Authors: Lorraine Nelson
Copyright© 2013 Lorraine Nelson
Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs
Editor: Cheryl Harper
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of
this copyrighted work is illegal.
part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without
written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and
places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales,
organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
book to my good friends,
and Maggie Steeves.
you for your continued support
for always being there.
Thunder Creek Ranch, 5
Copyright © 2013
Cameron Manning had decisions to make, important
ones, so he’d come home to the peace and quiet of his log cabin to think and to
plan. He’d always been a man who enjoyed his solitude, and building this house
had guaranteed his privacy. Silence surrounded him as he wandered through
feeling the emptiness as his footsteps echoed, reverberating off the walls in
every room. He felt lost and alone, something he’d never been before.
The front door opened, jerking him out of his
musings as his brother walked in, stomping the snow off his boots.
“I didn’t hear you pull up. What did you do?
Walk all the way from the ranch house?”
“Nope, but I’m drivin’ that little Mustang of
Winnie’s and got it stuck a ways back.”
“Let me grab my coat. I’ll drive the truck down
and pull you loose before she finds out.”
Lucas guffawed. “Nah, she won’t find out. I came
for a visit and that’s what I’m a gonna do. Now sit!”
“Come into the kitchen. I’ll put on a fresh pot
of coffee to warm that leathery hide of yours.”
“Wouldn’t say no to coffee,” Lucas said,
water. “Why are you driving that sporty thing anyway?”
“Truck had to go in for servicin’ and I needed
to get out of the house. Some of Winnie’s cronies stopped by for coffee this
morning, and there’s only so much hen swaggle a man can stand.”
that even a word?”
“When you’re hearin’ that many tongues a waggin’,
I reckon it fits. Got any munchies to go with that coffee?”
“Are you kidding? Zakia sends up enough treats to
keep an army going. Check that cupboard behind you.”
“Oooeee! Pay dirt!” Lucas took several
containers from the shelf and set them on the table then glanced out the window
at the snow-covered pasture and trees beyond. “You sure enough picked a
“Yeah, too peaceful at times.”
“Careful what you’re sayin’, boy. After all the
trouble we had last year, peace is a blessin’.”
“Nothing you couldn’t handle. Wish I had been
here to help.”
Lucas gave him a considering look, as if he was
about to comment and changed his mind.
on his brother’s mind, he’d hear it soon.
They sat and sipped their coffee, interspersed
with squares and cookies from the now-open containers.
“That Zakia sure turned out to be a mighty fine
cook,” said Lucas.
“I’m not complaining. Although I enjoy cooking,
I never did care to have my hands covered in dough.”
“Better cookie dough than manure,” Lucas said as
he snorted a laugh. “Remember that time the bronco threw you off, and you
landed headfirst in a pile behind the barn?”
“Yeah. Everything tasted like cow shit for two
days afterward. How could I forget?” He grimaced at the memory.
“I thought Dad was gonna skin you alive for
tryin’ to ride that stallion.”
“Guess he figured landing in manure was
“Could be,” Lucas said, chuckling as he reached
for another cookie.
“Aren’t you supposed to be on some kind of
“Yep, but I’m not dead yet, and I enjoy the
taste of good food. Winnie, bless her heart, has all but stopped bakin’ less’en
we have company comin’.”
“Good for her. Someone has to make you toe the
mark. Just goes to show how much she loves having you around,” said
“I know, but dag nab it, there’s only so much
rabbit food a man can take.”
distaste. “That bad, eh?”
“We own shares in two cattle ranches between us,
and she won’t allow me to eat beef. What do you think?”
“I think maybe you should go shopping with her,
pick up a few of the leaner cuts.” He shrugged his shoulders as his brother
gave him a skeptical look. “No harm trying.”
Lucas nodded his head in agreement. “You know,
that just might be the ticket. Thanks,
it works, I’ll owe you one.”
window. Ticket. That one word had his mind spinning with hope.
“Earth to Cameron! Where’d ya go?”
“Sorry, Lucas. Just thinking, is all.”
“Yeah, thought I smelled rubber burnin’. About
Lucas nearly choked on his cookie. “What? How?
rest. “I found out when I went to
find a woman I met years ago in
Lacey Kerrigan, and discovered she’d borne my child, children, actually.
Triplets…three identical girls.”
“Well, hot dang! Ain’t that a tickler? Are they
comin’ here? To the ranch? You did invite them, didn’t ya?”
“Huh? What does that mean?”
“That means never tell a redhead—correction, make
that four Irish redheads—what to do.”
“Oh, man. Sounds like you had your hands full
with that crew. What happened?”
“I spent the past couple months of my time there
getting to know Lacey again, and my daughters, of course. Unfortunately, I came
off sounding like some kind of macho jerk, expecting them to pack up and come
home with me. Their life is in
They’ve done just fine without me, but I wanted to share my life with them,
bring them here. They didn’t buy into it.”
“So what are you goin’ to do?”
“Thanks to you, I think I may have come up with
“Me? What did I say?”
“Ticket. I’m going to wire them open-ended
tickets to come for a visit. If they like it here, maybe they’ll decide to
Lucas nodded. “That sounds fair. No pressure. Might
“If they’ll come.”
“How old are these girls of yours?” Lucas asked,
his cookie forgotten as he plied
“Twenty-three. Their mother, Lacey, is
“This was part of your world tour in your
“Yes, I was twenty-five. She was with her family
on holiday. They left unexpectedly one day, and I never had her address or she
mine. I should’ve tried to find her sooner. I wanted to, but somehow never
found the time.”
“Ranchin’ is hard work,
We had plenty of lean years before we started showin’ a profit. No one can
blame you for not followin’ up.”
“Lacey does. I’d hoped she’d missed me as much
as I missed her, but it sure didn’t seem like it. She’s not interested in
taking up where we left off at all.”
Lucas rubbed his chin, appearing deep in
thought. “Yeah, well, I can’t say as I blame her, left with three young’uns to
raise on her own.”
“That wasn’t my fault.”
they left, I continued the rest of my tour. Even went to
coming home, but I couldn’t find them. Do you know how many damn Kerrigans
there are in
you find them?”