Read Have Cowboy, Need Cupid Online

Authors: Rita Herron

Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance, #Erotica, #Fiction, #General

Have Cowboy, Need Cupid

BOOK: Have Cowboy, Need Cupid
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“Is this about the hope chest?” Suzanne asked

“Yes,” Grammy said. “I want you to take yours home with you today.”

“But there’s really no need. I’m not even dating anyone.”

“Your love life will change soon,” Grammy said with a wink. “Take a look through it.”

Even though her cousins and sister claimed their hope chests had some kind of magical power that had given them hints as to their future husbands, Suzanne didn’t believe it. She worked with facts and figures, not superstitions.

Suzanne opened the wooden chest and pushed aside layers of gold tissue paper, unearthing a white lacy Stetson, a pair of white Western lace-up boots and a lace ribbon choker.

Suzanne laughed outright. Grammy must have made a mistake when she’d put these things inside. Perhaps she’d meant them for someone else. Suzanne was a city girl. High heels and plunging necklines were more her style.

In fact, she’d use the choker to strangle herself before she’d marry someone who wanted a cowgirl bride. Wouldn’t she?

Dear Reader,

This month Harlequin American Romance delivers favorite authors and irresistible stories of heart, home and happiness that are sure to leave you smiling.

COWBOYS BY THE DOZEN, Tina Leonard’s new family-connected miniseries, premieres this month with
Frisco Joe’s Fiancée
, in which a single mother and her daughter give a hard-riding, heartbreaking cowboy second thoughts about bachelorhood.

Next, in
Prognosis: A Baby? Maybe
, the latest book in Jacqueline Diamond’s THE BABIES OF DOCTORS CIRCLE miniseries, a playboy doctor’s paternal instincts and suspicions are aroused when he sees a baby girl with the woman who had shared a night of passion with him. Was this child his? THE HARTWELL HOPE CHESTS, Rita Herron’s delightful series, resumes with
Have Cowboy, Need Cupid
, in which a city girl suddenly starts dreaming about a cowboy groom after opening an heirloom hope chest. And rounding out the month is
Montana Daddy
, a reunion romance and secret baby story by Charlotte Maclay.

Enjoy this month’s offerings as Harlequin American Romance continues to celebrate its yearlong twentieth anniversary.

Melissa Jeglinski

Associate Senior Editor

Harlequin American Romance

HAVE COWBOY, NEED CUPID

Rita Herron

To my mother for teaching me to love country music and my sister for making me appreciate a cowboy.

Also, to Paige & Scott for inspiring the cowboy wedding with their own real one.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author Rita Herron wrote her first book when she was twelve, but didn’t think real people grew up to be writers. Now she writes so she doesn’t have to get a
real
job. A former kindergarten teacher and workshop leader, she traded her storytelling for kids for romance, and writes romantic comedies and romantic suspense. She lives in Georgia with her own romantic hero and three kids. She loves to hear from readers so please write her at P.O. Box 921225, Norcross, GA 30092-1225 or visit her Web site at www.ritaherron.com.

Books by Rita Herron

HARLEQUIN AMERICAN ROMANCE

820—HIS-AND-HERS TWINS

859—HAVE GOWN, NEED GROOM
*

872—HAVE BABY, NEED BEAU
*

883—HAVE HUSBAND, NEED HONEYMOON
*

944—THE RANCHER WORE SUITS

975—HAVE BOUQUET, NEED BOYFRIEND
*

979—HAVE COWBOY, NEED CUPID
*

HARLEQUIN INTRIGUE

486—SEND ME A HERO

523—HER EYEWITNESS

556—FORGOTTEN LULLABY

601—SAVING HIS SON

660—SILENT SURRENDER

689—MEMORIES OF MEGAN

710—THE CRADLE MISSION

Dear Suzanne,

You are a very special granddaughter because you go after what you want in life. When someone tells you no, you fight that much harder. And if you see someone in need, you are always there to encourage them to achieve their dreams.

You were the youngest of the family, the last symbol of your mother and father’s love. You were the baby, but unfortunately you weren’t babied for very long. When your mother died, you had to grow up fast. Your father thought his heart had been ripped out, but it ticked strongly inside you. You became his strength when he thought he had none left. You added a much-needed spark of joy to the quiet household, and you showed us all that even through grief and sadness, we must still strive for life.

But you never let yourself cry. You built an invisible wall, a tough veneer that sometimes keeps others from entering the closed doors to your heart. Sometimes, my dear, we have to tear down walls and clean out the cluttered attic to move forward. Sometimes we have to cry before we can free our souls to find that one perfect soul mate.

I wish for you happiness, true love and a man who can give you all the joy that a partner can.

