Cowboy's Baby [NOOK Book]

Overview



Kira lit up Trace McKane's life when she said, "I do"— but when no baby McKanes came, they lost sight of their precious bond.

Now Trace is sleeping in the bunkhouse. But when their name reaches the top of the adoption list, he returns to stand firm and strong by his ...
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Cowboy's Baby

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Overview



Kira lit up Trace McKane's life when she said, "I do"— but when no baby McKanes came, they lost sight of their precious bond.

Now Trace is sleeping in the bunkhouse. But when their name reaches the top of the adoption list, he returns to stand firm and strong by his brave, beautiful wife's side. Kira is touched by how far Trace will go to make her dreams come true. Looking up at her husband as if for the first time, she realizes she has all the family she needs.

It's then that she's given a miracle….

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426835735
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Series: Baby on Board, #4105
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 204,259
  • File size: 131 KB

Meet the Author

One of Patricia Thayer’s favourite things about writing is the research. She enjoys travelling to different parts of the country and meeting people because it adds so much flavour to her books. She has even been to Texas to learn about ranching from a 90-year-old cowboy! Patricia has authored over thirty books and has been nominated for both the National Reader’s Choice Award and the prestigious RITA award. Patricia also volunteers for the Grandparent Autism Network.

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Read an Excerpt

I need you to come back home."

Trace McKane's grip tightened on the pitchfork as he spread fresh straw around Black Thunder's stall. He'd waited two long months to hear his wife say those words. The only problem was she didn't exactly sound sincere, and too many harsh words had passed between them to repair the damage so casually.

"I can't see how that's going to change anything." He continued to cover the floor as if Kira's presence hadn't affected him at all. But it had. He'd give up the family's Colorado ranch to have things back like they were before their problems started. And from the look of things lately, that might not be too far from the truth.

"Trace, please, just hear me out," she said.

He stopped his chores and finally looked at her. "Why, Kira? Haven't we said enough?" He straightened and tipped his hat back off his forehead. This was the first time he'd chanced a close up look at his wife since he'd moved out. She'd kept her distance, and so had he.

She placed her hands on her hips. "Oh, you made your feelings perfectly clear. Things got rough so you walked out, without even trying to work things out."

"We were getting nowhere."

Kira Hyatt McKane was a natural beauty with curly wheat-blond hair that hung to her shoulders. She had an oval face, with a scattering of freckles across a straight nose and full, pouty lips. Her large brown eyes locked with his, causing his pulse to shoot into overdrive.

He wasn't going to take the bait and fight with her. "It's better I moved into the bunkhouse," he told her. He hated that they couldn't make their marriage work.

Yeah, he'd been running away. He'd spent a lot of time moving the herd to a higher pasture forthe approaching summer. Many of those nights he'd slept under the stars, anything to keep from facing his lonely bunk. To keep from thinking about how he couldn't— no matter how much he loved Kira—make his marriage work.

"We both needed a breather."

God knew he'd missed her. The torture went on as his gaze moved over her navy T-shirt and the faded jeans that hugged her curves. Shapely hips and legs that he'd touched and caressed so often that he knew where every freckle was hidden. He also knew exactly where to touch to bring her pleasure.

He glanced away. Don't go there. That was past history. Their future together was bleak. He never thought he was a greedy man. He'd only wanted a traditional marriage; a wife to come home to and children to carry on the legacy of the ranch.

That had been when the trouble started, when their marriage began to crumble and he couldn't do anything to stop it.

"Spring is a busy time," he told her. Especially this year since he had that payment due to his half brother, Jarrett. And it didn't look like there was much chance he could come up with the money.

Kira shook her head. "I know, Trace." She sighed. "And turning away from our problems doesn't help."

He cursed. "Yes, Kira, we have problems, but face it, lately we've been unable to come to terms with things. And I'm tired of beating my head against a wall." When he saw tears form in her eyes, he wanted to kick himself.

"I never meant for it to be this way."

He shrugged. The last thing he wanted was to argue. In the months before their separation that was all they'd done. Then they'd stopped talking altogether. What broke his heart was knowing he hadn't been able to give her what she needed.

"I just wanted us to be a real family," she added in a whispered voice.

"You had a funny way of showing it." He'd needed her to stand by him, and help him with his struggles with the ranch, but she was obsessed with her own problems.

