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Authors: Sasha Summers

Cowboys & Kisses

 

 

Cowboys & Kisses

Teens of Black Falls, Texas—Book One

 

A Young Adult Novel

 

Sasha Summers

 

The characters and events in this book are fictitious.  Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, places, or events is coincidental and not intended by the author.

If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may have been stolen property and reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher.  In such case the author has not received any payment for this “stripped book.”

 

Cowboys & Kisses: Teens of Black Falls, Texas- Book One

Copyright © 2014 Sasha Summers

All rights reserved.

ISBN-13 ISBN (Print) 978-1-939590-30-5

ISBN-13 (ebook): 978-1-939590-29-9

Library of Congress Control Number:

 

Inkspell Publishing

5764 Woodbine Av.

Pinckney, MI 48169

 

Edited By Deb Anderson

Cover art By Najla Qamber

 

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.  The copying, scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.  Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions, and do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials.  Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

 

 

 

PRAISE FOR SASHA SUMMERS

 

"Summers is a fantastic writer and, if you have not read her work yet, you definitely should." Marissa - For The Love of Film and Novels

"Miss Summers is able to really capture the emotion of the piece and we feel for the character." - Dan Wright, Author

"I can assure you, you're in great hands when reading a book by Sasha Summers." Viviana, Enchantress of Books

"Ms. Summers is an amazing writer, trust me on this. One of the best I have read, actually." - Jean Murray, Author

"Honestly, I have not read anything by Sasha Summers that I did not love and I look forward to more works by her." - Holly, Full Moon Bites Reviews

"A sweet story about family, growing up, and a love that heals all wounds."
BookKins.com - BookKins Reviews.

"Sasha Summers writes character that move into your heart and stay there. You cry with them, get mad at them and cheer for them." - Jolene Guinther Navarro, Author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

To my amazing daughters:

Summer and Emma

Love fearlessly, dream endlessly,

& believe in yourself unequivocally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 CHAPTER ONE

 

 

“It needs a little TLC,” my father said as he put the truck in park.

A little TLC? What the hell is he thinking?
I glared at the back of his head.
Oh, wait, he isn’t.

“Um, yeah, Dad.” Even Dax, my twin brother, sounded pissed now. Good, maybe he’d cross over to my side—the dark side. “You could say that.”

This was not Grandma’s yellow house with pretty white lace-looking trim. This house was grey. And dirty. And old. And pathetically sad. Now it was
way
more haunted house than Grandma’s house.

Not Grandma’s house anymore. My house. I felt sick.
He’s officially trying to drive me crazy.
I glared at my father, but he was staring at the house—grinning like an idiot.

That was when I noticed the scaffolding covering the far wall. It looked like someone was scraping the paint off the house—which meant Dad knew the house was in bad
bad
shape.

We all climbed out of the truck. I was relieved to see Mom and Dax were just as thrown by the whole shack thing as I was. This was a big deal—a real shock. Well, not for Dad obviously.

“What?” He shrugged, glancing at our expressions. He looked irritated.

Like you have any right to be irritated.

“It’ll be just like new in no time,” he said, all calm and cool and smug.

You are such a prick.

“I’m sure it will,” Mom said, pushing my irritation closer to anger. When had she become his biggest cheerleader? And why? Like his mid-life crisis needed a cheerleader?

I looked pointedly back at the house and crossed my arms over my chest.
My life is a bad joke.

The wind picked up, kicking up dust. The lone chain holding up one corner of the front porch swing squeaked miserably—which was fitting. Yep,
so
haunted house
.

“At least you’ll have something to do. School doesn’t start for a few weeks,” my dad continued.

“Yeah, Dax,” I said softly to my brother.

“This isn’t a solo kind of project.” Dax shot me a look. I couldn’t tell if he was mad at me or Dad, but since I hadn’t done anything to him—recently—it had to be Dad. With good reason.

“You think
I’m
going to make this place less of a dump? That I’ll sweat my ass off fixing up a pile of crap we’re being forced to live in? Since we have nothing else to do, I mean.” I heard how nasty I sounded, but I just didn’t care. “Thanks, but I’ll pass.”

I’d been talking to Dax, but I made sure every syllable was loud enough for my dad to hear. We didn’t talk—hadn’t talked in almost five months now. I found talking loudly to other people allowed me to get my point across just fine.

I could tell it had this time. My dad stared at me, the muscle in his jaw working—a dead giveaway he was pissed.
Good
. I wanted to fight.

I raised my eyebrows at him, daring him to say something. Anything. I wanted him to know this was all his fault.

My mom put her hand on Dad’s arm, tugging on him. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, smiled at her, and turned to greet the moving truck as it pulled up the driveway.

Anger, hot and hard, choked me. When Mom’s pale blue gaze met mine, I didn’t back down. I hated to see the disappointment in her eyes, but she was
wrong
.
This
was wrong and I wasn’t going to pretend it wasn’t. I raised my chin just a little and stalked back to the truck.
Not caving. Not apologizing. Not my fault—just my problem.

