To Heal a Rancher’s Broken Heart (Preview)

Chapter One

Mayson, Wyoming 1886

The opera house of Mason, Wyoming succumbed to another full house. It was a popular location in the illustrious mining town, and it never failed to draw in a crowd. Especially the opening week of a brand-new show. Folks from all over the area traveled miles upon miles to enjoy an evening of song, dance and entertainment that never seemed to disappoint all in attendance.

And up in Box Four sat the beautiful, twenty-two-year-old Miss Eleanor Price. An enthusiastic goer of the opera, Eleanor enjoyed her favorite seat every time she attended The Grand Opera House of Mason. Eleanor was an avid attendee with special privileges. She could come and go as she pleased. She could catch two or three shows consecutively in one day. She didn’t have to wait in lines; And all of this was all thanks to her absolute closest and best friend, Rona Howard.

“Oh, Rona! What a fantastic evening that was tonight!” Eleanor skipped down the long staircase leading to the exterior doors. Eleanor could never out-do the feeling she possessed after sitting through a three to four-hour opera. She favored the arts over most anything; whether performing, lyrical, canvas, or scenic.

The moments she held on to during each operatic experience always helped to remind her that she wasn’t like every other girl out there. She had a passion; she had a desire. The only thing was, Eleanor didn’t quite know just what to do with it yet.

As the two young women made their way out of the enormous front double doors of The Grand, carriages and patrons continued to mill about.

“Are you sure your father doesn’t mind me coming back for another presentation tomorrow night? I’m only saying, if he needs Box Four for profit, I can find a place in the wings and watch it from behind the curtain.”

Eleanor tugged on her lace wrist-length glove as she and Rona waited on the cobble-stoned drive for their carriage.

“Of course, it’s all right. It’s always all right. Papa loves you like you’re one of his own seven children.” Rona pulled the netted veil down to cover the top of her face. “And he has plenty of other boxes he can make a profit from. Mother has even said so herself.”

From behind them, Eleanor and Rona heard the sound of approaching footsteps. They lowered their voices and continued to chat, not wanting to disturb anyone else’s conversations.

“Good evening, ladies. A nice night for a stroll, wouldn’t you say?” Two middle-aged gentlemen dressed in their finest attire sauntered by the girls as they tipped their top hats in greeting. Eleanor smiled her famous welcoming grin as Rona narrowed her deep brown eyes at them.

“Yes, it is. And, no thank you, we won’t.”

It was the same thing every time. Men would land their eyes on the captivating Eleanor and were instantly infatuated with her, wanting to know her better. Her porcelain skin and her hourglass figure set her apart from the plain and ordinary women of Mason. She would lift her curved lips into a smile and nod politely, but that would be it. Eleanor would never do anything to make the men think she was a woman who had no values to her name.

Men had done their best to court Eleanor since her days of coming-out at age eighteen. There were scores of suitors at every turn and she’d go through the same routine. But no one had ever seemed to peak her interests in furthering the relationship.

Young Eleanor valued her freedom greatly. And she knew only a certain, special man would be able to sweep her off her feet. But that someone had yet to come along. Eleanor had yet to meet such a man with enough excitement and passion to her liking.

As she grew older and more defined, her parents taught her the limits of appropriateness and which certain somethings and someones to stay away from. They were church-going, God-fearing people who wanted the best for their only child.

Eleanor had a mind of her own, but when it came to her family’s reputation, she did her best to stay righteous and true.

Rona and Eleanor kept their eyes on the departing men before they returned to their own discussion that had been so rudely interrupted.

“I don’t know who that actor was on the stage, but he had me captivated with every line and song.”

“Papa says he’s all the way from New York City.” Eleanor listened to Rona continue the conversation as the men tipped their hats and walked the opposite way. “Why in heaven’s name he would want to come to Mason is beyond me.” Rona patted the bun beneath the edge of her hat. “It’s going to cost Papa a pretty penny to keep him on the stage.”

Rona’s father was the sole owner of The Grand. As a native of Connecticut, Roger Howard had sunk all of his life savings into moving out West. He had a dream to bring the sophisticated arts of the east to the wild frontier of the West. Roger had chosen Mason, Wyoming because of its economic boom from the gold mines surrounding it. There had been only a few other cultural locations when he first arrived in Mason. But after his influence, the town embraced more social places for people to patron.

