Authors: Charlene Bright
by Charlene Bright
A Cowboy Worth Loving
Dare to Love a Cowboy
Captivated by a Cowboy
Courage to Follow
Courage to Believe
Courage to Fall
Like a Cowboy
The Cowboy in Me
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Copyright © 2016 by Charlene
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any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without the express written
permission of the publisher.
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
Michelson has always been serious. Even as a little girl, she knew what she
wanted out of life. And unlike other little girls, that definitely wasn’t a
husband and children. Sophie has a head for business and a burning desire for
one thing: to own a bed and breakfast, just like the one she stayed at as a
child. It will take everything she has, and she’s prepared to do anything to
realize her dream.
after years of hard work, the time has finally come. With her brand new—okay,
so maybe a little old—bed and breakfast in Brook Haven, Vermont, she is set to
become the successful business owner she was always meant to be. There’s only
one thing standing in her way: renovating the run-down B&B in time for
Brook Haven’s annual Harvest Festival and the official start of the tourist
season. Lucky for her, her mother is there to guide her through it and keep her
life distraction free.
though, the renovations get delayed, and Sophie starts to wonder if her B&B
will ever be ready to open. The only solution is to call upon Brook Haven’s
best carpenter to speed construction along. But as it turns out, Drake Tanner
is exactly the kind of distraction she doesn’t need.
spent his entire life in the quaint town of Brook Haven. Everyone there knows he’s
the one you call when you need a hand. When he meets Sophie Michelson, he
thinks his search for love might finally be over.
two grow closer, Sophie learns that sometimes feelings can’t be denied no
matter how hard you try, and she eventually has to admit to hers, just before a
tragic accident threatens to tear them apart. Soon, she’s
faced with a choice: follow her head, as she’s
done all her life, or finally trust her heart.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sophie stood outside in
the crisp morning air and stared up at her dream. It felt almost surreal to her,
like it had happened so fast. In reality, it had been a dream in the works for
almost twenty years.
When she was about
eight years old, her parents took her on a trip to New England where they
stayed in a bed and breakfast. The old house with the comfortable, warm
furnishings and all of the kind people had made such an impression on her that
it became her dream to own one of her own.
When she got home from
that trip, she’d set up her Barbie Dream Home to emulate the late 1800s house
they’d stayed in as well as she could, and then she set about convincing all of
her dolls and stuffed animals to come and have a stay. She became such a good
hostess to all of her friends that there was rarely a weekend she didn’t have
Just a few weeks before
graduating high school, she saw a Help Wanted ad for a bed and breakfast off
the coast of Maine. It had always been her intention to go to college but even
at such a young age, she already knew that no amount of studying could rival
experience. She applied for the job, got an offer, and, to her mother and her
best friend’s chagrin, she took it. Her father was supportive—he always was—but
it took him quite a few months to stop calling her every night and reminding
her to lock her doors.
She worked for a
middle-aged couple with three children for three years. She loved it, and the
family loved her back. She might have stayed there until she was able to afford
a place of her own, but tragedy struck her family. Her father had a heart
attack and died unexpectedly.
Brenda, was devastated by the loss. They’d known each other their entire lives,
and she liked to tell Sophie the story of her father proposing when they were
only ten. He made her promise she’d only marry him. Though they had each dated
different people in high school and in college, they found each other again
when they both returned home from college to Carolina Beach. Brenda told her
the first time she saw him in town, she knew she’d almost walked away from her
destiny. They were married a year later and, as far as Sophie knew, were still
just as happy after thirty years of marriage as they had been as newlyweds.
She rushed home to be
near her mother and spent months nursing her out of her deep depression. Her
mother eventually came back around to being herself. Sophie suspected that it had
been more for her daughter’s sake than anything. She’d told her in one of their
late-night conversations that the loss of her one true love had left a hole not
only in her heart, but in her very soul.
Sophie had done a lot
of soul-searching after that and decided that she was better off investing
thirty years of her life in something that couldn’t die and leave her alone and
wounded. She put the small amount of money her father left her into a mutual
fund and got back to the business of working toward her dream.
