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The Tangled Ties That Bind (Hearts Entwined Collection): A Kincaid Brides Novella

The Tangled Ties That Bind (Hearts Entwined Collection): A Kincaid Brides Novella

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The Tangled Ties That Bind (Hearts Entwined Collection): A Kincaid Brides Novella

valoraciones:
4.5/5 (9 valoraciones)
Longitud:
139 página
2 horas
Publicado:
May 1, 2018
ISBN:
9781493412020
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

While running from an angry buffalo, two friends, who always wanted more, reunite. Connor has returned home determined to pursue the woman he never stopped caring about. But Maggie wants to be a city doctor, and he is a rancher through and through. Will either be willing to give up their dream? Or will they both have to give up the love of a lifetime?
Publicado:
May 1, 2018
ISBN:
9781493412020
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Mary Connealy (www.maryconnealy.com) writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has sold more than half a million books. She is the author of the popular series Brides of Hope Mountain, High Sierra Sweethearts, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie's Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

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The Tangled Ties That Bind (Hearts Entwined Collection) - Mary Connealy

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Chapter

1

RAWHIDE, COLORADO

JUNE 20, 1883

Home. One more hour on the trail and Connor Kincaid would be home for the first time in five years.

Only he realized he wasn’t thinking of Pa and Ma and their house. He was thinking of Uncle Ethan’s place. Maybe because it was closer and he’d go right by—so of course he’d stop. Maybe because once he got to Uncle Ethan’s, he was on Kincaid land and that meant home.

Or maybe he was just wanting to see Maggie again. His childhood best friend. The beautiful fifteen-year-old girl who made Connor feel things he had no business feeling for a cousin—who was in no way a real cousin.

Those unruly feelings were a big part of why he’d ridden away. But he was all grown up now, and she’d be grown up, too, and he could feel anything he wanted.

It was a perfect day in the Rockies. He rode along the stony trail, trees thick on both sides, skirting around the northern base of Pike’s Peak, daydreaming about a grown-up Maggie.

A strange, unnatural rasp jerked his thoughts back to the present.

Between one heartbeat and the next he drew, cocked, and aimed his pistol.

A twig snapped.

Who’s there? A woman hollering was a whole lot more than a snapping twig to get a man’s attention.

Then she shouted, Be careful! A short scream stopped any more words from being voiced.

Be careful of what? He holstered his gun. He wasn’t going to start shooting until he knew what he was aiming at.

Through the thick leaves he saw the branches of a skinny oak tree shake like they were caught in a cyclone.

He ground-hitched his horse just in case the gray needed to make a run for it from whatever was snorting in the thicket over there.

Picking his way into the forest, he wound past a couple of trees and came face-to-face with a buffalo.

Connor could have reached out and touched its horns.

The huge cow was scratching her backside against a slender tree, which explained the image of a cyclone. Then she spotted him and snorted hot breath and buffalo spit in Connor’s face.

The buffalo swung its massive head at Connor, who threw himself backward. He crashed into a tree, so he didn’t get that far back. The horns barely missed him.

Climb! The screaming cut through his panic. He leapt, grabbed a branch, and swung his legs up. A slashing horn caught his left foot and ripped the boot right off.

The blow almost knocked Connor out of the tree. The bark scraped up both hands, and he banged his head against the bottom of the limb. But he had the grit to hang on, wrapping his legs around the branch.

The buffalo lifted its head high, missed him with her horns but cracked into Connor’s back. It sent him flying, except he somehow was able to cling to the branch. The painful whack had flipped him over the limb so that now he was on top of it and out of the buffalo’s reach.

He hoped, anyway.

He grabbed the branch above him and stood, finally able to quit fighting for his life, which gave him time to ache in every muscle and joint. He looked down, between the toe of one boot and the sock on his other foot. The cow looked up. Connor’s Stetson hung from one horn. The lousy hat thief.

The cow wasn’t that far below. Connor crouched, made a swipe, and snatched up his hat. She slashed at him with her horns and nearly snagged his arm. He decided he wouldn’t be so brave trying to fetch his boot.

He plunked his hat on his head with hands he noticed were shaking.

Then he heard, I told you to be careful.

He lifted his head and looked straight into a pair of pale blue eyes, rife with irritation and maybe a little panic.

Maggie?

Connor! A bright smile bloomed on her face. Welcome home.

It was Maggie all right, and she sure had changed. Great land of milk and honey, cute little Maggie had grown all the way up into the most beautiful woman who could possibly walk the earth—or in this case, walk the tree limbs.

That buffalo’s had me treed for almost an hour, Maggie said.

Connor grinned. "Next time don’t yell, ‘Be careful.’ Instead yell, ‘Be careful of the buffalo.’ Things might’ve ended different, you know."

The huge cow poked her head past the stand of trees lining the trail. She bellowed mighty loud.

