UPDATE: The winner is…Beverly!
I am in love with Dead Horse, MT. The bounty hunters helped me discover this little gem of a town. Now, you’ll get a chance to meet the folks who were born and raised there. I hope you enjoy the journey! Up first? Cash and Lila. There will be laughter and tears, and you’ll get to meet more townsfolk along the way.
The wealthiest man in Dead Horse, MT, decides it’s time to acquire a wife and gives his eminently efficient personal assistant the task of finding the perfect candidate…
The wealthiest man in Dead Horse, MT, Cash Whitaker, decides it’s time to find a wife before he begins his campaign for mayor. He figures having the right wife will increase his likability as a candidate. Becoming the mayor is important because the office will give him the power to protect his town by cleaning out the bounty hunters, who aren’t “Dead Horse” and have put his town on the map for all the wrong reasons.
Being a busy man and knowing his particular skill set doesn’t lend itself to the task, he decides to give the responsibility of finding a wife to his highly efficient personal assistant. He’ll let her put together a list of suitable candidates for him to sort through to find the woman who will help him on the path to his ultimate goal of becoming the governor of Montana.
Lila Hanson is spitting mad that her boss wants her to find him a wife. The single mom has spent two years becoming his ultimate asset, only to have him completely overlook her as the perfect candidate. When she turns to her girl squad to vent, they suggest a plan to open the clueless man’s eyes to what’s right in front of him.
However, a tragic incident throws both their plans into chaos and brings a new intimacy neither can ignore. Now, they have to work together to save an orphaned child.
Cash has called her—on a Saturday, mind you—to ask her to find him a wife…
Lila noted the end of the call and stood with her phone beside her mouth for a few moments as she processed everything Cash had said. What the actual fuck?
He wanted her to find him a wife? She placed her phone on the kitchen counter, then balled up her fists and jumped in place, shadowboxing to let loose her frustrated anger.
When she was breathless, she stopped, dragged in a deep breath, then opened up a message to her group chat. Can you all meet up for lunch?
A few minutes later…
Carleen: I start my shift at the diner at noon. Can take a break when you get here.
Rhonda: Chase is on a hunt. Have Mikayla, but I’m sure she can have a playdate with the neighbor’s kid. The woman owes me one.
Laura: Preacher’s on the same hunt. I can leave Katie in charge at Deadly Delights.
Lila scrunched her nose. Meryl’s in Bozeman, giving some lecture at the University. I could really use her logical brain.
Rhonda: What’s Cash done now?
She blew out a deep breath. Carleen, will that private room be free?
Carleen: Only thing I can think of on the calendar is the garden club meeting from 10:30 to noon.
See you at noon.
She ended the chat without elaborating. At the moment, she was too angry to remain polite. Adrenaline was buzzing inside her.
How dare he ask me to do that? But she knew why he felt comfortable asking. She’d allowed him to define their work relationship, letting him add personal tasks like picking up his dry cleaning and buying gifts for friends and the girls he’d casually dated. In her mind, she’d thought they were building something together, that his successes were hers. Sure, he’d given her bonuses, but she’d thought in her pitiful doormat mind that he’d eventually see her as more than just another useful tool like his iPad or his favorite golf clubs.
No, Cash didn’t see her as anything other than his stalwart, never complaining, never stepping outside her box personal assistant. Damn, she’d wasted two years waiting for him to wake up to the fact that they were perfect for each other.
Well, no more. But what was her next step? Did she throw in the towel? Find a new job? Start dating one of the more emotionally available men in this town?
Her shoulders slumped. She’d done it again. Let a man take over her life to use up and throw away. At least Danny had left Kyleigh with her when he’d decided that Dead Horse was too…dead. And she hadn’t minded when he’d moved from coaching the Stallions football team to taking over the program at a larger, more prestigious school in Texas. For all intents and purposes, their marriage had ended right after Kyleigh’s birth. He hadn’t liked being constrained by fatherhood—especially when his only child was a girl.
She popped a pod in her coffee machine and made herself a cup. Then she dialed her mother’s number to ask her to babysit while she went to lunch with the girls. Kyleigh loved spending time with her Nina. Mama was always parked in front of a computer screen anyway.
Lila realized at that moment that she’d undervalued herself. Her time, her family, and her heart were worth so much more than Cash’s ambitions.
Things were going to change. Exactly what that change would look like was still to be determined, but her girl squad would come to her rescue. They’d been chiding her for months to get off her ass and quit letting him rule every thought and every hour of her day.
She was taking back the reins.
She shook her head. That analogy had her thinking she ought to give a whinny, but she wasn’t a horse to be ridden.
Again, her thoughts halted on that image. “Riding” and “Cash” should not exist in the same headspace. She’d already spent too much time imagining herself in his life. Hell, she’d decorated his house for them, even including a bedroom that could easily be converted for Kyleigh’s use. With pale citrus and green colors, they’d perfectly matched her daughter’s own preferences. The Queen Anne furniture suite had looked like a newer version of Kyleigh’s scratched and cheaper bed and dresser.
Lord, the amenities she’d included in the design of his bathroom…
Lila shook her shoulders and thrust the thoughts of the large whirlpool tub from her mind. She quickly made a mental list of the things she needed to accomplish before heading to the diner to meet with her friends.
Lists kept her mind focused. Visions of a handsome and ridiculous man with short-cropped brown hair, a well-groomed beard, and piercing brown eyes had a way of leading her down pathways her imagination should never roam. She’d never get a thing done if she constantly mooned over him.
First on the list: a long cold shower. Cold as his heart. Cold as her bed. Cold as…
Inwardly, she groaned. Now, what was second?
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