Cowboys & Babies Volume 1

By: Tina Leonard

The Texas Ranger’s Twins By Tina Leonard
 
A Baby in the Bunkhouse By Cathy Gillen Thacker

A Cowgirl’s Secret By Laura Marie Altom


Tina Leonard & Cathy Gillen Thacker & Laura Marie Altom


Dear Reader,

Christmas is a time of great emotion, and if you are very lucky, great joy. But what happens when all that matters to you is taken away and the yuletide season is not something you look forward to?

This is the dilemma facing rancher Rafferty Evans. As a child, he loved everything about the holidays. That’s no longer the case. Thanksgiving and Christmas serve only to remind him of a tragic loss. His plan to survive the season? Work doubly hard and avoid all holiday celebrations—even if it means being dubbed a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge.

At least, that’s his plan until one dark and stormy November night, when Jacey Lambert finds herself stranded on Lost Mountain Ranch.

Despite an unexpected turn of events that has left her without a job or a place to call home, Jacey loves life. She loves the holidays. And most of all, she loves the child she is carrying inside her. Jacey knows there is always something to celebrate. And soon she decides that, with her help, Rafferty Evans will recapture his Christmas spirit and realize that, too.

This story, dear readers, is my gift to you. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Best wishes,





A Baby in the Bunkhouse


By Cathy Gillen Thacker





ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Cathy Gillen Thacker is married and a mother of three. She and her husband spent eighteen years in Texas, and now reside in North Carolina. Her mysteries, romantic comedies and heartwarming family stories have made numerous appearances on bestseller lists, but her best reward, she says, is knowing one of her books made someone’s day a little brighter. A popular Harlequin author for many years, she loves telling passionate stories with happy endings, and thinks nothing beats a good romance and a hot cup of tea! You can visit Cathy’s Web site at www.cathygillenthacker.com for more information on her upcoming and previously published books, recipes and a list of her favorite things.







Chapter One




“I figured I’d find you here, burning the midnight oil.”

Rafferty Evans looked up from his computer screen to see his father standing in the doorway of the ranch-house study. At seventy-four, Eli Evans had finally agreed to retire. Which meant he had more time on his hands to stick his nose into his son’s business. Sensing a talk coming on he’d rather avoid, Rafferty grumbled irritably, “Someone’s got to do the books before the fall roundup starts.”

Eli settled into a leather club chair. “The last two days of rain has you chomping at the bit.”

Actually, Rafferty thought, he felt this way every November. Ignoring the flash of lightning outside, he went back to studying the numbers he’d been working on. “A lot to get done over the next six weeks.”

Eli spoke over the deafening rumble of thunder. “Including the job of hiring a new bunkhouse cook.”

“The hands chased away the last three with their incessant complaints. They can fend for themselves while I search for another.”

“You know none of them can cook worth a darn.”

“Then they should be more appreciative of anyone who has even a tiny bit of skill.”

Eli thought about pursuing the matter, then evidently decided against it. “About Christmas…” he continued.

Rafferty stiffened. “I told you. I don’t celebrate the holidays. Not anymore.” Not since the accident.

Eli frowned with the quiet authority befitting a legendary Texas cattleman. “It’s been two years.”

Rafferty pushed back his chair and stood, hands shoved in the back pockets of his jeans. “I know how long it’s been, Dad.” He strode to the fireplace, picked up the poker and pushed the burning logs to the back of the grate. Sparks crackled from the embers.

“Life goes on,” Eli continued.

“Holidays are for kids.”

Eli fell silent.

Tired of being made to feel like Ebenezer Scrooge, Rafferty added another log to the fire, stalked to the window and looked out at the raging storm. Rain drummed on the roof. Another flash of lightning lit the sky—followed closely by a loud clap of thunder. Car headlights gleamed in the dark night and turned into the main gate.