His Little Cowgirl (Love Inspired Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview



"She's Your Daughter."

The adorable girl in pink cowboy boots is his child? Six years ago, rodeo star Cody Jacobs left the woman he loved without looking back. Now, with newfound faith, he's come to make amends--only to discover the daughter he didn't know about. Struggling single mother Bailey Cross is rightfully wary to trust him with their child's heart--and her own. But Cody's not running away again. Hearing his little cowgirl call him "Daddy" has changed him. Suddenly, something else is more important ...
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His Little Cowgirl (Love Inspired Series)

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Overview



"She's Your Daughter."

The adorable girl in pink cowboy boots is his child? Six years ago, rodeo star Cody Jacobs left the woman he loved without looking back. Now, with newfound faith, he's come to make amends--only to discover the daughter he didn't know about. Struggling single mother Bailey Cross is rightfully wary to trust him with their child's heart--and her own. But Cody's not running away again. Hearing his little cowgirl call him "Daddy" has changed him. Suddenly, something else is more important than riding bulls and winning titles: a first chance at fatherhood. And a second chance at love.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426823442
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Series: Love Inspired Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 142,091
  • File size: 199 KB

Read an Excerpt

Bailey stuck her hands into the hot, soapy water and began to scrub the dishes she'd put off washing until after lunch, wishing for the umpteenth time that the dishwasher still worked. Her father had helped for a few minutes, until his legs had grown weak and he'd taken himself to the living room and his favorite recliner to watch Oprah.

The throaty snore she heard through the doorway told her that he'd fallen asleep. She didn't mind; it was sleep that he needed these days. At least when he was sleeping, he wasn't worrying.

Oprah's voice drifted into the kitchen, borne on the gentle breeze that blew through the house. "So tell me, Suzanne, how much did you pay for your home in Malibu?"

Bailey strained to listen. "Three million, a bargain." Audience laughter.

Bailey shook her head and scrubbed harder.

Three million for a house. What couldn't she do with three million dollars? She looked out her window above the sink, at the farm shimmering in the late-afternoon sun. It looked as tired as her dad. A good eye could see that things were falling apart. The fences were sagging and the last windstorm had done a number on the barn roof. Not to mention her truck, which was on its last leg, and tires…. Three million dollars. That would help pay the mortgage. Well, of course, with three million dollars in the bank, there wouldn't be a mortgage.

She was doing well if she made the mortgage payment each month. The tips she earned as a waitress put shoes on her daughter's feet—one pair at a time—and cutting a few more cows from the herd would pay the property taxes. Life in the Ozarks was far removed from Hollywood.

A little cutting back, a lot of prayer andmaking it through another day with her dad still in her life. That was how it went in the real world. At least in her world.

Bailey squeezed her eyes shut. She opened them when she heard a distant rattle and the rapid-fire bark of her blue heeler. Her mind turned, wondering who it could be. She wasn't expecting anyone, and it sounded like whoever it was, they were pulling a trailer.

She squeezed the water out of the dishrag, tossed it on the counter and walked out the back door. If she didn't catch the dog now, the person paying them a surprise visit would have a hole in his pant's leg and a bad attitude to go with it. Bailey was holding on to faith by a string; she didn't need someone's bad day to rub off on her.

A shiny, red extended-cab truck pulling an RV rumbled to a stop. Blue, her five-year-old blue heeler, stood in the middle of the yard. The yard that really needed to be mowed before it became a hayfield.

But Bailey stopped herself there and reached for the dog's collar. She had a list of things that needed to be done. All of those things dimmed in comparison with the bigger problem she saw stepping out of the truck and into her life.

The hair on the back of Blue's neck was standing on end. Teeth bared, the dog strained against her hold on his collar. For a brief, really brief, moment, she considered letting go.

Six years had passed since she'd seen Cody Jacobs face-to-face. Six years since she'd spent a summer working on a ranch in Wyoming. Six years since she'd tried so hard to tell him she was pregnant. Six years since she'd given up because he wouldn't answer her phone calls.

Now he was here. Now, when there were so many other worries to work through. She looked up to see if God would send her a sign, a parting of the clouds or some other gigantic miracle. Instead she felt a soft whisper of peace. If only it hadn't gotten tangled with dread and a good dose of anger as her day went suddenly south.

