Home > Tempting the Cowboy (Circle B Ranch #8)

Tempting the Cowboy (Circle B Ranch #8)
Author: Kennedy Fox

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

KANE

 

 

“Merry Christmas,” I say to my dad when he calls.

“Don’t be late today, okay? Your mom’s already hangry and ready to start without y’all,” he warns as I look up at the clock. We weren’t supposed to meet for lunch until eleven, and I have twenty minutes to drive to my parents’. All of my family lives on the ranch, and it doesn’t take long to get there. But I know when Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.

“Okay, okay. I’m puttin’ on my boots right now,” I tell him.

“Are ya gonna be okay with everything?”

My face heats. “Like what?”

“Hadleigh and Knox,” he confirms, but I knew what he was referring to. Hadleigh has been my best friend since childhood. I had a crush on her for years but recently realized it was nothing more than an infatuation. Everyone knew I had a thing for her. Well, everyone except her. For weeks, my identical twin brother and I fought for her attention. So instead of making her choose, I conceded. She deserves to be happy, and my brother could love her in ways I never could. We’re better as friends, and I told her as much. Now she and Knox are a thing, and I’m very happy for them, even if my jealousy got the best of me in the beginning. But it’s all water under the bridge now.

I smile. “Dad, I swear I’m completely over it.”

“Really?” His tone slightly changes as if he doesn’t believe me.

“Yes, absolutely. Scout’s honor. We won’t be havin’ a repeat of Thanksgiving. I promise.”

“Good. I don’t want to have to reprimand my grown-ass son for actin’ like a child in front of the family again,” he confirms.

My brother and I got into a huge argument over Hadleigh in front of our large family at the Bed & Breakfast and embarrassed the hell out of my parents. Not to mention, I’d given Knox a black eye a week before that. I’d allowed my emotions to get the best of me because I wanted the absolute best for Hadleigh. At that point, I thought Knox was just using her, and she deserved better than to be another one of his one-night stands. I realize how much I overreacted and allowed my temper to control my actions, something that had never happened before.

“You’ll find your person,” he states, pulling me out of my thoughts. “Now hurry up and make your way over. I’ve got to remind your sister to leave now too. If you’re late, your mother is giving you all a bag of coal.”

“Damn, I’ll be right there.”

The call ends, and I go to the table where the finished leather journal lies. It’s the first one I’ve ever made, and while I’m not one to toot my own horn, I’m proud of it. It’s a symbol of how much I care about Hadleigh. I started this project before I knew how I truly felt about our friendship. It only felt right to continue working on it and give it to her as I’d always intended. Over the past six weeks, I experienced many ups and downs, and at times, I felt like I’d gone to hell and back but making this for her was my saving grace. With the learning curve, it took a lot of time and dedication. It calmed me when nothing else did, and I will forever be grateful for that, considering how wound up I was at times.

I pick it up, feeling the weight of it in my hand. The earthy smell of the worked and burned leather reminds me of horseback riding and saddles. I carved her name on the front by hand and embossed flowers around it. I untie the leather straps that hold it closed and flip through the blank cream-colored pages. After a minute of staring at the first page, I grab a pen and scribble a note for her to read later.

I’m so damn happy you’re happy.

Don’t break my brother’s heart.

He couldn’t handle losing you.

 

 

A small smile touches my lips as I tie it closed, then tuck it in the bottom of the red-and-green gift bag I bought. I stuff candy cane–striped tissue paper inside and let out a sigh of relief. Giving it to Hadleigh after the last month feels right.

She may have been the woman I crushed on for fifteen years, but I know deep inside that she wasn’t the one for me. Knowing that means I can search for the woman I’m going to start a family with and spend the rest of my life making happy, and I hope to God I find her sooner rather than later.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

IVY

 

 

PRESENT DAY

2 ½ YEARS LATER

 

 

Although the pollen tends to coat the hood of my car, I love late spring, right before summer. I always find something special about the grass and flowers coming out of hibernation after a long, brisk winter. Just another reminder that the seasons are changing and days are passing. Pretty soon, outside will feel like an inferno, so I try to enjoy the warm mornings while it’s still bearable.

After I grab my book and walk inside the goat soap warehouse where I work, my boss, Harper, greets me with a smile. She also gives me her signature good morning expression, but she looks exhausted while chugging coffee from her “Boss Mom” thermos.

“Rough night?” I ask, noticing the wild strands of hair that aren’t quite in her ponytail.

“You have no idea. Hayden was up at four and wouldn’t go back to sleep. Thankfully, Grandma asked to keep the kids this mornin’. There’s some pre-summer thing they’re having at church. Honestly, a literal godsend.”

I snicker. “I was wonderin’ where they were. But hey, at least Hailey-Mae is a little angel.”

Hayden is almost three, and we celebrated Hailey-Mae’s first birthday last month. Together, they’re a handful, so Harper usually brings them to work with her. The shop has an area for the kids, and honestly, I love having them around. They always keep it interesting and make me laugh, especially Hayden with his mini-Bishop personality.

“My son will probably be a devil. He was already cranky when I dropped him off.”

“Well, if he is, a handful of women over the age of seventy will take him off her hands because he’s adorable.”

“He is when he wants to be. I know he’s not even in kindergarten yet, but I’m dreading his high school years because he’s already giving me a run for my money.”

“Hopefully, he’ll grow out of it,” I say, setting my book on the counter and rummaging through the pile of orders to fulfill today.

She gives me a pointed look. “I highly doubt it, considering how sexy Ethan is. I swear he’s going to age like a fine wine. I tell him not to forget to wear that wedding ring because the old ladies at the diner give him the eye, knowing he’s married to me and has kids!”

“Cougars want to have fun too, ya know?” I tease, knowing I shouldn’t because it’s too early to get her riled up.

Harper shakes her head and playfully scoffs.

“Do you blame them, though?” I smirk. “A fine cowboy with a big appetite.” I can’t even get the words out.

“Hell no! If he weren’t mine, I’d be lookin’ too, especially now since he’s letting a little more scruff grow.” She finally bursts into laughter. “Hot as hell.”

“Keep that up, and you’re gonna have a third baby.” I snort, and she does too. “Orders in the morning, then soap mixing in the afternoon?” I ask, realizing just how much we have to get done tonight. Harper gives me a nod, and then we get to work like busy bees.

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