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Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (Travers Brothers Series #1)

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (Travers Brothers Series #1)

4.0 621
by Rita Hestand

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When Emma Smith's cousin died, Emma was thrown into instant motherhood as she left her baby to her in a will. But how strong was the will, how legal since the father was still alive and the grandparents were apparently interested? So Emma fled with Sammie Jo to West Texas, to the wide open spaces.

She hadn't been straight with her new boss, Deke Travers, but


When Emma Smith's cousin died, Emma was thrown into instant motherhood as she left her baby to her in a will. But how strong was the will, how legal since the father was still alive and the grandparents were apparently interested? So Emma fled with Sammie Jo to West Texas, to the wide open spaces.

She hadn't been straight with her new boss, Deke Travers, but he hadn't given her much chance to explain either. He needed a cook and housekeeper at his 4 Bar None Ranch, and she needed a place to hide out with her daughter.

Now trapped in her own lies and uncertainties, Emma was running in fear of losing her baby.

Deke Travers had problems of his own. He had to find a way to settle his restless brothers down and get with the business of ranching. As far as he could see, there was only one way to do it. He'd have to marry them off to country gals. And Emma was a good start in that direction...

Trouble was every time he looked into those whiskey brown eyes of hers, he forgot all about his plan to marry her off to his brother.

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Rita Hestand
Publication date:
Travers Brothers Series , #1
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A horn blared, metal crashed, shattering Emma Smith's concentration and jolting her against the steering wheel. She scrambled out of her truck, only to find a tall stranger with an accusing finger pointed straight at her. His flashlight and the blinding rain made it impossible to see him clearly.

"Are you crazy or something, lady? Didn't you see me coming?"

When she didn't answer, he rattled on. "Are you hurt, is your truck damaged?" The man demanded, oblivious to the raging spring storm. His voice was edged with concern and withheld anger.

A stupid question if there ever was one. No one could see in this kind of a storm.

Momentarily blinded by his flashlight, all she could see now was a tall, broad- shouldered, narrow-hipped dark shadow with a Stetson, and a condescending voice. A cowboy, she should have known. Just her luck.

"In case you hadn't noticed," she said, shaking with indignation, "it's pouring cats and dogs out here. I couldn't see the hood of my own truck much less yours. I couldn't see you coming around that bend in the road."

Perhaps he deserved an apology at the very least, but Emma didn't feel much like apologizing to a man with a finger in her face. She wished he'd put that flashlight away.

Her hand shielded her eyes from the glare.

Maybe it was better if she didn't see him. When he suddenly clammed up, and stared so long and hard, Emma glanced at herself.

Oh God, in her hurry to get to the store for milk, she had slipped on that ridiculous t-shirt her brothers had given her for her last birthday. 'I'm over 21 and up for grabs!' Not to mention the t-shirt now clung to her like a second skin. She felt a hot blush bloomon her cheeks.


She hadn't planned on getting out in this mess in the middle of the night, but the baby needed milk, she had no choice. Thank God Bertha had enough sense to insist the baby stay with her. Just the thought of the baby being with her during the accident made her shudder.

The fact that she didn't have a bra on only compounded her misery. But dammit it was too late to worry over something that trivial.

"I hope you have insurance, 'cause I don't." She flailed her voice at him.

"Well that figures!" he boomed. He didn't sound too surprised though.

Probably figured her for a real airhead.

He flashed the light first at his truck, then hers. A headlight dangled from his grill. She heard him draw breath, as though steadying his next outburst. Her truck was none the worse for wear.

Emma shook, she didn't want to, but she was cold, angry, and a tad put out by this ogler. What had happened to good old fashioned manners?

"Look, I'll be glad--"

"Isn't that Bertha Martin's old truck?" The stranger interrupted flashing his light toward her truck again.

"It was. I just bought it. You know Bertha?"

"Sure, everyone around here knows Bertha," he said gruffly then cast her another glance. "But she wouldn't sell it. It belonged to her dead husband."

