Book Genre: Contemporary Western Romance

True-Blue Texas Cowboy

Title: True-Blue Texas Cowboy
Genre:
Release Date: March 20, 2019

Beautiful widowed rancher Lee Granger hires Jesse Kincade, a retired PRCA calf roper, as her new hand. When Lee finds an unknown girl’s body in one of her pastures, she relies on her law enforcement background to follow clues to the girl’s identity and the trail of the killer. As she zeros in on her prey with a bull’s eye on her back, Jesse is all that stands between Lee and the gunman.

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CHAPTER ONE

 

Lee, feeling helpless, gripped Wess’s hand. His right arm and leg, now the color of a ripe plum, were swollen twice their normal size. Sweat saturated the pillow in a halo around his head. She squeezed his fingers. "Honey, I'm here." From her perch on the side of his bed, she couldn't bear the agony in his crystal blue eyes. Eyes that had loved her, laughed with her, and understood her every mood for the past nine years. His pain was her pain, and she searched her mind for something—anything she could do to make this more bearable for him.

Early this morning, he had thrown several blood clots, the angry color and swelling her first clue that something new was wrong with him. During his battle with stage IV colon cancer, that devastating villain had spread to his liver and lungs.

Wess blinked and wet his dry lips with his tongue. "Hey ... I love you." He shut his eyes, his brow creasing as he took a slow, deep breath. When he opened them again, he said, "I know you, Lee." He breathed in again. "You won't cry. You're going to sull up and ..." Coughing, he closed his eyes and sucked in air, then exhaled. "And all you're going to do is work. That's bullshit." He paused, as if gathering his energy. “When Megan died, I wanted you to talk to somebody, but you wouldn’t. You kept it all inside.”

“I talked to you. That’s all I needed.”

He sighed. “It wasn’t. I was hurting, too. I didn’t know what to say to take your pain away.” He breathed deeply again. “Lee, this time, you have to talk about it. You can’t hold it all inside. It’s too much. Promise me, honey, you’ll talk to someone.” He held her gaze as her old Wess had—strong, giving her no quarter.

She squeezed his hand. "Stop worrying about me. You need to concentrate on getting well. I'm counting on that, you hear me?"

He grimaced. "Don’t, honey ... it's over."

"It's not over. You'd better not quit on me, Wess Granger." She squeezed his hand hard, unable to stop the wetness overflowing her eyes.

He said softly, "I'm not quitting, sweetheart," swallowing, he continued, "but look at me. It's time."

Shaking her head sharply, she stood and pulled a clean pillowcase from the stack she kept near the bed. "Here, I'm going to change your pillow and get you a bottle of Ensure. You need some calories to perk you up. I don't want any more of this talk."

Tucking the pillow under her chin, she slid the new cover on. It shredded her heart that he hardly weighed anything. Lifting his shoulders, she slipped the pillow under his head, refusing to believe what Wess said. This couldn't be it. She wouldn't let it be. He still had more time. The nurse wouldn't have gone to see her other patient if she thought it was over.

When Lee turned to leave the room, Wess said quietly, "Don't. No Ensure." His eyes were closed. He patted the bed once. "Just you, here beside me." Opening his eyes, he breathed deeply, letting it out. "I want to hold my sweet wife."

Grief slammed her. How many times over the years had he said that? Hundreds? Thousands? And here, now, when he could barely move or talk, he said it again. Forcing a smile, she walked over to him.

First, she gave him morphine drops under his tongue for pain. Then, slipping her wranglers off, she slid the covers back. Carefully moving his arm, she snuggled against him and pulled his arm around her.

Wess sucked in a breath and exhaled, saying in a quiet voice. "Oh, I love you."

She couldn't help it. She cried, hiding it in the shift of her shoulders, scrubbing her face against his t-shirt to wipe the tears. Rubbing his stomach slowly, round and round his belly button the way that always put him to sleep, she kissed his shirt, whispering, "I love you, honey. Rest now."

#

Wess arched his back and moaned, waking her instantly. She sat up as he grabbed his chest, crying out again. He stared at her, panic in his eyes.

"What, baby? What is it?" Standing, she leaned over him, searching for the cause of his pain. His color was off—bluish. Why? God—the nurse. She scrambled around the bed and got hold of her phone as Wess groaned again. Punching the number, she said to him, "It's okay honey. I'm calling the nurse." Frantic, she stared at the silent phone. Why didn't the woman answer? The call rolled to voicemail. With forced calm, Lee said, "Amanda, call me back. Wess is in terrible pain. I don't know what's wrong."

