Harlequin.com Free Online Read: A Cowgirl’s Love by Linda Warren
Eden Rebel loves her family, but she wants to feel like a real adult. She’s already a veterinarian who runs her own business, and she needs more independence. Next step—moving out of her parents’ house at twenty-nine years old!
It’s a whole lot easier to take that step after she’s reunited with her high school sweetheart, Brandon Thomas. The teenage boy she remembers is now a single father, and the connection between them is still strong. But Eden’s family isn’t ready to let her go. Can she find a place in her life for Brandon while keeping ties to the family she loves so dearly?
Find out in this sequel to Linda Warren’s Texas Rebels: Falcon!
It’s a man’s world. As a mobile veterinarian, Eden Rebel knew that better than anyone. Ranchers would say “You’re a woman. You can’t do a man’s job.”
And then she’d have to prove them wrong. Today would be no different.
Her truck and trailer bounced over the ruts on the old country road, clouds of dust spiraling behind her. She slowed down as she saw a mailbox. Roland Foster. This was it. She made a wide turn to get the truck and trailer across the cattle guard. It rattled and clanged as she drove up to the house.
The small white-frame house with black shutters had a chain-link fence, and bright, colorful flowers bloomed in the May sunshine. To the right a rusted tin roof covered an old barn, and the attached corral had seen better days. All neatly maintained like a painting on canvas of a rural country setting.
A man and a woman, probably in their seventies, walked out the front door. In worn jeans and a blouse, the woman appeared to be a typical lovable grandmother. The man wore overalls and a chambray shirt. His cowboy hat was pulled low, covering most of his face, but it didn’t hide his frown, which was as deep as mud ruts. Oh, great!
She adjusted her cowgirl hat and was glad her long, dark hair was in a braid down her back to keep it out of her way. Sighing, she glanced at the Australian blue heeler sitting on the passenger side. “This is it, Mazy. Wish me luck.”
The dog barked twice.
Yeah. That and a Hail Mary might get me this job.
She got out of the truck and met the couple. Mazy squatted at her heels. “I’m Eden Rebel, the veterinarian.”
The ruts on the man’s face deepened. “You can’t do this job.”
“I got about a two-thousand-pound bull—” he waved his hand toward the pasture “—who’s injured his hoof, and it’s going to take a man to deal with him.”
Eden took a patient breath. “Since I’m here, why don’t I take a look? If I can’t handle the job, then I’ll recommend someone else.”
“Let her see what she can do,” the woman said. She peered at Eden through her wire-rimmed glasses. “Are you kin to the Rebel family?”
Eden nodded. “I’m Falcon Rebel’s daughter.”
“See, Roland. She was raised on a big ranch, so she probably knows something.”
I’m a veterinarian, for crying out loud. I know what I’m doing.
Of course, she didn’t say that. She just waited for the man to make a decision.
“We need somebody, so I guess you’ll have to do. But if you get hurt, it’s on you.”
She gritted her teeth and asked, “Where’s the bull?”
“In the pasture.”
Eden looked toward the rotted-out board corral. “I don’t think that’s going to hold him.”
“That’s why it’s going to take a man.”
Refusing to react, she replied, “I’ll get my horse and my bag.”
She undid the latch on the trailer and lowered the ramp. “Let’s go, Mercy.” A chestnut mare with a white blaze on her face backed out of the trailer.
She led Mercy to her truck and grabbed her supply bag. To deal with the bull in the pasture, she would have to hit him with a tranquilizer dart. She placed two medicated darts in her shirt pocket and inserted one into the barrel of her gun. Then she filled a syringe with an antibiotic. After shoving the gun into the scabbard, she slipped on latex gloves and looped the handle of the bag over the saddle horn.
Mounting the horse, she said, “Let’s go, girls. We have a job to do.”
Mr. and Mrs. Foster took off in a Chevy pickup and she followed on Mercy. It didn’t take long to reach the herd. About twenty-five cows and calves were munching grass under large oak trees, and they threw up their heads at the noise of the truck.
“There’s the bull.” Mr. Foster pointed out of his window toward the fence. The red-and-white-faced bull stood with his left back leg lifted from the ground. He was obviously in pain.
As the cattle started moving toward them, Eden said to Mazy, “Keep the cows away.” The dog shot into action and Eden knew not one would get past her.
“I’m going in to get a closer look.”
Eden wanted to see how close she could get before the bull charged. Not close, she soon found as the bull swung his head in agitation, but Mercy got her out of harm’s way fast. She rode back to the truck.
“His foot is swollen. He must have something in it,” she told Mr. Foster.
“I knew that.”
The I-told-you-so voice didn’t sit well with Eden, but she kept her views to herself. She pulled the tranquilizer gun from the scabbard.
“You gonna shoot my bull?”
She took a long breath. “It’s a tranquilizer gun, Mr. Foster. The same thing a man would use.”
“It’ll just relax him so I can work on his hoof.”
“Just be careful,” the woman said. “He’s a big bull.”
The bull was big, and it would take more than one dart to bring him down. She had to be quick with four eyes watching and judging her.
Eden nudged the horse and off they flew. When she got close, the bull charged and Eden raised the gun and fired. Mercy took them quickly to safety. Eden jammed another dart into the barrel and took another run at the bull. She pulled the trigger again, then galloped away. The bull staggered around—he still wasn’t out! She rode in one more time, took another shot and the bull went down. She shoved the gun back into the scabbard and jumped from the saddle with the bag in her hand.
Kneeling in the grass, she picked up the hoof and saw a big mesquite thorn in it caked with blood and dirt. She grabbed tweezers from the bag and pulled out the thorn. She sprayed the wound with hydrogen peroxide, flushing it until it was clean, and then rubbed antibiotic cream into it. That was about all she could do. She reached for the syringe and gave the bull an injection in the shoulder, then she yanked the darts from the bull and threw them into the bag. When she leaped to her feet, she made a dive for Mercy and hightailed it out of there.
She waited at the truck and watched as the bull tried to get to his feet—he had some trouble. On the third try, he made it, shaking his head as if to clear it of cobwebs. He tested his hoof on the ground and stood on it, then headed for the herd.
“Mazy,” Eden shouted. “Let’s go.” The dog bounded toward her.
“That was some work, young lady. I guess you showed me.”
“Thank you, Mr. Foster.” She rode back to the house with a smile.
As she was writing an invoice, she heard a loud sound and raised her head to see a motorcycle and rider cross the cattle guard. The guy pulled in next to her truck and dismounted, hooking his helmet on the handlebars in an easy movement. A black T-shirt and leather jacket stretched across his broad chest. Longish dark hair and a five-o’clock shadow caught her eyes, not to mention the tight jeans and cowboy boots. Be still my heart. He was her kind of cowboy. Who was he?
“Our grandson is here! Brandon!” Mrs. Foster shouted as the older couple ran to him.
Brandon? The name stirred long-forgotten memories…
They smothered him with hugs. He drew back, glancing at Eden’s truck and trailer. “What’s going on?”
“I had a problem with the bull, but the vet fixed him right up.” Mr. Foster waved a hand at her.
She was trapped in the glow of the man’s warm dark eyes and couldn’t look away. Heat radiated from her head to her toes. It was him! Brandon Thomas! Her high school boyfriend was standing in front of her. The bad boy her dad had warned her about.
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