"I don't know anything about her dead husband, but she did sell it to me. Just yesterday as a matter of fact. I haven't even had the title changed yet, but I intend to."

Now the light was back on her face.

"What's your name?"

"Emma Smith."

He made some kind of disgusted grunt and half turned away, then back to her. "Okay, this isn't getting us anywhere so let's get back to our problem. Now what are you going to do about this to make it right?"

"Well naturally I'll pay for it."

"Sure you will," came his condescending voice again. "Okay, let's get this out of the way and be done with it. This isn't the kind of weather to be exchanging trivialities. Let's just exchange names and addresses. You can send me the money."

"You'd trust me?"

"Not exactly, first I'd like to see a little identification."

He moved closer, and she backed up, within arms length of him. Without thought she reached out and put her hand on his chest to stay him. As though he might come closer. She hadn't thought touching a stranger could affect her in any way, but the instant her hand came in contact with warm flesh, all her senses came alive. As though that touch made her conscious of him being a man.

"Look cowboy," she said gulping and trying to sound sophisticated but knew she hadn't come off that good. "I don't have insurance, I'll admit that much. But this ought to cover it." She whipped out a small wad of bills from her front jean pocket and thrust them into his big warm hand. "Now leave me alone, will ya?"

She turned away to escape him when she heard his voice lower to a husky note.

"Ma'am a little identification and an apology would have been enough." The cowboy's words followed her to her truck door. She glanced at the ominous shadow in the rain. The money had fallen from his hands to the ground and he hadn't even bothered to pick it up. Her full paycheck, and he hadn't bothered to pick it up.

"I pay for my mistakes mister."

"I'll take that as an apology, then."

Before he had time to move any closer, she slammed the truck door, jerked it in reverse and took off, spewing mud and water all over his truck in the process. She drove at least two miles down the road, glancing in her rear-view mirror as she went. The cowboy hadn't moved.


Deke Travers moved his hand over his jaw as he stared at the money at his feet. Damn, the woman put him in one hellova awkward position. She'd paid for the accident so to speak, but he was nearly certain she'd stolen Bertha Martin old pickup. He sensed a desperation in this little gal. But he couldn't really see her as a thief. Still it looked like she had stolen the damn truck. He had no choice.

Even if she was the prettiest thing he'd seen in a long time. He had to forget those perfect pouting breasts, and the gentle sway of her hips. Somehow.

He spent the entire trip back to the ranch berating himself for what he was about to do. But Bertha Martin was a friend and he had no choice. He had to report this to the police.

He'd have bet his last dollar the woman was no thief. Something about the look in her face told him that much. The way she faced him, open and direct. The way she threw that money

meant she had to be running from something though. But what?

She hadn't shown him any ID and he certainly didn't buy that name she gave him. Emma Smith. A real phony. Yep, he'd probably been took in this time. The Sheriff would laugh at him for that one.


Emma shook all the way into town. She prayed the little store would be open so she could be on her way.

The lights were just going out as she opened the old screen door to the store, "Mrs. Wharton, could I just get some milk, please?"

"Why sure honey. What are you doing out this late at night?" The woman turned the light on again and opened the door for her.

"I--I, I was making a pie for the cafe tomorrow and I ran out of milk."

"Well land sakes why you baking' so late, hon?"

"I guess I'm a night owl. Bertha reminded me the store would close soon."

"I heard you were staying' with Bertha. That's real nice, she gets kinda lonely stuck out there in the middle of nowhere. But you know when her husband died she wouldn't budge from that place. You'd think with the cafe bein' in town she'd move a little closer," Mrs. Wharton was saying.

"It's hard to move away from your home, I guess."

The woman glanced at Emma as she put the milk on the counter and dug change out of her pocket. Damn, she didn't have enough money left to pay for the milk. She shifted her weight and glanced up at the woman.

Mrs. Wharton looked at her a little funny, then smiled.

"You're only a dime short, honey. Don't fret. I'll stop by for some coffee, how's that?"

"Thank you, Mrs. Wharton, I'm sorry."

"It's only a dime, Emma. Don't fret about it. We're all glad to have you here. We don't get many young folks these days."

