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The Rancher's Housekeeper : Harlequin Romance Series #4321
Colt Brannigan always does the right thing, so he hires vulnerable Geena Williams as his housekeeper. But is this beautiful stranger trouble with a capital T?
Geena is overwhelmed--it takes a brave man to hire a woman with a past like hers. In return for the second chance, she'll make his house a home he'll want to come back to after a hard day's work.
Colt can be gruff, but to Geena his hard-won smile is as tender as a caress. He's let her into his home; maybe one day he'll let her into his heart?
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Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
July 01, 2012
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from The Rancher's Housekeeper by Rebecca Winters
Colt Brannigan kissed his mother on the cheek. "I'll see you tonight." He turned to her caregiver. "I'm working with the nursing service in Sundance. They'll be sending someone out in the next few days to start helping you with Mom's care."
"I'll be fine. Hank's been able to give me some free time."
"That's good. See you tonight, Ina."
Colt's sixty-year-old mother didn't know anyone. She'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's before his father's death sixteen months ago. It had grown much worse over the past year. She needed round-the-clock care.
At the sound of his brother Hank's voice, Colt shut the bedroom door and strode down the hallway of the ranch house's main floor toward him.
"Phone call for you from Warden James's office."
Warden James? "Must be a wrong number," he said, knowing full well it wasn't. He walked past his brother and headed for the back door, not needing another delay when he should be in the upper pasture.
Hank followed him at a slower pace due to his walking cast. "You did advertise for a housekeeper in the Black Hills Sentinel. They want to know if you've already filled the position."
Colt realized he should have indicated in the ad that they were looking for a female housekeeper. His mother would insist on it if she could express herself, but that time would never come again. "Tell them it's too late."
"No buts!" He cut his brother off with a grimace. Before their father had passed away from blood clots in the lungs, he'd obliged the warden by granting him a favor, one he'd lived to regret.
The freed inmate had been taken on as a ranch hand on a provisional basis. He'd stayed only long enough for a few meals and a paycheck before he took off with the blanket from his bunk and some of the other hands' cash. To add injury to insult, he'd stolen one of the ranch's quarter horses.
Colt had tracked him down and recovered the stolen property. The ex-felon was once again behind bars. Unfortunately the percentage of freed inmates who ended up back in prison was high. Now that Colt ran the Floral Valley Ranch, he'd be damned if he would make the mistake his father had and invest any more time or money on an ex-con.
"I'll be checking fences all day. Won't be home until late. Call if there's an emergency." He jumped off the back porch and headed for the barn. After swinging into the saddle, he galloped away on Digger.
It took the right kind of female to run a household like theirs and manage the domestic help. In fact it took a saint, but those were in short supply since their previous housekeeper, Mary White Bird, had died. Colt realized their family could never replace her. The full-blooded Lakota had been their mother's right hand and an institution on the ranch.
He'd advertised in various newspapers throughout Wyoming and South Dakota, but so far none of the applicants had the qualifications he was looking for. Forget a released felon. Colt was getting desperate, but not that desperate.
Floral Valley Ranch 4 miles.
Geena Williams rode past the small highway sign and had to turn around. Eight miles back an old rancher at the Cattlemen's Stock and Feed Store in Sundance, Wyoming, had told her she might miss the turnoff if she weren't looking for it. He'd been right. From here on out it would be dirt road.
She stopped long enough to catch her breath and take a drink from her water bottle. During the day the temperature had been sixty-nine degrees, with some wind in the afternoon, typical for early June in northeastern Wyoming. But now it had dropped into the fifties and would go lower. Her second-hand parka provided little insulation.
Though the weather had cooperated, it was sheer will and adrenaline that had gotten her this far. Now desperation would have to get her the rest of the way. Her legs would probably turn to rubber before she reached her destination, but Geena couldn't quit now. She needed to make it to the ranch before it was too dark to see.
A half hour later she caught sight of a cluster of outbuildings, including the ranch house, but it was ten to ten and she didn't dare approach anyone this late.
She pedaled her road bike over to a stand of pines and propped it against one of the trunks.
Her backpack contained everything in the world she owned. No. That wasn't exactly true. There were some other items precious to her, but she had no idea where they were. Not yet anyway.
She undid the straps to eat some snacks. They tasted good. After she'd pulled out her space blanket, she more or less collapsed from exhaustion onto a soft nest of needles beneath the boughs of the biggest tree.
Using her pack for a pillow, she curled on her right side and covered up, still in shock that tonight the only roof she had over her head was a canopy of stars. She picked out the Big Dipper. Venus was the bright star to the west.