Love you always,
Grammy Rose

P.S. Inside the hope chest you will find something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Contents

Prologue              

Chapter One              

Chapter Two              

Chapter Three              

Chapter Four              

Chapter Five              

Chapter Six              

Chapter Seven              

Chapter Eight              

Chapter Nine              

Chapter Ten              

Chapter Eleven              

Chapter Twelve              

Chapter Thirteen              

Chapter Fourteen              

Chapter Fifteen              

Chapter Sixteen              

Chapter Seventeen              

Chapter Eighteen              

Epilogue              

Prologue

Rebecca tossed her bridal bouquet straight at Suzanne, but Suzanne jumped aside so she wouldn’t catch it. So, how did it land in her hands anyway?

And why did she have this odd pang in her chest? This twinge of sadness. Of envy. A feeling of desperation, as if she would never find a man who would look at her with adoration and unbridled passion in his eyes the way Thomas did Rebecca. Or the way her other cousins’ husbands looked at them.

Maybe because your latest boyfriend just dumped you like the rest of the guys you dated.

Why did all those men keep dumping her? Did she have some big sign emblazoned on her forehead that said, Can’t Love This One?

Sure, she knew how to attract a man, to cast the line and throw out the bait. A little flirting here. A smile there. Throw in some hip movement, and voilà, they chased her like flies after honey. But once they sampled a taste of the nectar, she never could quite keep them for more than a few quick bites.

The wedding drowned out her thoughts as everyone rushed past the white folding chairs, food-laden tables and the gazebo to see the bride and groom off on their honeymoon. The scent of freshly cut grass and wildflowers seemed to warm the cool air, the first signs of spring evident in the tulip bulbs sprouting along the mountaintop. Fading sunshine dappled golden rays over the happy couple as they stopped to laugh at the words Just Married painted on the back of Thomas’s Porsche. Then Thomas folded Rebecca into his arms and kissed her, stirring a round of cheers and applause, and another bout of heart-sickness rippled through Suzanne.

Drat. She did not need a man to be happy. She was managing fine on her own. Right?

“Have fun on your honeymoon!” Mimi shouted.

“Take lots of pictures,” Alison yelled.

“Be happy,” Grammy Rose hollered.

“Drive safely!” Hannah called.

Laughing and waving, Rebecca and Thomas climbed in his Porsche convertible, streamers and tin cans trailing behind the car compliments of her uncle Wiley.

Suzanne’s father, Bert, strode up beside her, his ruddy face even pinker from emotions. A rarity for her father since his life normally revolved around work and making money. “That boy better take good care of Rebecca,” her father said.

Suzanne tucked her hand in her father’s bent arm. “I’m sure he will, Dad. They look totally in love.”

Her father angled his head to study her. “What about you, baby? Are you happy?”

Suzanne frowned, surprised by her father’s question. He usually didn’t venture anywhere near such personal territory. “Of course,” Suzanne replied automatically. She had a great job, a great condo, everything she wanted. Didn’t she?

She stroked the delicate gold cross tucked between her breasts, the one her mother had given her before she’d died. “Always wear this and feel my love,” her mother had whispered.

Suzanne had felt her love then, but she’d been angry that her mother was leaving her. Had she felt loved by anyone since? Sure, Rebecca loved her, and so did her father, but a man?

“Anyone special in your life?” her father asked, glancing at the bouquet. “A boyfriend I don’t know about?”

“Dad, well…no, not now.” Suzanne coughed nervously.

His graying eyebrow rose a fraction. “How about your boss?”

“James?”

“Yes, you and Horton seem to get along pretty well.”

Suzanne frowned. “We work well together, but that’s all there is to our relationship.”

Her father’s newest wife, Eleanor, coasted toward them, pearls dripping from her earlobes and neck, her pale-blue silk dress shimmering in the orange glow of the sunset. “Not everyone finds the romantic kind of love, Suzanne. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good partnership.” He sipped his champagne. “You’re a smart girl. You’re going places in this world. Just keep that in mind and find someone who’ll help you achieve your goals.”

Her father kissed her goodbye, then curled his arm around Eleanor and headed toward her grandmother. Suzanne watched carefully, just in case he crossed paths with her uncle Wiley and the two of them got into one of their brotherly arguments. Although her father had promised to behave himself and not spoil Rebecca’s wedding, Suzanne had become his self-appointed guard dog.

Her mission was accomplished when she saw him veer toward his Mercedes. Suzanne’s gaze dropped to the bouquet in her hands, one finger tracing the edge of a delicate rose petal as she sniffed the heavenly fragrance. Maybe her father was right. Maybe she should consider the fact that she might not have a soul mate.

