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The Cowgirl's Inevitable Love - MacFarland Ranch Book 4 (ebook)

The Cowgirl's Inevitable Love - MacFarland Ranch Book 4 (ebook)

Sweet n Steamy Romance

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From the outside, Laney MacFarland’s life seems close to perfect. She’s a well-respected horse trainer. She might be from a small town in Montana, but she’s made a big name for herself. She might live and work in a male-dominated industry but coming from a family with six brothers and a sadistic father, she learned early in life how to hold her own with men.

She’s achieved everything she set out to, professionally. But when it comes to her personal life, she’s not achieved much of anything at all. She left home when she was eighteen, not to get away from all the men in her family, but to get away from the one man she couldn’t have – well, never except that one time. Her sister wanted her gone, too, so that just made it easier for her to leave.

Her life has started to feel more and more empty lately. She’s ready to make a change, to go out and conquer new mountains. The trouble is, the only mountains she really wants to conquer are the ones back home in Paradise Valley, Montana.

Her sister is married now, and they’ve made their peace. Her brothers have grown into men she likes and respects – and wouldn’t mind working with again. But that one man she could never have? He’s still there in the valley, and as hard as she’s tried to forget him, she’s never been able to.

Luke Wallis did his best to stay away from Laney when she was a kid – she was his best friend’s kid sister, what else was he supposed to do? He spent so much time with the MacFarland boys growing up that he might as well have been one of them. He fell in love with Laney when she was still in high school. But he did the right thing; he never acted on his feelings for her – well, never except that one time.

When she left town, he thought that she’d forget about him and move on with her life. He thought that he’d do the same. He was wrong. On both counts. It’s been torture every time she’s come home over the years. Each time he’s seen her it’s torn him up more. Now, she’s home to stay, and being around her but not being with her might just tear him apart.

Available to Read on Kindle, Nook, iThings, Kobo, Phone, Computer, Tablet, Etc! Your eBook will be delivered to your provided email address by BookFunnel. 

The Cowgirl's Inevitable Love is the fourth book in USA Today Bestselling Author SJ McCoy's new, sweet n steamy western romance series. 

    Chapter One Look Inside

    Chapter One

    Laney tapped her foot as she waited by the baggage carousel. The Bozeman airport had changed a lot over the years. There were three carousels now – that hadn't been the case when she used to live here. Then again, how many years had it been since she'd left? She moved away straight after high school. She took her hat off and ran her hand through her hair, wondering if the way that the airport had changed was just an indication of how everything changed. What was she thinking? Moving back home had seemed like a good idea just a couple of weeks ago. Now? Now that she was here, she wasn't so sure.

    She rolled her eyes as she listened to the two guys standing next to her talk. They were tourists – it seemed that about ninety percent of the people on the flight from Denver were. These two were worrying about driving in the snow.

    “We could get a hotel near the airport for tonight,” one of them suggested. “Maybe it’ll be better tomorrow.”

    Laney watched as his companion walked toward the windows and peered out.

    She rolled her eyes again when he came back and said, “That might not be a bad idea. It's icy out there.”

    “What about you?” the guy standing closest to her asked.

    She turned and raised her eyebrows when she realized that he was talking to her.

    The second guy grinned at her. “Are you staying close by? Can you recommend a hotel?”

    She shrugged. “I have no idea about hotels. I'm driving.”

    The first guy jerked his chin toward the windows. “It's gnarly out there. If you like, we could all share a cab. There has to be a hotel nearby.”

    Laney shook her head. “No thanks. I'm fine driving. There's an information desk over there.” She pointed to the desk, where a line was already forming – no doubt those people didn't want to drive, either.

    “You should come with us. It doesn’t look safe out there – and all we can see is the airport parking lot, and I’m sure that’s been plowed.”

    She had to laugh. “Where are you guys from? Have you never driven in snow before?”

    “We get snow sometimes, but not like this.”