Hoofbeats pounded away. Unfortunately not buffalo hooves.

And there goes my horse. That was all this mess needed. Now I’ve got to walk this mountain trail another hour to Ethan’s house.

Assuming we ever get down from here.

He glared at the little pessimist, then quickly perked up. Unless you have a horse!

He wouldn’t mind riding double with her.

Nope. My horse ran off just like yours and for the same reason. It’s almost certain my horse will go on home. I honestly expect Pa here any second now.

Her Pa was Ethan Kincaid. Uncle Ethan coming was a fine thing.

He’ll be hunting me, she said.

Maybe my pa will come along, too. Connor sure hoped so, as he couldn’t wait to see him. I’ve missed him and Ma something fierce. I can’t believe how long I’ve been away. How did the years go by so fast, anyway? Yep, I can’t wait to see everyone again.

Oh, I should tell you: Julia was invited to the grand opening of a dinosaur museum. They promised her time to study the bones, and said they’d feature her books at the museum and offer them for sale. And your ma, Aunt Callie, did some paintings of the pictures in the cave. They’re big ones, not the sketches she does for the books. So her paintings will be there for sale, as well. Most of the Kincaids went south. They’re going to pick up Heath and his family at the Cimarron Ranch and then all go on together.

Ma’s gone? She’d always been a fine hand with drawing, but she’d rather ride a horse and hog-tie a longhorn than make pictures. Except Julia could be mighty persuasive. Some might say a nag. She was also about the smartest, hardest-working woman Connor had ever known, especially when it came to that big old cave.

Yep, and none of ’em will be home for a couple of weeks.

Connor frowned. I should have let them know I was coming.

You most certainly should have. But then they’d have stayed to see you and missed one of the few trips most of them have ever taken. Pa and Ma are here, but everyone else is gone. Even the young’uns went along on the train.

"The young’uns aren’t all that young anymore."

No, though I will always be the oldest, of course. So you all seem young to me.

Connor gave her a wild smile. I’m counting the two of us as tied.

Maggie sniffed. Go ahead and pretend if it makes you feel better.

For as long as he could remember, Maggie had been teasing him about their age difference. She was a few months older and never let him forget it. He’d missed her like crazy.

Pa went along, too?

Connor’s pa, Seth, was Ethan’s little brother. Pa lived near Ethan and his big brother Rafe, Julia’s husband, on the Kincaid Ranch. Connor was well aware that, while Maggie considered Ethan her pa, Ethan’s wife, Audra, came into the marriage with two little girls. Maggie and Connor didn’t share a drop of blood.

Only my folks stayed to do the chores. Ma has a sprained ankle, so she couldn’t travel well, and that made picking who stayed behind easy. I’m here helping take care of her.

The tree started rocking back and forth. Connor gripped the wobbling trunk. He looked down to see the buffalo—its hide coarse from a half-shed winter coat—go back to scratching. She’d picked Connor’s tree this time.

I can see why screaming kept you too busy to warn me better. He wrapped both arms around the trembling tree. He held on so tight, the tree whacked him in the face.

She seems determined to scratch her whole fur coat away. Maggie looked to be calm now. Of course, it wasn’t her tree that was shaking. I suspect every downed tree in this forest can be laid right at her feet.

Watching the buffalo rub her hindquarters, Connor said, Or laid at her backside.

Maggie giggled. It was about the prettiest sound Connor had ever heard.

He looked around at the thick branches, all intertwined with other trees. I think with some finagling I can climb from this tree to the one beside me. Then I can go on to the next and the next. I might get far enough away to get to the ground and run for help.

Don’t leave me here. Her smile shrank away.

The buffalo quit scratching and ambled the few feet to Maggie’s tree. Connor was surprised how much better he felt without the tree shaking.

Maggie squeaked in alarm, threw her arms around the tree, and forgot about any continued conversation. Which gave him time to climb through the treetops like a giant squirrel. He looked around, saw a path of crisscrossing branches, and picked his way along them to circle around to Maggie.

She gave him a wide-eyed look while she clung to the tree.

Do you think she’s choosing trees based on there being a person in them, or will she go back to the one I was in after a while? That’d get her to stop jiggling you. Then we can get out of here.

The talk drew the buffalo’s attention. It stopped scratching and stared up at Connor.

Climb over here right now, Maggie, while she’s distracted. And be quiet about it.

Maggie’s hands didn’t come loose from the tree. In fact, her whole body seemed frozen in place.

Connor knew he didn’t have much time before that itchy buffalo started in again. Continuing his squirrel behavior, he scampered over to Maggie, drew her gently but firmly away from the tree trunk, and then, holding her hand, hurried back to his tree, then on to the next.

The buffalo kept on staring at them—all thoughts of scratching seemed far from her mind. She trailed along, winding through

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