Read A Montana Cowboy Online

Authors: Rebecca Winters

A Montana Cowboy (20 page)

“Sweetheart—”

Before she knew it, he'd picked her up and walked her the few feet to the bed. He followed her down on it, taking care not to hurt her.

“Cassie—if you only knew how long I've wanted to be able to just hold you like this and not worry that you'd tell me it was too soon.”

“Too soon?” She laughed for joy. “I've been desperately in love with you from the moment you walked out to the fruit garden. Sam Rafferty's son was home. When you smiled at me, that was it. There will always be that place in my heart for the Logan of my past life. But when you walked into my world that day looking so gorgeous and wonderful, you changed my life.”

He kissed her long and hard. “When shall we get married?”

“Whenever the arrangements can be made.”

“Thank heaven. I don't want to waste any more time. Dad once told me that God's mills grind slowly, but they grind. We've been through the hard part and can attest to it, beloved. Now it's time to live.”

* * *

A
FTER
A
PASSION
-
FILLED
wedding night, Cassie woke up before Trace. His legs had trapped hers and his arm held on to her possessively even though he slept.

She looked around Connor's trailer. This had been his home on the road with Liz while they were building their new ranch house. Since he knew Cassie couldn't be far away from Tracey for a while longer, he offered his trailer as a temporary wedding night solution. He and Liz wanted to take care of the baby for them at Trace's ranch.

Cassie loved this tiny house on wheels. Everything you needed was right here. Best of all it was totally private and so cozy.

At her six weeks' checkup, Dr. Raynard had proclaimed her well and healthy.
Hallelujah
, Trace had shouted before giving her a husband's kiss, hot with the passion they no longer had to hold back. Cassie shared his sentiment so completely all night long, she hardly knew herself.

Trace was the most satisfying lover she could ever have wanted or imagined. Anxious for him to wake up so they could make love again, she started kissing him. He had a compelling mouth that could send her into rapture.

“Um,” he moaned before his eyelids opened. “Is my little wanton awake already?”

Cassie actually blushed.

He chuckled and kissed her neck. “Don't ever be embarrassed for making me the happiest man on earth.”

“I hope you'll always feel this way.” She covered his eyes and nose and mouth with kisses.

“I sense a new happiness in you, sweetheart. Your mother has turned a corner in her own emotional recovery. You can tell she wants to start over to be your mother and a grandmother to Tracey. With Ned back in the facility for good, maybe your dad will change and start to come around, too. There's always hope. Deep down I know it's what you've wanted.”

“You know me so well, it's scary.”

“I'm still learning exciting new things about you,” he whispered into her profusion of gold hair.

Her whole body went hot. “I think I love you too much.”

“Don't ever say those words again. Just show me instead.” He rolled her on top of him and the divine ritual of loving and being loved started over again. And again. And again.

* * * * *

Keep reading for an excerpt from THE COWBOY'S LITTLE SURPRISE by Barbara White Daille.

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Prologue

Seventy-some-odd years on this earth had taught Jedediah Garland what made life most worth living—and it was the one thing he wanted more of to call his own. Not property. He owned plenty of that, between the Hitching Post Hotel and the ranch it sat on. Not friends. He had a sufficient number of those, too, and wouldn't give up a single one of them. But the most important thing...
family
.

That's where his life fell far short.

Paz came into the dining room toting his breakfast. The hotel business had quieted down some lately—heck, it had up and gone to Tahiti—and he and his cook had the room to themselves. She set the platter on the table in front of him.

“Chile relleno okay with you for tonight, boss?”

He shrugged.

She put her hands on her hips. “What? All of a sudden you don't like what I make for you?”

“It's not that.” He shifted the cutlery on his napkin. “I'm off my feed today. It's Thom's birthday.”

“Yes.”

He thought of his eldest son, now long gone, and the rest of his small family, mostly scattered across the country. “I never thought things would come to pass the way they have. And I don't know what I would do without you and Tina here.”

