- Available in: Ebook
- Published: January 5, 2021
A marriage of convenience shows a determined rancher and a stubborn woman what it means to be branded.
When a clause in his grandfather’s will forces Rafe Sinclair to marry or else lose his ranch, he sets his sights on what he thinks is a safe choice—his neighbor Emma Radcliff.
Emma has never wanted anything other than to work her family’s horse ranch. But when her father forces her to marry Rafe, she does everything in her power to make the handsome rancher regret his choice of brides.
They say oil and water don’t mix, but in Emma’s and Rafe’s case, it does—and the result is fire. When Emma refuses to consummate the marriage, Rafe sets out to prove that marriage him is the best thing that’s ever happened to her.
Rafe Sinclair needed a woman. Not just any woman, but a wife. Any wife. He took his grandfather’s will out of his back pocket and read it for the hundredth time that week, but it still said the same thing. Rafe had to be married by June first, his thirtieth birthday, or lose the Circle S Ranch.
“Son of a bitch. That old coot got me by the balls.” He kicked at the corral post, spooking the bay nosing in his direction.
He had loved his granddaddy like a father, but this final stab in the back was too much. The older man had always lamented the fact Rafe hadn’t settled down. However, he never expected the twist that could cost him the ranch that was a part of his soul. No way in hell he’d let the Circle S slip through his fingers.
Rafe would just have to bite the bullet and get married.
He had less than a month to get hitched and fortunately he’d found a quick solution with his neighbor, Elijah Radcliff. Rafe would marry his daughter Emma, a girl he’d known all her life. Not a great solution, but it’d do.
As he waited for her to ride over to the ranch, he wondered what mood she’d be in after finding out what her father had done. Hopefully she’d accept the fact that Rafe would be her husband. Now all he needed was to accept that he had to have a wife. One woman forever and ever.
Not an easy spoonful to swallow, especially considering the woman in question. A britches-wearing, cussing woman who acted more like a man than half his ranch hands. The only upside Rafe saw was that Emma knew horses better than anyone else in the county. The woman lived and breathed equine.
Hell, she was probably a virgin. The shiver that worked its way through his body had nothing to do with the temperature outside. Truth was, Rafe had no idea what to do with a virgin, much less one who was more male than female.
The thought of their wedding night—
“Yoohoo!” A feminine trill sounded from near the house.
Rafe stopped and frowned. He didn’t recognize the voice. Maybe his housekeeper, Frieda, had company.
“Mr. Sinclair,” came a second female voice.
“I think I saw him near the barn,” chimed in a third.
Rafe stood stock-still, a deer caught in hunter’s sights. A virtual army of petticoats started toward him. There had to be at least twelve of them in varying heights, shapes and sizes, including redheads, brunettes and blondes. Even their ages ranged from fresh-faced girls to long-in-the-tooth spinsters.
The only thing they had in common was the look of determination on their faces.
Rafe’s heart raced and his mouth turned dry as a cotton field. No doubt that idiot lawyer Foster had spilled the beans about Rafe’s wifely predicament. Now a herd of available women stampeded toward him. He couldn’t possibly meet Emma at the ranch with all these husband-hungry hens chasing him around.
He wasn’t proud of it, but Rafe turned tail and ran.
He threw himself on top of his buckskin and rode hell-bent-for-leather toward the creek that separated his property from the Radcliffs. He reminded himself to let Foster know about his impending nuptials so the lawyer could somehow keep the women off his ranch. The last thing he needed was more females around.
As he cantered up to the creek, he noticed a beautiful quarter horse tied to a small cottonwood tree. One of the Radcliff’s if he wasn’t mistaken. They were beautiful animals, one and all.
Then he heard singing—a beautiful haunting melody about a lost lover sung by a woman who could rival an angel with her pipes. He sat on his horse with his eyes closed, savoring the song, wondering who had been blessed with such a voice.
When the music trailed away, he dismounted and went in search of his quarry. He found her, bent at the waist near the water, with the most delectable ass he’d seen in a dog’s age poking up in the air. Long, dark brown tresses hung down toward the water as her hands finger-combed the locks. He shifted in his drawers, an erection pushing at his buttons for the mystery lady.
She stood and flipped her hair back, braiding it with the speed of a lightning strike, her plump, full breasts pushing at the blue chambray shirt she wore. That’s when Rafe realized he could see her ass so well because she wore britches, and she had pistols riding her hips. He felt a moment of utter disbelief. He was looking at Emma Radcliff, his intended bride, and she didn’t look anywhere near as manly as he remembered.