Authors: Yvonne Lindsay - For Love of a Cowboy
Tags: #Romance, #Western
a montana born fair novella
For Love of a Cowboy
Copyright © 2014 Yvonne Lindsay
The Tule Publishing Group, LLC
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental
This book is dedicated to two incredibly amazing women. The first, Michel Fenske—to whom I am incredibly grateful for all her help, support and, most of all, her friendship. And, the second, Jane Porter, for whom I have the deepest respect and without whom the opportunity to write this novella wouldn’t have been created. Thank you both. I am so amazingly lucky to know you and to include you among my friends.
I was already a fan of Montana Born’s Rodeo series and in love with the town of Marietta from the first moment I read about it. And who doesn’t love a cowboy, right? When Jane Porter offered me the opportunity to write a novella for a new series set in Marietta I jumped at it. My hippie chick and her taciturn cowboy grew to life very swiftly in a place that already felt familiar to me in so many ways.
It’s always a challenge when you’re asked to write a book set in an area where you’ve never been, but thanks to good friends in the USA and the amazing community that is made up of Tule’s authors, the challenge became more and more manageable. If I’ve made any errors, they are solely my own and for that possibility I will apologize in advance.
I hope you’ll love reading my first Montana Born story as much as I absolutely loved writing it, and that you’ll find Willow and Booth’s sizzling journey to love captures your heart like they captured mine.I love to hear from my readers and can be reached through my website
or on Facebook
Best wishes and happy reading!
illow bit back
another sigh. The sun was already low in the sky and would be setting soon. Nearly nine hours of driving today and she still wasn’t in Marietta. It didn’t help that she’d taken a wrong turn somewhere in Utah and headed further northwest than she needed to. She should have known better than to head out on the road on the thirteenth. The only redeeming feature to that was that today was a Sunday, not Friday.
Still, she reminded herself, this was an adventure. And having an adventure meant doing adventurous things. She was following her bliss, just like her mother had all those years ago—even down to using her mother’s old backpack and trunk. She was seizing the day…or, in this case, seizing the steering wheel of the dilapidated faded yellow VW bus she’d bought privately upon landing in L.A. from New Zealand four days ago, and promptly named for the colorful flowers painted on her sides. Daisy went through oil like most cars went through gas, which had made this whole trip take a lot longer than she’d anticipated. That and the fact that Daisy barely made fifty-five on the freeway and had a tendency to overheat…well, it all added to the experience, Willow told herself grimly.
Her eyelids dragged heavily, their insides grainy as she fought to stay awake. Not far now, surely. She shifted her attention from the road ahead to check the hand-drawn map she’d created after studying Google Maps at the internet café in Provo. It had only been this morning but it already felt like it was days ago. Yup, she was heading in the right direction. Just another five miles or so and she’d be there. She fixed her eyes on the interminable blacktop ahead.
A flash of movement from beside the road startled her, forcing her to instinctively swerve to the left and jam on the brakes. The VW shuddered to a halt even as the stag bounded away with its white rump a flash of brilliance in the darkening evening. The beast had been magnificent, its russet brown coat and lighter underbelly at odds with the black markings on its head. She watched until she could see it no longer, then let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Chinese folklore said deer were lucky. The buck was a sign, she was sure of it. She was on the right route and when she got to Marietta she’d find what she’d been searching for all her life. Nothing else mattered but that.
The thought filled her with hope and she took her foot from the brake and began moving toward her destiny once more. Right up until a swath of blinding lights whipped around the corner ahead and appeared to be coming straight at her. Huh? That wasn’t right. Again she swerved, harder to the left this time, and all but stood on her brakes to avoid a collision. She might have missed the other vehicle but she wasn’t quite so lucky when it came to the ditch that bordered the road, or the trees that lined it. The bus lurched to one side with a bone-jarring jolt, coming to a halt at an angle—half on the road and half off it.
Before Willow could take an inventory of either herself or Daisy, the passenger door was pulled open. The aperture filled with broad shoulders, a large black Stetson and a hulk of intimidating male.
“Are you all right?” the guy demanded.
His voice was deep and gravelly, as if he didn’t talk much, and an equal mix of testosterone and what she thought was anger poured off him.
“No thanks to you,” she retaliated as she gingerly felt the rapidly growing bump on the side of her head where she’d struck the door pillar and the matching one on her hip where her cell phone usually resided in her pocket. Come to think of it, her whole left side was becoming one almighty ache.
“Me?” he replied. “I wasn’t the one driving on the wrong side of the road.”
