Authors: Debra Clopton
Other Books by Debra Clopton
Her Unforgettable Cowboy
Her Homecoming Cowboy
Her Lone Star Cowboy
Her Rodeo Cowboy
Her Forever Cowboy
His Cowgirl Bride
The Trouble with Lacy Brown
A Cowboy for Katie
Four Weddings and a Kiss
An Ever After Summer
A Bride for All Seasons
© 2015 by Debra Clopton
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.
Thomas Nelson titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail [email protected]
Publisher’s Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.
ISBN 978-1-4016-9050-2 (eBook)
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Betting on hope / Debra Clopton.
pages. cm. — (A four of hearts ranch romance ; 1)
Summary: “A bet gone wrong. A small town’s meddling. And a cowboy intent on saving his ranch.Maggie Hope is an advice columnist whose background leaves her with little advice to give. and it’s beginning to show. When Maggie fills in at an interview with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan, the on-camera chemistry between them is undeniable. Maggie’s bosses know this is the opportunity she’s been looking for to launch her career . . . and their bank accounts. In order to save her column, Maggie takes Tru up on the bet . . . that he can teach her to ride a quick-stepping cutting horse like any cowgirl, despite the fact that she has never been on a horse. And in the meantime, she can get the scoop on the man under the cowboy hat. Tru has been on the competition circuit for longer than he’d like, but he knows it’s the only way he can afford to keep the Four of Hearts Ranch that means so much to his ailing grandfather. So when his sponsors see the opportunity for Tru’s fans to get to know the star on a more intimate level, he knows he must oblige. To his dismay, Maggie not only invades his small town of Wishing Springs, but she also invades his heart, and that is something he cannot let any woman do for her own good. In Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart’s desires”-- Provided by publisher.
ISBN 978-1-4016-9049-6 (pbk.)
14 15 16 17 18 19 RRD 6 5 4 3 2 1
To my family: your love, your smiles, your hugs—that’s the “good stuff” and I’m so blessed and forever grateful to have each and all of you in my life. I thank God every day for each of you.
About the Author
have you gotten me into, Amanda Jones?”
Staring at the rough-looking building, Maggie Hope clutched her cell phone to her ear and fought down a hot flood of panic. “The sign says the
this place?” she gritted through tense jaws.
Rustic was an understatement for the faded wooden building sitting on the outskirts of Wishing Springs, Texas. It had dark windows and a long plank porch supported by columns made of knobby tree trunks. The steeply pitched red roof sagged in the middle. It was a dive, a shack.
“Calm down, Mags,” Amanda croaked, the flu causing her to sound like an eighty-year-old smoker, instead of the intimidatingly elegant, thirty-five-year-old bombshell who was the key ingredient of the most popular morning show on Houston’s local channel. She coughed. “It may look a little rough, but it’s the cowboy
local folks’ hangout.”
“But—it’s deserted. Lonesome. If it’s a hangout, where is everyone?” It didn’t look like a place anyone would want to hang out in. Especially Maggie. Dives brought back memories she worked hard to forget.
The TV station’s van was the only other vehicle in the white rock parking lot—and that only added to her distress, which in truth was more about the TV camera than the clapboard building that looked like a leftover of the Wild West days.
She swallowed the lump in her throat. She wanted to go back home and write her daily advice column, “Gotta Have Hope,” in obscurity. But . . . not happening. Amanda was delirious to have offered Maggie as her stand-in for this important interview with champion Quarter Horse rider, trainer, and ladies’ man, Tru Monahan.
Maggie was a writer, not a reporter. She wasn’t comfortable being in front of people—it brought back memories of the worst times of her life . . . not only a time of shame and embarrassment but also a time when her life fell apart. But none of that mattered to anyone but her, and since the same conglomerate owned both the newspaper and the television station, Maggie hadn’t been asked to do this. She’d been told.
Amanda sneezed. “The show asked for the interview to be done when there was no one else around. Small-town interviews tend to be harder when locals are involved. It’s better for you this way.” Amanda’s hoarsely whispered words ended in another croaking cough.
“Amanda, you sound terrible.” Sympathy won out over Maggie’s nervous breakdown.
“I feel awful,” Amanda wheezed. “I’m going to sleep now. You let those red heels do the walking and get in there, girlfriend. You can do this.”
“But—,” Maggie blurted, but the line had gone dead.
Maggie’s hand tightened on the now useless lifeline to her friend.
She glared into the rearview mirror and cringed at her overdone blue eyeshadow. Her cheeks were too pink, too, and her lips sticky with gloss. Amanda had assured Maggie that for the camera she needed a little more color than was normal.
Clammy fingers of panic tightened around her windpipe. Maggie squeezed her eyes shut and counted to ten . . . calm did not come. It was a wonder she hadn’t broken out in hives or something on the two-hour-long drive over here.
“Gotta Have Hope” was a dream come true for Maggie and it was because of Amanda’s recommendation that she even had the job. No one truly knew what a blessing the advice column had been for Maggie. A lifesaver, really. As Amanda had been to her when they’d first met several years earlier.
She owed Amanda . . .
Even so, Maggie figured this gig was going to be the full sum of her debt owed. Yup, paid in full was getting stamped on that bill. Amanda was always looking out for her, but she didn’t know about the fool Maggie had made of herself in her freshman year during the school play. Freezing up, then knocking down the
set in her panic . . .
Everyone laughing . . .
And then the aftermath—a chill filled Maggie. What if she made a fool of herself in front of
of TV viewers?
“Stop,” Maggie huffed, glaring at herself in the mirror. She was not that insecure kid anymore. Not the kid whose home life was so messed up that she could barely hide it from everyone her seventh grade year. The kid who’d tried to lose herself through acting as an escape from reality only to fall apart that night on stage. The clumsy kid who left the stage in tears only to arrive home to find police hauling her father away.