    “Well, I grew up here. I'm used to this. I'll be fine.” She turned away from them; there was still no sign of the bags coming out, so she headed for the car rental desk. There was no line there; she may as well take care of that rather than stand here listening to these two.

    By the time she had the paperwork taken care of and the keys to her rental car, the bags had started to arrive. She was relieved to see hers and went to grab it. The two guys were still there, and one of them made to get it for her, but she took care of it herself.

    When she stood back, he gave her a rueful smile. “Independent woman, huh?”

    She laughed. “Just a woman. I appreciate the offer, but I don't need it. You guys have yourselves a good vacation.”

    By the time she exited the rental car lot, the snow was really coming down. The outside temperature gauge read fifteen degrees – nothing out of the ordinary, but she couldn't help smiling at the thought of the tourists bundling up in huge coats, hats, and scarves.

    The highway was slippery over the pass, but nothing too bad. She was confident in her ability, but she wasn’t reckless; if the roads had really been bad, she would’ve spent the night in Bozeman just like the tourists. By the time she was over the other side, the snow was letting up.

    Now that she was here, she wondered what everyone would have to say. She probably should've told them, but then again, it was nobody's business but her own. She hadn't wanted to make some big announcement that she was moving back – she wasn't a hundred percent sure that this was an actual move yet. There were a few things she wanted to figure out before she made the commitment.

    The most important thing she wanted to be sure of was that her sister, Janey, was good with it. For years, their relationship had been … not strained, they loved each other too much for that … maybe shaky was the right word? It seemed as though they were back on a solid footing since Janey married Rocket, but Laney wanted to play things by ear for a while. If having her back home was going to make Janey uncomfortable, then Laney wouldn't stay. No way would she ever do anything to hurt her sister – despite what people might think.

    The other detail she needed to get a handle on before she committed to the decision to move home was … No. He wasn’t a factor. He couldn’t be. She was over him. Whatever feelings she’d had for him were … She wished she could say that they were gone, but that’d be a lie. The truth was that she still wanted … still wished … but whatever her feelings might be, they were those of an eighteen-year-old girl – the girl she no longer was. Everything she felt for him might have been a big part of the reason that she moved away – but all these years later, she wouldn’t let those feelings stop her from coming home.

    She slowed as she approached the exit for Livingston. She was going to stay up in town tonight. She'd rented herself a little place out at Mill Creek for the month, but she couldn't get in there until tomorrow. She hadn’t told anyone that she was coming, but she planned to hit the town tonight – see who was still around. It might not be the wisest move given the way that gossip spread like wildfire in the valley. Whoever saw her tonight would probably somehow get word to her family that she was here before she did, but that was fine. They were used to her – and if they weren't, they should be.

    She took the exit, and a big smile spread across her face as she headed down Highway 89; it felt damn good to be back. She put her foot down as she headed south out of town. She'd have to turn around at some point and come back up to get to her hotel, but for right now it just felt good to drive the old familiar highway.

    ~ ~ ~

    Luke leaned his head back against the headrest and blew out a sigh. It had been a long day, and he was ready for it to be over. He could head back into the station now, but he knew that if he did that, Deacon would likely give him shit. His brother had been riding his ass hard lately. It wasn't as though Luke didn't understand why. As the sheriff, Deacon was hardly going to show him any favoritism. He had to treat all his deputies the same. To Luke's mind, though, Deacon was going a little too far in the other direction. Sure, he hadn't been as focused at work lately as he usually was. Maybe he'd been hanging out at Chico too much – partying a little too hard – but he was still good at his job. Deacon was just pissed at him because he wanted to see him settle down.

    He came back to the present when a vehicle flew by the spot where he was parked in a pullout on the side of the road. He made a face; it was a local truck, and he wasn't going to start dishing out tickets to the locals. They weren’t the problem. It was the tourists who were a danger to themselves and to everyone else on the road. They either drove like grannies because they were afraid of the snow, or like idiots because they thought they were invincible.

    He pulled out his cell phone and shot a text to Tanner. Tanner had one of his rare nights off from working at Chico tonight, and the two of them planned to hit the bars in town.

