and ever, amen.
Cheyenne bit her lower lip. Her cell phone, lying on the passenger seat of the car, chimed like an arriving elevator—Nigel again. She ignored the insistent sound until it stopped, only too aware that the reprieve would be fleeting. Meanwhile, the land itself seemed to seep into her heart, rising like water finding its level in some dank, forgotten cistern.
The feeling was bittersweet, a complex tangle of loneliness and homecoming and myriad other emotions she couldn’t readily identify.
She had sworn never to come back to this place.
Never to set eyes on Jesse McKettrick again.
And fate, in its inimitable way, was forcing her to do both those things.
An old blue pickup passed on the road, horn honking in exuberant greeting. A trail of cheerfully mournful country music thrummed in its wake, and the peeling sticker on the rear bumper read Save The Cowboys.
Cheyenne waved, self-conscious in her trim black designer suit and high heels. This was boots-and-jeans country, and she’d stand out like the proverbial sore thumb the moment she drove into town.
Welcome home, she thought ruefully.
The cell chirped again, and she picked her way through the loose gravel to reach in through the open window and grabbed it.
“It’s about time you answered,” Nigel Meerland snapped before she could draw a breath to say hello. “I was beginning to think you’d fallen into some manhole.”
“There aren’t any manholes in Indian Rock,” Cheyenne replied, making her way around to the driver’s side and opening the door.
“Have you contacted him yet?” Nigel didn’t bother with niceties like “Hi, how are you?” either in person or over the telephone. He simply demanded what he wanted—and most of the time, he got it.
“Nigel,” Cheyenne said evenly, “I just got here. So, no, I have not contacted him.” Him was Jesse McKettrick. The last person in this or any other universe she wanted to see—not that Jesse would be able to place her in the long line of adoring women strung out behind him like the cars of a derailed freight train.
“Well, you’re burning daylight, kiddo,” Nigel shot back. Her boss was in his late thirties and English, but he liked using colorful terms, with a liberal smattering of clichés. Westernisms, he called them. “Let’s get this show on the road. I don’t have to tell you how anxious our investors are to get that condo development underway.”
No, Cheyenne thought, sitting down sideways on the car seat, constrained by her tight skin and swinging her legs in under the steering wheel, you don’t have to tell me. I’ve heard nothing else for the last six months.
“Jesse won’t sell,” she said. Realizing she’d spoken the thought aloud, she closed her eyes, braced for the inevitable response.
“He has to sell,” Nigel countered. “Failure is not an option. Everything—and I mean everything—is riding on this deal. If the finance people pull out, the company will go under. You won’t have a job, and I’ll have to crawl back to the ancestral pile on my knees, begging for the scant privileges of a second son.”
Cheyenne closed her eyes. Like Nigel, she had a lot at stake. More than just her job. She had Mitch, her younger brother, to consider. And her mother.
The bonus Nigel had promised, in writing, would give them all a kind of security they’d never known.
The pit of her stomach clenched. “I know,” she told Nigel bleakly. “I know.”
“Get cracking, Pocahontas,” Nigel instructed, and hung up in her ear.
Cheyenne opened her eyes, pressed the end button with her thumb, drew a deep breath and released it slowly. Then she tossed the phone onto the other seat, started the engine and headed for Indian Rock.
The town hadn’t changed much since she’d left it at seventeen, bound for college down in Tucson. There was the dry cleaners, the library, the elementary school. And the small, white-steepled church where she’d struggled to understand Commandments and arks and burning bushes, and had placed quarters, after unwrapping them carefully from a cheap cloth handkerchief, in the collection plate.
She sat a little straighter in the seat as she drove the length of Main Street, signaled and turned left at the old train depot, long since converted to an antiques minimall. The rental car bumped over the railroad tracks, past progressively seedier trailer courts, through a copse of cottonwood trees.
The narrow beams of the ancient cattle guard rattled under the tires.
Cheyenne gave a grateful sigh when the car didn’t fall through and slowed to round the last bend in the narrow dirt road leading to the house.
