Read A Baby by Chance Online

Authors: Cathy Gillen Thacker

A Baby by Chance

The Lost Springs Ranch for troubled boys is at stake, and it’s a man’s duty to give back...

So there’s going to be an auction!

Bachelor #9

Name: Chance Cartwright

Occupation: Rancher

Biggest Achievement: Being the best horse trainer in Wyoming.

Men of Chance Cartwright’s caliber were hard to find, and Madison Burnes needed, wanted, was determined to have him as the spokesman for her ad campaign. Even if it meant seducing him. She’d stop at nothing…but then…she hadn’t bargained on morning sickness or falling in love with her prey!

Sugar Spinelli’s
Little Instruction Book

I never thought I’d see the day when Chance Cartwright let a woman summon him for a date. But that was before I caught a glimpse of the feisty-looking blonde—the one you just know won’t take no for an answer. There were sparks aplenty flying between the two of them backstage, let me tell you. And it’s been that way for a month, from what I hear. Why, that gal has chased him all the way from Texas! Calling him, sending him gifts, writing him letters and telegrams and faxes. She wants Chance to be in some fancy ad campaign. And when he wouldn’t do what she wanted, she up and bought him for the weekend, pretty as you please. Chance didn’t look too happy about it, either!

Dear Reader,

We just knew you wouldn’t want to miss the news event that has all of Wyoming abuzz! There’s a herd of eligible bachelors on their way to Lightning Creek—and they’re all for sale. Cowboy, park ranger, rancher, P.I.—they all grew up at Lost Springs Ranch, and every one of these mavericks has his price, so long as the money’s going to help keep Lost Springs afloat. The auction is about to begin! Young and old, every woman in the state wants in on the action, so pony up some cash and join the fun. The man of your dreams might just be up for grabs.…

Marsha Zinberg
Editorial Coordinator, Heart of the West

A Note from the Author

I write romances for three reasons. One, I like happy endings, and in a romance you always get a happy ending—guaranteed. Two, I think there is a special someone out there for everyone, and I like to write about the search. And three, I like figuring out why people are drawn to each other and what makes their relationship work once they’re together. Of course, finding the love of your life is always a challenge, never more so than in
A Baby by Chance.

Madison Burnes is a sexy advertising executive in hot pursuit of the ultimate bachelor cowboy for her campaign. Madison wants what she wants—now! And she never takes no for an answer. Chance Cartwright is a successful rancher. He’s got a heart as big as all Wyoming and a way with horses—not to mention women. He couldn’t care less about money or fame.

Neither is looking for romance, but when they meet, the sparks are more than they can handle. Almost before they know it, they’ve succumbed to a passion unlike anything they’ve ever felt, and their lives are entangled forever.

Which just goes to show, love has a way of finding us even when we’re
not
looking for it.

I hope you have as much fun getting to know Madison and Chance as I did.

Happy reading!

Cathy Gillen Thacker

Cathy Gillen Thacker is acknowledged

as the author of this work.

Contents

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER ONE

C
HANCE
C
ARTWRIGHT
KNEW
who it was even before he turned around. Her low, honeyed voice had haunted his dreams for weeks now. He’d gone to sleep wondering what the indefatigable Madison Burnes from Dallas, Texas, looked like. Was the ad agency exec as sexy as she sounded? As determined? As flirtatious? The answer to all of that, Chance discovered as he turned and saw her, was, “Heck, yes!”

“Hello, Chance.”

That voice again. His task would have been a far sight easier if she hadn’t looked like an angel, too. Chance grinned at the sexy blonde in the fire-engine red power suit, cell phone in hand. She was regarding him flirtatiously and had one hand propped on a slender hip. Her hair glinted with shimmery gold and silver highlights. It fell to her shoulders, flipped up at the ends and looked soft as spun silk, reminding him of pictures of fairy-tale princesses he’d seen in storybooks long ago. A pair of sunglasses was perched jauntily on her head. She was smiling as she looked at him—and she had a great smile. As well as soft lips, a terrific body and long, sexy legs that all but demanded a second—make that third and fourth—look as she closed the distance between them gracefully.

Chance touched the brim of his hat. “Madison Burnes, I’m guessing.”

“You guessed right,” she said in her soft, southern drawl.

At that moment Chance wished he were anywhere but backstage at the bachelor auction for the Lost Springs Ranch for Boys. He would’ve liked to spend some time with her before he delivered the bad news, but since time was short, he figured he might as well cut to the chase. What happened after that—after she knew where they stood—well, that was up to her, he figured. “The answer is no.”