I grabbed my bag out of the truck bed, unaware the soft fabric snagged on the metal corner of the truck latch. I heard the rip of fabric and froze.
Perfect
. It wasn’t bad, just a little tear.
Calming down now
. I counted backward from twenty and took a deep breath before swinging the bag over my shoulder. I kept my head down as I climbed up the steps onto the front porch.

I walked to the broken swing, pulling on the chain. I’d spent hours on this swing when I was little—snapping beans, shucking corn, trying to needlepoint with Grandma, reading Reader’s Digest stories out loud… I tugged harder on the chain. It squeaked, but held tight.

At least the view was familiar. Massive oak and cedar trees ran the fence lines. Acres of fields, row after row of round hay bales, and then? More fields… Not much else. No houses, just the faded dirt road, a few dilapidated barns, and…nothing.

Because this is Hell and no rational person would choose to live here.

I turned the front door handle and pushed it open, bracing myself…

Okay. Not so bad
.

It looked clean and mostly empty. One lone rocking chair sat in the corner, an odd box here and there.

Thank God.

I poked around a little, memories popping up. Grandma’s sewing kit in the bottom of the hall closet. The bottom kitchen drawer full of extra ketchup, sugar, salt and pepper packets. Making pie with the peaches and apples from Grandma’s orchard. I’d made some good memories here…but that was because I hadn’t been living here.
I could
leave
then
,
go home… Now
this
was supposed to be home, my home. There was no escape.

That hot, hard knot started to form in my throat again.

I wandered up the stairs, noting the colored patches on the wall, where family photos had hung for years. On the landing, more blank walls and empty spaces. I kept going, heading to the room where I’d slept when I was little.
Guess it is my room now
. Down the hall, last door on the right, and up a flight of steps: Dax’s and my old playroom. The only room we could get loud and not get in trouble since it was at the other end of the house from everyone and everything. Just the way I liked it. I stood in the doorway. It seemed smaller now.

It felt weird for it to be so
bare.
My footsteps echoed off the wooden floors. A few dusty boxes were stacked on one side of the room. I walked to the window, peering down at the fields and the valley in the distance. Maybe it was because I knew this view was going to be the view I had to see for the next year, but it wasn’t as nice as I remembered it.

Everything was so…so brown. Rocky. Cactus everywhere. It wasn’t green. No rolling grasses. No steady wind. This wasn’t north Texas. This was…

My hands fisted and my chest ached.
This is home now
, I heard my dad’s words…almost a threat. He’d said it over and over again.
Like he can brainwash me into believing it or something.
This might be his hometown and his house. But this was his choice…not mine.

I kicked one of the boxes against the wall, letting my frustration out.

Something
thumped back.

I jumped, freaking out as the thumping kept going—faster and faster—from behind the box. The house had been empty for almost six months. Out here, in the middle of nowhere, it was possible that something got inside. A skunk, a raccoon, a…a snake…

I swallowed, glancing at the bedroom door. Dax and my parents were in and out, unloading boxes. “Dax?” I called out. “Dax!” He was into nature, kind of. He could take care of it.

“Anytime you want to help, Allie.” Dax’s voice floated up the stairs. “Whenever you’re done having a temper tantrum.”

Temper tantrum? Really?
His tone rubbed me the wrong way.
Fat chance
. I kicked the door shut.

The thumping went crazy.
Crap
.

I almost opened the door when I heard Dax yell, “Wimp!”
I’m not a wimp.
I could do this. Without help. I was stronger than him, more physical than he ever was.
He
was the wimp. I
would
so do this.

I reached forward, pulling the box back fast—like ripping off a Band-Aid.

A tiny bird stared at me with sparkly black eyes. Its chest rose and fell so rapidly it looked like it was about to pop.

I laughed. “You scared the crap out of me.” The bird cocked its head at me, hopped, and flew to the window—straight into the glass with a sickening smack.

“Oh, stop…” I stared at the stunned bird lying on the floor. “Wait, wait, okay?” It shook itself and flapped its wings, preparing to fly again. “Seriously, chill.” I took a step forward, not sure what to do. The bird flew up, hovering in front of the window, pecking on the glass. “Yeah,” I agreed. “I get it. You want to go outside.”

It settled on the windowsill and stared at me. I stared back.
Now what?
I couldn’t catch it. I didn’t want to hurt it trying.

“Can you
herd
birds?” I wrinkled my nose. It blinked at me. “I think you’re going to have to go out that way.” I stared at the window.

If I could open it
and
somehow get the screen off
and
not scare the bird even more, the little guy would be free. Easier than trying to get it down the stairs and out the front door.

I slid along the wall toward the window, holding my arms against my body. “I’m not going to hurt you,” I explained to it. “I’m going to get you out of here. This is my…my room now.” It blinked. “I know, I’m super thrilled too.”
Stupid bird
.

I reached out, slowly twisting the window latch. The bird hopped off, flitting across the room to perch on the edge of one of the old boxes. I pushed the window, hoping it would slide right open.

It didn’t. It was old, the wood dry and sticking in the grooves. “Of course not.” I shook my head, gripped the window more securely and tugged. The window barely moved, moaning loudly. “
So
haunted house,” I grumbled.

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