Authors: J.C. Isabella
Tags: #jc isabella, #ya romance, #romance, #chasing mccree, #cowboys, #ya western
The McCree’s Star Spangled
© J.C. Isabella
Copyright 2012 by J.C.
This book is the personal property of
J.C. Isabella. Its characters are fictional and any resemblance to
persons living or dead is strictly coincidental. This book is for
your entertainment, not to be given freely or resold in any
Thank you for respecting her
I’m excited to see you
tomorrow,” I pulled on my favorite pajamas, the purple ones with
the blue clouds all over them. It’d been another beautiful day at
the ranch, and I was a little tired after a late swim with Chase in
the pond behind the house. Going to bed early was starting to
become a habit. I didn’t mind, considering I got up with the
chickens now. “But I’m nervous too.”
Grandma’s voice wavered over my cell
phone. The reception wasn’t very good, but I was honestly grateful
my phone worked at all up here. We were in the middle of nowhere.
Tens of thousands of acres on the McCree land. “What do you have to
be nervous about baby? It’s just the fourth of July.”
Chase’s mom.” His mother
and stepfather were flying in tomorrow with grandma for a massive
Fourth of July barbecue that the McCree’s held every year on the
ranch. They were leaving Chase’s younger half-sister with Todd’s
parents. Grandma had left a week ago with my parents; she wasn’t
going to pass on the opportunity to see me again so soon. I
wouldn’t be going back to Florida until Christmas. “She’s made it
clear she think’s I’ve made the wrong choice.”
Tell her to keep her nose
out of your business.”
I can’t do that. She’s his
mother.” I climbed into bed and hit the light, letting the darkness
of the room envelope me. I felt so much calmer now. “I just…I know
she’s going to try to change my mind all weekend.”
I think you’re talking to
the wrong person about this.” Grandma slurped her margarita and I
heard the salsa music she and grandpa liked to play come on in the
background. “Look cookie, you need to sit your cowboy down and tell
him what’s bothering you. That may be his mother, but you’re his
girl. In my book you come first.”
But how do I tell
Briar, just tell him like
you told me. He loves you and he’ll understand.” She gasped, and
the phone gave a sharp crackle. “Norman! I told you to put that
sombrero away. I’m not in the mood to dress up while we dance
The image of grandpa wearing a sombrero
with his sweater vest popped in my head and I laughed. “Have fun,
and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Can’t wait. I knew I’d love
me some Montana cowboys and horses.” She made kissy sounds over the
line. “If grandpa didn’t mind the cold, or wasn’t against leaving
the house in general, I’d move up there with you.”
I hung up and set the phone on my
nightstand. The house was silent. I hunkered down under the covers
and closed my eyes, trying to keep that calm feeling. It was hard.
In total I’d been with the McCree’s for a month and a half, give or
take a few days. I hadn’t exactly been keeping count.
I really did love it here. Staying with
Chase was the smartest thing I’d ever done in my life. Some things
were hard to adjust to. I hadn’t been raised on a ranch, but I was
learning. I took each day as an adventure, and with Chase’s help, I
found myself slipping into place right beside him. It was as if I’d
been here all along.
That didn’t take care of Chase’s mom
I glanced at my phone. The glowing blue
screen said it was just after ten. I was not going to sleep knowing
that in fourteen hours Chase’s mom would be landing at the airport.
I’d been nervous before, but not this kind of nervous. It made me
feel uneasy, almost sick to my stomach. Something she said could
change things…maybe not to the point of me going back to Florida.
That was a little farfetched.
But still…worry ate at me.
I sat up, suddenly thirsty. A cool
drink would help. After a few sips I’d fall asleep. So I got out of
bed and headed downstairs. One of the herding dogs was lounging on
the kitchen floor. He perked up when I opened the fridge to pour a
glass of Millie’s lemonade.
What are you looking at,
Gunner?” he tilted his head to the side and his tail thumped
against the floor. I went to the pantry and grabbed the treat jar.
Four more dogs came running. I tossed each of them a biscuit.
Stinker was nowhere to be found. He usually slept with
I kept out one of the biscuits and went
back upstairs, thinking I’d get out my laptop and play a game or
something. But first I stopped outside Chase’s door and cracked it
open. Stinker was at the foot of his bed. His head popped up when I
waved the treat. He gave a soft bark and I tossed it to
Briar?” Chase asked, half
I knew he’d wake up, but I also knew
Stinker would feel left out if I didn’t bring him one. “Go back to
No, I just gave Stinker a
treat.” I started to shut the door. While I was up, I’d paint my
finger nails and toenails for the 4th. I’d found a polish with red,
white and blue glitter last time I was in town with
Hold it,” he sat up, but
didn’t turn on the light. “Why are you giving the dogs treats so
It was Gunner’s fault. He
made those sad, oh poor me, eyes and I couldn’t resist.” I sighed,
leaning against the door and sipped my drink. “I was also
You got a sugary drink to
help you sleep?” He held out his hand and gestured for the glass.
“Shut the door.”
We can talk in the
morning.” I pushed it closed and walked toward the bed. Chase took
the glass from me and set it on the nightstand.
Maybe I don’t want to
talk,” he chuckled and pulled me onto the bed with him, kissing me.