"Thanks Mrs. Wharton."

Emma practically ran back to her truck. She laid her head on the steering wheel and felt a hot tear sting her eye. She wouldn't cry. She just wouldn't. Things would get better. They had to. But that thought died the moment she pulled into the old gravel drive at Bertha's place. The Sheriff's car was there, his lights flashing.

Dear God, he had come to take the baby away from her!

Meet the Author

I've been kind of long winded on here and I want to change that. LOOK, I changed my prices, right now most books are $2.99. Some are $1.99 and a few are .99. The boxsets have remained the same and print books at Createspace are the same. But you should enjoy the cut especially if you want any of the older books. The Travers Brothers have been reduced so if you don't have them all grab them. I don't know how long this price will last. Some covers have been revamped. If you read my books, you know I like to update a lot of my covers. All the Western Serial Killer books have new covers. And more to come on those too. Mail Order Nanny has a New cover. Sweeter Than Wine has a new cover, and Along Came Love has a new cover. I love some feedback on whether you like the Travers Brothers Covers. You can e-mail me at ritahestand@gmail.com Check out my children's books and a few of my adult stories are at Audible.com. Ask No Tomorrows, Good Day for a Hanging, not to mention some novellas I wrote. My print books are at Createspace.com. That's all the news for now. Stay tuned though! Blessing to all! Other places to see my books https://rpjhestand.wix.com/ritaphestand https://www.fantasticfiction.com/h/rita-hestand/ https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/rita-hestand/id365799219?mt=11 www.scriptsforschools.com/rita-hestand https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/search?query=rita%20hestand&fcsearchfield=author

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Chief Cook and Bottle Washer 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 621 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A woman running from her cousins family believing they will take the baby away ends up working as a cook in the local diner. The old cook comes back and the woman was going to loose her job. Instead a handsome rancher comes to the rescue and hires her on as the cook and housekeeper. There is a lot that needs to be said, but things just keep getting in the way for the truth to come out. The plan is for the woman to come to the ranch, fall in love with one of the brothers and keep the family together. But what the handsome rancher doesn't know is that his family is looking for him to be the one falling in love. A great story! I'll be looking for the rest of this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good story that keeps you hooked until the end. Great characters that catch your heart.
sls126 More than 1 year ago
RoeIL More than 1 year ago
Simple yet predictable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sweet, clean, cowboy romance. A bit difficult to read due to grammar and punctuation errors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like clean romance, this is the book.
queendigi More than 1 year ago
I loved the characters, plot, and story.
Cristina Mandeville More than 1 year ago
Love it worth reading worth my time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Characters and plot better than many other romance stories. Can't buy into Emma's fears about telling the truth about the baby....seem a bit overwraught. Sex hinted at without any lurid detail.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love westerns with exciting stories and christian romances.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really a nice western romance. No sex, just some talk about it. Really enjoyed all the character's in this story. Wish there was an epilogue though. ( ljb)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very southern, with a family you can*t help but to want to be part of. Somewhere between the flirtation and falling in love, the plot sort of lost me. It was a rough transition there. Very PG, suitable for most.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could have benefitted from and editor. Lots of grammatical and punctuation errors. Difficult transitioning and some silly reasons behind actions. It wasnt a complete flop, however.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. The plot was believeable, the characters honest and the writting well done. Finally a strong lead male character who isn't a jerk, or ridiculously wealthly, or deeply damaged. The female lead has balanced strengths and weaknesses. They actually make sense together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't believe this is a free book. It was so cute and sweet. I loved it. It's a keeper to read again.
Dana Swan More than 1 year ago
After reading this book I had to have more there are three more books. I cannot get enought of this family. It puts romance in my heart. Each brother has a book. Love that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looking forward to the rest of the series. Very well wriitten and loved the characters in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked reading this book. It is not to often you come across a book that still teaches the values of morals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I adored this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an excellant book! I enjoyed it alot. I couldnt put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cjersin6 More than 1 year ago
great story good drama worth reading
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