Like the single and double-wides she’d just passed, the place had gone downhill in her absence. The lawn was overgrown and coils of rusty barbed wire littered the ground. The porch sagged and the siding, scavenged and nailed to the walls without regard to color, jarred the eye.
Gram had been so proud of her house and yard. It would break her heart to see it now.
Her mother’s old van, a patchwork affair like the house, stood in the driveway with the side door open.
Cheyenne had hoped for a few days to settle in before her mother and brother arrived from Phoenix, and at least put in a ramp for Mitch’s wheelchair, but it wasn’t to be. Her heart fluttered with anticipation, then sank.
She put the rental in Park and shut off the motor, surveying the only real home she’d ever had.
“I’ll show you an ancestral pile, Nigel,” she muttered. “Just hop in your Bentley and drive on up to Indian Rock, Arizona.”
The front door swung open just then, and Ayanna Bridges appeared on the porch, wearing a faded cotton dress, high-topped sneakers and a tentative smile. Her straight ebony hair fell past her waist, loosely restrained by a tarnished silver barrette she’d probably owned since the 1960s. When her mother started toward the rickety steps, Cheyenne got out of the car.
“Look,” Ayanna called, pointing. “I found some old boards out behind the shed and dragged them around to make a ramp, Mitch whizzed right up to them like he was on flat ground.”
Life had forced Ayanna to be resourceful. Makeshift ramps for her son’s wheelchair were the least of her accomplishments. She’d waited tables, often pulling two shifts, grappled with various social-service agencies to get Mitch the medical care he needed, sold cosmetics and miracle vitamins, all without a twinge of self-pity—at least, not one she’d ever allowed her children to see.
Cheyenne scrounged up a smile. Pretended to admire the pair of teetering, weathered two-by-fours, each with one end propped on the porch floor and one disappearing into the weedy grass. Doubtless, Mitch had used them to alight from the van, too.
If—when—the bonus came through, Cheyenne planned to buy a new van, specially equipped with a hydraulic lift and maybe even hand controls. For now, they would have to make do, as they’d always done.
“Good work,” she said.
Ayanna met her in the middle of the yard, enfolding Cheyenne in a hug that made her breath catch and her eyes burn.
She blinked a couple of times before meeting her mother’s fond gaze.
“Where’s Mitch?” Cheyenne asked.
“Inside,” Ayanna said, her words gently hushed.
“I’m afraid he’s brooding again—he misses his friends in Phoenix. He’ll be all right once he’s had a little while to get used to being here.”
Cheyenne could empathize. She thought, with poignant longing, of her one-bedroom condo in sunny San Diego, half a mile from the beach. She’d sublet it, and that was another worry. If she couldn’t convince Jesse McKettrick to part with five hundred acres of prime real estate, she not only wouldn’t have a job, she’d have to stay in Indian Rock, find whatever work there was to be had and stockpile pennies until she could afford to start over somewhere else.
As she stood there despairing, Nigel’s cell-phone comment blew through her spirit like a cold wind scouring the walls of a lonely canyon. Everything’s riding on this deal. And I mean everything.
“Come on inside, honey,” Ayanna said, taking Cheyenne’s arm when she would have turned and fled back to the rental car. “We can bring your things in later.”
Cheyenne nodded, ashamed that she’d come so close, after all her preparation and effort, to fleeing the scene.
Ayanna smiled, butted her taller daughter lightly with the outside of one shoulder. “We’ve all come home,” she said softly. “You and Mitch and me. And home is a great place to start over.”
Home might be a “great place to start over,” Cheyenne reflected grimly, if you were a McKettrick. If your key fit the lock of one of the several sprawling, rustically elegant houses standing sturdily on a section of the legendary Triple M Ranch.
If your name was Bridges, on the other hand, and you were the daughter of a charming but compulsive gambler who’d died in jail, and a hardworking but fatally codependent dreamer like Ayanna, making a clean-slate beginning was a luxury you couldn’t afford.
Ordinary people had to settle for survival.
