• Karen Baney

When Sam Meets Ellie Mae

Excerpt from The Reluctant Cattleman (Colter Sons Book 1)


Sam


“Incoming female rider,” Boone announced as he skidded his black stallion, Outlaw, to an abrupt stop in front of me and Mama.

“Are we expecting anyone?” Mama asked.

I shook my head. E. M. Thatcher was the only person we were expecting. Not some woman.

“She looked pretty,” Boone said.

“How would you know?” I asked. “You flew past her.”

“Trust me, I noticed.”

I rolled my eyes. My heart raced a little faster than normal. The only women who visited the ranch were close friends or relatives.

As she came into view, I noticed her sandy colored hair, which was pulled back into a knot just below the base of her straw wide-brimmed hat. I couldn’t see her eyes yet, as the shadow of her hat hid them. Her lips were full, which was something I never noticed about anyone. It perplexed me why I might think about it then. Her white blouse hung loosely over her slight frame. Her subtle curves suited her well.

Her lips were full, which was something I never noticed about anyone. It perplexed me why I might think about it then.

I swallowed hard as she stopped in front of us. Mama asked me to help her, so I did.

When the stranger put her hands on my shoulders, I held her waist and helped her down. The smile on her lips stole my breath away. Her nutmeg eyes sparkled with life.

As I eased her to the ground, I noticed everything about her. She smelled like the rain after a monsoon storm, sweet and beckoning. Her fair skin looked smooth. The sunlight streaked her sandy hair with honey gold. She was the most gorgeous woman in Arizona.

I liked the way my hands felt against her petite waist. She was shorter than me, but several inches taller than Mama. I wasn’t sure how long I stood there holding her. Shoot, she was holding onto my shoulders for just as long, and I really liked it.

Then Mama interrupted my thoughts and asked me to escort her into our home. I did, ignoring the way Boone practically drooled as he held the door open.

Once we were inside, I held a chair out for her. Then I sat across from her. Mama set out a lemonade for each of us.

I sipped mine when the woman finally introduced herself.

Thankfully, I swallowed before she finished speaking.

“You’re E. M. Thatcher?” I frowned. E. M. Thatcher was supposed to be a man. A man who was going to stay in the room next to mine. I shifted in my chair and ran a finger along the tight collar of my shirt.

“Yes.” She sipped the lemonade.

“Oh,” Mama said. Then she smiled as if E. M. Thatcher being a woman was nothing at all. “Welcome. We are happy to have you here.”






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