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Authors: Capri Montgomery

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BOOK: A Rancher's Love
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“I noticed while I was driving. There wasn’t a gas station, or anything else from the way I came.”

“Well the road in front of you would have looked the same way for about another seventy miles.

Your boyfriend must be worried,” he needed to know and it was the only way he could figure out how to find out without asking right out.

“I don’t have a boyfriend. My mother just got married so she’s on her honeymoon. She won’t be worried about me anytime soon.” He heard the unspoken words in her voice. It didn’t seem as if she had anybody who would worry about her. She didn’t have any reason to hurry home and that made him think he should give her every reason to stay there with him. His mother had always told him he was too quick to fall in love. She had told him that the day he came home from his first day of high school declaring his love for Daisy. “She’s going to be my wife someday,” he had told his mother and she had simply laughed and told him that it probably wasn’t going to happen. She was so sure he would find somebody else to fall in love with between ninth grade and his senior year. But he hadn’t. He had fallen for Daisy from day one and he went after her. She didn’t put up much of a fight. He smiled just thinking about Daisy and how easy it was to convince her to be his girlfriend. Right after high school, before the ink dried on their diplomas, they were at the courthouse getting married. He knew at first sight, just like he knew with this woman, that what he felt could last a lifetime. He just wasn’t sure she would feel the same way.

“Will your wife be angry that I’m in your bed?”

“I’m not married. And how did you know this was my room?”

She circled her finger around the room. “It smells like you. Spicy and warm,” she smiled. “It’s very manly. I like it.” She yawned. “I’m still tired.”

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A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery

“Get a little more rest while I get some food for you. Then you’ll eat something because you’ve been in and out of it for a while now.”

She nodded. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He left her to the bed so she could rest and he could fix a plate for her. The men had already started eating outside on the patio, and of course they felt the need to give him those knowing looks the moment he started fixing the plate. He just grinned and shook his head.

“She’s awake and I want her to eat something; okay.” He finished piling food onto the plate before Jasper took it from him and handed it to one of the men.

“She is not going to eat that much,” she exclaimed before he could protest her actions. “David there can eat enough for ten horses, but that girl is not going to want all that food. Think smaller.”

“How small?”

“Men,” she sighed before taking a plate and proportionately adding food to it. “Start with this. If she wants more you can come down for seconds.”

He took the plate from her and took it back upstairs to Zoe. As always, Jasper had been right. Zoe was full and she hadn’t even cleaned the plate. Had he taken the plate he had fixed she would have probably felt guilty about not being able to eat it all.

He left her after lunch so she could get some more rest and when he came back to check on her later she was just waking up again. This time she wanted to get cleaned up, not drift back off to sleep. He had offered to run her a bath, but she said she would just use the shower instead. She wasn’t feeling much like trying to get into the tub. She had taken a shower using the massaging jet cycle and then she had come downstairs to the kitchen. He thought she should rest more, but she had said she was tired of being in bed.

“It’s lonely up there,” she had said to him.

“Jasper’s gone for the day already so I’ll have to see what I have in there for you to eat.”

She placed her hand over his and he felt a jolt of electrical awareness shoot through him. He didn’t know how to deal with the onset of these feelings. He didn’t know how to keep them under control so he didn’t scare her off or make a complete fool of himself.

23

A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery

“What do you do for dinner usually?”

“I make a sandwich.” He knew how to cook—somewhat—but it was just him and he didn’t feel a need to mess up the kitchen on a home cooked meal.

“I’ll make you dinner,” she smiled at him.

“You’re supposed to be recovering.”

“I’m at home in the kitchen,” the teeth baring smile on her face made that fact evident. “I’ll be fine.”

He shook his head no. “Not tonight. You rest tonight and we can discuss dinner tomorrow.”

She smiled and shook her head at him. “You’re impossible to bargain with here.”

He laughed. “I sure am.”

