Texas Ranger Takes a Bride [NOOK Book]

Overview

A child is missing. Texas Ranger Chase Landon has to find him. And the boy he's rescuing is the son he never knew he had....

Mallory was heartbroken when Chase left. She knew his duty was to save those in need, but he didn't ever realize that Mallory needed him most. Now she can only watch as her boy bonds with the man who once stole her heart. Mallory's bright emerald eyes have long invaded Chase's dreams, but now they hold sadness and fear. It's as though she doesn't realize ...

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Texas Ranger Takes a Bride

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Overview

A child is missing. Texas Ranger Chase Landon has to find him. And the boy he's rescuing is the son he never knew he had....

Mallory was heartbroken when Chase left. She knew his duty was to save those in need, but he didn't ever realize that Mallory needed him most. Now she can only watch as her boy bonds with the man who once stole her heart. Mallory's bright emerald eyes have long invaded Chase's dreams, but now they hold sadness and fear. It's as though she doesn't realize that he's back to claim his bride as well as his son....

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426821837
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 12/1/2007
  • Series: Western Weddings Series , #4048
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 139,420
  • File size: 162 KB

Meet the Author

Patricia Thayer has been writing for the past 15 years. She published her first romance with Silhouette in 1991. Born and raised in Muncie, Indiana, she attended Ball State University, then moved to southern California where she met and married her husband of 29 years, Steve. They have three grown sons who encourage her, and more importantly, leave her alone to write.

One of her favorite things about writing, she says, is the research. She enjoys traveling to different parts of the country and meeting people because it adds so much flavor to her books. She has been to Midland, Texas, to learn about ranching from a 90-year-old cowboy by the name of Hence Barrow. She used Southeastern Oklahoma State University along with their July Shakespeare Festival as the setting of her book Wildcat Wedding. She went there and did three book signings and donated the proceeds to the theater department.

Pat has been lucky enough to fulfill her dream of writing romance. Another dream is to own a cabin in Colorado where she can spend her days writing and her evenings with her favorite hero, Steve.