Cody walked across the lawn, looking for all the world like he belonged on her farm. He was suntanned, wore faded Wranglers, and a soft, cotton T-shirt stretched across his broad shoulders. He was smiling like he hadn't a care in the world.

Every time she had imagined this moment, she'd thought what she'd say. She'd be strong, send him packing, show him she was in control and that he couldn't hurt her again.

Not once had she been breathless or speechless. Not once in her imagination had she thought that she'd remember how his laughter sounded on a quiet summer night in Wyoming, or how his hand had felt on hers. She had told herself that she'd only remember him saying goodbye and how he laughed when she told him she loved him.

All of her imaginings melted like a snowman in July when faced with the genuine article—Cody Jacobs walking toward her. Now what in the world was she going to do about that? What was she going to do about the little girl inside the house, and the truth that she'd kept from him? All of her good intentions—wanting to protect her daughter from someone whose lifestyle had seemed unfit for a child—seemed irrelevant at the moment.

Cody Jacobs was about to learn he had a daughter. She hadn't wanted it to happen like this.

Meg knew who her daddy was. Bailey had wanted to confront Cody in her own way, when the time seemed right.

Not today.

Blue yanked at the collar and jerked her forward a few feet, a warning that her visitor had entered the imaginary danger zone of the dog. Bailey flexed her fingers and wished she wasn't leaning forward the way she was.

"Bailey, you're looking good."

Her foot she was looking good. She was wearing the same faded jeans and stained T-shirt she'd worn while working in the garden.

"Thanks, Cody."

Still smiling, he held his hand out to Blue. The dog suddenly forgot that the man was the enemy. Pulling free from her grasp, the animal belly crawled to Cody. Bailey stood, stretching the kink from her back. Her gaze connected with Cody's, really connected for the first time since he'd gotten out of the truck.

Up close and in person he was still about the prettiest man she'd ever seen. Like the average bull rider, he wasn't tall, just a few inches taller than her five feet five inches. He still had lean, boyish looks and long eyelashes that could make a girl swoon—if she were the swooning type. Bailey wasn't, not anymore.

"How've you been?" He closed the gap between them, his hand still being licked by Blue.

"I'm fine." Most days she really was. "What are you doing in Missouri?"

She knew the answer. She was a convenient stop on the highway to Springfield, just thirty miles north. The town was hosting a pro bull-riding event, and Cody was in line for the world title this year.

"I wanted to talk to you."

"Okay, talk."

Looking suddenly unsure, he took off his bent-out-of-shape, straw cowboy hat and shoved his fingers through black hair, which was straight and a little too long. When he looked at her, with his stormy blue-gray eyes, she thought of Meg and how she didn't want Cody to learn the truth without any warning.

Her heart shuddered at the thought. With a quick glance over her shoulder, she breathed a sigh of relief. Meg was taking a nap on the couch. That gave Bailey a few minutes to decide the best course of action.

"Bailey, I'm here to say I'm sorry." Cody shrugged and said, "I guess this is part of a man turned thirty and realizing he's wasted a lot of years and hurt a lot of people."

"I'm not sure what to say." The words of his apology were much as she had imagined them to be, but in her dreams they made more sense. In real life his words didn't bring instant healing.

"You don't really have to say anything. This is something I have to do. I…" He cleared his throat and brought his gaze up to meet hers. "I joined AA and part of the process is making amends for the things I've done. I know that when I drove away from Bar A Ranch, I hurt you."

"So is this about wanting forgiveness, or are you truly sorry?"

She needed more than words because words were easy enough to say. Words promised forever and something special on a summer night.

Words said I'm sorry and even I forgive.

Cody worried the hat in his hands, keeping his head down and his gaze on his dusty boots. When he looked up, his eyes were clear, his jaw set and determined. She had seen that look on his face before, normally with a camera focused in tightly as he gave the nod and the bull he was set to ride busted from the gate for an eight-second ride that always seemed to last eight minutes.

"This is about me needing forgiveness, and it is also about being truly sorry."

It was her turn to look up, to search for something in his gaze, in those eyes that reminded her of a summer storm on the horizon. He meant it, or at least she thought he did. She nodded and took a step back.

"Okay, you're forgiven."

