Pay no mind to the word short in Short Snippet Saturday today. I’m presenting to you the end part of Chapter One in one of my new releases this week. I love this story so much. I’m having withdrawals or I’m homesick for not being on the ranch, or in Wills Bend, and Sedona. This includes being with Tanyon and Karis and the whole crew of characters. Does that happen to you?
Set-up: Karis had arrived at the ranch tonight a year after suffering a tremendous loss. Grief had destroyed her and during that time, she’d let Tanyon slip away. Now, she’s back seeking a second chance. They came in contact earlier at the campfire. It didn’t go well. Later in the evening, she learned that the cabin she and two of her friends usually stayed in, was no longer available. She also learned some devastating news about Tanyon’s ranch. This excerpt is later that evening…
Two Five Ranch Outlaws, Book #1
Imprisoned in a Cowboy’s Heart
Excerpt from the end of Chapter One
…Karis went in the direction of her car to gather her luggage. A light came on in a front section inside the barn. She headed that way, dropping her luggage outside the door. Through it, she spotted Tanyon in the front food storage area. She drew in a breath and blew it out before entering. What a devastating blow he’d been dealt. “Tanyon?”
He whirled. His gaze cruised over her in a quick glance. “What can I do for you?”
“Since arriving late, I missed out on the updated sleeping arrangements. Is the cabin off the agenda?”
He spoke as he prepared morning food baskets. “Yeah. I, uh, I had locks installed on the doors upstairs in my house for you three ladies to have privacy. Your seniority amounts to something ‘round here. You ladies have been coming longer than I’ve been here, well, I mean since before I left bull riding and took this place over from my folks.”
You ladies? That’s all it had amounted to now? You ladies? Tanyon had left the Army years ago, then had a hankering to ride those damn bulls like he’d done before he’d signed up for the military. Now after one too many knocks on the head, and a serious shoulder injury, he had moved back permanently to his family ranch. They’d officially met while he still toured on the circuit and had come home for a visit while recuperating from an injury. It’d been that long ago when she had the first inkling… He was the man she could fall in love with, and then she had fallen hard.
Tanyon strode to the rear of the barn. The man had thinned, making him look taller.
Two of his younger brothers, Dusty and Levi, had taken advantage of him when he’d finally retired. They’d dumped their chores back into his hands and returned to their rowdy, carefree ways. However, that changed last year for Dusty when he owned up to his role as a potential ranch owner. Cade though had a business mind from the start and assisted Tanyon with the business.
Their sister, Veronica, known as Ronni by the family, had remained with the business to do the books after his parents retired. After retirement, his mom and dad had moved from the big house and now lived on a small section of the property near their private lake in a newly built home.
Coming toward her, he barely stopped before exiting the barn. “I’ll be right back.”
Should she stay or go? Go where? She couldn’t walk into his house and upstairs until she knew for sure where she’d stay. Karis sighed.
Upon his return, he continued his chores. “I’ll have to get your key. Like I said, I didn’t know for sure if you were coming.” He continued mixing the horse’s feed and nutrients. “If I’d seen your application before Carmen, I’d a torn it up. Did you not have dinner?”
Go ahead, let his words beat her up. She deserved his harshness from walking away from the best man she’d ever find. “I ate on the way. Is there anywhere else I can stay on the ranch?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I’ll get a room near Williams.” She took out her phone to search for a number and attempted to leave the barn.
He caught her arm and placed his hand over hers holding the phone. “You don’t need to stay at a hotel for crissakes.”
She broke her hand free, continuing to search. “I’ll try the motel I stayed at a few years ago. They have great mountain views there.”
He shook his head. “Look around, dammit. You have forested mountain views here. Don’t be silly. Stay at the ranch.”
Karis glanced around at the updated interior. The barn had been organized since he’d returned and had order now. Hay nets hung above short stacks of hay bales. Feed bags had their own place at the rear of the good-sized room. Windows had been cleaned. He took better care of this barn than he had himself lately. “All right. At least for tonight. Need any help out here?”
“Nope. I hire people to do this when I can’t.”
She had to get away. The urge to be close to him became too much, and now she longed to feel his touch again. “I’ll wait on the porch.”
Tanyon called, “Karis? I’ll be over when I’m done here.”
Her name on his lips was more than she could bear. She shouldn’t have come. This would be hard, and she didn’t need hard right now, at least not that way. Karis picked up the handle of her suitcase, grabbed her backpack, and trudged through the sand over to his moderately sized house with newly painted steps and new shutters on the second-floor windows. In fact, the whole house had been painted.