He coughed and tried to talk, but she couldn't understand him. She sat on the edge of the bed, holding his hand. "Honey, hold on. Tell me what's happening. Please, honey." Shoving her terror down deep, she looked into his eyes.

"Heart ... fast. Heavy." Still clutching his chest, he grimaced in agony and closed his eyes, moaning and turning his head into the pillow.

She squeezed his hand. "Oh, honey. I love you. I don't know what to do." Sobbing, she covered her mouth. "Oh my God, I can't help him."

Wess panted quick, shallow breaths, then began to cough hard.

Lee slipped her arm under his shoulders and lifted him up, his swollen, purple arm wedged against her.

He coughed harder, a wet bubbly sound, and blood dripped from his mouth.

The thick red line traveled down his chin and on his clean white t-shirt. "Shit! Wess! Wess, I love you. I love you, baby. Stay with me." She looked at the phone clutched in her hand. Nothing. Nobody could help her now.

He quit coughing. He wasn't breathing! She felt for a pulse but couldn't find one. Throwing his pillow on the floor, she laid him flat on the bed, beginning quick chest compressions. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight ...

She stopped, hands on his chest. What was she doing? He'd made her promise—

promise on her life—that she wouldn't bring him back. That was one reason he hadn't gone to the hospital. He wanted to go out in his own time, in his own way. Lifting her hands, she stepped back.

Her gaze traveled over him, noting his blue eyes half open, mouth ajar, sweaty dark hair grown longer than he ever would have worn it when he was healthy. The blood on his shirt was a shocking exclamation point to his pallid skin. But through all that, she saw her man. Her handsome cowboy with his big Texas swagger who'd swept her off her feet. Wess was her one and only. The love of her life. He was all those corny fairy-tale things that nobody ever really got. But she’d had it all in him.

And he was gone. Gone! Just like that. I'm not ready! She turned and rammed her fist at the closet door. Again. And again. Knuckles bleeding, she slipped to the floor. Leaning her head on the wall, burning tears flowed down her ravaged face. I should have had more time, dammit. It isn't fair!

The phone rang. Her life alone, began.

 

Chapter Two

 

The headache Lee woke with pounded like a powwow drum. Her pasture bull had busted down the fence overnight and headed straight across the highway to pleasure himself with her neighbor's cows. She turned to Chowser, her black-and-white Border Collie. "Damn it. I'm going to get some help around here if I have to drive to Abilene and kidnap a homeless guy."

She yanked off her Stetson and wiped the sweat on her forehead, squinting into the noon sun. Her hands pressed her lower back, and she arched it as far as it would go, the fence-mending wire cutters still in her hand. Wild hogs had made a holy mess of the round bales, and at day break she'd forked up most of the loose hay and put it in the barn.

The soft, faded colors of a North Texas summer surrounded her. Since the highway department never seemed to get around to mowing, sun-washed grass on the side of the road reached her knees. The brightest color was the emerald of her wheat field before her, ending in the whispery green of the mesquite pasture in the distance. The sun created harsh shadows from anything strong enough to grow in this tough country.

Bud, her neighbor with a place nearer Woodbury, drove by in his old '69 Chevy truck and honked.

She threw a wave back.

Tendrils of hair had escaped from her pony tail, and a welcome breeze blew them across her face. There were tasks everywhere on this ranch that needed doing. She worked dawn till dark, and still important things went undone. It didn't used to be that way when Wess was alive, and she hurt deep-down that she couldn't keep up.

In the year since his passing, she'd become accustomed to being alone. Actually, she found she preferred it. She didn't need conversation if she couldn't have her husband's company. They'd been able to complete each other's sentences and knew in advance what the other would think was funny. He was the best thing that ever happened to her, except Megan, and now they were both gone. These were painful thoughts. Why in the hell was she thinking about them then?

Twisting the last piece of barbed wire in place, she jammed the wire cutters into her back pocket. Shaking her head, she glanced at the damn bull that was now eating peacefully with his harem. A whole morning wasted, thanks to that horny bastard. She slapped her worn leather gloves hard on her thigh as she strode to her truck.

