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Having the Cowboy's Baby [NOOK Book]

Overview


Sweeter than the sugarcane on her father's Louisiana plantation, Anne-Marie Duveuil had been taught to avoid cowboys like Cordero Sanchez at all costs. But something about the handsome Texas horseman tempted her to take a crazy risk. Now she could never forget him. Because she was carrying his baby….

Cordero had seen too much heartache in his life, and couldn't just walk out on Anne-Marie when she was going to have his child. Yet, settling down wasn't in his game plan. Still, ...

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Having the Cowboy's Baby

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Overview


Sweeter than the sugarcane on her father's Louisiana plantation, Anne-Marie Duveuil had been taught to avoid cowboys like Cordero Sanchez at all costs. But something about the handsome Texas horseman tempted her to take a crazy risk. Now she could never forget him. Because she was carrying his baby….

Cordero had seen too much heartache in his life, and couldn't just walk out on Anne-Marie when she was going to have his child. Yet, settling down wasn't in his game plan. Still, life was a long and lonely road to nowhere without a woman—and a place a man could call home.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459255616
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/16/2013
  • Series: Cowboy at Heart
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 195,983
  • File size: 769 KB

Meet the Author


The author of over seventy-five titles for Harlequin, Stella Bagwell writes about familes, the West, strong, silent men of honor and the women who love them. She credits her loyal readers and hopes her stories have brightened their lives in some small way. A cowgirl through and through, she recently learned how to rope a steer. Her days begin and end helping her husband on their south Texas ranch. In between she works on her next tale of love. Contact her at stellabagwell@gmail.com


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Read an Excerpt

Oh God, don't let it happen again.

Anne-Marie Duveuil refused to fall under the spell of a man like Cordero Sanchez. She'd already had her life's plan of entering a convent shattered by one sexy man. To let another one turn her head would be worse than a sin, it would be ruination.

She'd never met anyone with such rakish features or such a sexual presence. His hair was crow-black and waved to the back of his neck in a length that was far too long to be neat. But then, neat wouldn't match a man like him, she decided. He was a rebel and a rounder. Even though he'd not said one word out of place since he'd arrived, she could see trouble all over his handsome face and long lean body. And she desperately wished that anyone other than this man had delivered her father's newly acquired horses to Cane's Landing.

A few minutes ago Anne-Marie had shown her guest into the parlor for refreshments. After all, he'd traveled a long distance to get here and her mother had taught her to be a proper hostess, even when a visitor made her feel uncomfortable. And Cor-dero Sanchez was definitely doing that and much more.

Up to this point she'd tried her best to keep their conversation polite and impersonal, but the man seemed dead set on learning about her family's history. A moment ago he'd left his chair to inspect the long row of photos resting on the rock mantle of the fireplace and innate manners had forced Anne-Marie to cross the room to stand by his side.

"That's my father when he was a very young man," she explained as he paused to examine one particular photo. "In those days he liked to hunt ducks and the bird dogs you see with him were some that he'd trained."

"I didn't know that Jules liked to hunt," he admitted. "But then we're always talking horses."

Forsaking the image of her father, he moved on down the hearth and she stiffened as he picked up an enlarged snapshot of her. In it she was wearing a simple yellow sundress and her long hair was tied back with a coral colored scarf. Several young children with brown skin and black hair were standing with her in front of a crude, clapboard building.

"That was in Guatemala," she said quietly. "I was teaching at a Catholic school."

He looked at her with open interest. "You're a teacher?"

A negligible shrug barely moved her shoulder. "I taught languages for a while. But that was long ago, when I still had dreams of entering a convent."

Clearly stunned by her revelation, she could feel him staring at her.

"A convent!" He repeated the word with hushed amazement. "What happened?"

As she lifted her eyes to his, her lips twisted to a bitter line. "I met a man just like you."

An expression of comical confusion swept across his dark face. "What the hell does that mean?"

Flustered with him and herself, her cheeks began to burn.

Her cheeks still burning, she exclaimed, "Oh! I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry, Cordero."

His hazel-green eyes continued to study her closely. "It's all right. But I got the impression that this…man you just compared me to is not someone on your most valued list."

"No." Turning away from him, she walked over to the coffee table and returned her glass to the tray of cold refreshments that Darcella, their cook, had provided for them. "But that has nothing to do with you." Keeping her back to him, she added, "I mean. Not personally. He just happened to be a man that was virile and handsome, like you. That's all."

Cordero had never had trouble garnering attention from the opposite sex, but he'd never been stuck on himself. When he looked in the mirror he saw a regular guy, a horseman who did his best to enjoy every minute of the day. To hear this vision of a woman call him virile and handsome jolted him.

