Very, very important!
Today’s a double posting for two chances to win. Be sure to read the entry just below for the Allure Authors: 30 Days of Giveaways! First thing tomorrow morning, I’ll announce both winners!
Yesterday, I told you the heroes in the interconnecting stories are the #1, #2, and #3 reasons you will want to read this book. Today, let me introduce you to Danny Tynan, Brandon’s little brother. Danny is a restless soul, content to let Brand run the ranch they both inherited while he hires out to other ranches to work with horses. But Danny’s got a secret yearning for an older woman.
Take a peek inside Danny’s story…
Sometimes, destiny rushed up to meet a man head on. Sometimes, he just had to take a step backward.
Daniel Tynan raised his arms to stretch his back, wincing at a twinge in a muscle behind his shoulder. Although accustomed to physical labor, he’d overdone it today, but the effort had been well worth it.
Glancing out a window, he noted the darkness and raked his hand through his hair, grimacing when he pulled away pieces of straw. He’d dragged his feet long enough.
He picked his Stetson off the corner post of the last stall he’d cleaned and set it on top of his head. His first day at Wasp Creek Ranch left him feeling deeply satisfied with his choice, despite the aches. He was needed here.
Seven years had passed since he’d spent a summer wrangling under Douglas Dermott’s tutelage, learning how to work with the horses. Quarter horses for reining, cutting and racing, as well as the occasional Appaloosa. Douglas had loved them all, had taken pride in his breeding program and shared his skill as a trainer with quiet patience.
A raw teenager, Danny had been eager to take on a new challenge—one not so far removed from his own upbringing on a cattle ranch that he’d felt completely out of his element.
He’d learned a lot from Douglas.
Too bad he’d returned the gift by lusting after the man’s wife.
Even at the time, the irony of his situation hadn’t escaped him. He’d lost his mother when she’d run off with a younger man, which made his own addiction all the more disturbing.
Days ago, when the job notice had appeared on Tara Toomey’s bulletin board, he’d felt shaken, reminded of his indiscretion. Nevertheless, he’d been curious about the widow and how she’d fared since the death of her husband. He didn’t question the urge that had him faxing an application to her foreman as soon as Brand had given him the green light to go.
Reggie Haskell remembered him, calling him the next day to offer him the job. Which had surprised him, given that Reggie had been all too aware of Danny’s old obsession with “Miz Dermott.”
However, it seemed the Dermott’s ranch wasn’t doing well, and the widow needed all the experienced help she could find to get horses ready for auction while she put the ranch up for sale.
Even beneath a darkening sky, Danny could see the subtle signs of distress. A barn that needed a coat of paint. Stalls not as meticulously kept as they should have been. A diminished herd—still prime horseflesh, but only a shadow of the animals Douglas had taken so much pride in introducing to a young man.
Without Douglas’s leadership, the widow hadn’t been able to manage as well. Local banks didn’t have confidence in her ability to keep the ranch in the red, hiking up the interest rates on the seasonal loans she’d needed to stay afloat.
That the entire county suffered under a long drought, forcing them to buy more hay to compensate for the fields of scorched grass they’d lost, had only added to her woes.
From Reggie, he’d gotten a laundry list of the problems they’d faced in the last three years. While he’d listened, Danny’s mind kept wandering back to Douglas’s widow.
How heartbreaking to lose her husband and now face losing the ranch. Yet, Danny couldn’t stem the shameful rush of elation that swept through him when he thought of her—all alone, perhaps in need of a man’s comfort.
Although no longer a gangly teen, he had no illusions that she might take an interest in him now. Seven years had passed, but another dozen or so still separated them in age. She’d given him a room inside her home rather than a rough cot in the mostly empty bunkhouse. The same room he’d stayed in the last time he’d been here.
She hadn’t seen him as anything other than a boy then. Apparently, she still didn’t.
This time, he’d held a half-hearted wish he’d see her only as an attractive older woman. After all, he’d had more experience with the opposite sex since his younger days. Was more jaded where women were concerned, was less impressed with a fine figure and a pair of dewy brown eyes.
That wish bit the dust just before suppertime that day, when Danny had stood in the doorway of the barn, rubbing oil into the old saddle he’d brought with him. Although, he hadn’t bothered bringing a horse, preferring to travel light, he liked working with his own equipment. Besides, the saddle held sentimental value. It had been his father’s, and the first saddle he’d ever ridden.
From the corner of his eye, he’d watched the front door of the ranch house open. His hand hovered over the leather as he gazed from the shadows at the woman who stepped onto the wide porch of the white, clapboard ranch house to shake out a throw rug, her body jerking in delicious little waves.
“You’re not thinkin’ about slidin’ back into that old saddle, again, are ya?” Reggie muttered from behind him.
Danny glanced back and flashed the older man a smile, narrowing his eyes to warn him to mind his own damn business. “Maybe I’ll just polish her up and take her for a ride.”
Reggie shook his head. “A fine animal like that needs a firm hand and follow through. You give her too much rein and you’ll never get her to go where you want her to.”
Without another word, Reggie led a mare from the barn, leaving Danny to wonder whether he’d been talking about the woman or the horse.