Nellie Callahan, matriarch of the Callahan family, is perfectly content with her life on the Callahan Ranch until handsome Beau Chandler buys the ranch next door and comes courting.
Beau is smitten with the lovely Nell, but cattle rustlers, family problems, and Nell’s reluctance make it almost impossible to pursue the relationship he desires.
Nellie never thought she'd feel this way again about a man. But the trauma from her past runs deep. She's been able to still the voices that have haunted her since childhood by keeping busy with her family. But her children are grown now, with families of their own, leaving her free to move into a new life for herself.
How could Beau, a retired U.S. Senator, be happy with someone as flawed as she is? Will Nellie realize the truth in time, or will the rustlers put an end to her second chance at love?
“I think this is a two-man job,” Nellie said, coming up next to him. She had pulled off her boots, rolled up her jeans, and splashed into the water to stand beside him.
“What are you doing? You’ll get as muddy as I am. Call Donovan. He won’t mind helping.”
“Since Donovan left for town an hour ago, that won’t happen any time soon.” She laughed. “Don’t worry, we’ll have her out in no time.”
Walking around him, she kicked up water with every step, until she was behind the calf. “I’ll push. You pull.”
Beau shook his head. He didn’t know another woman who would do such a thing. Who else wouldn’t care how dirty they might get? Or how wet?
Green eyes flashing with mischief, Nell grinned and pushed.
The calf pranced out of the mud as if going for a leisurely stroll.
Nell laughed. Beau’s heart did that rolling thing again.
“They’re prone to do that, you know.”
“I’m learning,” he said as he pulled himself out of the pond, reached for Nell’s hand, and pulled her up beside him.
“Now you’re a mess.” Nell didn’t have a dry stitch on her. His mouth went dry, his heart pounding an uneven rhythm when he took in her perfect-for-him figure. His gaze drifted from her figure to her face. She had a dab of mud on her cheek. He swiped at it with his thumb—and fought the urge to kiss her.
She laughed again. “You should see yourself.”
Beau looked down at his mud-encrusted body. “I think I’ll take a swim.” He splashed back into the pond, paddling out until he came to clear water.
“Better?” Nell called out.
“Much. You should try it.”
“Think I will.”
The next thing he knew she was next to him, laughing and splashing water at him.
He felt like a kid as he splashed water into her perfect face.
Throwing back his head, he roared with laughter. Now he knew why he’d bought the ranch. Despite the problems, despite his grief over his children, he was right where he wanted to be.
Nell kicked off and headed for the bank. He grabbed her foot and hauled her back. Here was the woman he wanted to be with.
When she was next to him again, he was unable to stop himself. He pulled her close and kissed her.
Heat, swift and unexpected, shot through him.
He wanted her. He deepened the kiss; let the want spread.
Nell gasped. Pushed away. Looked at him with fear in her eyes.
Turning, she swam away.
“Nell. I’m sorry,” he called out. But she’d reached the bank, pulled on her boots, and was in the saddle before he could apologize properly.
Watching her leave was pure agony.
What had he done?
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