FREE Harlequin Online Read: The Cowboy’s Twins by Linda Warren
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All Jess McQuire wants is to be a champion tie-down roper. He loves the thrill of the rodeo circuit, even though his marriage didn’t survive it. That ended four years ago. Now back in Horseshoe, Texas, Jess encounters his past—his former wife, Abby…and three-year-old twins he didn’t know he had!
Abby’s world tilts the day Jess comes knocking. Learning he’s a father is tough for him, but so was raising their children alone for years. Forced to grow up fast and put the twins first, Abby doesn’t think she can stand further heartbreak if Jess chooses the rodeo over her. Again…
Regrets were life’s way of saying you’d made a mistake.
Jess McQuire had made a big one: he’d walked out on his wife four years ago. She’d given him an ultimatum: her or the rodeo. He didn’t like being backed into a corner so he’d left.
“I’m filing for divorce!” Abby had shouted after him.
“Fine.” He’d slammed the door and could still remember the finality of the sound. He’d immediately wanted to turn back, but pride wouldn’t let him.
Two weeks later he received the papers. He’d thrown them out because he had no plans of following through with the divorce. Some friends had told him he didn’t need to be there for the divorce to be final. Now he had to wonder if he was still married or not.
Their marriage had had its ups and downs. They’d fallen in love too soon, had sex too soon and gotten married too soon. All by the time they were eighteen. Abby went to nursing school and he hit the rodeo circuit as a tie-down roper. His dad had been a world champion and Jess wanted to follow in his footsteps. He and Abby were apart a lot. Her parents didn’t like him, and over time it drove a wedge between them.
Traveling down the familiar country road to the Circle M Ranch he heard an unfamiliar sound. He pulled the truck and horse trailer over to the bar ditch and got out to investigate. The right back tire of the truck had a bulge the size of a goose egg. He could make it as far as the ranch, though.
A truck pulled up behind him and Paxton Rebel got out. His family owned the biggest ranch around Horseshoe, Texas. He was also a bull rider and Jess knew him well.
“Hey, Jess, got a problem?”
“Bad tire, but I can make it home.”
“Are you sure? I’ll help you change it.”
“Nah. I got it, but thanks anyway.” Jess started toward his truck and then turned back. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Have you seen Abby around Horseshoe?”
“I’m not home that much but I did see her last Christmas at the bakery.”
“So, she lives in Horseshoe?”
“Yeah. She’s the school nurse. She came back last summer so she’s been here about a year.” Pax eyed him. “Haven’t you talked to her lately?”
“No.” That one word made him realize just how stupid he’d been. “She filed for divorce, and I was too stubborn to do anything about it.”
Paxton shrugged. “I guess it’s better if you hear it from me than someone else. Abby has kids—” he put his hand down around his knees “—about that tall.”
Jess felt the color drain from his face. “She has kids? She must’ve remarried.”
Paxton patted him on the shoulder. “I’m sorry, man.”
His Abby had married someone else. So many emotions ran through him, but one thing became very clear: Abigail Carrol McQuire was going to tell him to his face that they were divorced.