Forever in Love (Montana Brides)

BOOK: Forever in Love (Montana Brides)
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FOREVER IN LOVE

 

Montana Brides Series, Book 2

 

by Leeanna Morgan

 

Copyright © 2014 Leeanna Morgan

Kindle Edition

ISBN 978-0-9941054-1-7

Published by Rogan Press

For more information visit
http://www.leeannamorgan.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and are used fictitiously.
 
Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is co-incidental.

 

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the US Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior permission of the author.

 

About this Book

 

A Baby. A man. And a secret.

 

Amy Sullivan's life might have been lonely but it was safe until she found a baby on her doorstep. With her alcoholic mother gone, and a five-month-old sister to look after, Amy has no choice but to give her sister what she never had - a family - and that means moving back to Montana and the only man she’s ever loved.

 

Nathan Gray’s life has turned upside down and the last person he wants to see is Amy Sullivan. Nine years earlier she left him faster than a howling nor'wester and now, burnt and broken after a barn fire, he has even more reason to keep his distance. Only this time fate and a meddling family have other ideas and their lives are about to come crashing down. Right on top of each other.

 

Forever in Love is the second book in the Montana Brides series.

 

Dedication

 

To Deborah and the doctors and nurses at Wellington Hospital for your medical expertise. Thank you!

CHAPTER ONE

“What the hell?” Nathan dropped his pen and stared out the window of his father’s office. The half-light of dusk painted the Montana ranch in a soft pink glow, almost picture-perfect if it weren’t for the blue pickup truck roaring down the gravel driveway. Its horn cut through the still evening air, tapping out a tuneless masterpiece that set his trouble radar humming. He grabbed his jacket and headed toward the front door, wondering what mischief his sister had gotten up to this time.

Sally stopped her truck, leaping out of the cab before he’d made it off the porch. “What’s wrong?” he asked, not trusting the grin plastered across her face.

“Nothing’s wrong.”

Nathan had seen that smile too many times over the last twenty-seven years not to know something was going on.

“Guess who I’ve got in the truck?”

Nathan glanced at the tinted windows. Sally had a soft spot for strays, and she’d brought home more tourists and animals than anyone else he knew. Last time she’d said those words his parents had ended up playing host to a family from Los Angeles. They’d been looking for an authentic cowboy holiday. It hadn’t occurred to Sally that her parents might not want to show off their sprawling cattle ranch to city-slickers, or that they’d come smack bang in the middle of calving.
 

But then Sally didn’t often think beyond the first impulsive idea that streaked through her brain.

He walked across the yard. “You know Mom and Dad won’t be back for another week, so you’d better make other arrangements.”

“You’re such a grump.” Sally spun toward the truck as the passenger door opened. “Ignore him. He’s having a mid-life crisis.”

A
snort of laughter filled the air. A lady-like snort that reminded him of someone he knew. A blonde head appeared, pitching his heart into the soles of his boots.

“Amy? What are you doing here?” A long time ago she’d brushed him out of her life faster than a mosquito buzzing around her head. Cold, heartless and so damn fast he hadn’t seen it coming. His parents and sister were the only people alive that could convince her to come back and visit – and that hadn’t been often.

Sally poked him in the ribs. “That’s a great welcome for someone you haven’t seen in ages.”

“You didn’t tell him?” A blush as red as the setting sun washed across Amy’s face.

“I thought mom would have, but he’s here now. You tell him.”

Amy’s gaze skimmed across the ranch and settled on Nathan’s face. He yanked the collar of his jacket higher, the warm sheepskin protecting him from the bitter wind and questions he didn’t want to answer.

“I’m moving back to Bozeman,” Amy said. “Your mom and dad offered me a place to stay until I find somewhere to live.”

Nathan went perfectly still. Memories of the last time she’d come home tumbled through his head, leaving him confused, worried and angrier than he had a right to be. “I thought you liked living in Chicago. What changed your mind?”

Sally moved to the back of the truck. “Save the questions for later, Nathan. I want to get everything unloaded while there’s still some daylight left.” She flipped the tailgate open and stared at the bags. “Besides, we’ve got more in here than two hot women and a mountain of suitcases.”

Jeez, his sister had outdone herself this time. He waited for the sound of a dog barking or a cat screeching. “You didn’t stop by the animal shelter, did you?”
 

“I’m trying to keep away. Dad said if I brought him another dog that’s afraid of cows he’d make me come home to look after it.” Sally pushed a suitcase into his chest. “Make yourself useful and take this inside.”

Amy opened the back passenger door. “I’ll help in a minute. I need to get Catherine out first.”

“Who?” Nathan stared at Amy. He looked at Sally. Who the hell was Catherine?

Amy pointed to the backseat.  

He moved around the truck and stared at the little girl nearly asleep in her car seat. “You’ve got a baby?” She had Amy’s blonde hair and pixie nose, and if he wasn’t mistaken, her heavy lids were closing on the same chocolate brown eyes.

Sally cleared her throat. “Are you going to stand there gawking or help us unload everything?”

He glared at his sister. He felt like he’d been sucker punched. 
A baby
. When had Amy ever let a man get close enough to create the ball of pink cotton-candy in the car seat? She’d nearly scratched his eyes out the last time he’d seen her. Then she’d run hundreds of miles away, back to Chicago. And, looking at the baby, straight into the arms of another man.