"You mean it?"

Did she mean it? She closed her eyes, wanting him to be gone, wanting to walk back into the house

to a sink full of dishes and chores waiting to be done. Those were the things that made sense to her these days.

What also made sense was Meg, and the life they had here, the life they had built for themselves in spite of everything. Bailey had paced the floor alone when her daughter had been colicky. Bailey, alone, had held Meg tightly when a bad dream woke her in the middle of the night.

Cody hadn't been there, not even for that stormy night when Bailey's dad had driven her to the hospital.

Her conscience poked at her, telling her that he couldn't apologize for the things he didn't know. Cody couldn't apologize for leaving her to raise a child alone, not when he'd never known about that child. They'd both made mistakes. He didn't know it, but they both had apologies to make.

"I forgave you a long time ago." She smiled, feeling the heat of the August sun on her head and back.

"That means a lot to me, Bailey. I want a fresh start, and I didn't want to make that start thinking about you and what happened."

What happened—the way he said it made it sound simple and easy to forget. It wasn't easy to forget a decision that made a person feel like she'd let down not only herself, but everyone who counted on her. Even God.

Maybe Cody was finally starting to understand.

"That's good, Cody. I hope that this is the change you need." She paused, unsure of how to proceed. She should tell him about Meg. Before he left she should let him know what she had tried to tell him the last time she saw him.

The screen door thudded softly behind her. Bailey lifted her gaze to his, fearing the truth and the look on Cody's face. He stared past her, his eyes narrowing against the bright sunshine. As his gaze lingered, Bailey knew that the time for truth had arrived.

It had never happened this way in her dreams.

"Mommy."

Cody stared at the little girl standing on the porch. He tried to catch his breath, but the weight on his chest pushed down, forcing air from his lungs as his heart hammered against his ribs. He stared into a tiny heart-shaped face he'd never seen before, and yet, and yet, the face seemed so familiar.

The little girl had Bailey's straight blond hair. She had a rosebud mouth, just like her mom's. His gaze stopped at her eyes. It was there that he discovered the truth and he knew that Bailey had apologies of her own to give.

Six years of traveling, riding bulls and putting money in the bank for a place of his own, a place he wouldn't let his own dad buy for him, and it came down to this. It came down to a child with stormy-blue eyes wearing jean shorts, a T-shirt and pink cowboy boots.

Cody felt a huge dose of regret because while he'd been having the time of his life, Bailey had been here raising his daughter alone.

With a million questions and plenty of accusations racing through his mind, he switched his attention back to Bailey. She twisted away from him but not quickly enough for him to miss the streak of red creeping up her neck.

Cowgirls couldn't lie.

"Go inside, Meg," Bailey said.

"But I need a drink."

"Get a juice box out of the fridge. I'll be in soon."

"Who is he?" The little girl crossed her tanned arms and gave him the look that said she was the only law in town and he was trespassing. He wanted to smile but he couldn't. Not yet.

"He's someone I used to know."

The little girl nodded and walked back into the house, the screen door slamming behind her. Bailey waited until her daughter, his daughter, too, was out of sight before facing him.

"It looks like I'm not the only one who needs to apologize," he whispered, not really sure if he could say the words aloud.

He had a daughter. He was six months sober, living in an RV, and he had a daughter.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A real world hero

    I had been eagerly waiting for this book, the first of several with a cowboy theme from Brenda Minton, an October Harlequin Love Inspired read. The cover is an adorable little girl in pink cowgirl boots surrounded by kittens for goodness sake. The "secret baby or child" themes normally drive me nuts but this was such a good read that I forgot I had that prejudice in themes. Having read Brenda's first book in the LI line, I could not resist giving the secret child theme a shot again and was rewarded for it.

    With a bullriding cowboy who is less than six feet tall (thanks for a real hero who fits the bullrider profile) and in a 12 step program matched to a hurting heroine with a critically ill father, this book is full of real struggles. I was teary-eyed part of the time and cheering for the couple all the time. Even up to the end, I was wondering how the story would resolve.

    An excellent read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    Good book!

    I've already read this book and the cowboy series several times! This book inparticular grabs at your emotions. Once i stgarted reading it i just couldn't put it down. Wonderful story and a the series itself is great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    good read

    recomended

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