How do you find the perfect love for a rough and rugged rancher, Justin Boden, who’d rather wrestle a long horn bull that put up with a woman’s nonsense? What woman would be enough to lure him from his contented bachelorhood?
Do you find the neighbor girl? As tough a cowhand as he is a rancher? The sole heir to a huge ranch that neighbors on Justin’s property? Nope, where’s the fun in that?
You have a delicate city woman faint in his arms, fear his horse, burn his food and nearly bungle the medical treatment for his ailing brother?
Angelique DuPree, recently widowed from a spendthrift upper crust man from Omaha…and determined to never put herself in a man’s clutches again, especially a bossy man like her deceased husband…or take charge Justin Boden.
The first part of the book is Cole Boden, Justin’s big brother, fighting for his life. The doctor comes and he brings along the only pair of helping hands he could find.
Long Time Gone
Angelique turned back to Cole just as his eyes blinked open.
“Where’s Sadie?” Cole’s voice, weak and so soft it was hard to hear, but his thoughts were clear.
“Heath’s got her.” Justin had a feeling that was the absolute truth. And of course he wanted Heath to get her, but he didn’t want him to keep her.
“Go, for heaven’s sake, get out of here and go help.”
A clatter at the back of the house drew Justin’s attention and diverted Cole’s. He wished it’d be Heath with Sadie.
Wished it, prayed it, feared it was not. This day was just too deeply stacked with trouble.
Doc Garner burst into the room and right behind him…
Justin almost groaned out loud. He’d hoped for the sweet, wise, skillfully trained Sister Margaret. Instead his stack of trouble just got higher.
Angie DuPree rushed into the room and stumbled right into the doctor’s back.
She nearly pitched him face down on top of a bleeding man.
Strong arms caught her so fast she wondered if someone had been waiting for her to get into trouble. The doctor spared her one annoyed glance, then rushed around the bed and bent over the patient.
The doctor reached for the bandaged wound as she realized it was Justin lying there. Horror swept through her and then, the hands that set her on her feet drew her attention. She glanced sideways.
Her eyes flicked back and forth. It was definitely Justin who had her wrapped in his arms. She’d felt them before.
So it was Cole who was hurt.
Covered up like this, though—unconscious, or nearly so—with all of his personality and his way of dress hidden, she was shocked at how much Cole resembled Justin. Both of them tall with dark brown hair. Their eyes matched
too, a blue as dark as the starlit sky. But Cole had shorter hair and in the normal course of things was tidier and better dressed. Right now he was a mess.
“Aunt Margaret hurt her ankle and Miss Maria came out with us but she said another man is hurt?”
Justin nodded. “That’s Ramone. I’m glad you could come and…help.”
Angie suspected he tried to disguise the doubt in his voice but since she had her own serious doubts, she heard what he didn’t say.
She looked back at Cole and a wave of dizziness almost staggered her, some of it was the sight of so much blood, but she also had a strange blast of what felt like relief that it wasn’t Justin lying there. And then she was disgusted at such a thought. Cole being hurt was just as terrible. She was here to help and who the patient was didn’t come into it.
Some of the dizziness of course might be because she had no idea what to do…so she was scared to death. But Aunt Margaret had tripped over a misplaced school book this morning and was limping badly enough she needed medical care herself. She’d sent Angie out here and one of the other two ladies from the orphanage, Miss Maria, came along and had been sent to another house to tend another man. The doctor said he needed youth and speed, a lack of knowledge wouldn’t matter.
Well, if Angie could stay upright he’d get all of those. Youth, speed and ignorance.