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The Rancher's Heart

A feud reminiscent of the Hatfields and McCoys, a love story worthy of Romeo and Juliet

In spite of growing up on the Pleasant Valley ranch, single mom Cat McKenna doesn’t know a thing about cattle. But even with her preference for high heels instead of cowboy boots, she’s determined to save the family ranch she inherited for her son. She just needs to hire the right foreman to guide her. Neighboring rancher, handsome Cody Taylor, might be perfect for the job, even though their families have been feuding over land and water for generations.

Living in the shadow of the wealthier McKenna ranch has never been easy for the Taylors. But buried under a mountain of debt after his late father’s illness, the only way out for Cody may be to accept Cat McKenna’s job offer.

Can Cody keep his pride and ranch intact while helping the one family in all of Wyoming that’s the sworn enemy of the Taylors...and the one woman in Wyoming who is capable of stealing not only his land, but his rancher’s heart?



Chapter 1

The judge, clothed in his ceremonial black robes, banged his gavel.

She had won. Except Cat McKenna didn’t feel like a winner.

Kyle Langley, the lawyer she’d inherited along with the ranch that had been in her family for generations, leaned over from the chair next to her. “Smile,” he said, his voice low. “It’s good news.”

The judge rose, and her lawyer nudged her with his elbow and stood.

So did the two people across the aisle.

Cat scrambled to her feet just as the judge turned to exit. Unfortunately, the purse she’d slung over her chair slid loose and tumbled to the ground with a thud.

Her phone skidded along the wood floor, and her wallet, lipstick, pen, and eyeliner pencil spun under her chair. A crumpled Kleenex, recently used to wipe her son’s perennially runny nose, and a partially wrapped stick of gum stayed where they landed. But to her mortification, the tampon she’d stuffed in her purse, just in case, had darted out and rolled right to the bottom of the judge’s bench. The judge, probably eager to leave, hadn’t broken stride as he exited the courtroom.

“I wasn’t worried,” Kyle said as he stuffed papers into his brown leather briefcase, ignoring the chaos on the floor. He was in his forties, married, no children, all business, just the type of lawyer her late father would choose. “We had over a century and a half of law on our side.”

She sat back down and bent under the table to retrieve her stuff and heard the click of Kyle’s briefcase.

Jamming her belongings back into her leather bag, she was glad for the distraction. She certainly didn’t want to look toward the other side of the room at the tall, broad-shouldered man or the pretty female lawyer who represented him.

She had known Cody Taylor all her life and yet had barely spoken two dozen words to him before or after the incident the summer following high school graduation. Today wasn’t likely to change that. There was no love lost between the Taylors and the McKennas—and that was an understatement.

Bending further under the table, she struggled to reach her phone. She’d get the tampon once the courtroom was vacant. Not that she was hiding under the table or anything.

The ding of boots on the wooden floor grew louder, while the tap of high heels grew fainter. As those polished, if worn, leather boots came into sight, she pulled her head out from under the table only to stare, crotch level, at a pair of tailored black pants. Warmth slithered up her neck.

She forced herself to look up, past the large silver buckle decorating a trim waist, past the dark suit jacket covering a white shirt and what she remembered as a load of hard-earned muscle, past the shiny burgundy tie, straight to the set of sterling-blue eyes drilling into her from under a black cowboy hat. Those eyes had caused many a friend’s heart to break, back in the day.

“How does it feel to steal somebody’s land?” He asked the question in the deep-throated growl of a provoked guard dog.

The warmth turned to heat, smothering her face, searing her throat, and clogging her windpipe. It didn’t feel good at all.

Excerpt from The Rancher’s Heart ©2016. These are works of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.