* * *
Nurleen Gentry shuffled and dealt the flop—a pair of sevens and a queen. Once the cards were down, lying helter-skelter on the scruffy green-felt tabletop, she folded her hands, glittering with fake diamonds ordered from the shopping channel, and waited.
Jesse leaned back in his customary chair in the card room behind Lucky’s Main Street Bar and Grill and pretended to consider his options. He felt the eyes of the other poker players on him, through the stale and shifting haze of blue-gray cigarette smoke, and gave nothing away.
“Bet or fold, McKettrick,” Wade Parker grumbled from the other side of the table. Jesse allowed one corner of his mouth to crook up, ever so slightly, in the go-to-hell grin he’d been perfecting since he was eleven. Wade wore a bad rug and a windbreaker emblazoned with the logo of the beer company he worked for, and his full lips twitched with impatience. The tobacco smudge rose from the cheap cigar smoldering in the ashtray beside him.
Next to Wade was Don Rogers, who owned the Laundromat. Don squirmed on the patched vinyl seat of his chair, but Jesse knew it wasn’t the wait that bothered the other man. Don was a neat freak and wanted to tidy the flop so badly that a muscle under his right eye jerked. Touching anybody’s cards but his own could get a man shot in some parts, though the retribution would be neither swift nor terrible in the old hometown.
Could be Don had pocket queens, Jesse thought, but that didn’t seem likely. When it came to tells, Don was easier to read than the twelve-foot limestone letters set into the slope east of town, spelling out INDIAN ROCK.
Everything about Don said, WINGING IT.
Jesse made a show of pondering myriad possibilities, then accordioned four fifty-dollar chips into the pot.
“Shit,” Don muttered, and put down his cards without revealing them, one precisely on top of the other.
Wade leaned forward, his bushy eyebrows raised. Nurleen, an old hand at dealing poker and a better-than-fair player herself, though her specialty was Omaha, not Texas Hold ‘Em, said nothing, but simply looked on with intense disinterest.
“I think you’re bluffing, McKettrick,” Wade said. He rifled his chips, which had been growing steadily for the last half hour.
“Think what you like,” Jesse countered, without inflection. He’d already thrown in a couple of winning hands, just to support Wade’s delusion that the poker gods were lined up solidly behind him, armed for battle. Jesse had time, and he had money—a deadly combination, in poker or just about any other endeavor.
Wade plucked a pair of sunglasses from the pocket of his windbreaker and shoved them onto his face.
A little late, Jesse thought, but this time, he kept his grin on the inside, where nobody knew about it but him.
Nurleen dealt the fourth card, known in Hold ‘Em parlance as the turn. Jesse ruminated. Even if Wade had twin aces to go with the one on the table, three of a kind wouldn’t take the pot, which meant the beer salesman was screwed. Unless the fifth card, or the river turned out to be another ace, of course.
Bad beats happened—in the back rooms of small-town bars and the championship tournaments in Vegas and everywhere in between. Jesse’s gut said Risk it, but then, it rarely said anything else.
Out of the corner of one eye, Jesse saw someone slip through the doorway from the bar. Coins clinked into the jukebox.
After a brief intro, Kenny Rogers proclaimed the wisdom of knowing when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em. When to walk away, and when to run.
Jesse knew all about holding and folding, but walking away was anathema to him, never mind running.
Wade matched Jesse’s bet and raised him three hundred.
Jesse responded in kind.
Nurleen turned the river card.
A deuce of hearts.
Jesse let his grin show again.
“Call,” Wade said. He pushed his wager to the middle of the table, showed his cards. King of hearts, queen of spades. He’d been counting on the lady in his hand and the one on the table to make a hand.
Nurleen sighed almost imperceptibly and shook her head.
Jesse felt a twinge of guilt as he tossed out two sevens.
Four of a kind.
Wade swore, “Damn your dumb-ass luck, Jesse,” he growled.
Nurleen gathered the cards, shuffled for a new game. “You still in, Wade? Don?”
Know when to walk away, Kenny advised. Know when to run.
