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Authors: Capri Montgomery

A Rancher's Love

BOOK: A Rancher's Love
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A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery
Copyright © 2012 Shunta Montgomery

All Rights Reserved

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

Publisher’s Note:

A Rancher’s Love is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, event or locales is entirely coincidental.

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A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery

Books by Capri Montgomery
Called to Duty

Fashionably Dead

Betrayal of the Dove

Pirate’s Treasure

Shadow Hills (January-June series)

Vendetta

Love’s Last Hope

Seducing the Bodyguard

Fahrenheit

Secrets and Lies

Returning Sheba

Saints and Sinners

The McGregor Affair

Dream Walker

The Geneva Project

The Admiral’s Daughter

Dangerous Obsessions

Watch Over Me

Maid for Hire & Educating Australia

And Many Others…

Coming in August ~
Explosive: Deadly Connections
Book ten in the Men of Action series.

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A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery Chapter One

“O
h come on,” Zoe-Quinnlyn Starks huffed. “What do you mean you lost the satellite?” Zoe tapped her fingers against the GPS machine sitting in the extra CD holder in front of her gear shift mechanism. She hadn’t mounted it to the windshield for two reasons. First, she needed a new windshield thanks to the slender crack slithering across the top, and second, she found the machine more distracting at eye level.

Neither problem was easily corrected. Anything at eye level would always distract her, and since she had recently, or not so recently, lost her job, she was too low on her savings to justify the two hundred forty-nine dollar expense to replace the windshield. Two hundred forty-nine dollars was just one dollar below her deductible, not that she wanted to file a claim because a claim would drive her insurance up and she couldn’t afford that either. The crack was at the top of the windshield, not eye level, and she found that as long as she kept the visors pulled down she didn’t even really notice the growing problem.

“Okay, come on.” She varied her eyes from the slender hills and curves she was trying to navigate to the contraption she was suddenly wishing she hadn’t used. She almost hated technology, especially when it failed her. She wouldn’t have bought the thing had her mother not insisted, publically, that she join them in this century because a GPS would be safer for her road trip. Zoe would have argued a map was just as effective, but she couldn’t read a map. All lines, in her mind, led to the same place—land of the lost—and she wasn’t thinking about the television show. What she could do was MapQuest. MapQuest was her friend; except when roads were shut down due to accidents or spills, like the time in Texas when I-10 was shut down and the detour signs were few and very far in between.

“Oh thank God in heaven,” she shouted as her screen lit up with something other than “Lost signal.”

Her joy was temporary when she realized her GPS no longer had her in the right state. Joy turned to panic.

The darn thing with the computerized female voice had told her to take an exit for a road that clearly took her off the freeway and through the mountains where there weren’t any gas stations, motels, hotels, camp grounds, people—nothing. And now it had her in the wrong state!

“I’m in South Dakota you stupid piece of crap!” She hit the “where to” selection on her machine and tried to verify the end location was the same. It wasn’t. Several insults later she finally realized the lunacy of 4

A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery yelling at a machine and decided to put her eyes back on the road. She didn’t have to panic, she would find her way to civilization—with hopes before that fuel gauge inching closer to empty actually reached empty.

When she looked up she saw it, standing there, cute as the proverbial button and directly in her path—“Bambi!” She couldn’t think of the word deer, but she could think of the name Bambi.

Instinct took over. She slammed on the breaks and swerved as she realized she wouldn’t stop in time not to hit it. Slamming on the breaks and swerving caused her wheals—with the anti-lock brakes—to lock up and instead of stopping, her car made a new path off the winding road, down the side of a steep hill, not tall, just steep, and through a wood and wire fence before landing front first in a creek.

Two weeks Earlier

“Your mom just landed the sexiest man in the city and you’re still single. What’s wrong with that picture?” Daphanie pushed her blonde hair from her eyes. Zoe hated her, not because she was beautiful, but because Daphanie Dixon was the thorn in her side.

Zoe’s mother, Valerie Chase-Starks-Banks and soon to be Proctor, was getting ready for marriage number four—at least she would be by Saturday. She had refused to take her first husband’s last name in any way, shape, or form, which was probably a good thing seeing as though they weren’t married long.

This time her mother was marrying rich, handsome, and incredibly young, Darin Proctor. Darin was Zoe’s age—thirty-two, and ironically, he had been interested in her until he met her mother. Zoe felt a twinge of panic hit her. Her mother was her competition and she didn’t even know it until it was too late.

Good old mom would probably be on marriage number five by Christmas and mister perfectly tanned and gorgeous Darin Proctor would be old news.

