Title: The Cowboy's Fate
Series:
Genre:
Release Date: October 1, 2019Add on Goodreads

Three hearts, two towns, one impossible romance. Caleb has searched for his one true love and come up dry – until he hires beautiful ranching consultant, Eve Owen. His instant attraction to the golden-eyed woman is only deepened when he recognizes her intelligence.  Following several glorious nights, a bereft Caleb must say goodbye to Eve as she disregards the shocking result of their final loving and returns to her beloved Dallas-based business.

Sent from the sweeping expanse of his West Texas ranch, Caleb’s deeply romantic love notes keep Eve’s heart in turmoil. She loves her desert cowboy, but will his sensual, heartfelt words be enough to bring her back, despite the wealthy man who offers her the career opportunity of a lifetime along with a romantic proposal? Buy this unforgettable romance, The Cowboy’s Fate, now and find out. 

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Chapter One

          Eve Owen hung up the phone and shot her fist in the air. At last! She had taken her first step toward becoming a pilot—something she’d wanted since she was a child. Today she’d signed up for private lessons, and, as a self-employed ranching consultant, she could plan the time necessary to speed through her classes. Jane Fox, a retired pilot Eve met on a Southwest flight, had encouraged Eve to make her dream come true, sooner rather than later.

          Eve stood and arched back, sore from the extended time she'd spent at her table in the breakfast room doing last-minute research. She was due to fly out of Dallas/Ft. Worth airport in the morning to work with a cattle rancher in Jeff Davis County in West Texas. After flying into El Paso, the nearest international airport, she'd need to rent a car and drive nearly four hours to reach the 263,000-acre ranch at the base of the Davis mountains.

          Heading to the kitchen for a beer, she wondered what this rancher, Caleb Govain, would be like. He'd sounded all business on the phone. He had an interesting voice, though—deep and a little gravelly, like he was a large man. He seemed open to having her on the place, like no one was forcing him to invite her in. Sometimes the person she worked with had been pressured to ask for her services and, in that case, it made for a very uncomfortable working relationship. She grinned. Maybe this Caleb would be as handsome as his voice promised.

          This would be the first ranch deep in West Texas that she'd consult on, so she’d done a lot of research. Some would say cattle ranching was cattle ranching, but in the hot, arid land of West Texas, allowances had to be made. For instance, in North Texas, a rancher could run a unit (a cow and calf) to around ten acres. In Jeff Davis county, with the ten-year drought, it was more like a unit to 250 acres in some areas. With the lack of rain and all that entailed, making cattle ranching profitable in West Texas was a tall order. She had her work cut out for her.

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          At three o'clock the next afternoon, Eve followed the GPS in her rental through the desert landscape, following the narrow, two-lane paved road, and watching for the gate to the ranch, which should be on her right. Caleb had said she couldn't miss it. The arched entryway was tall, black wrought iron with Angus cattle in the design braced on stone pillars. Two bronze hawks, which apparently resembled eagles, stood on these pillars.

         The flat, cactus-speckled land spread out around her, and soon she spotted the entrance in the distance. Slowing, she turned into the ranch, crossed a wide cattle guard, and headed down a paved road, seeing nothing ahead but more desert. Pasture fence ran along either side of the road.   After almost four miles, she came to a many-roomed, well-kept two-story mansion from a bygone age which was settled against a small lake.

          Pulling to a stop in the paved parking area next to a white Chevy ton truck, she looked around at the pleasant landscaping done with plants native to West Texas. She'd never been here, yet this beautiful place felt homey and peaceful.

          A heavy wooden door in the big double entryway opened, and a tall, blonde, broad-shouldered cowboy walked outside.

           Grasping her soft leather briefcase, she stepped out of the SUV and started for the house.

          The man walked toward her, a pleasant look on his face, and extended his hand as she stopped in front of him. He said, "Hi, you must be Eve. I'm Caleb Govain. Did you have any problem finding us?"

          His deep blue eyes held hers as she responded. "No, GPS got me here, along with your description of the entrance, which is gorgeous, by the way. Love the hawks."

          He smiled. "Our original family name was spelled Gauvain, with an a u. I believe it's Welsh in origin, meaning Hawk of the Plains, or something of the sort. We have ferruginous hawks here on the ranch, though they're rare. Our stock brand is a hawk's claw. Quite unique." He turned and motioned her inside. "Enough of that. I'm sure you're tired after that long drive. Let me show you to your room."

          She followed him, trying to keep her eyes off his jeans-clad lean hips and muscular butt. He headed up a wide, curved stairway to the second floor—the house was like something out of Gone with the Wind. The vintage style of the house carried through to her bedroom, though it wasn't overly ornate. The tall window let light in, and bright whites and pale colors made the room fresh and welcoming. A bouquet of pretty flowers sat on her dresser. Those had to have come from a long way off. How nice of the Govains.