The angel with the delicately sculpted face edged nearer. “Now, Chance,” she scolded playfully, “I haven’t asked you anything yet.”

Today,
Chance thought. “But you’re going to,” he retorted, letting his glance drift over her high full breasts, slender waist and perfectly proportioned hips before returning to her pretty green eyes. He braced himself for the inevitable pitch. It wasn’t long in coming.

She batted her lashes. “You know me too well, Chance Cartwright.”

No, Chance thought, he didn’t know her at all. But he wanted to know her. The nonstop phone calls, messages, telegrams, emails and gifts the last month had intrigued the heck out of him. He’d never met a woman so impervious to the word
no
in his life. But none of that changed the facts of the situation, he reminded himself. “I don’t do commercials or endorsements,” he told her bluntly.

Madison merely smiled and gave him a steady look. “There’s a first time for everything,” she said.

“There may be,” Chance agreed, tipping his hat in acknowledgment as they signaled him that he was up next. “But not,” he said heavily, “for this.”

* * *

“R
EGRETS
?”
L
INDSAY
D
UNCAN
teased seconds later as Chance stood amid thunderous applause.

Chance grinned at Lindsay, the current
owner of the Lost Springs Ranch for Boys. She’d been having a rough go of it financially as of late. Hence the bachelor auction fund-raiser and his reluctant—but heartfelt—participation. “I’m about to be sold to the highest bidder for the weekend,” Chance teased his old friend as the hot Wyoming sun beat down on them and the air resounded with catcalls and whistles of distinctly feminine appreciation. “What do you think?”

Lindsay linked her arm in Chance’s, and together they headed for the auction block that had been set up in the ranch’s showring. The warm summer air was fragrant with the mouthwatering smells of mesquite-barbecued chicken and ribs, but any cravings in the arena were solely for the bachelors.

“Cheer up, cowboy. It’s for a good cause.” Lindsay smiled and patted his arm reassuringly.

How well Chance knew that. If the proceeds from this lunacy weren’t going directly to the Lost Springs Ranch for Boys, he thought ruefully, he wouldn’t be here. But he owed the ranch a heck of a lot. It had provided a good, loving home for him when he’d had no place to go. And now it was his turn to help provide a safe haven for other abandoned or orphaned boys who felt just as lost and alone as he had.

Lindsay winked at the audience of mostly women, and grinned as if Chance were quite a catch. “Besides, maybe someone wonderful will buy you.”

Chance figured the odds of that happening were about the same as him winning the next Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. But given all he’d been through in the past, he could survive whatever the weekend brought. He wanted the ranch to have as much money as they could raise today. Which was why he’d brought along the bouquet of red roses he clutched in his fist. Anything to get the bidding going, he thought as he looked at the risers filled with women of all ages, shapes and sizes.

“Ladies, we have here in front of us Chance Cartwright,” the auctioneer said, as Chance lifted the fistful of flowers like a victor’s trophy in a competition. He leaned toward the mike and said, “Hello, ladies!” His words sent paroxysms of screaming through the crowd.

Lindsay kissed him on the cheek, eliciting a wistful sigh from the audience, then stepped away from the action.

“Some of you may already know Chance,” the auctioneer said as the crowd continued to scream enthusiastically, “as the premiere horse trainer in the country.”

Feeling like a rock star on a concert stage and hamming it up all the more, Chance swept off his hat and began a sexy pirouette while the auctioneer ran down the rest of his accomplishments. He told the audience how Chance had started his ranch from nothing twelve years prior, and through much hard work and a commitment to excellence had risen quickly to prominence. He talked about all the celebrities who had chosen to have their horses trained by Chance, and all the Lost Springs boys Chance had helped, giving them part-time jobs as grooms and teaching them not just how to rope and ride and care for horses, but how to be men of whom the community and the ranch could be proud.

Finding the pre-bidding hype mildly embarrassing, to say the least, Chance grinned and set his hat on his head. Baffled as to what type of woman would show up at an event like this, he scanned the audience curiously, moving his gaze past a pregnant woman, another with two small children and a group of older women in jogging suits. Then there was Madison Burnes. Looking too keyed up to sit, she was positioned at the very top of the bleachers, her cell phone pressed to her ear, pacing back and forth in the small space. No doubt, Chance thought, watching her frown as she talked, she was waiting to talk to him after the auction. He just couldn’t seem to convince her that he wanted no part of her fancy ad campaign.

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