“Well, if your Papa knows what’s good for him, he’ll keep that man on the stage and start charging double for admission.” Eleanor nodded her head sternly. “These folks around here will pay for it, I have no doubt about that.”

The sound of horses’ hooves pulled Rona’s attention from her best friend.

“Oh, Eleanor. Look who’s coming this way.” Rona warned through gritted teeth as Eleanor discreetly turned her eyes to the approaching carriage.

“Oh, good heavens! Not again.” Eleanor spoke softly so only the two girls could hear, as she tilted her head to the starry Wyoming sky.

“Good evening, Eleanor.” Weber Myers, a local rancher, eased on the reins of his team bringing his carriage to a halt. Weber was a handsome man, adoring good-looking features in his face alone. But, to his misfortune, it was all he had going for him. The young rancher lacked self-confidence and carried himself with poor posture. He had  an off-putting air about him; strange mannerisms and uncommon topics of conversation left much to be desired about his personality.

To Eleanor, Weber Myers was altogether weird and socially awkward.

“Hello, Weber.” Eleanor glanced up, donning one of her fake yet pleasant smiles. She wasn’t quite fond of the five-foot-eight, thirty-four-year-old man. Ever since Eleanor had turned of age, Weber pursued her unrelentingly. He had taken it upon himself to acknowledge her by her Christian name instead of the socially correct forms of conversing. Every time he’d see her, Weber would do his best to charm Eleanor with his awkward smile and even more obdurate behavior.

Eleanor never tried to be rude to Weber. In fact, she was never rude to anyone who came across her path. Eleanor’s parents raised her to be kind and polite no matter the circumstance and no matter the person. But Weber always mistook her kindness to mean there was more behind her actions than what she actually showed. Undoubtedly, he believed she wanted more out of their acquaintance than that which Eleanor actually desired.

“Can I give you two beautiful ladies a ride somewhere this evening? I’ve got this nice carriage here. My horses are of good stock. They won’t run crazy on us or anything like that.” Weber did his best to sound sophisticated. But, as always, he appeared to be peculiar more than anything.

“No, thank you, Weber. Rona’s father is sending around their carriage to take me home.” Eleanor glanced at the approaching carriage behind Weber. With a smile and a relieved breath, Eleanor pointed over Weber’s shoulder. “In fact, there it is now.” She turned her face back to find Weber’s glaring eyes staring in her direction. With all grace and manner, Eleanor continued to speak kindly to him. “Thank you for the offer, Weber. But it’s time I get on home. My folks will be waiting, I have no doubt.”

Eleanor watched the look of disappointment creep over Weber’s tanned face. Without another word, he slapped the reins against the horses’ backs and lurched forward in his seat as he left them standing there in his wake.

Eleanor shook her head sadly. “Oh, Rona. When will that man ever learn? My intentions were only to be polite. I hope I wasn’t mean. Was I mean? I don’t want to be mean.”

Rona laid a hand on Eleanor’s arm, trying to ease the tension.

“Sweetie, you weren’t mean. You never are. Weber Myers is just thick in the head, that’s all. I don’t think that stubborn man will ever catch on.” Rona shook her head as the carriage came to a halt. “He’s needs a good kick in the tail, if you ask me.” The footman opened the door for the duo. “Come on, Eleanor. Let’s get you home.”

The best friends rode for another fifteen minutes to Eleanor’s home just on the edge of town. Eleanor lived with her parents in a two-story Victorian home, reminiscent of the house her father had grown up in as a child. Emmit Price had traveled all the way from Boston, Massachusetts to try his hand at the adventures of the Wild West. He had heard stories as a boy about the growing opportunities for anyone who dared to take the chance. Having that mindset, Emmit jumped at the prospect once he had enough savings to do so.

The house stood very much out of place from those surrounding it. All the other western homes comprised simplicity and ruggedness. Though much different and always a conversation starter, Parker Place was still her home.

“I will never get over your house, Eleanor.” Rona shook her head as she stared out the carriage window. “Who names their houses out here? And why do you need so many windows?” Rona observed the tall peaks that reached over the fenced courtyard. “You would think I’d appreciate such uniqueness because of Papa. But Parker Place outdoes them all.”