“Okay, tomorrow we’ll discuss dinner. Although I really would love to cook for you. I appreciate your taking care of me…rescuing me really…and I’d love to show my gratitude.”

“You’ve already thanked me.”

“The words don’t seem like enough.”

“They are,” he assured her. She hadn’t removed her hand from his and he hadn’t bothered to give her any indication that she should. He really, really liked this woman. “How old are you? You were on your way to Seattle for an interview; won’t your family miss you?”

She laughed. “My family probably wouldn’t even care,” her voice held no hint of being bothered by that fact. “It’s complicated,” she shrugged off her words as if the complication meant nothing, or at least as if it shouldn’t mean anything. “But to answer your first question, I’m thirty-two.”

“Thirty-two?” He coughed, shocked by her admission. “I thought you were in your early twenties.

She shook her head no. “I get that a lot. How old are you?”

One personal question deserved another he guessed. “Fifty.” The moment the word was out of his mouth he hated that he had to say it. He was still too old for her. She would be better suited for a thirty something year old, not an old man like himself.

24

A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery

“You’re still young yet.” Zoe pushed her hair behind her ear. “You look good for fifty you know.

My mom is blessed that way too. She’s fifty-seven and still looks like a knockout. Goes to show that some people are like a fine wine; they just get better with age.”

He chuckled. He was so close to her mother’s age that he knew he shouldn’t even attempt anything romantic with this woman.

“Why aren’t you married?”

“My wife died,” his voice lowered softly just thinking about her. “Many years ago.”

“I’m sorry.” She shook her head as she patted his hand. She removed her hand from his and he felt as if he would mourn the loss. “So why haven’t you remarried?”

“I hadn’t met the right woman;” he shrugged. He hadn’t until now, and even now she wasn’t right.

No, she was right. The age was just all wrong.

She nodded. “Well when you do meet her I hope you don’t let a silly little thing like age get in your way. As long as you’re both two legally consenting adults, love is all that should matter.”

“What did you say?” He thought he heard her right, but he needed to make sure. It was almost as if he was getting permission to court her; and she didn’t even realize she was giving it to him.

“I said love is all that should matter—between two legally consenting adults that is.”

“Of course.” He nodded. “It’s just…most people might not agree.”

She shrugged. “Those people don’t have to live with your decisions. Do what’s right for you and don’t worry about the rest of the population. Either they’ll get over it or they won’t, but if they don’t then that’s their problem.”

“You’d be okay if your mother married a man your age?”

“She did,” she said. “And it didn’t bother me that he was my age…”

“But?” He heard the cliff of her unspoken words and he wanted to know what she was going to say.

“It bothered me that he was my guy first. We had been dating. I…”

25

A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery

“You’re serious? She went after your man?”

“I don’t think that she went after him,” she chuckled. “Yeah, I guess in a way she did. But my mom is gorgeous; men gravitate toward her. Kind of like the moth to the flame thing. I guess what bothered me most is how I found out about it. Over a family dinner when they both announced they were dating each other when I was the one who took him to the dinner. There I am, his date, sitting across the table from him when he takes my mother’s hand in his and drops that bomb. I can’t tell you how much that hurt.”

“I can imagine,” he felt anger rising in his heart. He couldn’t understand how any man could do that to a woman as beautiful, as kind, as incredible as Zoe. More than that, he couldn’t understand how her mother could do that to her.

She shrugged. “But that’s in the past. The future is out there somewhere,” she gestured to the outside world as she looked out of the kitchen patio doors. “I just have to go find my place in it.”

He wanted her place to be right there, in his home, on his ranch, in his heart. He wanted her to stay.

But did he have the right to ask? He wasn’t sure that he did.

“So, now you know why I was driving out to Seattle to audition for a role on a reality cooking show that I wasn’t thrilled about, but I thought it would work—well, you know most of it anyway. Then my GPS

device took me off the freeway and through the mountains, and I swerved to avoid a deer and that took me through your fence and into your creek.”