Amy leaned inside the truck, unbuckling the safety harness. He pulled his gaze away and walked toward the house, holding her suitcase in a death grip. No wonder she hadn’t sounded happy about coming back. Amy had always dreamed big and nothing in Bozeman could ever make those dreams come true. And they sure as hell hadn’t involved a baby.

He pushed the front door open, dreading the next few days. Why did she have to arrive now? He didn’t need another set of females upsetting the routine he’d gotten himself into. Eat, sleep, moan some, then groan some more. There wasn’t anything or anyone alive that could better the self-pity he’d hidden behind over the last few months.
 

But if his parents wanted Amy to stay on the ranch then that was up to them. He’d treat her the same as any other guest. He’d be Polite. Respectful. Courteous. All the things that had been drummed into him over the years.
 

He stacked the bags in the hallway and straightened his shoulders. He wouldn’t make a big deal out of her arrival. Not this time.

 
Amy walked toward him with Catherine tucked in her arms. “I wouldn’t have come unless I needed to.”
 

“I already guessed that.”
 

A flash of emotion streaked across her face. He couldn’t tell if it was anger or regret. Amy’s chin tilted in the air. Even with her don’t-mess-with-me attitude she looked exhausted. The dark rings under her eyes almost swallowed her face whole. But she hadn’t lost her grit.
 

After the last time they’d seen each other he’d begun to think the woman he’d once known didn’t exist. She’d pulled a shell around herself so tight that even his mom and dad worried about her. But she was still there beneath the cool exterior she’d erected to protect God knew what from the world. The real Amy Sullivan hadn’t disappeared and something inside him melted.

“Catherine’s my half sister.”

 
His mouth dropped open. “When did that happen?”

“About ten months ago, give or take a few weeks.”

He waited for her to say something else, to tell him why she was looking after her sister and where the hell her mother had gone. Her scowl told him she wouldn’t be talking anytime soon.

Amy hesitated halfway through the front door. “Where do you want us to sleep?”

Damned if he knew. He’d finished work on the ranch an hour ago, just as his brothers were leaving for a night on the town. Matthew had yelled something over his shoulder about Sally. But before Nathan could ask him what he’d said, his brother had dived into Sean’s truck and taken off at break-neck speed down the driveway.
 

His sister stomped up the porch steps.
 

“Where’s Amy sleeping?” he asked.

“Mom got Liam’s old room ready before she left. Don’t look so shocked, Nathan. We’re quite capable of organizing our lives while you’re busy on the ranch.”

“I haven’t been that busy,” he growled. He couldn’t believe his family had kept this little gem of information from him. He’d been living at his parent’s home for the last month and no one had bothered to mention Amy’s arrival. Or the fact that she had a baby sister.

Amy moved Catherine onto her other hip, flicking her gaze in the general direction of his chest. “I’ll put Catherine in bed, then come and give you a hand.” She walked inside and left him staring into space.
 

He had a feeling he’d be doing a lot more of that before she left the ranch.
 

Sally stood beside him, frowning through the open door. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”
 

“And?”

“And nothing.” He headed across to the pickup. Sally followed him, her gaze tearing through his shirt, studying every movement of his body like the never-ending team of doctors that had poked and prodded him until he’d been ready to scream. “I’m not going to fall down after moving a couple of bags.”

“It’s not your back I’m worried about.”
 

“I’m a big boy. I can look after myself.” He ignored the sympathy on his sister’s face, ignored everything except the bite of the nor’wester cutting across the yard.
 

 
Sally caught up with him and touched his arm. “I was supposed to tell you about Amy, but I didn’t want you to leave. If it’s too much, I’ll move back into town and she can stay with me.”

“And then mom and dad will be on the phone telling me I’m not looking after you.”
 

“I’m not a baby,” she huffed. “I’m an adult. You don’t need to know what I’m doing every second of the day.”

“Tell that to dad.” Nathan took a deep breath. “Amy and her sister can stay here for as long as they like. It won’t make any difference to me.”
 

 
Sally looked about as convinced as he felt. He walked back inside with another bag and headed upstairs, cursing a sister who thought she knew what was best for him.
 

His footsteps slowed as he reached the top of the stairs. He listened to Amy’s voice as she sung a soft lullaby into the quiet house. The melody wove a gentle spell over his tired body, made him almost forget how long it had been since he’d seen her. He smelt honeysuckle and orange blossom. The same scent that had driven him crazy the last time she’d stayed on the ranch.
 

He stuck his head around an open doorway. Catherine lay on the floor, giggling as her little legs spun in the air like windmills. Amy sat beside her, unguarded laughter shining on her face. He’d forgotten what she looked like when joy snuck up on her, filling all the sad places with pure happiness.

He knocked softly on the wooden door and two pairs of brown eyes swiveled toward him. “I’ve got your carry-on. Are there any other bags you need up here straight away?”

Amy stood up, reaching for her bag. “This will be fine. I’ll get the others later.” Her fingers hooked the long strap over her hand. Unzipping a side pocket, she pulled out a clean diaper and a tube of cream. “Can you keep an eye on Catherine while I get a warm washcloth?”

He looked down at the baby. An angelic grin lit her face and an answering smile pulled at his lips. “Sure. No problem.” If he could drive a herd of cattle into the mountains, he could look after one little girl for thirty seconds. Catherine giggled, batting her dark lashes straight at him. He blinked back. The male population didn’t stand a chance if those fluttering lashes were already part of her DNA.

BOOK: Forever in Love (Montana Brides)
11.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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