It wasn’t that she was jealous of Valerie, who had insisted since Zoe was six that she never call her mom; she was embarrassed of her. Valerie flirted with anything with two legs, a penis, and a considerably large wallet. She had a reputation for high maintenance, but even at fifty-seven she still looked young enough and hot enough, to turn heads. Long slender legs, curves in all the right places—mainly the northern region of her body, the perfect shade of red hair and confidence the size of a herd of elephants was a knockout combination.

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A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery Val didn’t discriminate based on race either. She had married a Japanese man; that lasted six months before she married Zoe’s dad—a black man who had made a killing on Wall Street. That marriage lasted long enough for hefty child support and alimony payments to be secured. Then she married a white man and in nearly a week she’d marry another one.

“My mother is happy,” she forced the words out of her mouth. “There’s nothing wrong with that picture.”

“Please,” Daphanie laughed. “Darin dated you until he met your mother. That’s a stinger.”

It was. She and Darin had a few dates before she stupidly introduced him to her mother—not that she had a choice since her mother happened to show up at the same event they were attending. She just happened to be alone and Darin just happened to feel the need to include her. By the end of the night it was Zoe who felt like the third wheel. Her mother hadn’t even bothered to apologize for throwing herself at her daughter’s boyfriend. Later that week, Val and Darrin announced they were going to start seeing each other—over a family dinner no less— and later that night her mother had taken her aside and told her she should try to find a rich man too. Apparently Val didn’t think Zoe was cut out to hold a “real” job. There were so many words she wanted to say to her mother, but she said none of them. She was hurt. She found out when the rest of the people at the table found out that Darin was no longer her man, but he was now deeply “in love” with her mother. Rather interesting seeing as though she had driven him to diner because she thought they were still dating. She thought they were still dating because they had been having lunch and sometimes diner all week. They were still a couple; at least that’s what she thought. She had no idea he had started seeing her mother for after dinner night caps, breakfast and brunch before coming to her. And after a few days he was what; in love with her mother? Yeah, that was a stinger; or more like it was a knife in her heart.

Zoe felt so alone that night. Her mother betrayed her, her boyfriend publically dumped her, and her father, who hated her mother, also seemed to hate her. It wasn’t that she had done anything to him, other than being born. It was that she reminded him, in looks, of the woman who used him and threw him away.

She didn’t have the ivory porcelain skin like Val had. She had a rich caramel brown skin tone. Her eyes were brown, not emerald like Val’s eyes were, and her hair—while having shades of red, was mostly dark brown, almost black. They had the same nose, and semi-silky hair. They had the same long, lean structure except Zoe had hips and a noticeable butt. The only thing Zoe had like her father was the high cheekbones.

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A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery Her skin wasn’t dark like his, and she was sure he hated that about her too. She had been the constant reminder that not even his DNA was good enough. No, she couldn’t ask him for help because then she would solidify his belief that she was Val, and she couldn’t live with that. She would just have to figure things out on her own—as always.

“Yeah, well love doesn’t always happen as planned.” She finally said, trying to retain her composure. For her, love never seemed to happen as planned. “I should get going. I have a road trip to finish planning.” She already had everything planned. She would leave a few days after the wedding, be in Seattle by the following Saturday and ready for her interview on Monday. She wasn’t a fan of reality television, but if
The Bakeoff
could help her get her own shop she would take it. First she had to pass the interview, then the screen test and then the taste test. It shouldn’t matter if she looked pretty or not, but that seemed to matter more than the food.

She knew she was pretty, maybe not gorgeous or sexy even, but she was pretty. She was healthy, in shape, active; she shouldn’t have a problem—then again, if anybody like her mother showed up she could forget about it.

“Why are you going through so much trouble?”

“It’s a good opportunity.” It was her only opportunity.

“Your dad has plenty of money. Just hit him up for some.”

“It’s his money; I want my own.” Not to mention the fact that the man sent her a birthday card four months early with a check and a note that had the words, “until next year” written on them. She knew what he meant. He had told her once before that he didn’t need her to come around to see him, and the birthday card was a reminder that he still felt the same way. Her birthday card was always sent on the wrong day, in the wrong month. She was starting to think the man didn’t know when she was born. Either that or sending her a card was just so much of a hassle that he sent the card when he could catch a free minute.

She thought about the checks he sent. The first time he sent one directly to her, for her twenty-first birthday, she had sent it back to him. She didn’t want his money. She had written him a note that told him she would rather have a father than a check and instead of calling her, telling her he loved her, he just wrote out another check and sent it back with a note that read, “this should better suit your needs.” He had added a thousand dollars to the two thousand he had already sent her. After that she just got frustrated. She almost 7

A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery ripped the check up but then she thought, why should she? She cashed it and put the money in her savings account. Every year after that year she did the same thing. He was content with just sending her checks and she, though angry with him, had learned to stop trying to make him love her. So she took the checks and made sure the money went in her savings. It’s why she had a small nest egg now.

BOOK: A Rancher's Love
11.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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