“You taste like lemons.”
I smiled, kissing him back and winding
my arms around his neck. “What do you want to do?”
I want to listen to you
talk, Briar baby.” He laid back, taking me with him and pulling the
covers over us.
It can wait,” I said,
resting my head on his chest and listening to his steady heartbeat.
“Why don’t you kiss me some more?”
If it could have waited you
wouldn’t have brought Stinker a treat. You knew he’d wake me
Damn, he was right. “I’m just
Is this about my mom
coming?” he knew I was anxious. I’d told him earlier in the day,
but hadn’t elaborated as to why I was so worried about her
She’s very…opinionated.” I
was trying for some tact. It was his mother after all.
She’s not going to give you
a hard time if I have anything to say about it.” He hugged me, his
hands rubbing up and down my back. Darn him, my eyelids were
starting to droop. He was going to put me to sleep. “Don’t
She thinks I’m making the
same mistake she did.”
Do you think she is right?”
his voice was quieter, deeper in my ear.
No,” I didn’t. “I’m worried
she’ll make me second guess my choice.”
He grunted, and then surprised me by
attacking me with kisses everywhere. My cheeks, forehead, chin, and
eyelids. He even tickled me until I started giggling. I shoved at
him, but he was trying to make me laugh, and it was working. I was
gasping by the time he was finished.
We gotta sleep now,” he
kissed me on the lips this time. “Stay here with me?”
I rested my head on his pillow and
curled into his side, “Only if you promise not to tickle me
I won’t tickle you for the
rest of the night,” he laughed. “At least, not
What, are you a sleep
After talking to him, and getting out
what was bothering me, I didn’t have anything to keep me up
worrying. It was also hard not to sleep with him right next to me.
He was warm and comforting. Stinker managed to wedge between our
legs at some point, but he only made me feel cozier.
I woke out of a dead sleep when I felt
Chase leave the bed, followed by Stinker. They were moving around
the room. He had his boots on, and I heard stinker padding next to
him as he headed for the door.
I rubbed my eyes and sat up. His clock
said five. In the morning. God, it was early. Normally I wasn’t up
till seven to help Millie in the kitchen. “What are you
Time to feed the animals,”
he said, and in the dim light I saw him grab his hat off the
dresser and settle it on his head. “Go back to sleep.”
Nope,” I was up now. I’d
only done this with him a couple times before, and I wanted to do
it again. “I’m coming with you.”
He met me downstairs at the kitchen
door once I was dressed and we went out into the early Montana
morning. There was a little mist. The air was cool and sweet. The
smell of hay hung in the air, and I caught sight of Frances, the
owl, sitting on top of the stables. He looked settled for a nap.
His head was tucked down, eyes closed. Chase’s cousin Grant was
already up, loading one of the work trucks with feed. I put on the
gloves Chase gave me and grabbed a shovel, climbing up into the
truck bed. Chase came up beside me with his gloves and a shovel
too. Grant climbed behind the wheel and drove us out to the west
pasture where a few hundred cattle were kept. The rest of them were
either on the east pasture or up near a ridge and lake behind the
house. They had to rotate the heard so they didn’t overgraze and
deplete the land. It was a cattle ranch, and the McCree’s dealt in
beef. If anything, it was amazing
Chase jumped out of the truck and
opened the gate to let Grant in the pasture, then shut it behind us
after we rolled in. He was back in the truck beside me, and the
cows swarmed behind the tailgate as Grant drove slowly across the
pasture. I shoveled the feed off the bed with Chase. We left it in
a long line for the cows. It was tiring, and my hands hurt even
though I was wearing gloves.
I had a blast.
No one ever thought the cheerleader
would be out with the cowboy. I was all for proving people wrong.
Mainly our parents. Everyone I’d met in Montana had been so
welcoming and kind. I had to pinch myself. I just couldn’t believe
it at first. I felt so lucky that I could call this place home
And I never wanted so see another pair
of pompoms for the rest of my life.
After the truck bed was empty, Grant
drove back to get more feed for round two in another pasture. We
did this four times. Thankfully there were other workers on the
ranch in trucks helping.
Once we’d finished, I was lounging in
the back with Chase, and didn’t want to move. Cheer practice and
some gymnastics did not prepare me for how hard it would be. I felt
out of shape. I was tired. It was a good tired though, and it
wasn’t even nine in the morning yet.
We hopped out and cleaned up in the mud
room outside the kitchen. Millie greeted us inside with a steaming
hot plate of eggs and toast and juice. I ate almost as much as
Chase. Then it was back out with him to feed more
It was a good start to the day. I
didn’t have a second to worry about the visitors who’d be arriving
in a few hours. This was exactly what I needed.
Briar?” I knocked on her
bedroom door and finished buttoning up my shirt. We’d gotten our
chores done early since we had guests coming. I hoped my mother
behaved herself, but no telling what she was going to say about
Briar living with me at the ranch now. She hadn’t brought up her
opinion since that morning when Grant called to tell me about the
cattle shot dead over my father’s grave. That was also the morning
I told her I loved Briar.
Her silence hadn’t been a good
I was just as nervous as Briar. It was
either going to go very good, or very bad.