I proudly present to you:
Double Dutch Ranch Series: Love at First Sight, Book #5
Heartaches, hot flashes, and new beginnings.
Content with her family and new grandbabies on the way, Judy Carlson is happy—despite day-to-day struggles of running a ranch and memories of sadness they share. Menopausal changes remind her birthdays arrive too doggone soon. On sleepless nights, she longs for a partner to snuggle up beside. She never minds gazing at a strong cowboy, a man with a handsome smile, or with an intellectual touch of silver in his hair. She observes this daily in their seasoned ranch foreman, Selva Rosado. Though she won’t admit to an attraction until an emotional and physical warming encompasses her when he’s around.
However, after dancing a night away with Dale Connor three years ago, she’d considered settling down again. Then he disappeared on a clandestine trip, only to return with intentions as mysterious as his journey, and trouble from his past. She learns how right her family is to worry and how wrong she is to ignore intuition. Yet she can’t overlook their loyal foreman in the background who waits and watches with his own mysteries.
Two men vie for her hand. How can a cowgal decide which one will park their boots beside hers at the end of each day? Before making any decisions, she aims to discover all of their secrets.
Author Note: Seasoned with Destiny: A Gift of Love is Judy’s story. However, her three sons will not sit back quietly when everything they love is at stake. Therefore, you’ll see chapters in their points of view, too, plus a chapter from a special man.
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How about a little sneak peek from the first chapter? Yeah? All Right!
Judy walked cautiously into the great room and peered into the kitchen. The mumble and jumble from her family came to a halt. She peered around the room. “What’s the matter? You act like you’ve never seen me wear makeup before. Yes, it’s a new dress. I advise every one of you to keep your attitudes in line tonight.”
They all looked stunned, but Jase, her firstborn, stood. “Should we sit down to have a talk, Ma? You haven’t had a real date for a long time. You never fooled me. You dated another guy for many years, but he never had your heart. Need any advice?” Jase roared. Tristan and Dane stood at the counter snickering.
Jase continued. “Just saying. I don’t want to have to rough him up any, so we need to set up some boundaries in advance.”
Judy rolled her eyes at the so-called leader of the pack. “Why, Jase Carlson. If you weren’t so big, I’d smack your behind. Instead, I’ll have Brenna do it.”
“Hey!” Brenna waddled up to Jase. “Don’t bring me into this.”
“Come on, Bren,” Jase smirked. “Smack my ass, doll.”
Brenna patted his behind. “Watch it big guy. You know better than to mess with me right now.”
Jase drew her over in front of him and slipped his hands to her round belly. “Because of this kid? Huh, little Mama?”
“What do you think?” Brenna narrowed her eyes but smiled and lifted her face for a kiss.
Judy carried the Cussin’ Jar over to Jase. “Now.”
“Aww, come on.”
“Five bucks, mister.”
“Damn, you raised the price?”
“I don’t mean to in front of you, Ma.”
“Habits are hard to break.” Judy smiled at the friendly banter, but she saddened as this pregnancy reminded her of Jase and Brenna’s last one. She’d had a stillborn birth at five months with a little boy named Timothy. Today, little Timmy would be the age of Nora and Tristan’s three-year-old son, Shiloh. It had been one of the most difficult things the family had ever faced. She chose to believe Timmy rested in his grandpa Bill’s arms in Heaven.
Jase pretended to zip his mouth but ignored the jar. “I’ll get it later. The kids took all my cash.”
Tristan, her middle son who held the weight of the family on his shoulders, took over where Jase left off. “You’re awful calm, Mom, for a first date. Holding out on us and seeing Dale on the side? Slipping out at night? Huh?”
“It’s none of your business, but no. Dale and I got along at the wedding. It’s almost like we’d known each other for years.” She only fooled herself. Too much time had passed to have those feelings for him now. Three years was too much time, and she’d heard different rumors concerning why he’d disappeared, but she didn’t have the heart to ask those who knew him. This evening, she intended to find out if they were true. Maybe she wouldn’t inquire on their first date.
“You don’t know him.” Tristan frowned. “If it isn’t us watching out for you, who will? It’s no different than the third degree we’d get from you on our dates.”
“Yeah, Ma. Remember when you coerced me to take Brenna to the hotel after just meeting her?” Jase leaned his head to the side to escape Brenna’s hand from covering his mouth.
