One Less Lonely Cowboy
Harlequin Special Edition, March 2013

 

On Sale February 13, 2013

HE'S READY AND ABLE... 

Jack McKenzie is an old-school cowboy. A loner making a good living at a Missouri ranch, he just wants to collect his pay, keep to himself and-most important-forget the past. But the return of his boss's daughter changes everything...and makes him long for more than his solitary life.... 

BUT IS SHE WILLING? 

The last place Lily Reardon had ever imagined going was home, but there she is-the prodigal daughter with a child of her own. Estranged from her father, she struggles to reconnect. Slowly, with the help of strong, silent ranch hand Jack McKenzie, she begins to see her past-and even her future-in a new light. But can Jack trust in love enough to take his place in Lily's renewed family?

From ONE LESS LONELY COWBOY

After several knocks the door still stood closed.

“Is it locked?”  Iris wanted to know.

“We’ll wait for him to come to the door.”  Lily could feel the doubt, disbelief, the adolescent impatience growing on her left flank.  Or was it really her own uncertain center, the feel of her tail stuck between her legs?  Her head was telling her to get on with it—the first few moments would be the hardest—but the strings to her limbs were tied somehow to the knot in her stomach.  She glanced at Iris, who questioned her with a puckered brow. 

“You can try it if you want.”  With a gesture toward the door knob Lily took a step back.

Seriously? the voice in her head scolded.

“He’s your father.”  Iris’s frown deepened.  “He’s expecting us, isn’t he?”

“You never know.  I should have called him before we left.  Or when we stopped in Fargo, maybe.”  Lily gave her head a quick shake.  The woman in charge was making a complete fool of herself.  “I don’t know what I was thinking.  Trying to time it just right, I guess.  After chores, before bed.  You don’t want to . . .”  . . . get him on the phone when he’s drinking.  She turned away from the door and looked elsewhere.  “Let’s ask the cowboy.”

“Oh, let’s.”

Iris’s delight was understandable.  From a distance the man was promising.  He knew what he was doing, and he looked good doing it.  Smooth, sure, confident.  The horse didn’t question it, and neither did the dog.  Lily wanted some of that right now.  The confidence, not the man.  But the closer they got, the better the man looked.  His long, lean body, his deft hands, his handsome face all kept faith with the distant promise.  Lily was sure he’d noticed them, but the easy-loping Paint had his full attention. 

A man who minded his business.  Always impressive.

Iris was the first to call out to him.  A bold, “Hi!”  No shrinking violet, her daughter, but Lily sensed a little deflation when the cowboy spared no more than a glance and a nod.  She laid her hand on the girl’s shoulder and pressed on.  The ball was in Mom’s court now. 

“We’re looking for Mike Reardon,” Lily called out as she stepped up on the bottom corral rail and folded forearms over the top one.

A low-pitched, authoritative “Ho” changed the horse’s pace.  The lunge line went slack, and the cowboy finally turned about half of his attention to the women.  “You came to the right place at the wrong time.  He went into town.”

“I’m Lily, Mike’s daughter.  He went to Lowdown?”

“I’m Iris, the granddaughter.”  She’d scrambled up two corral rails, putting her head and shoulders above her mother.

“Jack McKenzie.”  He touched a gloved finger to the brim of his black hat.  “The hired hand.”

“Really.  Grandpa has a hired hand.”  Iris glanced down, grinning at her mother. 

What a difference a cowboy made.

 

copyright 2013 Kathleen Eagle, all rights reserved

Available for pre-order at Amazon