His youngest granddaughter was also Paz's only grandchild. Tina and her four-year-old son were the only members of his family to live under his roof. “You know, Mary and I always thought we'd have our kids around us, if not on the ranch, then at least settled somewhere within hailing distance of Cowboy Creek. And we'd expected to see all the grandkids growing up in the area.”

“Yes, I know. But the girls plan to visit. You can spend time with them soon.”

“A week? Two weeks? That's not enough.” He slapped his palm on the table. “And if the granddaughters I've got are all I'm going to have—well, I'll learn to live with that. But they need to get busy and give us more great-grandkids. Heck, they all need to get married. Besides...” Frowning, he resettled the napkin beneath the cutlery at his place. After a long moment, he muttered, “I don't like seeing my girls unhappy.”

“You think they're not happy?”

“Of course they're not. How can they be? One's traipsing all over the world with not a chance of settling down. Another's trying to raise two kids by herself. And then there's Tina, on her own with Robbie. You want her married, too, don't you?”

“Yes. But Tina's very proud...”

“And we're proud of her.” His youngest granddaughter had studied hard in school, then gone on to get her degrees. Now she kept the books for him and helped manage the hotel. Yes, they were both so proud of her.

Paz stared down at the tabletop.

He frowned. “I know what you're thinking, and
you
know it makes no difference to me that our kids never got married. Tina's just as much my granddaughter as Jane and Andi are.”

“Yes, I do know that.”

“Then tell me, flat-out straight, what's bugging you?”

“Tina. She's so independent.”

“Yeah. Too independent for her own good. Something's got to be done about her, Paz. About her and my granddaughters, too.”

She said nothing.

He sighed and rubbed his chin. The rasp of a few whiskers he'd missed shaving that morning sounded loud in the silence. “I stopped in at SugarPie's the other day.” Sugar Conway ran a combination bakery / sandwich shop / gossip parlor in the center of Cowboy Creek. “Sugar didn't have any details yet, but the word is, Cole Slater may be headed back to town.”

Paz dropped the serving tray, which knocked against the saltshaker, spewing salt across the bare wooden tabletop. “Oh, I'm sorry, boss.” With hurried, jerky movements, she brushed the loose salt into her palm.

He frowned. “Something wrong?”

“No. Why should there be anything wrong?”

But she didn't meet his gaze. He frowned at her bent head and eyed the silver strands threaded through her once-dark hair. Paz had worked for him for twenty years and more, and he could spot something odd about her with his eyes closed. “It's not like you to drop things in the dining room. Or the kitchen or anywhere else for that matter.”

“I'm just rushing because I'm running late.”

He eyed her. “No later than normal. So I'll ask you again, what's up?”

“I was speaking with Sugar this morning,” she said with obvious reluctance.

“Must be some good scandal flying around to warrant a call this early.” He sat back in his chair without asking for details, knowing full well Paz would fill him in. And why not? As one of the town's business owners, he had a right to know what happened in Cowboy Creek.

“Sugar said Layne just confirmed it this morning,” Paz said in a low tone. “Her brother will be here next week.”

“Will he? Well, it's about time. It's—what?—five years now he's been gone.” He'd thrown that last comment out offhandedly, but to tell the truth, he knew down to the hour when Cole Slater had left town. “It seems to me Tina mentioned his name quite a bit in their school days.”

“Because their teachers had them work together.”

“Right. Now you say that, I do recall. And now he's coming back, I've had another idea. There's no reason those two shouldn't work together again.”

“Oh, boss, I don't think...”

“There's nothing you
need
to think about. This idea's got some strong possibilities, too, and I'm just the man to put it in place.” He smiled. “Don't you worry, Paz. None of these kids will have a clue as to what's going on.”

Copyright © 2015 by Barbara White-Rayczek

ISBN-13: 9781460379837

A Montana Cowboy

Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Winters

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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