    Luke: What time do you think you can get up this way?

    He watched the display for a few moments, wondering if Tanner would reply, but he'd no doubt be busy with the horses. Sometimes, Luke envied his friend that.

    Tanner ran the stud on his family ranch, spending his days working with horses. There was a time when they were kids that Luke had spent all his days right there on the MacFarland ranch with his buddy. But that was a long time ago now.

    Tanner had joined the Navy, while Luke himself had gone off to the police academy. He'd always wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps. He loved his job – it was just that he was going through a rough patch lately. He didn't even know why. Nothing had changed. Then again, perhaps that was it, nothing had changed in his life for longer than he could remember. He worked, he hung out with Tan and his brothers, he hung out with Deacon – and his soon-to-be wife, Candy, and that was about it.

    Candy was a welcome newcomer in his life. Perhaps that was part of what had him so unsettled. Deacon had been single for years after his divorce. If Luke had thought about it at all, he thought that Deacon would be forever single. But Candy had come along and sweetened him up. Luke loved her, but he had to admit that he was a little envious of what she and his brother shared. Sure, he dated, he'd had a few relationships, but he'd never had anything like what Deacon and Candy shared. To be fair, he hadn't thought he wanted it. Well, not since …

    The sound of his cell phone beeping shook him out of his thoughts, and that was a good thing. He'd do better to chat with Tan and figure out what they were doing tonight than to let his thoughts stray anywhere near Laney MacFarland. Nothing good ever came of that. He looked down at his phone.

    Tanner: Not sure I'm going to make it tonight, bud.

    Luke: Yeah, you are. You might be a bit later, but you'll make it.

    Tanner: Okay, you twisted my arm. But don't wait for me. Head over to The Mint whenever you're ready. I'll text you and let you know when I'm on the way.

    Luke: Okay but don't leave it too late, you don't want me to have all the fun.

    Tanner: No worries. You know me. I'll make up for lost time whenever I get there.

    Luke smiled. Tanner wasn't joking about that. He had a good time no matter where he went. He was just one of those guys; everyone loved him – especially women.

    He looked down at his phone when it beeped again in his hand. It wasn’t Tanner this time.

    Deacon: You might as well come back in. Shift’s almost over.

    Luke eyed the message suspiciously. It wasn’t like Deacon to cut him a break – not lately, anyway.

    Luke: Do you want me back in there for something?

    Deacon: No.

    The curt reply didn’t do much to reassure him, but then another message popped up.

    Deacon: If you must know, Candy says I’m being hard on you lately. I don’t like to think that you’re sitting out there in a blizzard just to avoid me. Come on in.

    Luke chuckled. There was no question that Candy was sweetening his brother up.

    Luke: Thanks. I appreciate it. See you in a … Shit! I might be a while. Some crazy tourist just blew by doing at least ten over.

    As he pulled out to follow the Jeep and turned on his siren, he saw the words Be careful flash up on his phone. No matter what little rough patches they went through, he never doubted that his brother cared.

    He switched his full attention to the road as he quickly caught up to the red Jeep, which had immediately slowed when the driver spotted him. It rolled along at five under the speed limit until it reached a place where the shoulder widened.

    Luke nodded to himself as he pulled up behind it. The driver might be a tourist – the Jeep was a rental; the Bozeman plates and barcode sticker in the rear window announced that detail to any observant eye – but at least they had sense enough to find a safe place to stop.

    He turned up his collar and put on his hat. The snow was getting heavier again, and the wind had picked up. He was going to do his best to keep this short, if not sweet.

    As he approached the vehicle, he could see that the driver was wearing a cowboy hat. Maybe he was wrong – maybe this wasn’t a tourist after all. Yes, they’d been speeding, but he’d seen no indication that they weren’t in full control of the vehicle. Perhaps he could let them off with a warning, whoever they were.

    The driver’s window rolled down when he got close. Luke decided to give the driver the opportunity to talk themselves into or out of a ticket based on their responses.