           Caleb said, "The bathroom is down the hall on the right. You'll be the only one using it so make yourself at home in there. Come down when you're ready. My mother has a snack for you, and I'll fix you a drink or you can have iced tea." He smiled and walked out, shutting her door.

          This wasn't the first time she'd bunked at a rancher's home or cabin. Many times, ranches were isolated, and it made things easier staying at the ranch while she and her client figured out how she could help. This had to be the most unique home she'd stayed in, though.

          She placed her suitcase on the ornate wooden luggage rack and headed to the bathroom before going down.

          Caleb must have been watching for her because he approached as she got to the bottom of the stairs. "Let me take you to the family room. Mother's set the food up in there."

          As Eve entered, an attractive woman in her late fifties with shoulder-length sandy-blonde hair stood and held out her hand. "Eve, welcome to Govain Ranch. I'm Millie, and we're so thankful you could come. Caleb sings your praises." Smiling, she motioned for Eve to take the leather chair opposite her.

          Eve shook Millie's hand and sat looking around the magnificent room. Different from the rest of the house, this room was made for comfort. Made for ranchers coming home from a hard day's work. Comfortable leather couches, longhorns mounted on the wall, sturdy wooden tables with a distinctly western flair, and bronze horses and cowboys all held a place in the room.

          Millie filled a plate with finger food and handed it to Eve. "I hope you'll be comfortable here. You let me know if there's anything you need. And if you get hungry in the night, feel free to raid the kitchen. This is your home for as long as you stay."

          Touched, Eve smiled. "That's kind of you. I'm looking forward to working with Caleb and finding out how I can help you all."

          A little while later, Caleb led her to his office. Man, he was easy on the eyes, and about a foot taller than her, and she wasn't short. He must be six-foot-six or more.

          Leaning back in his chair, he crossed his arms, looking her in the eye. "I've tried everything I know to make this place more profitable. I'm looking forward to anything you can offer in the way of help."

          She smiled. "You've been through it, I know. Texas ranchers have had it tough, but none more than those in West Texas. I'll do everything I can to find some answers for you." Crap, his eyes were gorgeous. She'd never seen such a deep shade of blue—almost purple. Women must fall all over the guy. "You saw on my resume I have a BA in finance, and, by the way, it's great to meet a fellow A&M grad."

          He grinned.

          "Let's start on the books. We'll see if I can find something there, first." She spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening pouring over the accounts, getting a feeling for how the ranch was run, what resources the ranch maintained, and what the expenses were. She already knew from her earlier research what the beef market prices were in the area.

          Caleb came to the open door and knocked. "Dinner's ready. You've done enough for your first day, don't you think? Come join us at the table." His smile sent tingles rippling up her torso.

          After heading upstairs to freshen up, she wandered around the house until she found the dining room. It could have held fifty people and must have in its elegant past. As it was, the long, beautifully-carved dining table could easily seat twenty-five people.

          A sixtyish man said, "Come in, Eve. I'm Roy Govain, and I'm so glad you're here."

          Smiling, she said, "You're all so welcoming, and I love your home. This table is gorgeous." The men stood as she found her chair.

          Roy patted the dark burnished wood. "This came overland from Virginia in the 1880s. It's held up quite well despite all the rough Govain men who have passed through this house."

          Millie ran her hand over the polished surface as the food was served. "I believe this is my favorite piece in the house. It's the heart of who this family is. I don't know what I'd do if something happened to it." She smiled at Eve. "Tell me about your family. Do they moon over old things like I do?"

          Eve grinned. "Our ranch has been in our family since my great-grandfather's time. We have our heirlooms but nothing like this table. As far as mooning, I'm not sure. My mom works out on the ranch with my dad and brother a lot. That and keeping the house and cooking for those two keep her hopping."

          Caleb asked, "Where is your place? In Texas?"

          "Sure is. North Texas. We run about 430 head over 6,000 acres. Various types of grazing. My dad runs a tight ship, and he listened to my suggestions. Between the two, he's increased his productivity and earnings over the past decade."

          Caleb smiled, meeting her gaze with those gorgeous eyes, sending butterflies fluttering in her tummy. Settle down girl. The guy is just being friendly. "My other brother, the younger one, joined the Marines. Mom wasn't happy about that at all. He's serving in Africa right now."

          Millie, who was sitting beside Eve, patted her hand. "Honey, I wouldn't like it if one of my boys joined the Marines, either. Too dangerous. Even though it's an honorable thing to do."

          After dinner, Caleb asked, "Eve, would you like to take a drive, get the lay of the land, so to speak?" Standing, a half-smile on his face, and looking too handsome for words, he definitely lived up to the sound of his voice.

          "Sure. I'd like that."

          "Do you drink beer, wine, tea, or something else? We'll be on pasture roads this evening."

          "Beer would be nice."

          "Any preference?"

          She raised an eyebrow. "Miller Lite?"

          He grinned. "I knew I liked you."