Hi. I know this isn’t Saturday. 🙂
My edits are back! I’ll be busy finishing them for Finding Kimber and finalizing my second project. My newsletter went out last week with details about the new “something.” ❤ I will spill the beans soon!
WARNING: There are spoilers in this excerpt for those who plan on reading the first two books in the series. If you don’t care about that, please know each one of my books is a complete story in itself, and they can be enjoyed without a cliffhanger ending. Christmas at Love House takes place four years after Hey, Cowboy, Book #2 ended.
From Chapter Two:
Love House. McCutchen Ranch, Pennsylvania
As they crested another hill, Velia halted him and clung tighter to his arm. “Look. The house is so pretty at Christmas, and the lights outlining it makes it look fairytale-like from this higher elevation.” Velia smiled up at him and Kase. “Oh, honey. Thank you so much for this.” Velia observed the landscape behind the house. Snow covered, rolling hills with tall pines that had lived there for decades, warmed her heart. “My life is complete.”
“I did it all for you and this little guy. I’m glad it makes you happy.” He nudged her on. At home, Caulder lowered his son to the porch then stood the tree against the building. “I’ll put the lights on before I leave. Let me put the tools away.”
Velia patted Kase atop the head. “You cold, sweetie? We all need some hot chocolate.”
Kase jumped off the step and nodded with a big smile that matched his dad’s. “Is Natale home?”
“Yes, Natale’s here. They got in late last night, so I let her and Alba sleep.” Velia tickled his belly. “She and Alba will be excited to see you again this morning.”
As Caulder turned toward the family barn, he looked over his shoulder. “Your cousins have grown into beautiful young ladies. I barely recognized Natale at the airport last night. And Torre? When I take him to Foley’s ranch, I’ll be beating off the cowgirls. He’s a dang good lookin’ young man.”
“Make sure you beat the cowgirls off you!” Velia teased and chortled, observing Kase rolling around a snowball. “The girls are attractive. Natale resembles her mother. Can you believe she recently turned eighteen?” Velia still missed her zia Dafne when she allowed herself to think about her, but at least her cousins had adjusted to living at the family winery in California.
“I’ll get us some hot chocolate and brunch.” Velia opened the door and Torre met her in the mudroom. “Will you be long, honey?” she asked Caulder before closing the steel back door.
“Nope, give me time to put the tools away. Hey, by the way—you’re darn beautiful yourself with those rosy cheeks. Bellissima!” After a wink, he plodded through the snow toward the smallest of the barns.
Kase stopped right inside the doorway, stomping snow all over the grey slate flooring, and attempted to kick his boot off without success. “Mom, can I have a candy cane in my hot chocolate? Please? Pleassse?” he begged, dragging out the word to emphasize his need.
She took his hand to move him into the room. “Take a seat on the bench. Maybe after brunch, honey. That’s a lot of sugar at one time.”
He lifted his snowy palms. “Half a candy cane?”
Velia laughed to herself. “All right.” He had his way of getting to her at times. “Torre, how are you this morning? Looking forward to your trip with Caulder tomorrow?”
“I’m good but still tired,” Torre answered. “Jet lag. For sure, I’m looking forward to bull riding with Caulder.”
“No one said anything about bull riding, young man.” Velia knelt to remove Kase’s boots and snowsuit before he fell on his bottom trying to himself. Finishing with him, she removed her own jacket and hat.
“But, Velia, it’s in my blood now—like Caulder, I tell you. It calls me.” Torre followed her to the kitchen harboring a round oak table with six high-back chairs, an island, and a long, L-shaped granite countertop with many cabinets on the top and bottom. He removed a cup and chose a bold pod to make a single cup of coffee.
“Torre, I saw that coming years ago.” Though McCutchen blood didn’t run in his veins, he was correct. Bull riding had hooked him when he was fifteen years old. Her brother Bobby didn’t know it, but Torre practiced bull riding on the side at every opportunity. Caulder had let that slip by accident. “There you go,” Velia said to Kase. “All warmed up now. You go to the bathroom then we’ll eat.”
Kase ran into the bathroom ahead of her, pulled the zipper down on his jeans, and did what he had to do like a little man.
“You’re growing up too fast.” Velia’s mouth went into a pout. She brushed her hair in front of the oval mirror over the single bowl sink. He’d be riding bulls before long. Not if she could help it, but living on the edge had to be in his McCutchen genes.
Thanks for reading! I am so in love with the characters in this series. Yes, I can say that even if I did create them. Err, it’s more like they created themselves. 🙂
A little Christmas magic will be a welcome guest at Love House, but regardless if it arrives or not…during this bittersweet interlude—Velia and Caulder dare their happily-ever-after to be anything less than “forever.” Click for more info on the Bull Rider Series.