Willow started to protest but then belatedly realized she was wasting her time. He was right. She
been on the wrong side of the road. She hadn’t corrected after she’d seen that buck. Instead, thanks to a mix of tiredness and inattention she’d carried on driving as if she were still back home in New Zealand. She gave herself a sharp mental slap and groaned out loud. Some sign the buck had turned out to be.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I—”
“Too damn right you weren’t thinking. Who declared you and this thing fit for the road anyway?”
“There’s no need to be mean to Daisy,” she protested as she fought to unclip her seatbelt and clamber out of the bus. No easy task given that Daisy was doing her own impression of the Leaning Tower of Pisa right now.
“Daisy?” the guy started, then clearly noticed the chain of hand-painted daisies on the side of the van. He rolled his eyes and muttered, “Never mind.”
A large hand thrust toward her. Willow shrunk back, earning a growl of irritation from her rescuer.
“Take my hand. It’ll make it easier to climb out.”
She gingerly reached forward. Strong fingers clasped hers. She gasped at the heat that transferred from his hand to her own. At the tingling sensation that began where their hands melded and then traveled the length of her arm. She must have hit her head harder than she’d thought.
“You okay?” he asked. “Do you think you broke something?”
Nothing more than what little pride she had left, she thought ruefully. “N-no, I’m fine.”
She pushed herself up and, aided by his steady strength, climbed out of the van. She pulled her hand free from his the moment she was able—fought the urge to wipe her palm down over her cutoff denim shorts to get rid of the residual tingle that remained there.
Willow ruefully studied Daisy. “I don’t suppose you have a rope there, cowboy? D’ya think you could pull her out?” she asked, raising her face to meet his gaze for the first time.
Oh, she thought, taking a big step backward. He was tall and—she did a quick inventory—built. She’d already had the impression of size about him but now, face to face? That was something else. Her eyes flicked over the way his softly worn black T-shirt stretched across his shoulders and muscled chest and tapered to where it was tucked in at the waistband of equally well-worn jeans cinched with a belt complete with a big bold buckle. Yeah, he was built all right. Everywhere.
Willow swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat and forced herself not to lift a hand to fiddle with her braids like she always did when she was nervous. Nervous? Hell, she didn’t know whether to be nervous, grateful or just flat-out turned on. Her body decided on the latter.
“It’s going to take more than rope to get that thing out of there,” he said after assessing Daisy with narrowed eyes. “You’ll need to call for a tow.”
“Oh, no!” Willow gasped as she discovered the side door of the van had slid open on impact.
The road was littered with colored skeins of her hand-dyed yarn and some of her clothing. Her mother’s old-fashioned trunk lay crumpled a couple of yards away. She dashed out onto the pavement and began to gather the skeins in her arms. Before she could collect more than half a dozen of them, two strong arms wrapped around her from behind and lifted her off her feet.
The stranger deposited her on the shoulder of the road.
“Geez, lady. You got a death wish or something?”
“I have to pick up my supplies. They’re important.”
“More important than your life? It’s dusk and you’re virtually invisible on the road in those colors,” he said scathingly as he looked her up and down, eyeing her oversize pale blue peasant blouse and cutoff jeans and obviously finding them wanting. “Anyone could come around that bend and hit you, or worse, drive themselves off the road avoiding you.”
“It’s not like there’s been another car on the road except you, so far.”
“And you’re damn lucky it was me and not someone who didn’t have their mind on what they were doing.”
His implication was clear. He thought she was all kinds of idiot. Willow hitched up the neckline of her blouse from where it had slipped down her shoulder. She winced a little as the movement reminded her she’d taken the brunt of a pretty hard knock not that very long ago.
“You’re hurt?” he asked, his gray eyes missing nothing.
“I’ll be fine,” she insisted and took a deep breath.
As much as she hated to admit it, he was right. She could have endangered someone else and she’d certainly endangered him. She looked around at the bundles of yarn and items of clothing scattered on the blacktop. But she had to get her stuff.
“I need that yarn,” she said desperately.
He sighed in obvious frustration and took off his hat to push a hand through his short-cropped dark hair, making it stick out in all directions. It shouldn’t make her smile, but it did. In one small movement he’d reduced himself from towering wall of simmering anger to an aggravated little boy.
“Don’t move. I’ll get it.”
He stalked away from her in long strides. Willow couldn’t help it, she stared at his butt. It wasn’t like she meant to, but when presented with such male perfection wrapped in faded blue denim, what else was a girl supposed to do? Her mouth dried as he bent over and a slight wave of dizziness struck. She had definitely hit her head harder than she’d thought. She looked away as he straightened, a bundle of skeins tucked in one muscled arm, a couple of pairs of panties dangling from the fingers of his other hand. He ought to have looked incongruous, a strong grown man carrying balls of yarn and lacy panties, but instead he just looked, well, manly.