Cole Parrish arrived at the Bar H ranch to work. That was all. Not to settle down, and certainly not to be tempted by the stunning redhead running the ranch all by herself.
Now a little baby has arrived on the doorstep--and Rachel has gone from auntie to mother overnight. She needs all the help she can get...but Cole can't stay.
He never promised anything.
Yet Rachel's heart is stolen by the sight of the brooding rancher cradling the tiny infant, and she has to ask herself--if he's so set on leaving, why is Cole still here?
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January 07, 2008
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Excerpt from The Rancher's Doorstep Baby by Patricia Thayer
It was time to move on.
Cole Parrish spread the fresh straw around the horse stall. In truth, it was past time to make his departure. He'd never stayed anyplace this long. Four months he'd been at the Bar H Ranch. After the heart attack of the foreman, Cy Parks, Cole couldn't leave the owner to fend for herself all alone.
He braced the pitchfork against the railing and pushed his hat back. The familiar restlessness gnawed at his gut, urging him to leave. He was getting far too attached to this place but the sooner he got out of here the better. The last thing he needed was more memories to carry away with him. He had enough of those to last a lifetime.
That was why he had to go now. And he had to tell Rachel Hewitt. Today.
Determined not to put off the task any longer, Cole walked out of the stall and through the barn. Outside, he looked toward the two-story frame ranch house across the compound. At one time it had been painted white, but like the rest of the place, the structure could use a new coat of paint along with a few repairs.
It would only take him a couple weeks to do the job... He shook his head. No. This wasn't his problem. He was leaving.
Before he reached the house, a young Rachel Hewitt came out on the porch. As on every other day she wore her usual work clothes--faded jeans and a man's shirt. Her long, raven mane was tied back in a long braid, exposing her pretty oval face. She was tall and solidly built, but there was something about her expression that suggested a fragile quality. His gaze met her golden-brown eyes and he felt his chest constrict, making it difficult to draw a breath.
He definitely had to leave. Soon.
"Rachel," he called as he approached her. "If you have a minute, I need to talk with you."
"What is it, Cole?" She gripped the porch post and smiled, but it didn't hide her fatigue. He doubted she'd gotten much sleep, what with running the house and doing the work of a ranch hand. Not that anything had changed since her father's death two years ago. He'd heard stories that old Gib Hewitt had run the Bar H from his wheelchair, but Rachel had been the one who did the physical work.
Cole had stayed so long because he knew Gib had given power of attorney to a lawyer until his daughter turned thirty. Rachel couldn't afford to pay much to ranch hands and Cole couldn't allow her to struggle on alone. That was the reason why his leaving would be so hard on her. But he had to do it.