Judy nodded toward Brenna’s belly. “I was right, wasn’t I?”
“Wasn’t she, Jase?” Brenna warned.
Jase patted her tummy. “Okay, darlin’, she was right.”
Judy brushed her hands forward in a sweeping motion. “Humph. Let me finish getting ready. You all go home before he gets here. I don’t need you scaring him off.”
Jase and Dane pulled out a chair. Dane nodded to his brother. “Hey, Tristan, bring over some sandwich fixings.”
“Uh-uh. No, you don’t.” Judy took hold of his and Jase’s sleeves and attempted to pull them out of the chairs. Instead, they sat speechless, and they must’ve applied glue to their jeans because none of them budged. “You boys, git. Come back to make your sandwiches after I leave.”
Jase grinned at Brenna. “Come on, guys. She can’t kick us out of the driveway. Dale will have to come through us first.”
She could spit Sonoran sand right now. Judy pushed Jase toward the door. “Wanna bet? Go home. I’ll call if I need you.”
Selva Rosado, their ranch foreman, tapped on the door, entering with a confident air about him. He carried a bouquet. “Tristan, can I see you in the barn? We have a slight problem.”
Tristan grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. “Sure. Those flowers for me?”
Judy smiled at Selva who had worked on the Double Dutch for years and had been good friends with Bill and her. The man had a swagger that caught her attention more times than she’d want to admit. She’d always imagined Bill would have the same touch of silver in his hair as Selva’s. “What are you doing with those flowers? Got a date yourself?”
“Nah, not me. Good evening, Judy.” Handing her the flowers, Selva gazed at Judy from the floor up. “I saw these at the store today. They were the last bunch, sitting all alone. The first thing I thought of was how nice they’d look on your kitchen table.” He cleared his throat and nodded to Tristan. “Sorry to barge in on you all like this.”
Tristan took a swig from the water bottle. “I’ll be right there. Mom’s got a date. We’re sticking around to intimidate him a little.”
Selva lowered his eyes to Judy’s. “A date? Back with Martyn?”
Judy strolled over to Selva, touched his upper arm, and thanked him for the flowers. “Don’t listen to him, and no, it isn’t Martyn.” She turned to Tristan but eyed all three boys. “You go out to the barn to see what’s the matter. Stay there until you leave for home. I don’t need you here when Dale comes. Go.” She swung her arm toward the door with her finger pointing.
Jase and Dane each gave her a hug before following Tristan to the door. Dane hesitated. “How come Brenna gets to stay?”
“Have you boys reverted back to teenagers?” Judy faced Brenna. “Now, honey, I love you like you’re blood, but gather the kids from outside and skedaddle. Please, all of you go home.”
Dane frowned. “Let’s get out of here, guys.”
“I love you boys.”
“We love you, too, Ma,” Jase called over his shoulder.
“Love ya, Mom, behave tonight.” Dane, her youngest and a protector of everything, gave one of the smiles he’d used to get his way as a boy. She couldn’t help but return it.
Selva trailed through the kitchen behind them all, holding up at the door. He met her gaze. “You look nice tonight. Is it Dale Connor who you’re dating? Roxanne’s father?”
“I wouldn’t say dating. He’s been gone. Do you remember him from the wedding a few years back?”
“Yes, ma’am and for other reasons. I heard he’d returned. Be careful, Judy.”
Judy tilted her head inquisitively. “Whatever for? Is there something I should know?”
He put on his hat, opened his mouth as if to speak, but turned and exited.
Hmm. What had that been about? Judy eyed his tall frame and muscles a senior personal trainer might die for, until Selva strode into the barn with Tristan. She padded over to lock the back door. Sighing, she wrung her hands at her midriff. A smile brightened her face upon spotting the flowers on the island. She picked up the mixed spring bouquet, got a vase from the china cabinet on the far wall, and arranged them in water. Tonight, he’d had on the familiar cologne. The beautiful flowers were what she needed to bring a calm over her, but it didn’t last long. His car rolled into the driveway three years too late.
Ah, I love Judy and her story!
Oh, one more thing, and I don’t like asking but… I haven’t been able to set up any promotion for this book because I didn’t think I’d get it out this year, so if y’all can help me spread the word, I’ll be grateful.
Thanks so much for stopping by today.