Chowser stuck his head out the window as they headed into town to mail some bills. The little Woodbury post office wasn't open at lunch, but Pat, the postmistress and jack-of-all-trades, took pity on busy ranchers. She would answer the inner door if you rapped on it. Lee walked in, boot heels clamoring on the tiled floor, and tapped her keys on the glass.

Pat came and opened up. Before Lee could get a word out, Pat said, "Hey, are you still looking for a hand at your place?" When Lee nodded, she said, "Hurry and catch that handsome thing that just walked out. His name's Jesse Kincaid, and he may be looking for work."

Lee spun around and ran out the front doors. Jesse Kincaid? Lord, it had been a long time since she'd heard that name. Her heart remembered, though. Her pulse raced and blood flooded her cheeks. She started waving her arms over her head and advancing on his truck, realizing she must look like a mad woman.

He stopped backing up and pulled into his parking spot again.

Stopping at the driver's side window, she said, "Excuse me, Mr. Kincaid. I'm Lee Granger. My home spread's out at the fork of Highways 183 and 283. I'm looking to hire a full-time hand, and Pat, in the office there, said you might be looking for work." He was even more handsome than he'd been in high school.

He offered an unhurried smile and extended his hand. "Well, ma'am, nice to meet you." Then he said, "I'm looking to buy my own place, but I've been thinking. It wouldn't hurt to add a bit to my stake while I look for the right property." He turned and gazed out the windshield. "A lot's changed around here."

Lee liked the way he considered what he wanted to say before he spoke. Too many cowboys' fast-talking ways got them into trouble. He obviously didn't remember her. He had been three years ahead in school—a rodeo stud. "Well, Mr. Kincaid, if you're interested, why don't you come by my place this afternoon? Around five?"

He gave her a half-smile. "I will, ma'am. And call me Jesse."

She turned toward the post office, her heart still beating fast. Oh, yes. He'd grown from a good-looking boy into a heart-stoppingly handsome man. His dark-brown eyes and jet-black hair set off his richly tanned skin. Strong shoulders and biceps filled out the heavily starched long-sleeved shirt he wore. She stepped back into the post office and rapped on the glass again.

Pat came around the counter and unlocked the door. "What can I do for you, honey? Did you catch that Jesse?"

"I sure did. Thanks a bunch."

"Jesse's related to Bob and Beverly Kincaid. You know old Bob died at least ten years ago, and Beverly got too frail to live alone on the old homestead. She's moved in with her son and daughter-in-law in Breckenridge. And there's another son somewhere back east. Their daughter, Terri, married that no-account drunk that works at Allsup's and has three or four kids now, poor girl. Jesse's the boy who went off to rodeo. He's kept himself scarce, I guess."

Lee nodded. One thing about Pat—she knew everybody's business. She was dying to find out what Lee thought of Jesse, but Lee wasn't about to add more grist to the local gossip mill. The well-greased machine got along fine without her, and she liked it that way. As Pat walked back behind the counter, Lee handed over her three envelopes that needed mailing and bought a book of stamps.

When she left the building, her mind wandered back to the cowboy. She—like half the girls in high school—had a secret crush on him. Then after graduation he left for the pro calf-roping circuit, and she went off to college to learn how to be a peace officer. She hadn't thought about Jesse in years until the shock of hearing his name from Pat. Lee took a deep breath and forced it out. No more nonsense. At five o'clock she'd be all business.

#

Lee parked in the driveway, faced with the silent, empty house and old memories of her husband. She stared at the bright flowers she still worked so hard to care for. Wess had said that he always knew there was love in their home because it took lots of it to make flowers grow in this hot North Texas land. Losing him had broken her spirit in a way she'd never believed could happen. Why was it that today she couldn't quit thinking about losing him and Megan?

Stomping her foot against the floorboard, she crossed her arms on the steering wheel and rested her head on them. In her years as a Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper, she'd seen more than her share of tragedy. But when it came to her own, she couldn't find a place to stash it where it stayed put.

Eventually, she opened the truck door, and the loud creak reminded her that it needed oil—again. The billowing dust on the dirt roads she drove all day took a heavy toll on her equipment. She mentally added it to her endless to-do list and trudged through the garage, Chowser at her heels.

Sliding off her boots with the boot jack, she put her old leather work gloves on the side of the open washer, and wandered into the kitchen. She'd come back to the house to make something to eat but, feeling listless and without hunger to drive her, nothing in the fridge looked good. All she wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sleep.