"What was this man to you?" Cordero asked thoughtfully.

She looked at him then, her face full of wry resignation. "He was my lover."

If she'd walked over and slapped him hard on the face he wouldn't have been any more floored. He could say nothing. At least nothing that would make sense. Yet she seemed to be waiting for some sort of reply, so he drew in a deep breath and said the first thing that came to his mind. "I take it things didn't work out."

"No."

Cordero wished she would tell him more, but he wasn't going to prod her. Even if he did kick up his heels on Saturday night with the rest of the wranglers on his family's ranch, he liked to think of himself as a gentleman. And since he'd only arrived at this Louisiana sugar cane plantation an hour ago, he could hardly start prying into the woman's personal life. But he had to admit that he fervently wanted to.

He'd never seen a woman quite so beautiful. Oh, he'd seen plenty of glamour girls, but they were mostly paint and powder and provocative clothing. This woman was nothing close to that. Her blue eyes were like chunks of crystal sky and her bare lips the soft pink of a wild rose. A glow that had nothing to do with the heat of the summer afternoon seemed to emanate from her pearly skin. She was as natural and as breathtaking as the rising sun.

She cleared her throat and smiled as though the two of them had just been discussing the weather instead of her ex-lover. The abrupt change jarred him. But not any more than learning when he'd arrived that his old friend Jules Duveuil had a young, beautiful daughter.

"It's getting late," she observed with a glance at her watch. "If you're ready, maybe we should head to the hospital."

To add to Cordero's surprise, he'd also learned that Jules had been admitted to a hospital in Thibodaux only yesterday. Three days before Cordero had left Texas, he'd spoken with the older man over the phone and nothing had been amiss then. Jules had sounded healthy and excited that Cordero would soon be arriving with the pair of gray quarter horses from the Sandbur ranch.

Apparently Jules had a heart condition and the doctor had admitted him for a few tests. Now the old man was asking to see Cordero and he couldn't refuse. Jules Du-veuil had been a friend to Cordero and his family for more than two years.

Cordero had first met Jules at a cutting horse show in Houston and since then Jules had sent several horse buyers to the ranch, who'd spent thousands of dollars on Sandbur horses. Only a month ago, Jules had flown down to the south Texas ranch to view their quarter horses. He'd purchased a pair without any quibbling over the price. There was no way Cordero could slight Jules by avoiding a visit to the hospital. In Cordero's opinion, the older man was more than a good client; he was a friend.

Nodding his agreement at Anne-Marie, Cordero stepped past her and retrieved his hat from the floor where he'd left it at the foot of an armchair. As he pulled the brim down on his forehead, he said, "Yeah, let's get going. I'm anxious to see your father."

In the front room, she gathered her handbag from a small table, then headed toward the door. Cordero automatically followed while his mind spun. From the first moment he'd spotted Anne-Marie walking across the yard to greet him, he'd been totally mesmerized by the sight of her. She'd been dressed in some sort of gauzy white dress that floated around her slender body like a thin misty cloud. Flaming copper hair had hung in thick waves to the middle of her back and caressed the faint jut of her breasts. Even from a distance, he'd been able to see that her skin was milky white and as smooth as top cream. As she'd walked toward him there'd been a smile on her face that had made him think of a Southern belle hiding her expression behind a palmetto fan. Now that she'd confessed to a broken romance and diverted plans to enter a convent, she was even more intriguing. What sort of man had seduced her, he wondered, and why wasn't she with him now?

Careful, Cordero, don't try to make this woman your business. She's not for you. Not even close. You want those carefree, love 'em and leave 'em types. Not a sweet angel with a broken wing.

"We'll take my car," she said once they were out on the porch. "That way you won't have to worry with unhitching your horse trailer."

"It's really no problem if you'd like for me to drive my truck," he offered.

"That isn't necessary. My car is parked right over here in the garage."

The Duveuil house wasn't the typical Grecian structure he'd expected to find at Cane's Landing. Instead of typical white pillars and redbrick, the massive two-story was made entirely of wood and displayed a Creole flavor. Verandahs, with overhangs supported by carved black posts, lined all sides of the structure. Matching black shutters bracketed the many windows on the graceful facade.

As he followed Anne-Marie down the front steps, he noticed that live oaks, all of them dripping with Spanish moss, hugged the house with massive sagging limbs. Along the lattice-covered foundation, dahlias, camellias and hollyhocks bloomed bright and lush.

The estate was beautiful, he silently noted, but compared to the Sandbur ranch it was damn quiet. Back in Texas there were always people and vehicles about, cowboys and cattle buyers milling around the barns and pens. Here at Cane's Landing the only sounds he'd heard were the songbirds and an occasional bark from a bluetick hound.

