Putting it all on the line for love…
Cowboy musician Tyler Garrett has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put aside his rough-and-tumble rancher’s lifestyle and realize his dream. He’s on the road to Dallas to record a demo when that dream gets kicked sideways by a beautiful woman on the run.
Leah Benson will do whatever it takes to keep her daughter safe. But when her dangerous past catches up with her, she needs a hero—and luckily for her, Tyler Garrett was born and bred for the role.
Leah had no idea why, but standing in her grandmother’s weed-infested back yard, with Ty’s arm wrapped around her, this was the first time she had felt safe in…oh, hell. I can’t even remember safe. Her heart beat out a rhythm like a machine gun and her stomach felt queasy, but even lower in her anatomy, something was stirring big time. Oh, those killer blue eyes. Damn! I could believe anything he says when he looks at me like that.
It wasn’t as though he was going to be around long enough to break her heart. He said he would be leaving in a couple of days. She pressed her face against his western shirt. It was the expensive kind and had been starched and ironed, nice as anything.
He smelled great too. Not anything girly. Sort of like fresh citrus and something spicy mixed in. She wondered if he knew the effect he was having on her. Yeah, it’s a good thing he’s going to be moving on.
Eddie put a paw against her calf. His too-long toenails made her wince. Something else that needed doing, but she had left the clippers behind when she departed in such haste. No time to think things through.
She wondered what would happen to the rest of their belongings. The landlady would probably take what she wanted and haul the rest to the trash bin. Maybe she would donate it. Probably not.
Sad to think everything of value was still crammed into her old beater of a car. Not much to show for her life. Maybe I can make a fresh start. Lord knows I can’t do much worse than the first time out. She glanced up at Gracie, sitting so proudly in the saddle. At least, I did one thing well.
“You ready?” Ty asked Gracie. When she nodded he continued his walk around the property. They passed the barns and outbuildings.
“The chicken coop needs to be closed up for the night,” Ty said, indicating the sad looking structure.
“I can do that.” Leah handed Eddie’s leash to Ty. She unlatched the gate and stepped through to the wire-enclosed yard. It hadn’t been cleaned in a while. That was something she could do to help Gran. Taking a quick head count, she could locate nine hens inside the coop. Not enough. And Gran harvested one of the girls for dinner. Can’t afford to do that again.
Leah latched the door to the coop and stepped out of the run. The gate was flimsy, but she secured it as best she could. At least, this was a small task she could do for Gran.
When Leah turned around, her heart did a flip-flop in her chest. The last rays of the sun cast a golden glow on the scene, illuminating Gracie, atop the black stallion, a wide grin on her face, Ty standing beside her, holding the reins, Eddie on his leash, waggling his tail furiously, and Lucky, the beautiful Golden Retriever who sat patiently beside Ty.
It was one of those Hallmark moments that made her ache all over. Everything looked so beautiful. She wanted it to last forever.
She gave herself a mental head slap. Not forever. Ty is just passing through. But, she admitted to herself, deep in her heart of hearts, she wanted something that made her feel this same way. Happy…secure…a part of something, even though it was just a moment in this case.
They continued their stroll around Gran’s big yard. Most of the time, in silence. The clop-clop of horse’s hooves seemed to give cadence to their steps.
Gracie sat atop the horse, looking like a small princess. Leah realized Gracie was proud of the fact she was staying in the saddle. Leah hoped there would be more satisfying moments for this little one. Those moments had been few and far between up until now.
“What crops did your grandpa usually grow in these fields?” Ty asked.
Leah shrugged. “Mostly wheat, some cotton. I seem to remember rye grass in the winter.”
Ty frowned as he gazed out at the barren fields. “It’s not too late to get a crop in.”
“Sorry,” she said. “I know nothing about farming. I’m not even sure why I’m here. I thought I could help my grandma, but now it seems I’m going to be more of a burden for her.”
He frowned, giving her a sideways glance under the brim of his hat. “I’m pretty certain she’s really happy to have you.”
Leah swallowed, willing herself not to give way to another emotional break. She drew a deep breath. “I hope so. She always told me, when times get tough, that’s when families pull together.”