She grabbed a pint of yogurt and a bag of baby carrots and sat in Wess's old recliner in the living room. The thing needed to be thrown out, but when she was in it, somehow, she could still feel his arms around her and smell his earthy man scent. She could pretend Wess was coming home, looking for a hug and a kiss, just like he used to before cancer ate his beautiful body down to bones.

After lunch, she pushed up from the recliner and pointed at Chowser. "Okay, you crazy thing, time to work. We have to put out hay today and, as usual, it's just me and you."

In the mud room she struggled into her snake boots, looking at Chowser's eager face. "Well, get off your butt and come on. Daylight's wasting!" He bounded out the door ahead of her.

It was four thirty by the time they headed back to the home place. Chowser jumped out the window and through the double doors of the barn before she pulled to a stop. He barked like hell in there—had to be that damn rattler again.

She'd just finished feeding the stock when Jesse drove up and she stepped outside to greet him.

He slid out of the truck and stood for a second, looking at her.

Damn. His six-foot-three frame and slim hips filled out a pair of Wranglers in all the right places. She'd been wrong. She wasn't all business.

He walked on towards her. "Ms. Granger, you have a nice place here. I noticed the flowers in the yard. Pretty."

The flowers ... Wess. Pain lanced through her heart. Her response to Jesse felt like a betrayal. She stood mute, despising herself. Then, striding forward, she offered her hand. "Thanks, and I'm Lee. Why don't you come inside where the sun won't be in our eyes?"

* * *

Jesse chewed his bottom lip. When he'd mentioned the flowers, Lee’s face had frozen, eyes darkening in pain. He almost reached toward her, wanting to wrap his arms around the beautiful woman and make that hurt go away. Then he’d laughed silently to himself. Not one thing about Ms. Lee Granger gave him a hint that she'd take kindly to being coddled.

Jesse followed her into the barn, taking in the details around him. Everything appeared well cared for, and he liked that. It was how he would run things when he bought his own spread. He glanced at Lee's strikingly beautiful face half-hidden under a straw Stetson. She looked up, and no-nonsense intense dark green eyes stared at him. Her slender female shape held no fat. Muscles gracefully curved her worn Wranglers, and she wore a T-shirt—her full breasts stretching the fabric just right.

His chest tightened. Powerful women were his favorite in bed. She was definitely a hard worker.

He clenched his teeth. And, wasn’t that what he wanted? He wasn’t here to flirt with a beautiful boss. He was here to work, period. With plans he'd striven years to implement, nothing could get in his way.

But that didn't stop him from looking. He guessed she was about five-ten. She kept sun-streaked brown hair pulled at her nape in a simple pony tail under that well-used Stetson. Strong cheek bones tapered to a full, kiss-me kind of mouth. His gaze stuck there, imagining what he could do with those lips.

Lee sat down on an upended bucket, and Jesse realized that she'd already been talking about the job and, dammit, he hadn't been listening. Taking a deep breath, he tuned in.

She said, "Since I've been alone here for the last year, things have really gotten out of hand."

Wait, what?

"Money's tight, so I haven't been able to hire anyone. But, recently, I sold 200 acres of one of my pastures for a real good price. I'm hiring you to help me, at least for a while, and I'll make some improvements around here, too."

 

Posted March 19, 2019 by Danielle Gorman in / 0 Comments

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Cowboy for a Season

Title: Cowboy for a Season
Genre:
Release Date: 6/25/2019Add on Goodreads

When the husband she no longer loves dies, Hannah is left with a large West Texas ranch to run. An air of sadness—brought on by her inability to bear a child—overlies her hardened determination to persevere. Hiring Brazilian Professional Bull Rider, Alex, who is slowly recovering from injuries which threaten to end his career, will help Hanna get her wheat in before the fall rains come. The handsome cowboy makes it clear that he'll return to bull riding with the start of the new PBR season in January. But without warning, his world is turned upside down. His ex-wife drops his toddler daughter, Chloe, at the ranch. Hannah hasn't counted on caring for the cowboy or his precious daughter. Despite his love for Chloe and the way he cares for Hannah, Alex’s goal remains the same—to return to bull riding, the only life he’s ever wanted. Three hearts hang in the balance. One decision could break them all.

Don’t miss Cowboy for a Season by Janalyn Knight. If you like hot cowboys, strong women, and ranching in the new West, then this book will have you burning through the pages. Check it out!

