I can’t love you - Chapter 2 - GillyJeans21 (2024)

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

Beth watched as Rip gripped Avery’s hip, anger bubbling inside her as she witnessed the small touch, a touch that had once been reserved for her. She wanted to run away and scream into a pillow then wallow in self-pity, but her legs were firmly grounded, heavy, and un-moving. She just couldn’t help but watch as the two exchanged in a brief conversation before Avery entered the bunkhouse.

It took Beth a moment to realize Rip hadn’t followed the leggy brunette inside, instead he was walking back towards his truck only a few feet from where Beth now stood. If he didn’t catch her before entering his truck, he sure would once he turned his full beams on. Beth held her breath and edged backwards, hoping to step into the shadow of the barn unseen but the large latch keeping the door shut was louder than expected as it blew into the door with a bang. She darted into the darkness, causing the horses to stir. She knew he would have heard, and it was only seconds before march of his boots against gravel neared. Beth contemplated hiding in a stall, or the tack room but she knew Rip was diligent, he would scour the barn until he found her. She looked to the second set of doors at the back of the barn, but they had been locked from the outside. Her heart raced and she felt a sweat break out on her brow, she had to get control. She inhaled sharp and took a seat on a ledge, running her hands down her wet rain-soaked face as she waited with bated breath.


God his voice did something to her, the gruff sexiness of his tone melted her from the inside out. Her insides bubbled with excitement at just hearing her name roll off his tongue. The same tongue that had done unspeakable things to her. She realized when he repeated her name that she hadn’t spoken, she looked up at him through her soaking wet fringe, sighing as she took all of him in.


“Beth your soaking…what are you doing out here?”

She looked down at herself, her coat hung lose from her body, unzipped. Her light blue jeans were now dark blue, and her black night dress was soaked, clinging to every curve of her body. The chill in the air had caused her nipples to form into stiff peaks and she didn’t miss the way Rip’s eyes landed on them.

“I erm…” She thought of her answer, instinctively wrapping her drenched coat tighter round her body. “You know that house…I can’t breathe in it.”

Rip stepped closer to her, his boots crunching against wayward clumps of hay. He sat next to her, far enough away to maintain an appropriate distance, but close enough that Beth could smell his aftershave. The scent filling her nostrils, the smell so familiar so comforting but he wasn’t wearing it for her, he was wearing it for Avery.

“How long have you been out here Beth?”

“A while, I don’t know” She mumbled softly.

She felt him shift next to her, his body close enough to make her heart race. She felt the urge to reach over and kiss him, her fingers twitching against her thigh desperately seeking the touch she had missed for the past year.

“I’m sorry about Lee” He sighed.

She could sense his own heartache at Lee’s death. The two had been close, Lee had looked out for both Beth and Rip.

“I’m sorry too” She replied, finally turning to look at him.

He smiled softly, his bright blue eyes full of sadness, heartache, and something else. She couldn’t quite decide if it was desire or disappointment or both. He stared at her for a while longer, before reaching out to squeeze her hand.

Beth felt as though she would combust at his touch, the gesture so small yet it set every inch of her alight with burning desire. She felt tears sting her eyes as she recalled the kiss he had just shared with Avery. She blinked them away fast before standing abruptly, coughing to cover her sadness.

“I should head back.”

“Let me drive you.”

“No, I am fine Rip, you head home.”

“Beth your freezing”

She hadn’t realized until that moment just how cold she was. Her clothes had grown uncomfortable against her skin, the cooling fabric making her teeth chatter and legs shake. She nodded in acceptance and followed him out to his truck. He opened the passenger door for her, and she was instantly hit with the smell of an unknown perfume. It was sweet, too sweet.

They drove the five minutes up the hill in silence, Rips fingers tapping nervously against the wheel as he tried to focus on the dimply lit path. He pulled up as close as he could and was just about to jump out and walk her to the door when she stopped him.

“I’m fine, you don’t need to get out Rip…thank you for dropping me home” she said with a small barely their smile.