    However, when the driver turned to him, he knew that it would be his own responses that determined how this encounter went. And he wouldn’t be able to respond until he got his reaction under control – his heart was racing, and he could feel the blood rushing through his veins, pounding in his ears.

    Laney MacFarland sat there staring at him, her hazel eyes huge and rounded with shock. A slight flush touched her cheeks, and she bit down on her bottom lip.

    Luke just stood there, staring back at her. She was still as gorgeous as ever – no, scratch that, she was even more beautiful now than she’d ever been as a girl. Her long, blonde hair fell around her shoulders. Her lips were pink and plump as she pressed them together, looking … uncertain.

    The silence dragged out for a few long moments before Luke managed to pull himself together.


    Her gaze searched his face as she nodded. “Luke.”

    Damn, he’d been hoping that she might give him more to go on – if she’d said anything more than his name, he might have a clue as to what she was thinking. Was she still mad at him? Did she hate him? Had so much time gone by that she just didn’t care anymore? Was he just a guy from the past?

    They continued to stare at each other. She wasn’t giving anything away.

    ~ ~ ~

    Laney’s knuckles were white as she gripped the steering wheel. This could not be happening! She hadn’t even been in town for five minutes – hadn’t even checked into her hotel yet, let alone moved into her rental. She’d thought that she would have until tomorrow before she had to face her family, and hopefully much longer before she had to face Luke Wallis.

    And yet, here he was, standing next to the Jeep looking even hotter than she remembered him – and to her, he’d always been the sexiest guy on earth. She swallowed. He probably didn’t even care anymore. She wasn’t sure that he ever had. If she stood out at all among the women he’d been with in his life, it would only be because she was his friend’s little sister.

    She tried waiting for her heart rate to return to normal, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen anytime soon.

    She risked a smile. “You’re going to freeze to death if you stand there staring for much longer.”

    Her words seemed to shake him out of his stupor, and he smiled back. Damn! There was just something about that smile that melted her insides. It always had. Even when she was a little girl, she used to do everything she could think of to make him smile at her. He and Tanner weren’t that much older than Janey and her, but Tan used to try and run them off whenever Luke was over. They were his annoying kid sisters, after all. But Luke … Luke always had a kind word for her – well, no, he had a kind word for Janey as well. But it seemed like he saved his smiles for her.

    “What are you doing here?”

    Her heart sank. She should probably be grateful that he wasn’t immediately issuing her a ticket, but she was more disappointed that he hadn’t said something more welcoming.

    She let out a short laugh. What was she thinking? She knew better than to hope for anything when it came to Luke. At best, he was one of her brother’s friends. At worst, he was just some guy she used to know – a mistake from the past.

    “Well, thanks! It’s great to see you, too.” If that was the kind of greeting that she was going to get, there was no way she was going to share anything with him. “And I guess the honest answer to your question is speeding.”

    His eyebrows drew together.

    “You asked what I’m doing here,” she explained.

    “Oh, right. Yeah, well.” He peered out at her from under the brim of his hat, and his light blue eyes met hers. “That wasn’t what I meant. I meant … It’s good to see you, Laney.”

    His words knocked all the air out of her, but she didn’t have the time to respond.

    He continued, “But yeah, you want to slow down. It’s slippery out here.”

    She nodded. So, he was going to talk to her like a deputy and nothing else? Oh well.


    He raised his eyebrows, but she didn’t know what he was waiting for.

    “Do you want my license and the papers for the car?”

    “No, Laney, I don’t. I just … I just want you to … be safe.”

    “No ticket?”

    “No ticket. You just get on home safe. How long are you here for?”

    She swallowed. “I’m not sure yet.” That was the truth. She didn’t know what he’d think, say, or do, if he knew that she was thinking about staying.

    He started to back away from the Jeep and touched the brim of his hat. “I hope you have a good visit.”

    Her heart sank as she watched him go. No matter how much she hoped for more, Luke just didn’t see her that way. That one time? He saw it as a mistake. He must, there was no other explanation for his behavior since.


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