She sat on the third step up out of eight. A white railing enclosed the wrap-a-round porch, separated by four white, wood pillars. The house sat high in the front and atop a two-car garage beneath it with an extended storage area. The rear of the home had a slight slope and a fancy patio his mom had designed.
How dare he assign her to the room next to his. Tiredness settled in, and she leaned back on her elbows to relax. Tomorrow she’d deal with this situation. She glimpsed the star-studded sky, forgetting how black it got up here, and already missed her niece and nephew. Karis moved from the steps and took a seat in a dark-stained Adirondack chair facing away from the lighted porch. Her clothes and hair had captured the smell of the campfire.
Thinking of her family now, and according to everything she’d learned, and would advise her grieving patients, they shouldn’t have gone through her brother’s belongings yet. Albeit, his house had to be emptied and there’d been no choice but to go through his beloved items—paintings and writings—photographs from around the world, the kid’s toys, their clothes, and bedroom furniture they’d need at their new home with Aunt Karis.
Later, she jerked when a foot tapped hers. She lifted her sleepy eyes to his. Oh, how she wanted to bring his face down to kiss his lips. Hers had been so needy these days.
His voice held no compassion. She’d lost him. Omigod. He stood there looking so ruggedly handsome with that damn old hat, nice-fitting jeans though looser now, a t-shirt that clung to his strong upper physique, and his worn western boots. Karis stood. Tanyon’s released breath couldn’t be unheard. Had it come from frustration or something else? They grasped her luggage handle at the same time.
“I got this.” He yanked it away.
She slung her backpack over her shoulder and strode in beside him. His familiar all-male scent and sweat wafted through the air straight to her heart. “Give me a chance to explain what happened.”
“Out of sight out of mind is the way I see it. A fling that meant nothing.”
“So untrue! You know better. You certainly were not out of my mind, nor were you a fling. There hasn’t been anyone else. It was my mom and… My brother—the grief.” The word murdered remained unsaid. What had it mattered now whether he believed grief had destroyed her? Because it does.
At the bottom of the wide polished stairway with a carpeted runner up the middle, he removed a key from the antique table in the foyer, took the backpack from her shoulder, and nodded up the stairs, then right at the top, and down a long open walkway, past her two friend’s rooms and to her door. Tanyon’s suite encompassed the whole end of the upstairs on this end.
She’d known where it was but had never been in it on a personal basis. However, she and Tanyon had attempted to go in there one night until they were interrupted by two of his brothers dragging each other’s drunk asses up the stairs. All three of their rooms were to the left of the stairway, and Cade had the largest on that end. Ronni had a master suite downstairs next to an office since she had divorced and moved back home.
She paused outside the door, wishing to see a glimmer of hope in his eyes. Karis spoke softly. “Why did you give me this room?”
“I don’t answer work-related questions this late.” He unlocked the door and dropped the key into her hand. “Breakfast is at the usual time.”
He entered his room yet he’d glanced back at her with a frown before closing the door. Good thing she’d slept a half hour in the chair because lying in bed a wall away from him would drive her mad.
By the time she had changed and settled in the four-poster queen-sized bed with blankets smelling like delicate spring-scented fabric softener, a floorboard squeaked outside her room. Maybe Tanyon had second thoughts, and tomorrow he’d find new quarters for her. Karis gulped as her eyes welled. The floor squeaked again. She wasn’t as ready to confront him as she’d thought.
Now alone, she had time to recall memories of her brother Rory. Up until now, she’d been so busy caring for others, that she hadn’t taken time to properly accept her grief. Karis closed her book, got out of bed, and opened the curtain to look outside in the dark. This room had a balcony. She stepped out and stood at the wrought iron railing. It was a bit darker on this side of the house. The Milky Way stretched out bright and clear, dotted with a trail of scintillating stars. Forested mountains stood shadowed against the night’s backdrop. A soft breeze carried smells from ranch life from the horse barns and cattle in this direction, and pine.
Karis closed her eyes a moment, seeking solace, but all she saw was Tanyon’s arms around her as he’d joined her at the lake last fall. How he spoke softly into her ear asking her to stay on after the others left. She wrapped her arms around herself now for comfort. Tanyon, I miss you.
A sound below snapped her out of the love-sick vision then footsteps faded away. She leaned over the rail to the opening below. A stairway wrapped around the side of the building, which led down from Tanyon’s balcony. Would he mind company tonight?
End of excerpt.
Thanks for bearing with the length. That’s why it’s only part of the chapter. The first part up to the cutoff point I had chosen, was still too long to post here–longer than this. You can always use the Look Inside feature on retailer sites or order a free sample. Or, you know, buy the book while the price is still discounted. ❤
Enjoy your weekend.