After a hard day's ranching, Wyatt Black wants to kick back with a cold beer. But when he steps onto his porch, he has unexpected company--his tiny abandoned niece!
Against her better judgment, Wyatt's neighbor Elli Marchuk agrees to help him for a few days.
Elli soon falls in love with baby Darcy, but it's the child's grouchy, gorgeous protector who's got her head over heels....
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February 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle by Donna Alward
From the Book...
Of all the mishaps that had happened today--stubborn cattle, broken gates, his ATV running out of gas--Wyatt Black definitely hadn't seen this one coming.
His boots scuffed in the dust leading to the sagging porch, his gaze riveted on the oddly shaped lump next to his front door. It was rounded and...pink. Pink? After a pause, he quickened his steps. A sound came from the bundle, a small squeaking sound.
Three steps later his heart pounded as his eyes confirmed his initial assessment. It was, indeed, a baby seat. For a few brief moments he'd nearly convinced himself he was seeing things. But there was no mistaking the pink canopy. He took the veranda steps slowly, confused. What the hell?
Two steps away from the seat he could see a small white chubby hand, the fingers curled in, delicate pink fingernails tipping the tiny digits.
And then there she was. A small mite of a thing, eyes closed and lips sucking gently in and out with her breath as her hands moved restlessly. A hint of dark fuzz peeked out from beneath a stretchy pink hat, and a blanket patterned with white and pink teddy bears covered all of her but her hands. A baby. And beside her a navy-and-white cloth bag, as if announcing she was staying for a while.
Wyatt's heart raced as the necessary questions flew through his mind. He put down his toolbox with a quiet thud. Who was this child's mother and, more importantly, where was she? Why had a baby been left on his doorstep?
It was inconceivable that this miniature human could be meant for him. There had to be some mistake. The alternative was momentarily staggering. Was it possible that she might be his flesh and blood? He stared at the lashes lying on her china-doll cheeks. She was so little. He counted back several months, then breathed out in relief. No, it was impossible. A year ago he'd been outside Rocky Mountain House working as a roughneck. There'd been no one. He had always kept his relationships on the unserious side and short. There'd been no sense letting a woman get her hopes up when he hadn't been in a position to settle down. He wasn't into playing games.
He exhaled fully. No, this baby wasn't his--he was sure of it. The core of tension in his body eased slightly, but not completely. The baby couldn't be his, but that still left the question--whose was she?
And what was he supposed to do with her?
As if hearing his question, she lifted her fringe of black lashes and he caught sight of dark eyes. The hands waved even more as she woke. Then, as if knowing he was the last person she should see, her face scrunched up pitifully and a thin cry pierced the silence.
He breathed a profanity in shock and dismay. He couldn't just leave her there crying, for God's sake! What should he do now? He knew nothing about babies. He glanced around the yard and up the road, knowing it was a futile exercise. Whoever had left her on his doorstep was long gone.
He reached out and grasped the white plastic handle of the car seat, picking it up with his right hand and tugging open the front door with his left. He certainly had to get the baby out of the September chill--surely it couldn't be good for her. He didn't even stop to take off his boots, just went straight through to the kitchen at the rear of the house and put the seat on a worn countertop. The thin cry echoed--seeming sharper, stronger in the confined space. Wyatt took off his hat and hooked it over the knob of a kitchen chair before turning back to the unhappy bundle.
He lifted the blanket, momentarily marveling that a creature so tiny and fragile could emit such a shrill, ear-piercing cry. A quick search of the recesses of the seat...