Eleanor climbed out of the carriage and turned back with a smile. “I know, dearest. Our home is different. But so is my Papa, and I love him just the same.” Eleanor adjusted her overcoat. “Thank you for a wonderful evening, my friend. I will talk with you tomorrow.”

Rona waved goodbye as the footman closed the door, and the carriage returned to the direction they had left from. Into the silence, Roger Howard’s carriage rode away.

Standing in the quiet with only the star-filled sky as her companion, Eleanor pondered over the excitement of the evening. She had seen an outstanding show full of music and costumes and scenery. A handful of gentlemen had approached her, giving her full attention through words and actions alike. And she had had her childhood best friend beside her the entire time to experience it all firsthand.

This has to be one of the best nights I’ve ever had. She mused to herself.

Eleanor opened the small waist-level gate and closed it behind her quietly. She sauntered down the courtyard pathway, enjoying the last few moments of peace to herself. As she climbed the wide, veranda steps, the songs of the opera danced through her head in pleasant melodious sounds.

“There you are. I take it you were out and about again tonight?” Emmit Price’s bold question squashed the music of Eleanor’s sensational memory.

Eleanor slipped her ornate hat from her head.

“I was with Rona, Papa. She invited me to see the new opera at The Grand.” She gently removed her lace gloves from her long, delicate fingers. Eleanor lifted up a silent prayer, for control over her tongue and patience in her spirit.

“And just how much did this one cost me tonight, Eleanor?” Emmit crossed his arms over his chest.

“It didn’t cost you anything, Papa. Just like every time I go to The Grand with Rona.” She unbuttoned her overcoat, slipped it off, and hung it on the hook in the small foyer area. “And, I have told you before, I don’t pay for anything at The Grand. Mr. Howard is completely all right with me being there without having to give him a single coin.”

“It just isn’t right, Eleanor.” Emmit shoved his hands in his pockets. “We do not use people for things we want. And we do not take charity for things we can do without.” Emmit shook his peppered head as he crossed over to the hallway leading to his study. “I’ve told you these things, my girl. We are willing and able to do for ourselves. We always have been and we always will be.”

“Nelley, is that you?” Eleanor held her breath at the sound of her mother’s voice. “Come help your mamma in the kitchen.” Anastasia Price called out to her daughter from down the long hallway.

“I’m sorry you feel that way, Papa. But Rona is my dearest friend. And if she asks me to go with her to the opera, I cannot tell her no.” Eleanor stepped over to her father, rested her hands on his forearms and placed a loving a kiss on his cheek. “I’m not disobeying, Papa. I’m being true to who I am.” She stared into his aging eyes. “I love you, Papa. You are a dear, sweet man.” She gave his another kiss on his cheek before she made her way to her mother in the kitchen.

Eleanor knew her father was only trying to teach her a lesson with his lecture. But Eleanor was in no mood to stand there and listen. It was late and she had a pretty good idea just how much help her mother required of her in the kitchen. Saying another silent prayer, Eleanor stepped down the hallway and turned into the large open kitchen.

“How was the opera, Nelley?” Anastasia stood over a washbasin half-full of dirty dishes. Eleanor let out a small sigh as she prepared her mind and her spirit for what she was about to endure from her mother.

“It was outstanding, Mamma. Mr. Howard has hired an actor from New York City, and he is divine!” Eleanor spoke dreamily as she slipped on an apron over her evening dress.

“That’s lovely, dear.” Anastasia dabbed her perspiring brow with a soft handkerchief. Her weary tone was all too familiar to Eleanor. She had recognized her mother’s way of acknowledging without truly listening. Anastasia did such things when she was tired of having to do something for other people.

“Papa let Mrs. Morgan leave early again tonight?” Eleanor took her place at the sink while her mother eased down into a chair at the breakfast table. Eleanor knew she was stirring up a hornets’ nest with the question. But she also knew if she didn’t say anything, her mother’s attitude would sour even further. The situation was inevitable.

“Yes. Apparently, we cannot afford to keep our hired help past the six o’clock hour.” Eleanor noticed her mother’s voice raise up an octave in protest. It was the same tone she had experienced herself growing up as a child. Anastasia Price never scolded her daughter. Passive aggression was more her style, and Eleanor recognized the signs all too well.