Jesse spared a sidelong glance and saw his cousin Keegan leaning against the jukebox with his arms folded. He looked like a city lawyer, or even a banker, in his tailored slacks, vest and crisply pressed shirt.
Jesse cracked another grin, mostly because he knew what he was about to say would piss Keegan off. “I’m in,” he said.
“I’d like a word with you,” Keegan said, keeping his distance but looking downright implacable at the same time. “Maybe you could skip a hand.”
Wade and Don looked so hopeful that Jesse exchanged glances with Nurleen and pushed back his chair to stand and cross the floor, which was littered, in true Old West style, with peanut shells and sawdust. There might have been tobacco juice, too, if the health department hadn’t been sure to kick up a fuss. Around Indian Rock, folks took their history seriously.
“What’s so important that it can’t wait?” he asked, in a low voice that slid in under Kenny’s famous vibrato.
Keegan was the same height as Jesse, but the resemblance ended there. Keegan had reddish-brown hair, always neatly trimmed, while Jesse’s was dark blond and shaggy. Keegan had the navy-blue eyes that ran in Kade McKettrick’s lineage, and Jesse’s were the light azure common to Jeb’s descendents.
“We had a meeting, remember?” Keegan snapped.
Kenny wrapped up the song, and a silence fell. The jukebox whirred and Patsy Cline launched into “Crazy.”
Jesse grinned. First, a musical treatise on gambling. Then, a comment on mental health. “That’s real Freudian, Keeg,” he drawled. “And I didn’t know you cared.”
Keegan’s square jaw tightened as he set his back molars. By now, they must have been worn down to nubs, Jesse reckoned, but he kept that observation to himself.
“Goddamn it,” Keegan rasped, “you’ve got as big a share in the Company as I do. How about showing a little responsibility?” Keegan always capitalized any reference to McKettrickCo, the family conglomerate, verbally or in writing. The man worked twelve-hour days, pored over spreadsheets and pulled down a seven-figure salary.
By contrast, Jesse rode horses, entered the occasional rodeo, chased women, played poker and banked his dividend checks. He considered himself one lucky son of a gun, and in his more charitable moments he felt sorry for Keegan. Now, he straightened his cousin’s tasteful pin-striped tie, which had probably cost more than the newest front-loader over at Don’s Laundromat.
“You think poker isn’t work?” he asked and waited for the steam to shoot out of Keegan’s ears. They’d grown up together on the Triple M, fishing and camping out in warm weather, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter, with Rance, a third cousin, completing the unholy trio. They’d all gone to college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where Keegan had majored in business, Rance had studied high finance and Jesse had attended class between rodeo competitions and card games. Despite their differences, they’d gotten along well enough—until Rance and Keegan had both married. Everything had changed then.
They’d both turned serious.
These days Rance traveled the world, making deals for McKettrickCo.
“Smart-ass,” Keegan said, struggling not to grin.
“Buy you a beer?” Jesse asked, hopeful, for a brief moment, that his cousin was back.
Keegan glanced at his Rolex. “It’s my weekend with Devon,” he said. “I’m supposed to pick her up at six-thirty.”
Devon was Keegan’s nine-year-old daughter, and since he and his wife, Shelley, had divorced a year ago, they’d been shuttling the kid back and forth between Shelley and the boyfriend’s upscale condo in Flag and the main ranch house on the Triple M where Keegan remained.
Jesse hesitated, then laid a hand on Keegan’s shoulder. “It’s okay,” he said quietly. “Another time.”
Keegan sighed. “Another time,” he agreed, resigned. He started to walk away, then turned back. “And, Jesse?”
The old, familiar grin spread across Keegan’s face. “Grow up, will you?”
“I’ll put that on my calendar,” Jesse promised, returning the grin. He loved Devon, whom he thought of as a niece rather than a cousin however many times removed, and certainly didn’t begrudge her time with Keegan. Just the same, he felt a twinge of sadness, too.
Everything and everybody in the world changed—except him.
That was the reality. Best accept it.
Jesse went back to the poker table and anted up for the next hand.
