Home > Unbridled Cowboy (Four Corners Ranch #1)

Unbridled Cowboy (Four Corners Ranch #1)
Author: Maisey Yates

 


CHAPTER ONE


   “THERE’S NO WAY around it. I’m going to need a wife.”

   Sawyer Garrett looked across the table at his brother, Wolf, and his sister, Elsie, and then down at the tiny pink bundle he was holding in his arms.

   It wasn’t like this was an entirely new idea.

   It was just that he had been thinking the entire time that Missy might change her mind, which would put him in a different position. She hadn’t, though. She had stuck to her guns. When she found out she was pregnant, she told him that she wanted nothing to do with having a baby. She wanted to go through with the pregnancy, but not with being a mother. Not even when he proposed marriage. Oh, they hadn’t been in a relationship or anything like that. She was just a woman that he saw from time to time.

   In fact, Sawyer Garrett could honestly say that he had a very low opinion of relationships and family.

   Present company excluded, of course.

   But when Missy had said she was pregnant, he’d known there was only one thing to do. His dad had been a flawed man. Deeply so. He’d acted like the kids were an afterthought and all he’d really done was let them live under his roof.

   Sawyer wanted more for his child. Better. He’d determined he would be there, not just providing housing and food, but actually being there.

   If he could spare his child the feeling of being unwanted, he would.

   And that was where this idea had been turning over in his head for a while.

   The fact of the matter was, Garrett’s Watch had a lousy track record when it came to marriage.

   The thirteen-thousand-acre spread had been settled back in the late 1800s, with equal adjoining spreads settled by the Kings, the McClouds and the Sullivans, all of whom had now worked what was known in combination as Four Corners Ranch in the generations since.

   And where the Garrett clan was concerned... There was nothing but a long history of abandonment and divorces. The one exception being Sawyer’s grandparents. Oh, not his grandfather’s first marriage. His biological grandmother had run off just like every other woman in their family tree. As if the ground itself was cursed.

   But then the old man had happened upon an idea. He thought to write a letter to one of the newspapers back east asking for a woman who wanted to come out to Oregon and be a mother to his children. They’d had the only successful marriage in his direct line. And it was because it was based on mutual respect and understanding and not the emotional bullshit that had been a hallmark of his own childhood. He barely remembered his own mother. He remembered Wolf’s and Elsie’s, though. Two different women. Only around for a small number of years.

   Just long enough to leave some scars.

   Hell, he didn’t know how he wound up in this position. He was a man who liked to play hard. He worked hard. It seemed fair enough. But he was careful. He always used a condom. And Missy had been no exception. He’d just been subject to that small percentage of failure. Failure.

   He hated that. He hated that feeling. He hated that word. If there was one thing he could fault his father for it was the fact that the man hadn’t taken charge. The fact that he just sat there in the shit when everything went to hell. That wasn’t who Sawyer was. But Sawyer had to be responsible for his siblings far sooner than he should’ve had to be, thanks in part due to his father’s passivity. If there was one thing Sawyer had learned, it was that you had to be responsible when responsibility was needed.

   He wasn’t a stranger to failing people in his life, but unlike his father, he’d learned. He’d never let anyone who needed him down, not again.

   “Marriage,” Wolf said. “Really.”

   “Unless you and Elsie want a full-time job as a nanny.”

   Elsie snorted, leaned back in her chair and put her boots up on the table—which she didn’t normally do, but she was just trying to be as feral as possible in the moment. “Not likely,” she said.

   “Right. Well. So, do you think there’s a better idea?”

   “Reconsider being a single father?” Wolf said.

   “I am,” Sawyer said. “I’m aiming to find a wife.”

   Wolf shook his head. “I mean, reconsider having a baby at all.”

   A fierce protectiveness gripped Sawyer’s chest. “It’s a little late, don’t you think?”

   “Wasn’t too late for Missy to walk away yesterday,” Wolf said.

   “Too late for me,” Sawyer said.

   It had been. From the moment he’d first heard her cry. The weight of... Of everything that he felt on his shoulders when this tiny little thing was placed into his arms. It was difficult to describe. Impossible. He wasn’t good with feelings when they were simple. But this was complicated. A burden, but one he grabbed hold of willingly. One he felt simultaneously uniquely suited for and completely unequal to. He didn’t know the first thing about babies. Yeah, he had done quite a bit to take care of Elsie and Wolf, and... He could see where he’d fallen short. Elsie was just a hair shy of a bobcat in human form, and Wolf suited his name, and, well...big, a little bit dangerous, loyal to his pack, but that was about it.

   “It’s not too late,” Elsie said. “In the strictest sense. You haven’t even given her name.”

   No. It was true. He hadn’t settled on anything yet. And he knew there was paperwork that he had to do.

   “You want me to give her back?” He shook his head. “It’s not like I have a receipt, Els.”

   “That’s not what I meant,” Elsie said. “It’s just... It’s a hard life here.”

   “And I aim to make it a little less hard.”

   “So, you’re going to... What? Put an ad in the paper?”

   “Granddad did,” he said.

   And it had changed their lives for the better. The history of Garrett’s Watch might be rich with failed love stories, but it was a marriage of convenience that had brought real love to the ranch.

   Their grandmother—their real grandmother (blood didn’t matter here, staying mattered)—had loved them all with a ferocity their own mothers hadn’t managed, let alone their father.

   She had taught Sawyer to tie his shoes and ride a bike. She’d hugged him when he’d fallen and scraped his knees.

   She taught him tenderness. And he was damned grateful for it now, because he had this tiny life in his care, and if it weren’t for her, he would have never, ever known where to begin.

   And thanks to his grandfather, he knew what else he might need.

   However crazy his siblings thought it was.

   “It’s not 1950,” Wolf pointed out.

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