He looked at her softly, his head tilted as he reciprocated the smile. She stared at him for probably five seconds longer than she should have before reaching for the handle, the door barely open when he rested a hand on her shoulder.


She turned back halfway, eyeing him cautiously, readying herself for the blow, for the news she already knew.

“I’m seeing someone.”

She thought the fact she knew it was coming would soften the blow but hearing him say it only made her hurt more. The stab to her fragile heart enough to make most women crumble but she had a façade to maintain so instead of crying or screaming she smiled and reached out her hand to squeeze his.

“I’m pleased for you Rip.”

She jumped out of the truck and rushed to the door, letting herself in quietly. She lay back against the cool wood, her breathing labored as she fought the sob trying to escape her. Her hands shook against her sides as she gripped her coat, pulling it off and hanging it on the rack to dry. She kicked of her boots, her socks sodden underneath. The tears were ready to fall, the sobs ready to take over but she held them in, not wanting to risk bumping into a brother or her father in that state. Instead, she took three deep breaths, blinked five times, and padded to her room quietly. She walked into her bathroom, stripped herself of her wet clothes and climbed under the hot steaming water of her shower before finally letting the barrier down and the tears fall.

The morning sun was bright and warm, the storm had passed and brought glorious sunshine in it’s wake. The still wet ground glistened in the morning sun and a double rainbow danced across the mountain tops.

“It’s like the rainbows are Lee and Mom” Kayce said softly.

Beth turned to him, looking over her sunglasses.

“I don’t believe in that sh*t” She muttered, making Kayce smirk.

“Sometimes you need to believe sweetheart” John replied as he wrapped an arm around Beth’s shoulders, guiding her to the burial.

Lee didn’t have many friends outside the ranch, but Beth still felt he had a respectable turn out. Most guests were friends through other ranches in the area, a few were there for John and the rest were made up of the wranglers. She appreciated the effort they made for her brother. He had been popular among the cowboys, a good friend to many. She glanced over the group, hiding her puffy eyes behind her glasses. Everyone had worn a suit and styled their hair, trimmed their beards, and polished their shoes. They all looked smart, but Rip looked handsome. His usual jeans and jacket gone in favor of smart trousers, a crisp white shirt and grey blazer. He wore a black tie and his standard boots to finish it off. Beth noticed Avery hovering near him, but his hands remained respectfully together in front of him.

The burial was emotional, but in true Dutton fashion no one let it show. Her father remained stoic his shoulders a little tense. Kayce allowed himself to look sad but never let the tears fall, Jamie just stood robotic. Beth felt tears sting her eyes but as always, she blinked them back. She had been so engrossed in saying goodbye to Lee, that she hadn’t noticed Rip move to stand next to her until he started a conversation with her father. His presence made her skin prickle excitedly.

The three began to walk back towards the lodge, Beth slightly ahead, avoiding the conversation her father and Rip shared. The ground beneath her heels was sodden, each step causing her to sink further into the grass until she slipped.

Big arms grabbed her waist stopping her from falling. His breath against her neck, his scent filling her senses.

“You, okay?” He asked, placing her back on her feet.

She noticed his hands still holding her, slowly letting them fall when she eyed him. It didn’t go unnoticed by Avery who gave Beth a little smirk.

“All good, these shoes weren’t the best choice in this mud” Beth said hastily, brushing off her trip.

Beth pushed her sunglasses on top of her head and straightened out her jacket. Rip was still looking at her and she was looking at him, until she realized how puffy and red her eyes must still look from the crying, she had done last night. She quickly pulled her glasses back down to cover her eyes, but it was clear from Rip’s face he had noticed.

“It was a lovely sendoff” Avery said softly as she moved within an inch of Rip, placing an arm to loop through his.

Beth didn’t miss the way Rip tensed, his face taut and unnerved.

“It was…Lee deserved something special” Beth said with a sad sigh, trying her hardest to seem okay with Avery.

The three stood awkwardly for a moment, exchanging uncomfortable glances, each relieved when John stepped in.

“Gator has put on food back at the lodge, come on sweetheart” John said, guiding Beth carefully through the mud.