* * *
“Can’t this wait until tomorrow?” Ayanna had asked, somewhat plaintively, after coffee at the kitchen table, where Mitch had sat brooding in his chair, when Cheyenne had announced her intention to track down Jesse McKettrick.
With a shake of her head, Cheyenne had said no, gathered her wits, smoothed her skirt and straightened her jacket, and made for the rental car.
McKettrickCo seemed to be the logical place to start her search—she’d already discovered, via her cell phone, that Jesse’s number was unlisted.
Cheyenne knew, having grown up in Indian Rock, that the company’s home offices were in San Antonio. The new building housed a branch of the operation, which meant the outfit was in expansion mode. According to her research, McKettrickCo was a diverse corporation, with interests in cutting-edge technology and global investment.
Jesse’s name wasn’t on the reader board in the sleekly contemporary reception area, a fact that didn’t surprise Cheyenne. When she’d known him, he was the original trust-fund bad boy, wild as a mustang and committed to one thing: having a good time.
She approached the desk, relieved that she didn’t recognize the woman tapping away at the keyboard of a supercomputer with three large flat-screen monitors.
“May I help you?” the receptionist asked pleasantly. She was middle-aged, with a warm smile, a lacquered blond hairdo and elegant posture.
Cheyenne introduced herself, hoping her last name wouldn’t ring any bells, and asked how to locate Jesse McKettrick. With luck—and she was due for some of that—she wouldn’t have to drive all the way out to his house and confront him on his own turf.
Not that any part of Indian Rock was neutral ground when it came to the McKettricks.
The receptionist assessed Cheyenne with mild interest. “Jesse could be anywhere,” she said, after some length, “but if I had to make a guess, I’d say he’s probably in the back room over at Lucky’s, playing poker.”
Cheyenne stiffened. Of course he’d be at Lucky’s—fate wouldn’t have it any other way. How many times, as a child, had she sneaked through the back door of that place from the alley and tried to will her father away from a game of five-card stud?
She produced a business card, bearing her name, affiliation with Meerland Real Estate Ventures, Ltd., and her cell number. “Thanks,” she said. “Just in case you see Mr. McKettrick before I do, will you give him my card and ask him to please call me as soon as possible?”
The woman studied Cheyenne’s information, frowned and then nodded politely. “He doesn’t come in too often,” she said.
Of course he didn’t.
Still Jesse, after all these years. Cheyenne left McKettrickCo, got back into her car and drove resolutely to Lucky’s Main Street Bar and Grill. The gravel parking lot beside the old brick building was full, with the dinner hour fast approaching, so she parked in the alley, next to a mud-splattered black truck with both windows rolled down.
For a moment, she was a kid again, sent by her misguided mother to fetch Daddy home from the bar. She remembered propping her bike against the wall, next to the overflowing trash bin, rehearsing what she’d say once she got inside, forcing herself up the two unpainted steps and through the screened door, which always groaned on its hinges.
When the door suddenly creaked open, Cheyenne was startled. She wrenched herself out of the time warp and actually considered crouching behind the dumpster until whoever it was had gone.
Jesse stepped out, stretched like a lazy tomcat at home in an alley and fixing to go on the prowl, and adjusted his cowboy hat. He wore old jeans, a Western shirt unbuttoned to his collarbone and the kind of boots country people called shit-kickers. Even mud and horse manure couldn’t disguise the fact that they were expensive, probably custom-made.
When Cheyenne’s gaze trailed back up to Jesse’s face, she realized that he was looking at her. Grinning that lethal grin.
Someone flipped the porch light on from inside, and moths immediately gravitated to it, out of nowhere. Drawing an immediate parallel between Jesse and the bulb, she took half a step back.
He registered her suit and high-heeled shoes in a lazy sweep of his eyes. He clearly didn’t recognize her, which was at once galling and a relief.
He tugged at the brim of his battered hat. “You lost?” he asked.
Cheyenne was a moment catching her breath.
“No,” she answered, fishing in her hobo bag for another card. “My name is Cheyenne Bridges, and I was hoping to talk to you about a business proposition.”