She got a job at a B&B
right on Carolina Beach facing the ocean. She worked the front desk, did light
housekeeping, and eventually became in charge of arranging activities for the
guests like bike tours and clamming nights with bonfires on the beach. She
worked there until she was twenty-six, and along the way she lived a pretty
simple and—some might say—uneventful life. She still held on to the friendships
she’d had since early childhood, but she didn’t go out much. She kept her focus
on the endgame … being the proud owner of her own B&B someday.
Sophie had one
boyfriend during all of this that she might term “serious.”
was serious anyway, and he talked
about marriage and children. Sophie had to admit to him that she wasn’t ready
for any of that, and she wasn’t sure she ever would be. She didn’t want to hurt
him, but she also didn’t want him wasting his time thinking he would convince
her otherwise. Once she’d set her mind to doing something, she knew she would
move heaven and earth to see that it happened.
When Sophie wasn’t
working, she started taking classes at the local junior college, eventually
getting a degree in business with an emphasis on general management. She also
took cooking and baking courses. Her mother had done a good job of teaching her
how to cook, but she wanted to have special skills for her B&B. In her
imagination, she’d always have baskets of home-baked goodies ready for the
guests in their rooms to surprise them when they arrived.
She learned how to make
her own soaps, and she’d even taken a gardening class in case the place she
bought had room for a backyard garden. She never lost sight of what she wanted,
and one morning while having breakfast with her mother, she saw the ad that
would change her life:
Bed and Breakfast in Brook Haven,
Vermont. Family owned and operated for over eighty years. Home and five-acre property
Pet-friendly inn with hardwood floors and wood-paneled ceilings. Bathrooms
all have tiled showers and original fixtures.
The Lounge & Tavern boasts a large
open space for couches, televisions, and pool and video games. There is a large
dining room and a beautiful outside wooden deck with killer views on a sunny
morning. The kitchen is spacious and equipped with both commercial and
residential equipment. Two rooms on the ground floor are perfect for a spa and
storage, and the basement and garage can be used for storage and laundry as
It’s located on a small farm that has
been equipped for horses and chickens. There is also a small pond surrounded by
a grassy knoll area that is an ideal spot for weddings. The owner’s quarters
consist of an open multi-use living area and bath and extends the full length
of the third floor. There are two smaller guest houses on the property that
both sit about a mile from the main lodge, perfect for use as a mother-in-law
house or employee quarters alike.
“This is the one, Mom!”
she’d said excitedly. “I can feel it! This is the one I’ve been waiting for!”
Brenda looked at her
like she’d lost her marbles until Sophie sat the paper down in front of her. She
skimmed through the ad, and when she looked back at her daughter, she forced a
smile and said, “This one does sound like it’s calling your name.”
“You know it!” Sophie
immediately knew this was what she’d scrimped and saved for over the past nine
years. Two days before her twenty-seventh birthday, she signed the final
paperwork. She was the proud new owner of a bed and breakfast. It had taken
some doing, but she finally talked her mother into selling the house in Carolina
Beach and going with her. Brenda would live in one of the guest houses and
Sophie would take the top floor of the main house. It was perfect … almost.
The first thing Sophie
noticed when she arrived at her dream was that “original fixtures” actually
. They came with the
house when it had been built almost a hundred years ago and were sorely in need
of replacing. The “commercial” equipment in the kitchen had been replaced at
least once—the last time in the 1950s. The gorgeous wooden banister that led to
the upper two floors of the house was scratched, dinged, and missing barrier
pieces, and there were two places on the stairs she’d nearly fallen through.
The outside was
overgrown and the fences all needed mending, but none of that discouraged her. If
there was one thing Sophie wasn’t afraid of, it was hard work. She still had
enough savings left after putting the down payment on the property to do the
major repairs. The minor things could be tackled even after the place was up
and running. The thought of all of that work didn’t dampen her excitement at
all. She had done a lot of research into the quaint little town that she hoped
to become a part of soon, and ultimately she’d decided that September 22
day of the Harvest Festival—was the day. That gave her two months to get the inn
ready for its grand opening
She’d seen the signs
for the Harvest Festival as she drove through the picturesque little town for the
first time. She passed the community bank and a cute little restaurant painted
blue called “Huckleberry’s.” There was a small clothing store and a five-and-dime
and what looked like a family-owned grocery store. There was a small bar with a
wraparound porch that was surrounded by giant maple trees. The leaves were
still green, but Sophie could already picture it when they turned the bold
orange and crimson colors that New England was famous for in the fall.
