The Cowboy Lassos a Bride(5)

By: Cora Seton

As things turned out, he nearly had lost his chance. When they’d split up to leave the break room and see Bella and Evan off, Tracey Richards had accosted him. They’d known each other a long time, since he often ate at Linda’s Diner, where Tracey had worked for years. Their friendship, such as it was, was overly flirtatious. It didn’t mean anything, which Tracey knew. But Hannah didn’t.

He’d looked up too late and seen Hannah’s eyes widen as she watched him tug Tracey’s hair in fun. A minute later she’d dashed away. He hadn’t been able to push through the crowd fast enough after her, and he’d never found her again that night. Since he didn’t want to expose her to talk—she was still with Cody—he couldn’t ask around or enlist anyone else’s help. When she didn’t reappear, he left the wedding, furious at himself for blowing it.

She showed up the next week at Ethan and Autumn’s poker night with Cody on her arm and he’d struggled not to take the man outside and kick his ass. It turned out he didn’t have to. Cody had soon ruined things with Hannah in a way that set Jake up as a hero in her eyes. He’d arranged to hunt a bison and had taken Hannah to view it before the hunt. When it turned out the animal had been hand-raised and was kept in a pen barely large enough for it to turn around, Hannah flipped her lid.

She went back a few nights later, stole the beast, and tried to hide it in a corral she’d built in Carl Whitfield’s woods outside town. That hadn’t gone well—in fact, that night would go down in Chance Creek history as disastrous—but the upshot was that the next day Jake helped Hannah round up the bison she’d named Gladys, and now Gladys lived on the Double-Bar-K.

And Hannah came every morning to see her.

They hadn’t spoken yet about what happened at the Mortimer’s wedding, but Jake planned to, soon. With Cody out of the picture it was time to make his move. He was determined to ask her out on a date today and he hoped she would say yes. Hoped they could work their way back around to picking up where they’d left off in that break room. Once he had her in his arms again, he wouldn’t let her go a second time.

Because he figured Hannah was the one.

As he got to work in the hayloft of the largest of the barns on the property, preparing to fix a leak under the eaves before it allowed any dampness to ruin the hay stored within it, he heard the creak of the barn door as it opened far below him, and his father’s voice cut across the stillness.

“Why the hell are those cattle still in the far pasture?”

Jake’s jaw tightened as he felt along the top edge of the wall to find the location of the leak. So much for peace and quiet. Someday he’d inherit the Double-Bar-K, and even now he was nominally in charge of the herd, but as long as Holt Matheson walked this earth, he’d remain a glorified field hand. As his fingers traced over the rough wood high above his head, he told himself to rein in his temper and stick with the job at hand.

“I told you we were supposed to move the cattle,” his brother Ned chimed in.

Jake stifled an urge to bang his head against the wall. Ned’s voice often acted like nails across a chalkboard in his mind. This was one of those times. And it was a reminder that while someday Jake would inherit the Double-Bar-K and finally get to take charge of how it was run, he would still have to contend with his brothers—including Ned.

“We’ll move them tomorrow. Today we fix the barn,” he shouted down to them, as if he actually held the authority to make such decisions. Which he should.

But didn’t.

“I told you last night to move the cattle!” Holt’s craggy face appeared through the trap-door entrance to the hayloft.

“And I told you there’s a leak in this barn and I mean to fix it today.”

“Those cattle aren’t going to move themselves.” Ned’s voice drifted up from below.

Jake fought back a familiar urge to chuck something at him. Like a pitchfork. Ned always sided with their father. Always. They were like two peas in a pod: ornery and stubborn as mules.

“You want this hay ruined?” Jake squared off with Holt.

“You want those cattle frozen when the weather turns overnight?”

“The weather won’t turn overnight.”

“Tell that to my knees.” Holt swore the aches in his knees could predict everything from thunderstorms to drought. Jake didn’t see how his knees could get any less accurate. He tilted his head down to address them.

“The weather’s going to hold.”

“Ha, ha. Very funny. Get out there and move that cattle.”

Hot Read

Last Updated


Top Books