My name is Rance Shepherd. You’ll have to excuse me, I’m befuzzled. I just learned my high school sweetheart is back in town, right next door. Larae was the only girl I ever loved, but her dad didn’t approve of me because he thought I just wanted her money.
What he didn’t know is, my mom came from money. But her family kind of cut her off because she married my dad. So, I guess you could say history sort of repeated itself, except I left Larae alone so her relationship with her dad wouldn’t be ruined.
I never told her anything about my run-in with her dad, but dated other girls, just to convince her we were over. Since we went to a private school, they were all rich too, so I got a reputation for being a gold digger. Just like her dad pegged me even though it wasn’t true.
Now, eight years later, I decide to buy the house next to her dad’s old house. She’s been in Dallas forever and I never thought she’d come home. Just as soon as I try to start my business stocking cattle for rodeos, here she comes. And she’s thinking about starting up a rodeo on her property. Right next door.
I could really use this job since I’m needing to make a name for myself. I’ll just have to ignore our history and lingering feelings and talk her into hiring me. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’m going over there right now. We’re both adults. Even though I made mistakes with Larae when we were teenagers, I’m a Christian now.
I can see her out by barn talking to her foreman. And she still takes my breath away. Wait, who’s that little girl? Could she be Larae’s? I mean, what’s it to me if Larae has a child. Except that it means, she moved on. While I haven’t.
What am I thinking? I can’t stay here. Not with Rance right next door. Oh, hello. My name is Larae Collins. This is my childhood ranch where I grew up. And since my dad went to Heaven a few months ago, I came home to sell it. But Jayda, my little girl loves it here and since the rodeo I worked for in Fort Worth downsized me out of their marketing department, my foreman is trying to talk me into starting a rodeo here.
It’s a fun idea. Owning my own rodeo, where no one can downsize me, running it the way I want, not serving alcohol. Because let’s face it, riding bulls and alcohol don’t mix. I’d love to have a truly family atmosphere where no one has to worry about getting killed by a drunk driver on their way home. The way my mom did when I was a teen. I could even name the rodeo after her.
But Rance is right next door. And he can’t see Jayda. He can’t know he’s her father. Back in high school, he dumped me for someone else. And then I found out I was pregnant. After he dumped me, he dated one rich girl after another. Proving Daddy was right about him, he only wanted my money. As soon as I graduated, I moved to Dallas and no one ever knew about Jayda from my home town. Other than Daddy.
I’ve changed since then. I’m a Christian now and Jayda is a blessing that came out of past mistakes. Even though I know I should tell Rance the truth about her, he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still irresponsible and I figure his stock contracting business will bore him eventually and he’ll go back to traveling the rodeo circuit. If I’d known he was here, I’d have never come home.
All I have to do is keep him from seeing Jayda for a few days, get the rodeo setup in place, and head back to Dallas with no one the wiser. Maybe the rodeo will stop the flow of red ink from the ranch and I can run it from afar. If it doesn’t, I can still sell and find another job. I’ve got the money Daddy left me, but Jayda is my first priority and I’d like her to have an inheritance someday.
Here comes Rance down my driveway. If I’m going to do this rodeo thing, I guess I should hire him. It won’t matter as long as Jayda stays in the house and we leave ASAP. But here comes Jayda too. Oh, he can’t see her. I have to head her off, convince her to go back inside. It’s probably too late since he’s seen her. But since Jayda is small for her age, most people assume she’s five or six. Maybe Rance won’t realize he’s her father.
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Our Story Genre: Contemporary Romance
Our Story Released: March 17, 2020
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Award winning author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has over a dozen published titles. A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does.
She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.
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