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Read an Excerpt

She hadn't been able to shake the uneasy feeling.
Mallory Hagan looked out the kitchen window toward the barn and corral area. Still no sign of Buck and Ryan. She trusted her father to take care of her eight-year-old son, but that didn't stop her from worrying.
On the plus side, he was a good rider, and his grandpa had taken him out on the trail many times. Just not overnight.
And never had they been four hours overdue.
Mallory paced the large ranch kitchen and stopped at the wall phone. Unable to stop herself, she picked up the receiver and called her dad's cell phone. It went right to voice mail…again. They must be in a dead area.
She looked up when the housekeeper, Rosalie, walked into the kitchen. "Still no sign of them?"
Mallory shook her head. "I'm getting concerned."
"Do you think Buck is checking his watch? No. He has his grandson out there, teaching him the cowboy way of life."
Over the years the housekeeper's once rich brown hair had turned salt and pepper. It was pulled back into a no-nonsense ponytail, revealing warm hazel eyes and defined cheekbones. Rosalie Dudley had been the only other female in the house since the death of Mallory's mother over fifteen years ago. Mallory loved her like a second mother.
"So you're saying I'm being overprotective."
Rosalie smiled. "No, I'm just saying Buck wouldn't let anything happen to the boy. You two are his life."
Buck Kendrick owned a lot of land in this part of West Texas. On his forty-three sections he ran a large cattle operation, along with numerous oil wells, dotting the mostly barren landscape of mesquite, ocotillo cactus and buffalo grass that survived the area's lack ofrainfall.
Mallory knew her father would give it all up to have his wife by his side, and another half-dozen kids to inherit what he'd worked so hard to build. But she was his only child, and Ryan his only grandchild. And since her husband's death, there weren't going to be any more children. Sadness welled inside Mallory as she recalled her turbulent marriage to Alan. Toward the end she'd feared for her and her son's safety.
Living outside of Lubbock, Texas, she'd been able to play the part of the dutiful wife. And keep Buck from knowing the truth about her husband's drinking and incomprehensible actions.
She brushed aside the thought. "You know, Dad isn't as young as he used to be."
"You better not let Buck hear you say that."
Mallory smiled. "Well, he still does too much. And I'm afraid he's going to show off for Ryan."
"Probably, but he's got Joe and Mick with him," Rosalie assured her. "So let the ranch hands deal with Buck. And we better concentrate on the roundup. We'll have about three dozen hungry cowboys to feed this weekend, not to mention the other family members."
"That's why I'm here." Mallory let herself smile. This was the weekend she came home every year. Lazy K Ranch's late-spring roundup. With Mallory's busy horse broker's business in Levelland, they couldn't get back to Midland very often. Just about four times a year.
"Are you going to make fried chicken?"
Rosalie nodded. "Your dad has already put in his order. He knows it's the only time I let him indulge in fried foods. How about you making that potato casserole?"
"And some red beans and rice, of course." Mallory reached for a note pad when her attention was drawn to the kitchen window. Outside, a horse and rider were walking toward the barn. She looked closer. It was Joe. He was slumped over his mount.
"Rosalie, Joe's back, and something's wrong." She hurried out the door and kept the momentum going until she reached the horse just as two other hands arrived to help him down.
"Looks like he's been worked over," the ranch hand said.
Mallory knelt down beside him on the ground. "Oh, God, Joe, what happened? Where's Ryan and Buck?"
The foreman's face was etched with pain. "Two men ambushed us right before dawn. They shot Buck and worked over Mick and me pretty good."
She gasped. "What about Ryan?"
"That's why Buck sent me for help."
Mallory's heart pounded harder as she looked around for any sign of another horse. "Where's my son?"
"I'm sorry, Mallory." He grimaced. "I tried to stop them, but they took the boy with them."
He had to be overlooking something.
Chase Landon sat in his office at the Ranger Company in Midland, Texas. He'd gone over and over the same information for the past week. He'd prided himself on his ability to find clues that others had missed, but this old case still had him stumped.
Since joining the Texas Rangers nearly nine years ago, one of his goals had been to find his uncle's killer. He also knew he should leave it to the Rangers'Unsolved Crimes Investigation Team in San Antonio. But this was too important to Chase, and he refused to give up.
"Anything new show up?" fellow ranger Jesse Raines asked as he stuck his head though the doorway.
"No." Chase leaned back in his chair. "Ballistics still doesn't match. There had to be another gun there. Another shooter."
"We could go back and take another look." Just being recently commissioned, Jesse was eager to help out on any and all cases. "But after all this time, it's probably long gone."
"I don't think the shooter had enough time to get rid of it," Chase said more to himself than to his partner. He closed the manila folder and stood. "Anything more on the Sweetwater escapees?"
Jesse cocked his thumb toward the door. "The captain is talking with the state troopers now."
Although he'd been in the Midland Company for only the past year, Chase knew this area well. He'd grown up in the oil-rich Permian Basin of West Texas. His first job in law enforcement had been with the highway patrol there.
Suddenly the captain, Bob Robertson, walked in. "Landon. Raines. It looks like we've been called in," he told them. "The two escapees, now identified as Charles Jacobs and Berto Reyes, have shot a civilian and carjacked a vehicle. Now, they've taken an eight-year-old boy hostage. So I need you and your gear ready in thirty minutes."