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CHAPTER ONE 

Hannah placed the long-stemmed white rose atop the lid of the casket. Her pale, freckled face, companion to her copper hair, turned fiery red when she cried, so if there was a blessing today, it was that she couldn't shed any tears.

A hot wind gusted, bringing a cloud of dust with it and flattening her black funeral dress to her petite frame. The pastor's final speech dimmed in her consciousness. A chapter of her life was over. Any sadness she felt paled against the sense of betrayal that her husband's infidelity and cruel words had caused her. His year-long public affair with a woman in town along with his blaming Hannah because they couldn't have children had killed her love for him long before Ty died three days ago.

She had asked Ty many times to repair the starter on their old John Deere tractor, but he had put it off. Standing beside it, he started the thing with a screw driver each time he drove it. The day it killed him, he forgot to shift the tractor into neutral before starting the engine, and the sharp discs on the plow had run over him. Hannah, used to his long absences, hadn't found him until the next day.

As the pastor's words died away, she stumbled through the awkward condolences from neighbors and friends in a daze. How would she cope in this new life of hers? The one thing Ty did this past year was tractor work while she struggled hard to manage all the other chores on the ranch. Now she'd have to prepare the wheat fields and plant them, too. A crushing weight settled on her shoulders.

The crowd at the gravesite thinned, and Hannah moved toward the cemetery drive, her parents at her side.

Her mom said, "Honey, let's get you home, and I'll fix you something to eat."

Not caring about food, Hannah responded distantly, "Okay, Momma."

Taking her hand, her father said, "We'll stay as long as you need, baby. Don't you worry."

"I'll be fine, Daddy." All her strong emotions had flown with the desert wind whipping around them, leaving her empty and vague. As she stood next to her father's truck, a hand touched her arm. It was Todd Matthews.

"Excuse me, Hannah. I don't mean to hold you up, but I wanted to say I'm so sorry about your loss. I know things will be hard for you without Ty." Handing her a paper, he said, "Here's my number. A friend of mine is staying with me. He rides the Professional Bull Rider's circuit, but he's recovering from some injuries right now. He knows his way around a ranch. He's not up to heavy stuff, but he's fine for most work. I think he'd be a lot of help to you. Anyway, call me if you're interested." With a pat on her back, he turned away.

"Thanks, Todd," she said faintly. Stuffing the paper in her purse, she opened the truck door and sat in the back seat, gazing out the window, without seeing, as her father drove. Life as she knew it was over. But, wasn't that a good thing? Her life had been hell this past year, knowing Ty made love to another woman and turned his back to Hannah in their own bed. Her heart had been shredded when he blamed her because no child blessed their marriage.

People in town must wonder why she hadn't divorced Ty. He hadn't hidden his affair. But, in some sick way, she almost didn't blame him. She hated herself, too, for her infertility. Her body had betrayed her, just as her husband had.

As her father pulled up in front of the faded-gold adobe ranch house, she got out, stiff and unfeeling, wanting nothing more than to go to bed.

Her mother said, "Honey, why don't you go change, and I'll fix us some lunch. I wish you had invited people over after the service. Still, quite a few friends are coming to drop off food this evening."

The last thing Hannah wanted was to see people. Why did her mother think she didn't have a reception? "Mom, I'm not hungry. Do you mind if I lay down for a while?"

Her mother pulled her into a long hug as Hannah came around the truck. "You do that, dear. Take care of yourself any way you need to. I'm so sorry you're going through this."

Thank God Mom understood. Hannah had missed having her mother close these past four years. After the death of her brother, Ben, they gave her the ranch and moved to Wyoming. Nothing had turned out like Hannah's dreams. Her marriage had failed, she couldn't have children, and her only family lived far away.

Once in her bedroom, she stepped out of her funeral dress and left it on the floor. This room wasn't a refuge. It held memories of hateful words, nights spent alone while her husband buried himself in another woman, and reoccurring nightmares of a long, childless life.

As she slid between the cool sheets and lay her head on the pillow, her mind began the torture she endured every time she closed her eyes. Visions of tiny infants and beautiful toddlers filled her head. She touched soft skin, kissed small faces, and cuddled little bodies to her chest. All she'd ever wanted was to be a mother. Many of her school friends had dreams of careers, but not Hannah. Raising babies with a loving husband had been her only dream. A familiar pain dug deep in her heart. That dream was impossible now. What man would want her barren body? What use was her life? What reason did she have to go on living? Without the release of tears, her dulled senses reached for the black void of sleep.