A few minutes later, when the crowd had dispersed, Suzanne found her grandmother in the homey kitchen. “I’m leaving now, Gram.”

“Come into the parlor first, dear,” Grammy Rose said.

Suzanne’s stomach flip flopped. “Is this about the hope chest?” Rebecca and her cousins had already warned her.

“Yes, I want you to take yours home today.”

“But, Grammy, there’s really no need. I’m not even dating anyone.” Suzanne followed her grandmother into the nostalgic parlor filled with antiques, silver-framed photos of family members and scrap-books overflowing with memorabilia marking the special days in her grandchildren’s lives. For some reason this room always brought a surge of emotions—feelings both happy and sad at the same time. Maybe it was the reason she’d opted for such modern decor in her own apartment. No frou-frou or sentiment…

“Your love life will change soon,” Grammy said with a wink. “Now, I’m going to clean up in the kitchen if you want to look through the hope chest before you go.”

Suzanne gulped, the telltale twinkle in her grandmother’s eyes hinting that she was up to something. But even though her cousins and Rebecca claimed their hope chests had some kind of magical power that had hinted at their future husbands, Suzanne did not believe any of the nonsense. She worked with facts, figures and business deals, not superstitions or aphorisms. In fact, she would open the chest and look inside just to dispel her grandmother’s romantic notions.

The ornately carved heart etched in the fine-grain wood was beautiful, she admitted, as was the fine gold latch and the soft burgundy velvet inside. Still, trepidation filled her as Suzanne pushed aside the layers of gold tissue paper. A small white envelope lay on top, trimmed with roses. She thumbed the seal open and unfolded a piece of lilac-scented stationery, her grandmother’s loopy handwriting scrawled across the page.

Dear Suzanne,
You are a very special granddaughter because you go after what you want in life. When someone tells you no, you fight that much harder.
And if you see someone in need, you always encourage them to achieve their dreams.
You were the youngest of the family, the last legacy of your mother and father, the last symbol of their love. You were the baby, Suzanne, but unfortunately you weren’t babied for very long. When your mother died, you had to grow up fast. Your father thought his heart had been ripped out, but it ticked strong and determined inside you. You became his strength when he thought he had none left. You added a much-needed spark of joy to the empty, quiet household, and you showed us all that even through grief and sadness, we must still strive for life.
But in your own sadness, you never let yourself cry. You built an invisible wall, a tough veneer that sometimes keeps others from entering the closed doors to your heart, from truly seeing inside. Sometimes, my dear, we have to tear down walls and clean out the cluttered attic to move forward. Sometimes we have to cry before we can free our souls to find that one perfect soul mate.
I wish for you happiness, true love and a man who can give you all the joy that a partner can.
Love you always,
Grammy Rose
P.S. Inside the hope chest you will find something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Suzanne blinked, a heaviness lodging in her throat. Good heavens alive, she was not the weepy type like Rebecca. She cried over TV commercials, but Suzanne
never
cried. Not even when her mother had died….

No, she’d had to be tough. And she always would be. Tough and focused. She did not need all this sappy stuff. And unlike Grammy Rose’s implication, she didn’t have attics to clean out or walls to tear down, real or emotional.

Hoping to dispel the burgeoning well of unwanted feelings pressing against her chest, she shifted the tissue paper and unearthed a book on gardening and a set of crocheting needles. Suzanne laughed, relief spilling through her. Just as she’d thought—the items didn’t suit her personality. She had a black thumb and couldn’t even sew on a button, much less crochet.

Next she found a small black-velvet ring box. Her breath caught. She opened the delicate case and smiled at the note—“Sometimes, the simple things are the best.” Her grandmother’s very own gold wedding band winked at her beneath the Victorian lamplight. It was beautiful and so special that she would cherish it and keep it forever. But if she were getting married, she’d choose something much more showy. A big diamond solitaire or a huge sapphire with cut diamonds around the side. Or maybe an emerald.

Shaking her head at her own thoughts, she dug deeper into the hope chest, her eyes widening at her next discovery. A white lacy hat, shaped like a Stetson, with a white lace band and back bow, trimmed with silk roses, baby’s breath and a feather. Next, came a pair of white Western lace-up boots, with hook-and-eye closures, two-and-a-half inch heels, narrow toes and a lace inset. And last but not least, a lace ribbon choker, adorned with iridescent flowers and dangling beads.

Suzanne tossed her head back and laughed outright. Grammy must have made a mistake when she’d put these things inside. Perhaps, she’d meant them for her cousins Angie or Caitlin. Suzanne was a city kind of girl. High heels and plunging necklines were more her style.

In fact, she’d use the choker to strangle herself before she’d marry someone who wanted a cowgirl bride.

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