She instantly regretted using the word proposition because it made a corner of Jesse’s mouth tilt with amusement, but she was past the point of no return.
He descended the steps with that loose-limbed, supremely confident walk she remembered so well and approached her. Put out his hand. “Jesse McKettrick,” he said.
There was nothing to say but “I know.” She’d given herself away with the first words she’d spoken.
“Bridges,” he said, reflecting. Studying the card pensively before slipping it into his shirt pocket.
Cheyenne braced herself inwardly. Glanced toward the screen door Jesse had come through a few moments before.
“Any relation to—?” He paused, stooped slightly to look into her face. Recollection dawned. “Wait a second. Cheyenne Bridges.” He grinned. “I remember you—Cash’s daughter. We went to the movies a couple of times.”
She swallowed, nodded, hiked her chin up a notch. “That’s right,” she said carefully. Cash’s daughter, that’s who she was to him. A shy teenager he’d dated twice and then lost interest in. He didn’t know, she reminded herself silently, that she’d tacked every picture of him she could get to the wall of her bedroom in that shack out beyond the railroad tracks, the way most girls did photos of rock stars and film idols. He didn’t know she’d loved him with the kind of desperate, hopeless adoration only a sixteen-year-old can feel.
He didn’t know she’d prayed that he’d fall madly in love with her. That she’d imagined their wedding, their honeymoon and the birth of their four children so often that sometimes it felt like a memory of something that had really happened, rather than the fantasy it was.
Thank God Jesse didn’t know any of those things. She wouldn’t have been able to face him if he had, even with Mitch and her mom and Nigel all depending on her to persuade him to sell five hundred unspoiled acres of land to her company.
“I heard about your brother’s accident,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
Shaken out of her reverie, Cheyenne nodded again. “Thanks.”
“Your dad, too.”
Her eyes stung. She tried to speak, swallowed instead.
Jesse smiled, took a light grip on her elbow. “Do you always do business in alleys?” he teased.
For a moment, she was affronted. Then she realized it was a perfectly reasonable question. “No,” she said.
“I was just heading for the Roadhouse to grab some supper. Want to come along?” He gestured toward the muddy truck.
The Roadhouse, also known as the Roadkill Café, was an institution in Indian Rock, a haven for truck drivers, bikers, cowboys, and state patrolmen. Ironically, families dined at Lucky’s, probably pretending that the card room behind didn’t exist.
“I’ll meet you there,” Cheyenne said. She’d have been safe enough with Jesse, but no way was she climbing into that truck in a straight skirt. She had some dignity, after all, even if she did feel like the scrawny ten-year-old who’d parked her bike in this alley and gone inside to beg her father, with a stellar lack of success, to come home for supper. Or to watch her perform in the class play. Or to take Gram to the hospital because she couldn’t catch her breath. . .
“Okay,” Jesse said easily. He walked her to the rental car, which looked nondescript beside his truck. Like his boots, the vehicle had seen its share of action. Like his boots, it was top-of-the-line, with dual tires and an extended cab. Definitely leather seats, custom CD player, and a GPS, too.
Once she was behind the wheel of the rental, with the window rolled down, Jesse leaned easily against the door and looked in at her.
“It’s good to see you, Cheyenne,” he said.
“You, too,” she replied. But a lump rose in her throat. Don’t go there, she told herself sternly. This is business. You’ll buy the land. You’ll help Nigel get the construction project rolling. You’ll collect your bonus and take care of Mitch and your mother. And then you’ll go back to San Diego and forget Jesse McKettrick ever existed.
“As if,” she muttered aloud.
Jessie, in the process of turning away to head for his truck, turned back. “Did you say something?”
She gave him her best smile. “See you there,” she said.
He waved. Hoisted himself into the truck and fired up the engine.
Cheyenne waited until he pulled out, and then followed.
If she’d been as smart as other people thought she was, she thought grimly, she’d have kept on going. Sped right out of Indian Rock, past the Roadhouse, past Jesse and all the other memories and impossible dreams he represented, and never looked back.