#

Hannah opened her eyes in darkness and struggled to make sense of her reality. She glanced at the alarm. It was past eight in the evening. Still, she didn't want to get up. Couldn't face another human being. Yet, something of the old Hannah rose in her, and she threw the covers back and sat on the edge of the bed. She turned on the light and took stock of the room, noting her discarded dress and deciding to leave it where it lay. She drew in a long breath and expelled it. No way was she getting dressed. Or showering. Picking out a sleepshirt, she pulled it over her head and threw on a robe. Her parents were talking in the living room. Closing her eyes, she stood a moment, building her emotional reserves, then headed down the stairs to join them.

Rising from the couch, her mom gave her a hug. "I'll bet you're hungry. Let me fix you a plate. You won't believe all the food we have. So many people stopped by tonight, honey. And don't worry, I wrote down all their names so you can send thank you notes."

Oh my God, thank you notes. Feeling overwhelmed, she sank down in an overstuffed leather chair and plopped her feet on the ottoman. Of course, she would send thank you notes. Everyone had been so kind. She'd just have to find time to do them. "Mom, do you have these people's addresses?"

"Most likely. I'll check," her mother called from the kitchen.

Hannah's brain started to work again. She got up and found a piece of paper and a pen and wrote down Buy thank you notes.

Cutie Pie, her mother's little Yorkshire Terrier, came trotting up to Hannah's chair, looking for cuddles. Her mother had always wanted one of the tiny dogs. When her parents moved to Wyoming, she bought one, as if losing her son had freed her to take care of herself. Hannah picked up Cutie Pie and snuggled him under her chin. Will I do that, too, now? Take care of myself?

Her father said, "I fed down at the barn, honey. Everything’s fine. One of the heifers looks close to calving, so I'll keep an eye on her tomorrow. You just tell me what needs doing around here, and I'll handle it."

"I love you, Daddy. I'll be all right. But I can always use help." That's when she remembered the paper Todd had given her. Should she hire a hand? Her parents couldn't stay forever. The real question was, could she afford to hire someone? Reality on her ranch meant she couldn't run it herself. She already had all she could do. There was no help for it. Someone else would have to prepare her fields and plant her wheat.

Her mom and dad had their own life now. Losing their son on a battlefield in Afghanistan had shattered them, and they had finally found a way to be happy in the new life they'd built in Wyoming. She couldn't pull them away from that, especially back to this house where Ben grew up.

Before she could rethink it, she got up and pulled the note out of her purse then dialed Todd.

He answered, "Hello?

"Hey, this is Hannah. I'd like to meet your friend, if the offer's still open. My parents need to get back to Wyoming, and I have to put my wheat in. I assume he can run a tractor?"

"Yep, he does. Would you like us to stop by in the morning, say around eight thirty?"

She swallowed. This was happening. "That sounds good. And, hey, thanks for thinking of me."

"You bet. See you tomorrow."

After she hung up, fizzles of anxiety hit her stomach. They'd never had a hand on the place. She and Ty were a team—that is until he lost interest and spent the majority of his time in town. Now she had to figure out how to be the boss and, somehow, she didn't think being a boss to a professional bull rider was going to be that easy. Those PBR cowboys were a breed apart. They had to be to climb on two thousand pounds of exploding, living, breathing hell every week. Maybe being injured had toned down this guy's ego a bit.

Her dad asked, "You going to hire someone, honey?"

"I think so. I want you and Mom to go back to Wyoming in a couple of days. Your life is there now, and I need to be able to handle this place on my own. That means hiring help. I should have done it this past year. I never told you all what was going on."

Holding up his hand, her dad called out, "Janie, come on in here. Hannah has something to tell us."

When her mom had settled on the leather couch, Hannah said, "Ty really left me more than a year ago." When her parents looked confused, she told them the whole story of the past year's events. After she finished, she said, "You're wondering why I didn't divorce him, and I don't have a good answer. It's just I've been in a pretty dark place and couldn't see my way out."