“Now, Ana, darling! I’ve explained it to you once already. We must do everything we can do ourselves to keep from spending more than what’s allotted in our monthy budget.” Emmit marched through the kitchen door and stood, feet planted and with his arms crossed.

“But, Emmit. We cannot be so destitute that  we have to let our housekeeper leave before our evening meal is through!” Anastasia fanned her face with her hand as she continued to moan and groan.

“We are financially troubled enough, Ana. The less we spend money on, the better we will be. We don’t have the means to flaunt about and spend, spend, spend.” Emmit let out a sigh as he leaned against the kitchen door-frame. “Just because you don’t feel like cleaning up at the end of the day is no reason we should have to pay someone to do it for us. You are more than able to take care of this family, Ana. You are resourceful and thoughtful when you put your mind to it.”

“But, Emmit. That is what we hire help for. You wouldn’t want someone to tell you you couldn’t finish your work properly because they don’t want to pay you for it. Would you?”

“Oh, Ana, darling, you’re missing the point completely. I’m simply trying to do what I can to see that our family remains in the position we hold currently. You enjoy your life, don’t you? I see that you have what you need with the occasional want provided for too. I’m only asking for you to meet me in the middle, my love. I’m looking out for our best interests.”

Eleanor listened quietly as her parents continued their protests to one another. She finished the dishes and wiped down the counters and swept the floors free of dirt.

She couldn’t help but compare her night at the luxurious,  dream-filled opera to the uninspiring present in her parents’ kitchen. The stark difference stood out boldly against her memories of the opera’s grandeur. But one day, Eleanor told herself, reality will match my daydreams. That, I have no doubt.

Chapter Two

The warm Wyoming sun beamed brightly over the 800-acre ranch located in the one of the grandest valleys of the territory. The Triple W Ranch proved to be as successful in appearance as the stories that had traveled through the neighboring town of Mason, Wyoming. For decades, folks knew the Triple W was the place to seek out for quality product with honest service. Even neighboring states were aware of just how successful the cattle ranch became over the years.

Atop a painted Appaloosa stallion sat the ruggedly handsome owner of The Triple W Ranch. No stranger to life on the ranch himself, Lou Woods took his ownership seriously. As the third generation, Lou was the only son of MacArthur Woods. Under Mac’s tutelage, Lou learned the trade day-in, day-out. Mac had owned the Triple W before leaving it to Lou at his time of death. The same had been given to Mac when his father, the original owner and founder of the Triple W, had passed on as well. For three generations, a legacy had been created and still proved to be worthy of its origin with Lou’s hard work and long hours dedicated to the lifestyle.

Despite being alone and tied to his livelihood, Lou proved all the naysayers wrong. His father had died when Lou was at the ripe age of twenty-one years old. Other ranch owners and wranglers were adamant that the Triple W Ranch would fall apart within the first year of his ownership. But through his determination and because of his father’s constant watch over him whilst he was alive, Lou had shown that he had what it takes to be a successful ranch owner, despite his tender age. He made it perfectly clear that, even though men may stumble once in a while, with a faithful heart and a positive attitude, all things were possible with God at their side.

“What’s it lookin’ like, Elliot?” Lou adjusted his seat in his leather saddle as his longtime ranch manager and best friend rode up to him from the pastures.

“Looks like the boys got all the new herd rounded-up and in their assigned locations.” Elliot lifted his black Stetson from his head before setting it back down into place. “I don’t know where you found ‘em, but that’s one pretty lookin’ herd a’ cattle the boys just drove in.”

“Found a dealer outside of San Antonio who was eager to do some business this way.” Lou scanned his recent purchase as he continued to share the news. “Said he wants to get his cattle out West where the true ranchers are headin’ these days.”

“Well, I say keep them cattle drivin’ this way because we’re sure to expand if we keep gettin’ lot like that.”

Lou brushed his hand over his brown mustache as he pondered the idea. “I took a ride down the property line yesterday.”

Elliot shifted in his seat as he waited silently for his boss and best friend to process his thoughts.

“If we keep expanding like this, we’ve got to do better at clarifying where our lines start and eventually stop. I don’t want there to be any reason for someone to  accuse us of stealing their cattle. My family has worked too hard for our name to be dragged through the mud over cattleclaiming.”

“Ain’t nobody gonna question the Triple W brand, Lou. They’d be fools in a hand-basket if they did.” Elliot pulled out some jerky from his saddle-bag and tugged it between his yellowed teeth.

