Availability date: 04/08/2016
Single mom Molly Jenkins relocates to a small mountain town in hopes of removing her young son from bad influences. But Ken is caught in an act of vandalism on their neighbor’s ranch, and the no-nonsense owner informs Molly her son needs a man’s strong hand to keep him in line. Having been raised by a tough-to-the-point-of-cruel father, she doesn’t want her son to be guided by men like that. She believes he needs nothing more than security and lots of mother-love.
Nathan Jones knows what it’s like to be raised without a father, and he disagrees with the coddling Molly gives her son. His own upbringing led him to make some poor choices, and he wants to keep Ken from making similar mistakes. It is a complicated tangle of emotions and past hurts that prevent Molly and Nathan from agreeing, but can they come together to keep Ken from going down the wrong path…and maybe find their own path to love on the way?
He didn’t care for the doe-eyed type—women too gentle and sweet for their own good.
“Ma’am, is this your son?” he asked as they approached the yard.
She straightened, and her eyes widened. “Ken!” She started toward them, her face a study of concern. “What’s wrong? What’s going on?”
“I’m Nathan Jones. I own the ranch next door. I caught your son throwing rocks at a rescue horse. He drew blood.”
Her hands flew up. “Oh no!” She stopped in front of the child. “Ken, explain yourself. Did you do this?”
The boy kept his gaze on the ground.
“Ken, answer me. Did you do this?”
He nodded his head, and with a sharp twist, jerked away from his hold and darted into the house. Nathan heard the sound of feet pounding up the stairs, and then a distant door slammed.
“I can’t believe it.” She ran a hand over her face.
“You’d better believe it, ma’am, because he caused injuries in a young horse that’s already been mistreated. There’s physical damage, yes, but worse than that is the psychological damage he did to the filly.”
“I’ll—I’ll pay for any vet bills…”
He gave a bark of humorless laughter. “I’ll do the doctoring myself. But I suggest you get your husband to tan his hide.” He watched her face closely.
Sure enough, the woman lifted her chin a fraction in a gesture of pride. “I—don’t have a husband.”
“That’s what I suspected.” Nathan crossed his arms on his chest and gave a curt nod. “Ma’am, that boy needs some discipline.”
“That’s none of your business.”
“It is if he’s injuring my horses.”
“I said I’d pay for any damages.”
“The damages are beside the point. If I may say so, ma’am, it strikes me you don’t have much control over him—”
“He’s just at a difficult phase right now…” She glared.
“And he knows it, too. That makes for a wild kid.”
“Look, his self-esteem is…”
Nathan uttered a pithy four-letter word that had her trailing off and blinking those huge brown eyes. “Don’t try pulling that self-esteem crap on me, ma’am. I’ve seen too many rebellious kids whose behavior is tolerated because of that excuse.”
“And if I may ask, how many kids do you have, Mr. Jones?” she snapped.
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