Her eyes filled with tears. "There might have been a solution to help us both."

How many times had they tried? Even counseling, with some stranger listening to every way he'd failed his wife. He'd done about everything he could think of to make their marriage work. "How? More counseling?"

Kira shook her head. "I never should have asked you to go to counseling. I'm the one who's got the problem," she said, her voice husky with emotion. "I'm the one who needs to deal with things."

"As long as you feel that way, then you don't need me around."

Kira stepped closer and began to speak, but stopped. With a swallow, she tried again. "But, Trace, I do need you. I need you to stay with me another six months so I can have a baby, then you can have your divorce."

Trace glared at her. "What the hell?"

So finally she'd gotten his attention.

The first moment she'd seen Trace McKane, Kira knew for sure that he was the perfect man for her. That hadn't changed. Tall and lean, the handsome cowboy had gained his muscular build from years of working the McKane's Cattle Ranch. He had brown hair that always hung too long, brushing his shirt collar. His green-gray eyes were deep-set and when he looked at her she felt he could see into her soul. At first that had intrigued her, now it frightened her. The past months apart told her she didn't want to face a future without Trace. He was the one person she'd allowed to get close when she'd come to Winchester Ridge, Colorado, to take a guidance counselor job at the high school.

But there were some secrets she could never share… with anyone.

Now it was too late to do anything to save their marriage. "We received a letter today," she said, pulling the folded envelope out of her pocket. "It's from the adoption agency." Her voice trembled. "We've passed another screening for a baby."

Trace's eyes narrowed, then he threw his head back and laughed. "It's a joke, right?"

She didn't expect this reaction. "No."

"So for months we've been giving everyone the impression that we're the perfect couple and acceptable parents. Then we break up and we get the okay."

Kira squared her shoulders and looked him in the eye.

"No one knows you moved out, and I don't want anyone to. Not yet. Not until we receive a baby."

He froze, his jaw clenched. "If you want the divorce so bad, then adopt as a single parent." He tossed the pitchfork against the railing and marched out of the stall.

Kira hurried after him. "Trace, wait. Just hear me out." His fast pace had her nearly running to keep up. "We'll both get what we want. I'll have a baby, and you'll be free to marry someone who can give you what you want… children."

He stopped abruptly. "You have everything figured out, don't you?"

She shrugged, trying to hide her pain, wishing he'd say he'd stay with her and together they'd raise the baby. "No, but I know you want your own children. I can't give you that."

His eyes flashed his pain. "Yeah, I wanted a child— with you. But it didn't happen, and I wasn't enough for you." Without waiting for another word, he started out of the barn, leaving her in shock.

"It wouldn't be enough for you, Trace," Rushing after him, she caught up to him again on the small porch of the bunkhouse. "I loved you and our life together." She meant it. Her life on the ranch with Trace had been perfect. For a while. Then her dream had slowly unraveled. It seemed as if God were punishing her for her past. She didn't want Trace to be punished because of her. That's the reason she had to put an end to this.

She forced away the thought. "Trace, I have a chance for a child… maybe my only chance. You can remarry and have a dozen children. So if you could be happier without me, I'm willing to let you go."

Trace closed his eyes and gripped the wooden post. He didn't know if he could handle this again. Their marriage had gone through so much turmoil while they'd tried several procedures to be able to conceive a baby. Toward the end, he couldn't take the look on her face every time they failed, until finally, the pressure drove her from him. He might have been the one who'd moved out of the house, but emotionally Kira had left him long before that.

Now, after long weeks of separation, he'd become reconciled to losing her. Then her sudden appearance today made him ache with want and need. But she was here only because of her need for a child, and to end their marriage.

"Do you honestly think we can pull this off? The last words we spoke to each other weren't exactly loving."

"The pressure is off now," she said. "We just have to go through the motions of being a couple. I've accepted that I may never conceive a baby, but I can still have a child." She held out the letter. "The agency says we've met their requirements and we can move on to the next step."

How could he forget the classes, the long interviews, the background checks. They'd even been fingerprinted. He glanced from the paper in her hand to the hopeful look on her face. He felt the familiar tug in his chest.

"They'll send someone out for a home study. To visit with us and see our home."

"So what do you want me to do? Play the loving husband?"