“You may be right, E. But I don’t want to leave our reputation to chance when we can add a little bit more effort into our daily procedures to keep that all from happening.”

“Whatcha got in mind, Lou?” Emmit wrestled his jerky around in his mouth, chewing the toughened meat with each movement.

“Well, I rode by Weber Myers’ yesterday after my morning perimeter check.” Lou glanced in Elliot’s direction, ready for the coming reply.

“Oh, man! Tell me the ol’ boy didn’t see you wanderin’ about his place.” Elliot let out a whooping sound, causing his horse to shift his steady stance for only a moment.

Everyone knew the history between Lou Woods and Weber Myers. The conflict dated back all the way to when they were teenage boys. There had been no fault that Lou could find in his classmate. Weber, on the other hand, carried a disgust for Lou that continued to fester over the years. In Lou’s eyes, everything had been a simple misunderstanding. That was all.

Lou scanned the horizon, ignoring the comment from his ranch foreman. He never tried to stir up strife with Weber. Nothing good ever came from it. And Lou didn’t want to speak against him behind his back, either. The fewer hard feelings, the better. “He’s setting up some decent fence lines along his property. Definitely something to give a thought to.”

Lou had always been a confident man, ever since he found his personality. As a child, he never feared and he never hesitated. As a teenager, he worked right alongside his father. He learned anything and everything he could for the cattle business.

Lou never felt intimidated by the other ranchers in the surrounding areas. His father had managed to do the same. It never seemed to be the right thing to do. Instead, he did his best to learn from them and apply it to his own ranch. In turn, giving him more opportunities for success and expansion. Both men had acquired their reputable good standings with the fellow ranchers and cattlemen.

“Fencing ‘em in is a pretty good idea, Lou. Our numbers are gettin’ too great for us to keep track of ‘em all. Once we get the supplies we need, I’ll get the boys started on it right away.”

Lou nodded in agreement. “Sounds about right, Elliot. I’ll head on into the lumberyard and see what kind of deal I can make. Depending on the number of fields we got, I’m sure Sam‘ll be itching to sell at a good price.”

“All right, Lou. I’ll get the boys countin’ out the lines so we’ll be ready when the lumber makes it way here.”

Lou nodded his Stetson-covered head and dug his heels into the flanks of his horse, as he steered him back towards the main house. As he always did when focused on business, Lou pictured in his mind every piece of lumber and wire and nail and support beams he would need to create a lasting fence line. It was simply another qualified characteristic of the successful livestock dealer. He had a mind for business that never seemed to let him down when it mattered the most.

Lou continued to dwell on the supplies he needed as he made his way to the lumberyard. Pitts and Sons’ Lumber Mill was one of Lou’s favorite places to be. He loved the smell of fresh-cut wood. He enjoyed the comradery he carried with the workers and the patrons he’d known most of his life growing up as a boy at his father’s side. But most of all, he looked up to his father’s oldest and dearest friend, Samuel Pitts, owner and founder of the lumber mill.

“Oh-ho! There’s my boy! I thought you’d forgotten about me all the way out here in no-man’s-land.”

The elderly gentleman embraced the five-foot-ten man who suddenly felt like he was a kid again. In an instant, Lou was a child standing on his tiptoes to watch the trees turn into boards and sawdust. Not very often did Lou get the opportunity to embrace his childhood since taking over the ranch. But moments like the present brought it all back in a wave of fond memories.

“My apologies, Sam. The W’s taking most of my time these past months. Been working on a deal with a guy out of Texas who finally sent me a good herd of stock. Took the drovers nearly a week and a half to get all five hundred of ‘em here in one go.”

“Five hundred!” Sam shook his head in amazement. Leaning on a post, Sam narrowed his eyes in curiosity. “How’re you doin’ it, Son? Tell me, what’s your secret?”

Lou shrugged his broad shoulders. “It’s not me, Sam. Honest. It’s been the Good Lord the whole way through. His faithfulness to me is undeniable. He’s been blessing me with wranglers and drovers and ranch hands with more experience than I’ve ever seen. And they don’t expect me to pay them more than a decent wage. Of course, I give them more than what they deserve, being only the right thing to do.” Lou shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’m tellin’ you, Sam. I’ve got to give all the glory to God. Because if I was doing it all on my own, I’d be flat on my face in the mud with nothing to show for it but a dirty shirt and pants to boot.”

