When sexy Brad Logan hires Sarah Brownly, he doesn't expect his once quiet home to be filled with a rabble of kids and a housekeeper he can't keep his eyes off.... With Brad as her boss, Sarah's never felt more secure. But she's running from her past. How can she ask this gorgeous bachelor to take on her troubles and her unruly brood? The woman Brad's falling for comes with an instant family--but his shoulders are broad. He'll take on this little family and make them his own....
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August 11, 2008
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Excerpt from The Rancher's Inherited Family by Judy Christenberry
Brad Logan was late.
He should have left his friend's wedding back in Pinedale hours ago, and now he was still twenty miles away from home. His brother would be angry if he woke up Abby. Though they had a couple months to go before being born, the twins in her belly were already not letting her sleep.
Because he was speeding by, Brad almost missed the flicker in the pasture to the left, a bit of land the Logans rented from the government. Braking to a stop, he backed up to see if it could be true. He thought everyone knew not to have a campfire on government land.
There it was, almost hidden behind a small hill. He had to snuff it out.
His headlights picked up tire tracks leading off the macadam. Following the tracks, he came upon a darkened old car and the offending campfire right beside it.
Only after parking his truck and walking up to the fire did he notice the young woman who sat beside it, obviously in deep thought.
Startled, she jumped, losing her balance on the rock on which she sat. Getting up, she dusted off her rear, sputtering, "Wh-who are you?"
"The name's Brad Logan. My family rents this land from the government. You're not allowed to camp here. And you're definitely not allowed to have a campfire."
"We're not doing any harm."
"Lady, it's been a dry year. We can't take any risks of a forest fire. I'm sorry, but the fire has to go." He kicked dirt onto the fire, but the woman stopped him.
"If you knew how long it took me to get that fire started, you wouldn't so cavalierly destroy it!"
He shook off her hand. "Look, you don't even have any business being out here. We've had bears down this low. What would you do if a bear attacked you? You need to go back to Pinedale and get a motel room."
"No! No, I can't!" The woman appeared distraught.
"I don't-- Money is tight!"
"There's a campground at Yellowstone. I doubt they're crowded on an October night."
"Uh, yes, thank you."
Something in her face told him she wouldn't be going to Yellowstone, despite her verbal acceptance. Wherever she went, he couldn't leave her here.
"Do you have any water?"
"Yes." She turned toward her darkened car.
"I need it to be sure the fire is completely out."
Disbelief shone on her face when she spun on her heel. "You're going to pour it on the fire? I don't have much and the kids will need it in the morning."
His eyes darted around the car. "You've got kids here?"
She gave a brief nod, backing away from him. "Look, we'll go, but I need what water I have."
"Where are the kids?"
"Lady, you need to do a better job raising your kids!"
"And you need to mind your own business!"
Not knowing what else to do, Brad took out his cell phone and called the sheriff. After filling him in, he asked, "Shall I bring her in?"
He was watching the woman as he spoke and when he mentioned taking her in, her eyes opened wide and she immediately began gathering the few things she had out. "We'll be on our way!"
Before she could reach her car, such as it was, Brad caught her arm. "The sheriff said for me to bring you in."
"But we haven't done anything!"
"Then you won't mind talking to the sheriff, will you?"
"Yes, I do mind. I don't want to leave the kids."
"Of course not. We'll take them with us...in my truck."
"No! I can't leave my car here!"
"If the sheriff says it's okay, I'll bring you back in the morning."
He walked over to the old car and looked through the window to see two kids sleeping in the two seats.
"Where were you going to sleep?" he asked the woman.
"That's none of your business!"
He opened the car door, waking the children. "Hi, kids. Your mom has agreed to come to our ranch for the night. Is that okay with you?"
A small girl, maybe eight or nine, and a little boy who looked to be about five, the same age as his nephew Robbie, stared at him.
The children looked out for their mother, and he realized he'd never introduced himself. "Sorry, I forgot to tell you who I am. My name's Brad. We'll take my truck to the ranch. Okay?"
"Is that your truck?" the little boy asked, getting on his knees and looking out the window.
"Yeah. Do you like trucks?"
He nodded. "I can ride in yours?"
"Sure. Ask your mom."
"But she's not here."
Brad turned to look at the young woman. "She's not your mother?"
"No," the little boy said sadly.
Just what the hell was happening here? Brad wondered. Not wanting to upset the boy, he said calmly, "Well, buddy, why don't you come ride with me? She'll follow us."
"Will you come, Sarah?"
"Yes, Davy, I'll follow you. I'm not leaving you behind."
The little girl got out of the car and moved to Sarah's side. "Sarah, I don't think you should let Davy go with him. We don't know him."
She put her arm around the girl and smiled. "It's all right, Anna. We're going to follow right behind."
Then the woman moved closer to Brad and whispered, "Don't even think of trying to take Davy from me."
"I won't, as long as you follow me."
She moved away from him and hugged the boy. Then she and the girl got in the old car and started the engine.
Brad helped the little boy into his truck and fastened the seat belt for him. "Davy, I'm glad you're going to ride with me. I don't like riding alone."
"Okay, we'll be home in twenty minutes."
But after five minutes, he noticed the woman-- Sarah--wasn't behind him. He made a U-turn and found her car dead on the side of the road. "Davy, I need to see if I can help her. Sit here."
When he got to the car, Sarah had tears running down her cheeks.
"Are you okay?" he asked.