Her mom got up and came over to Hannah, hugging her. "Sweetheart, I wish you had told us all this. We would have been here for you. You shouldn't have gone through this alone. Why, we sit around on our little ranch and don't do a thing all year. We could visit you here in Barbwire any time since we don't have livestock in Wyoming. Promise me you won't ever do that again."

Tears stung Hannah's eyes, and she nodded. She should have told her parents. Looking back, she didn't know why she hadn't, except that she was so hurt and, at the same time, so numb. She'd gone through the motions each day in survival mode.

Brushing Hannah's hair back from her face her mom said, "Sweetheart, it's been years since you've really smiled. I want you to be happy again, and I know you can do that. Your whole life is ahead of you. You remember to say your prayers. Anything is possible in this life of ours, honey." She kissed her daughter's forehead and stepped back. "Come on in the kitchen. Your plate's ready, and I want you to eat. No buts."

#

The next morning dawned hot and dusty, the usual on Hannah's desert ranch. She and her father had fed the stock and were loading a round bale on the hay truck when Todd drove down the drive in a cloud of dirt. Hannah stepped away and waved.

With an answering wave, he slowed and pulled up in front of the long metal barn.

She caught sight of a straw cowboy hat and muscled arm on the passenger side of the truck.

Todd got out, and the other man joined him.

Hannah's eyes widened. The good-looking guy was sure tall for a bull rider. He was at least five feet, eleven inches and solid muscle. His skin tone and black hair made her wonder if he might be one of the Brazilian riders so prevalent in the PBR. Would he speak English?

Hannah approached, and Todd motioned to his friend. "Hannah, meet Alex Silva. Alex, this is Hannah Quinn."

She reached her hand out to the cowboy. "Pleased to meet you, Alex." His dark eyes held a glint of interest, and her heart beat faster. He had such beautiful, smooth skin. Every feature of his face was perfect. Shit, I'm staring!

Alex shook her hand, and with clear English but with a strong accent, said, "Good to meet you, Hannah."

She said, "So, I hear you know how to drive a tractor. I have an old John Deere 4550. Will that be a problem?"

Alex grinned. "No problem. I drive tractors very good."

Her father walked up, and she introduced him. "Alex, this is my dad, Ross Harrison. He's visiting from Wyoming." She chewed her lip. May as well get the hard part over. "How much do I need to pay you?"

The corner of his mouth quirked up. "Pay me what you want. I'm here until the season starts, then I ride again."

She drew her brows together and chewed her lip some more. The guy was gimpy. She'd have to take it easy on him. And she couldn't afford much. "How does ten bucks an hour sound?"

He nodded. "Okay. I start tomorrow?"

Hannah looked at her dad. "Maybe you can show him the ropes around here. Would you mind?"

"Sure, honey. That's a good idea."

Placing her hands on her hips, she said, "Alex, I appreciate this. We work eight to five. See you tomorrow." She turned to her friend. "Todd? Thanks, again."

"Glad it worked out."

Alex tipped his hat, and both men headed to Todd's truck.

Alex's broad shoulders and muscular butt held her full attention as he walked away. A buzz of excitement tickled her, something that hadn't happened in a very long time. What would it be like working with this man? He was certainly polite and well-spoken. Damn, he was good to look at. The guy probably had women all over the country dogging him during the season. The man didn't wear a ring, so she assumed he wasn't married. Why was that? And why in the hell was she noticing? Her husband was barely in his grave. Heaving a deep sigh, she turned away. It didn't feel like she'd just lost her husband. He'd been gone from her heart for ages, leaving it scarred and broken.

Her life had changed, and tomorrow a new chapter started. She was a boss, and her only employee was a sexy cowboy. Lord help her.

 

 

Posted March 19, 2019 by Danielle Gorman in / 0 Comments

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Cowboy Refuge

WARD RAMSEY 

Ward is a rancher with an agonizing past—a man who is distant and cold. When he gives beautiful ranch hand Jayme Bonner a job, he doesn't know about the danger that follows her, or how the woman and her young son would turn his life—and his heart—inside out.

JAYME BONNER 

Hoping to find sanctuary for herself and her young son, ranch hand Jayme Bonner takes a job on handsome Ward Ramsey’s cattle ranch. His cantankerous personality, made worse by his unwilling attraction to her, sets the tone for their relationship. As danger draws near and Jayme learns Ward’s painful past, will they finally acknowledge their feelings for each other and work together to keep Jayme and Dusty safe?

Posted March 3, 2019
0 Comments
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