“I understand it one hundred percent.” Sam looked around him at the large structure and the vast number of workers and patrons. “The Lord’s been good to me too, Lou. And I’m glad Edmund is here to learn the business just like you learned from your Pa. The blessings will keep flowing as long as we’re faithful in our ways as God has commanded us to.”

Lou nodded his head in full understanding. He felt truly blessed to have had a father with such strong, Christian beliefs. Lou knew if it hadn’t been for Mac’s faith in God and his teaching it to Lou, the Triple W would have been in a much lesser manner.

A loud ruckus pulled Lou out of his daydreaming thoughts. He turned to the source of commotion only to find an exquisite young woman standing extremely out of place in the middle of a large group of men.

Still staring into the crowd, Lou pointed his finger in the air towards the lumber mill owner. “Hang on a sec, Sam. I got a proposition for you. One you would be crazy to pass up by the way. But I’ve got to check on something first.”

Sam waved his hand in a carefree fashion. “You go on ahead, Lou. I’ll be around when you’re ready.”

Lou turned his head with a smile. “Thanks, Sam. I’ll only be a minute.” He nodded before turning on his heels and headed straight towards the gathering.

As Lou drew closer to the woman, he heard her steady, confident voice arguing with a burly, beast of a  millworker. He shook his head realizing just who she’d decided to go up against. Roscoe Pinking was the toughest man around Mason. And everyone knew the fuse on his temper was way too short, and was always lit.

“Excuse me sir, but I’ve given you no reason to treat me with such disrespect. I’m simply asking you for your help to get me the supplies I need.”

“Look, girl. This ain’t no place for you and this ain’t no place for anything you need. Why don’t you go on back home and tinker on your pie-ana or something?”

The woman tilted her head in pride as she clutched her pocket purse in her hand. “It’s called a piano, sir. And I don’t tinker, whatever that’s supposed to mean.” She lifted her nose to the air once more, trying to stay true to her image of assured confidence. “Now, please get me what I need so I can be on my way.”

Lou watched Roscoe’s chest swell up with frustration. He had seen the man do it before when a snot-nose kid kept pestering him for some tobacco. Not wanting to see the results of Roscoe’s temper explosion, Lou stepped up beside the small, very attractive woman at once and slapped a hand on Roscoe’s wide, thick shoulder.

“Hello there, Roscoe! Why don’t you go take a breather? I believe Sam’s got some stacks in the back he needs you to set aside for me.” The bushy brows of Roscoe furrowed in confusion as Lou did his best to divert his attention. “The boys‘ll be expectin’ a couple wagons filled with posts and beams. How bout you get them started for me, eh?”

Roscoe snorted through his nose before shrugging off Lou’s hand. “Yeah, okay. I’ll see what I can dig up for ye’.”

“That’s a good man, Roscoe! Much obliged, much obliged.” Lou patted the lumber mill worker’s back once more as he headed for the yard of pre-cut lumber.

Feeling confident in his actions, Lou turned his attention back to the stunning female who stood only a few feet away from him. As he glanced down into her face, the round, blue eyes of the woman pierced a hole straight through him. But he would rather have her stare a million times over deep into his own soul, than to have seen Roscoe Picking react insensibly to the somewhat oblivious woman.

“I beg your pardon, sir. But I was trying to get that gentleman to help me.” She tilted her head, setting her ornate hat ever so slightly to one side of her crown.

Lou gave her a small grin. “First of all, I’ve never known Roscoe Picking to be a gentleman ever in all my days. And second,” Lou leaned down and whispered in jest.  “this ain’t the best place for you to be by yourself Little Lady.”

Lou watched as her little button nose went straight up, back into the air. “First of all, who are you to tell me what is and isn’t best? I need wood for a painting canvas frame. She pointed her lacey glove-covered finger towards the service counter. “This is the place to order wood.” A frustrated sigh escaped her rosy pursed lips. “I didn’t think it was required for me to have a chaperone to come with me to a lumberyard just to order some wood.”