She spoke so smoothly as if she was giving him her food order and not telling him of the bad circumstances that led her to his ranch. He hated that she had faced the pain she had, but he was thankful fate had brought her to him. Before her recovery time was up he was going to do everything in his power to get her to stay. They were nearing the end of May now. If she left, even if she agreed to come back to visit, the winter months would probably keep her at bay. She was born and raised in the Florida Keys. The woman was used to warm weather and sandy beaches. Their neck of the woods didn’t have sandy beaches, and the only warm weather they had lasted from late May to mid September before the temperatures started falling again.

“When you’re up to it I’ll show you around the ranch. You can ride one of the horses too.” He loved to ride and he hoped getting her addicted to the wide open space of his home would make her fall in love with it enough to stay longer so she could fall in love with him.

26

A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery

“I’ve never ridden before. Is it safe?” She laughed. “Of course it is, you wouldn’t do it if it weren’t; right?”

He laughed. “Things happen,” he shrugged, telling her anything could be dangerous given the right circumstances. “But we’ll ride on the same horse for your first time and I can assure you you’ll be safe with me.”

“Great,” she smiled. “I’ve been on a camel; soon, I’ll be able to add a horse to the list.”

“Camel?”

“At the zoo when I was a little girl and our class had a fieldtrip. They had camel rides and I went on one. I vaguely remember enjoying the experience.”

She talked to him freely, as if she had been starving for nonjudgmental conversation her entire life; as if she were just waiting for somebody to confide in, and for some reason she had decided he was that somebody. Before the sun had set he knew about her father, and his lack of involvement in her life. She glazed over it as if it didn’t bother her much, but he could tell it did. He knew about the bastard who had made her take the fall for his mistake—something that had cost her the ability to work easily on the islands.

The more he learned about her, the more he knew she would be perfect on his ranch. She really didn’t have anything or anybody worth going back to, so why not stay where she would be loved and respected and cherished? He had made up his mind that his ranch was perfect for her, now all he had to do was convince her of that fact.

27

A Rancher’s Love ~ Capri Montgomery Chapter Four

Z
oe had spent the week with Dean. When he wasn’t working the ranch he was showing her around.

Most of her soreness had left and now she was just trying to find something she could do to help out around there. Jasper wouldn’t let her in the kitchen to help with meals. She told her she needed to rest, or go out and see the ranch. It was almost as if she were trying to get her to like it there. But that was silly because as far Zoe could tell her car would be ready in another week or so and she would leave anyway. It didn’t really seem to matter if she liked the place or not. But to everybody on the ranch it did. Of course she did like Dean’s ranch. She liked it a lot. She could see herself living in a place as peaceful and beautiful as this. Of course she couldn’t afford a place like this, but a woman could dream.

While Jasper wouldn’t let her in the kitchen during the day, Zoe had managed to at least cook dinner and bake some cookies and cakes for Dean and the guys. That had been fun, but it had also been in the evening which meant she had the entire day to do absolutely nothing. She wasn’t good at being idle. So when she found her way to the stables that day, ready to help do some hard labor, it didn’t surprise her. It did; however, seem to surprise Dean and his men.

“Let me help; please?” She pleaded with him to put her to work doing something—anything really.

“I can muck out the stalls.”

They laughed. “What do you know about mucking out stalls?” Dean smiled.

“I read about it in a book,” the reddening of her cheeks showed her bashful nature. She didn’t know anything about it really, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t learn how to do it. It couldn’t be that difficult.

“Nah,” he shook his head. “You and I are going to go for a ride. I think you’re feeling up to it by now.”

She was up to it. She was up for something other than sitting around all day. “Don’t you have to work?”

“Just let me go shower and change and we’ll head out to the east end of the property. You’ll love the view. Stay here,” he smiled at her. “And guys don’t let her lift a finger to do any work.”

BOOK: A Rancher's Love
4.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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