The gaggle of guests all gathered on the back lawn of the lodge where Gator had organized a feast. The wranglers were in their element scoffing down whatever food they could get their hands on. Kayce kept a distance with Monica, the two watching Tate run around with the other children while Jamie talked politic with the senator.

“Of course, he makes today about himself” She muttered softly.

Beth downed her whiskey and made her way inside, the silence of the lodge oddly comforting in comparison to the loud chat from outside. She swiftly made her way up to her bedroom and through to the bathroom. She quicky pee’d then looked at herself in the mirror, the dark circles under her eyes with puffy edges made her look sick. She hated that Rip could get her so worked up, and she hated even more that he had moved on. She knew she only had herself to blame, she had pushed him away one to many times and he had finally snapped. She thought back to their last night together, the way he had loved her before she ruined it. The way he cared about her, listened to her, allowed her to be herself in every way. No man had ever been man enough to let her be her, no one except Rip.

The sudden feeling of more emotions started to build up inside her, so she placed a cold flannel to her neck, the cold touch enough to distract her from her mindless hole of self-pity. She re-fixed her lipstick before leaving her bedroom, stopping when she saw Rip coming out the main bathroom at the other end of the corridor.

“I erm…downstairs was occupied…could wait” He muttered lamely.

“Beer will do that to yah”

Rip nodded, letting out a puff from his nose.

“I wanted to tell you last night that it was Avery” Rip said almost apologetically as he shifted on his toes, not quite looking in Beth’s eyes.

Beth’s inner crazy wanted to confront him, to ask why the stripper but she wasn’t sure she had the energy, and she knew deep down either Rip nor Avery had done anything wrong.

“You always got on well” Beth said, not meaning to sound menacing.

She recalled the years between college and now. She knew Rip slept with other women he met in bars; she had done the same. They had never been a couple; never had rules and she knew in the past Rip and Avery had hooked up. She also knew Avery was aware that when Rip disappeared from the ranch, he was with her in her Salt Lake Apartment. It stung to think Rip’s casual sex stripper had won over her, over the history they shared but she also knew she had run out of chances.

“I didn’t plan for it Beth.”

Beth stepped closer to Rip, their faces inches apart, lips almost touching. She could feel his breath against hers.

“Does she make you happy?” Beth whispered.

Rip didn’t answer for a moment, his eyes fixed on Beth’s lips, heart pounding in his chest. He swallowed hard.

“We have fun.”

Beth smiled, he didn’t answer her question and he knew it from the way he stepped back, knocking into the wall nervously.

“Fun is good too” Beth grinned before slipping past him and down the stairs.

As the evening drew in and the guests started leaving, Beth found herself sat out on a lawn chair, whiskey in hand staring into the distance, the sunset occupying her vision. So enamored with the beauty she failed to notice Kayce take a seat next to her.


She finally turned her head to look at her little brother, the carefree boyish grin she saw in him yesterday, replaced with something far more haunting.

“You okay Kace?”

“I’ve watched mom die and Lee…you ever think I’m a bad omen?”

Beth smirked slightly, her eyes turning back to the sunset.

“I was the reason mom died…I think we can safely say I’m the families bad omen.”

Kayce inhaled as he lent closer to Beth, his hand reaching out to squeeze her knee gently, something he always did when they mentioned their mom.

“It wasn’t your fault Beth…I wish you would accept that.”

Beth placed her hand over Kayce’s, both now rested on her knee. She squeezed back reassuringly.

“I don’t think I ever apologized for taking so long to find dad…for not knowing where she was. I’m sorry you had to sit with her Kace”

“You don’t need to say sorry to me Beth.”

“Yeah, I do” Beth argued.

Kayce nodded, knowing Beth would never accept anyone else’s perspective of that fateful night.

“You think there together?”

“I don’t know…maybe.”

The two siblings fell into silence as the sun set completely, neither attempting to move, their hands still rested on top of each other’s.

I can’t love you - Chapter 2 - GillyJeans21 (2024)
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