Lou shoved his hands into his back pockets as he leaned against a support beam. “I’m just sayin’, the lumber yard ain’t no place for a lady. Especially one as fancy and dolled up as yourself.” Lou pushed on the tip of his Stetson, lifting it slightly up away from his eyes. “Maybe you ought a go back and send your pa or a brother to come and get the wood pieces for you.” He sent a soft wink in her direction. “You wouldn’t wanna get that pretty dress all ruined with the sawdust.”

The woman narrowed her captivating blue eyes at him as her cheeks faded into a crimson shade. For a moment, Lou held onto her gaze without even thinking. “I think I’ve had just about enough of this place and more than enough of you.” She folded up her piece of parchment which contained her needed supplies and tucked it into her pocket purse clutched in her hands. “I’ll take my business to Cheyenne. Maybe there I can find someone civilized and decent enough to speak to. Unlike the riffraff hanging about this place.”

Lou snapped out of his gaze at the sound of the woman’s sharp tone. He stood up straight and removed his wide-brimmed gray hat from his shaggy brown hair.

“Hang on a sec, Miss. I didn’t mean to give you disrespect.” Lou ran his fingers through his hair, afraid he had crossed the line accidentally. “I was just foolin’ around with ya. It wasn’t anything personal. Honest. That’s just the kinda stuff to expect when ye’ come in a place like this.”

As Lou spun his hat in his hands by the brim, he watched her delicate, furrowed brows relax momentarily.

“My name is Lou Woods. And this is Sam’s place.” Lou shook his head in affirmation. “He’s got the best wood this side a’ Texas. You won’t find anything of better value. Not in Cheyenne, I can promise you that.”

She nodded her bonnet-covered head and smoothed out her matching skirts. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Woods. I’m Eleanor Price.”

“Good afternoon, Miss Price.” Lou stepped closer to bridge the awkward gap between them. He lowered his voice to a sincere tone. “Please forgive my lack of manners and forgive this lot around here. We don’t know any better when we’re all hanging around together.”

Eleanor tipped her softly pointed chin down as she shifted her eyes to the side. “It’s quite all right, Mr. Woods.” She patted her knot of hair at the nape of her neck. “I will forgive all if you could please have one of these men get the pieces I need ordered so I can be on my way. I had no plans of staying at the lumber mill all day long.”

Lou waved a hand at Edmund, who stood a few feet away looking over a large ledge atop a thick podium. “Hey, Edmund! Got an order for ya.” Standing tall and lean and confident, Lou glanced back down at Eleanor, who gaped at him curiously. “Edmund’s dad runs this place. I guess you could say he’s the ‘son’ in ‘Pitts and Son’s Lumber Mill’.” Lou nodded towards Edmund in acknowledgment as he walked to them. “He’s the next generation to take over. A gentleman around here if I ever saw one.”

Eleanor’s demeanor relaxed as Lou beamed her a carefree smile. He could not get over how extraordinarily beautiful she was. But he also could not understand why on earth the woman would ever come to a place like the lumber yard all on her own. She had no fear. She knew exactly what she wanted. And she knew how to get what she wanted without using her feminine charm to get it.

There is definitely something different about this one.


“To Heal a Rancher’s Broken Heart” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Eleanor Price is single, sought after and not in a hurry to get married. Coming from a well-off family, she is lucky enough to be able to enjoy her freedom. If she is to be tied to a man, it cannot be to someone boring. When she meets a handsome stranger at the lumber yard one day she is intrigued. As she gets to know him better, she is surprised to realise he might be exactly who she has been hoping for all along. But will she be brave enough to stand up for her feelings against her mother’s objections? Can she be certain she can count on him?

Lou Woods has been in charge of his ranch since his father passed away years ago. Being a hardworking, straightforward and well-liked man, he has been alone since the love of his life tragically passed away when he was younger. Devastated and heartbroken, he hasn’t let anyone get closer ever since. When he unexpectedly spots a beautiful young woman arguing with a mill worker, he is immediately captivated, and can’t help but be drawn to her. But is it finally the right time to open up his broken heart to someone new after all these years of heartbreak?

With family interfering and life struggles threatening everything, their relationship may be over before it even starts. Will he be able to bring the missing excitement and spark into her life and win her love? Will she be able to sooth the pain from his past and heal his broken heart? Or will an old rival looking to settle a grudge manage to ruin everything and keep them apart forever?

“To Heal a Rancher’s Broken Heart” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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