She was almost in love
with the town before she had even made it out past the rows and rows of
gorgeous apple orchards and up to the bed and breakfast, where she met with the
realtor and toured the property. It was love at first sight when she saw the
house, but one look at the breathtaking views of the Green Mountains cemented
She knew that it would
be a lot of work, but her heart told her she could take this old place and
breathe new life into it. She made an offer that very day and then drove back
home. For the next three weeks, she prayed a lot and kept her fingers crossed, and
the day they called her to let her know her offer had been accepted had been the
happiest of her life.
“What are you looking
“Oh, Mom! You startled
me.” Her mother had stepped up behind her, jostling her out of her reverie. She
was wearing a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt from 1990 with Van Halen on the
front of it. Sophie couldn’t help but smile. Her mother’s true loves had been
her father, her, and classic rock music—not necessarily in that order. “I was
just thinking about how lucky I am,” she told her.
Her mother smiled and
brushed a lock of Sophie’s dark hair back over her daughter’s shoulder. “This
place has nothing to do with luck. This is all you, baby. You have worked so
hard for this, and I’m so proud of you.”
Sophie put her arm
around her mother’s shoulders and gave her a squeeze. “Thank you, Mom. I’m
proud of me too.” She couldn’t stop smiling.
“What time is that
carpenter coming by?” Sophie had contacted the only carpenter in town by phone
about starting on some of the repairs. She immediately liked the sound of his
voice. He was coming by today to have a look at what needed to be done and give
her an estimate.
“He should be here in
half an hour or so.”
Her mom nodded. “Okay,
I’m going to head in and start scrubbing that kitchen.” The inn had been vacant
for almost three years, so besides the repairs, it was going to take a lot of
elbow grease to clean it up. She was grateful for her mother’s help, but she
knew her mother was just as grateful to have something to do. She had been a
hands-on mother and wife for thirty years, and even her active circle of
friends couldn’t seem to fill the void that her daughter leaving home and then
her husband dying had caused.
Sophie was heading back
inside the house when she heard the sound of a pickup approaching. She stepped
up on the front porch, which was also in need of repairs, and watched the old
green Ford come toward her up the rutted dirt road. The driver parked in the
small lot, and as he stepped out, Sophie’s breath was actually taken away for a
few seconds. She was glad it would take him a minute to reach her so that she could
put her composure back together. She rarely lost control and even more rarely
over a man, but this one … she was openly gaping before she caught herself.
He was all hard angles
and sharp lines with the most beautiful, long-lashed brown eyes that she’d ever
seen. He had on a ball cap with the words The Fix-It Man, and warm chocolate
waves of thick hair peeked out from underneath it. His work shirt molded to his
broad chest, and his biceps swelled out of the short sleeves. He had long, jean-clad
legs, and as he strode toward her, his handsome face broke into a wide grin.
His teeth were white, but
not exactly perfect, which made him even sexier in Sophie’s eyes.
Perfect people are boring people
always thought. Imperfect ones had much more character. He had full lips and
they looked soft. She shivered a little as her mind went to a place it rarely
did the first time she met a man:
would they taste like?
When she was about
three feet away from him, she told herself to get a grip, sucked in a shaky
breath, and forced what she hoped passed for a non-lecherous smile.
“Hi, I’m Drake Tanner,”
he said in a silky, masculine voice. He held out his hand and Sophie took it.
It was big and warm and she felt jolts of lightning shoot all the way up her
She held the smile and
was grateful when her voice didn’t come out shaky. “Hi, I’m Sophie Michelson.
Thank you so much for coming so quickly, Mr. Tanner—”
“It’s Drake,” he said,
“And it’s not a problem.” He looked up at the house and said, “I used to come
here a lot when I was a boy.”
“Really? You grew up in
“Born and raised,” he
said. “My best friend’s parents ran this place for a while. The owners lived in
Rhode Island, and they paid them to live here and take care of the place.”
“Oh, how nice. I think
I fell in love the first time I saw it.” She was staring up at the house again
and caught herself. She probably had that goofy smile she got on her face every
time she thought about being the owner. She checked herself and glanced over at
Drake. His chocolate-brown eyes were on her face, and she suddenly felt warm