The garage was a separate building situated about a hundred feet from the house. Presently the double doors were opened and he could see a dark green luxury car parked on the left side.

She handed him the keys. "I hate driving," she said. "Will you do the chore?"

For her? Cordero would split a cord of wood with an ax or stack ten ton of hay in the barn loft just to see a tiny smile on her face. Merely looking at her made him feel like an adolescent and he didn't know how to deal with his strange reaction. It was downright scary. He needed to get away from Cane's Landing just as fast as he could get. But how the heck was he going to do that, when he'd already promised Jules he'd spend the remainder of the week here?

But he'd made that promise before he'd met Jules's beautiful daughter. Now he had to find some way to cut short his stay. Otherwise, this vision with flaming hair was going to end up leading him around by the nose. And he wasn't the sort of man to let himself be led by a woman.

"I'd be glad to drive," he told her.

After helping her into the passenger seat, he walked around the car and slid beneath the steering wheel. The seat squished comfortably around him like a marshmallow.

There was no doubt the Duveuils' finances were secure. If this woman ever did look at him in a man-to-woman way, it wouldn't be for his money. They were equal in that aspect, but polar opposites in every other way. He couldn't see Anne-Marie at a Texas dance hall, kicking up her heels in a pair of jeans and cowboy boots. No more than he could imagine himself joining her on a missionary trek to some third world country. Those differences ought to be enough to make him keep his hands to himself. Still, it wasn't enough to stop the itch to touch her.

Slowly, he eased the car down the oak-lined lane. Once they had reached the black-topped road, Anne-Marie instructed him to turn left. With the setting of the sun, the massive pines sent deep shadows across the roadway and made the evening seem much older than it was. The dimness of the car interior cocooned them together. As the miles passed, Cordero found his gaze slipping over to her slim figure far more than safety allowed.

He needed to keep his mind on the job of driving rather than on her. But she was a tempting sight and the clothes she'd changed into made looking at her even more pleasant. Her beige slacks were slim-fitting linen and matched the short, sleeveless top that left her arms and a provocative amount of skin at the neckline exposed to his view. It would be easy enough to reach across the seat and slide a finger against that soft skin, but he figured her response would be fast and furious.

Realizing he needed to break the train of his thoughts, Cordero asked, "What does your father plan to do with the horses? Since I've run into him at several horse shows here lately, I thought he might be planning to ride himself."

Anne-Marie continued to stare out the window. It was much safer and wiser than looking at him. "It's been several years since we've had horses here at Cane's Landing. Father's only started going to horse shows again after his health forced him to retire from managing the plantation. I guess the competition never left his blood, but now it's not for himself. It's for me."

"You?"

There was so much surprise in his voice that she turned to look at him. He was staring at her in disbelief and the sight nettled her in a way she'd not felt in years. Just because he was from Texas didn't mean he was an expert on equines or who was qualified to ride them.

"Why, yes. I do ride. And I have since I was a very young girl." Folding her hands together on her lap, she silently told herself to relax. This man's opinion of her was of no importance. His stay here would be short. Besides, it wasn't his fault that he had enough sexuality for ten men and that she was too weak-willed to ignore it.

Breathing deeply, she added, "Father wants me to compete in Western reining or in cutting competitions. But I'm not sure I want to do either."

Cordero couldn't imagine this woman even sitting astride a horse, much less riding one as it spun in tight circles or jumped violently back and forth to head off a cantankerous steer. But then he'd been surprised by women before. In fact, most of them were never what they appeared to be on the surface. He was beginning to think Anne-Marie wasn't what she appeared to be, either.

"Why not?" he asked. "You don't have the confidence to compete?"

She started to take offense at his question, before she realized he was asking it sincerely.

"Well, I'm not timid," she answered. "And I'm sure I could get my riding skills sharpened fairly quickly. But that's not the issue. I have…other plans that have nothing to do with horses."

"Apparently your father doesn't know about your 'other' plans."

Her mouth pressed into a grim line. "Oh yes, he does. But he's the persistent type. He'll never give up on the idea of me following his wishes instead of mine."

Cordero couldn't help but wonder if her "other" plans had anything to do with a man. But he quickly told himself to forget the question. Anne-Marie wasn't the modern, free-spirited sort. She was the picture of old-fashioned family values. She'd even wanted to enter a convent! If she ever did decide to get involved with a man, it would be with marriage in mind. And matrimony, with any woman, was not part of Cordero's plans. He'd seen too much loss, too much heartache, in his family to risk putting himself through such pain.

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    Posted May 16, 2013

    Book review

    Great Book!!!!

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    Great book

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