She rested her hand on his arm, her dark eyes pleading. "Would that be so hard?"

Damn, she didn't play fair and he had trouble denying her anything. "I don't think we can pull it off, Kira. Not where we are right now."

She paused. "It's only for about six months. That's how long it takes for the adoption to be final." She looked sad. "Is it that hard to pretend you love me?"

The next evening, seated at the kitchen table at the house, Kira tried to finish the end-of-the-year paperwork, but her mind kept wandering back to Trace.

"What else is new?" she grumbled as she got up and went to the coffeemaker. After refilling her mug, she walked to the window and stared out at the breathtaking view of the Roan Plateau. She'd come to love this place. So different from the busy streets of Denver.

Five years ago she'd come to Winchester Ridge to start a new life. With her new college degree in hand, she'd come to interview for a teaching position at the high school. She'd gotten the job and needed a place to live.

The town's real estate broker, Jarrett McKane, had shown her an apartment, then taken her to lunch. At the local café, they'd run into his younger brother, Trace.

It had been an instant attraction. After that she'd accepted a few more dates from Jarrett in the hope of running into Trace.

Finally two weeks later, the rugged rancher showed up at school and asked her out. It seemed like forever before he kissed her, but it had been well worth the wait. She closed her eyes, remembering his slow hands skimming over her, softly caressing her skin.

Trace's kisses were lethal. She remembered each touch of his lips against her heated flesh. How hungry he'd made her, stirring her desire. Suddenly warmth ran down her spine settling low in her stomach. Her eyes shot open as she groaned in frustration.

"Oh God," she whispered as she sank against the counter, her body aching. Never in her life had anyone made her feel the way Trace McKane had. After her parents' automobile accident and death, she'd been alone for a lot of years. She'd thought she'd finally found a home, a place where she could belong.

Yesterday, she'd wanted to beg Trace to come home, but her own pain and hurt prevented it. She knew the past few months she'd been horrible to live with. But how could any man understand the anguish she'd gone through, not just with the pain of her disease, but knowing she hadn't been able to conceive a baby?

She glanced back through the window, seeing the light on in the bunkhouse. "Oh, Trace, would you have loved me if you knew the truth about me?"

The past flooded back. She tried to push it away, but it always hovered close enough to force her to remember, taking the brightness away from any happiness she tried to grasp. Maybe the guilt had been what drove her, caused her to keep pushing Trace away.

The familiar sadness blanketed her. With each passing month her fertility problems had loomed ever darker. With the endometriosis, her chances diminished daily until the day would come when she'd probably need more surgery to relieve her of the recurring scar tissue.

But with the passing of time, her dreams seemed to be fading anyway, along with her marriage.

The sound of the back door opening caught Kira's attention. Living this far out in the country, she knew it could only be Jonah Calhoun, the ranch foreman. Or Trace. Her heart raced as she waited, and her hopes were rewarded when her husband walked into the kitchen.

She tried to breathe but it was difficult. Trace McKane still affected her in the same way he had when she'd first met him. It was obvious he had just showered and put on a fresh shirt and jeans. Hope spread through her as she realized he might have done it for her.

"Hi," she managed. "Would you like a cup of coffee?"

He nodded. "I could use one." He walked to the counter and took the steaming mug she offered. Then Kira picked up her cup and started for the table.

"I thought caffeine was bad for your condition," he said.

She was touched that he remembered. "I usually don't drink it, but tonight I have work to finish. I need all the help I can get to stay alert."

"I guess school is getting out soon. So it looks like it's going to be a busy time for both of us." He drank from his cup, then studied her. She felt the heat of his silver gaze spread over her, warming her. She hated they were talking so politely, when she desperately wanted him to take her into his arms and tell her he wanted to move back permanently to be her husband and father to her baby.

He glanced away. "Cal wants to know if you're still planning the senior roundup to be here this year."

She nodded. "I hope to. The kids have been talking about it for weeks. That is, if it's okay with you?"

He shrugged. "Not a problem. Cal just wants a head count so we'll know how many hands we need to hire."

Trace leaned against the counter, trying to relax. Impossible. Since his dad's death three years ago, he'd had to run the cattle operation mostly on his own.

"Do you have a date set for the roundup?" she asked.

"In two weeks.

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