The captain glanced at Chase. "Sorry, Landon, looks like your vacation is temporarily on hold. I need you on this."
"Not a problem," he said. "Where did they abduct the boy?"
"It was on the Lazy K Ranch. Southeast of Interstate 20."
Chase felt as if he'd been socked in the gut. Then dread washed over him. "Buck Kendrick's place?" He barely got the words out.
The captain nodded. "It's Kendrick's grandson, Ryan Hagan."
Chase stopped breathing. Mallory had a son?
"You know the man?"
Chase managed a nod. "A long time ago." He had trouble thinking of her with a child.
"So you know that even from Kendrick's hospital bed, he's demanding that every law officer in the state join in the search for his grandson. Not that I blame him." He sighed. "We better get to it. The helicopter will take off in thirty minutes." The captain walked out with Jesse.
Chase sank down into the chair and rubbed his hands over his face. This was crazy.
Mallory Kendrick.
The pretty, ebony-haired girl with big green eyes. An incredible contrast to her olive skin from her mother's Spanish roots. Tall and slender, she had legs that men fantasized about. But Chase had had to quit seeing her. She was too young, and way out of his league.
She was the daughter of rich oilman and rancher, Buck Kendrick, and he was a kid from the poor side of town who would never fit into her lifestyle. But damn, even after all these years, thoughts still lingered of what might have been between them.
Mallory Kendrick…Hagan had made him crazy for years. From the time she'd turned eighteen clear through to their heated summer romance and their breakup when he went off to join the rangers.
Chase leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. If there had been a woman who could have deterred him from his dream…Mallory was the one.
Funny thing was he'd returned to Midland to see if they could work things out between them, but he quickly learned he was too late. He'd remembered vividly how good old Buck persuaded him to back away when he'd showed up at the door and learned Mallory had gotten married to another man and was on her honeymoon.
Over the several months that followed, he'd tried to convince himself it was all for the best. It didn't stop his misery. Even concentrating on his new career with the rangers, he managed to let Mallory interrupt his thoughts for a long time. She was the one reason he'd nearly refused the transfer here a year ago. He'd wondered if he might run into her. He hadn't so far.
And now, he was going to drive up to her door.
Her son was in danger. That had nothing to do with their past. It was the little boy he had to concentrate on…the boy he had to find. As a ranger, he couldn't walk away.
Mallory stayed in the kitchen, and there was no point looking outside to see anything. It was after dark, and in the country that meant black as pitch. Besides, there were dozens of law officers who had cordoned off the area and set up a base at the barn. She could go down there. And do what? What she wanted was to grab one of Buck's guns, climb on a horse and go search for her child. They weren't about to let her do that. Look where that had gotten Joe and Buck.
She had seen her father brought in hours ago. She didn't go with him in the ambulance, sending Rosalie instead. Luckily, his wound wasn't life threatening, and he only had to spend overnight in the hospital.
Afraid and anxious, Mallory resumed her pacing while her mind worked overtime thinking about how scared Ryan had to be. And she knew that the convicts were lifers and had nothing to lose if they killed her son.
No. No. A tear ran down her face as she began to tremble again. She had to get him back. Ryan was her life…. They'd gone through so much together.
Her thoughts turned to the man from her past. Chase Landon. Nine years since Mallory had seen him. Back then he'd been a state trooper, with dreams of being a Texas Ranger. And when that day finally came, their idyllic summer had come to an end…and he had walked away from her, breaking her young heart.
Now, that man was going to be the one to help rescue her son. A few years back she'd read the story about how Ranger Chase Landon had tracked a robbery suspect to the Mexican border and talked him into surrendering. She was hoping for the same outcome now.
Hearing the helicopter fly overhead, she felt her heart race in anticipation. More commotion outside, along with voices. She released a slow breath, went to the door and opened it.
Chase stood well over six feet tall. His dark brown eyes were piercing, and his chiseled jaw was rigid. Dressed in army fatigues and sporting a baseball cap, he looked more like a soldier than a Texas Ranger.
Mallory knew one thing. The man still affected her in the same way he always had. His dark brooding looks still demanded respect. She once knew the softer, gentler side of this man, too. Right now, that seemed like a lifetime ago.
"Mallory," he said with a nod.
"Chase. I've been expecting you." She stepped aside allowing him inside followed by another ranger. He was about the same age as Chase, but with lighter hair and coloring. He was nearly as tall.
Chase thought he could handle their meeting after all these years, but seeing Mallory again drove all logic from his head. If anything, she was even more beautiful at almost thirty than at twenty-one. Her midnight-black hair was still long and silky as the wavy strands lay against her shoulders. Her wide green eyes were no longer bright, but frightened, bringing him back to the reason he was here. It didn't stop the strong urge to pull her into his arms. He resisted it.
"Mallory, this is Sergeant Raines, Jesse. Jesse, Mallory…Hagan."
She took his outstretched hand. "It's nice to meet you, sergeant."
He nodded. "Wish it was under better circumstances."
She bit down on her trembling lip. "Just bring my son back to me."
"We're going to try really hard to accomplish that, ma'am." Jesse looked at Chase. "I'll head down to the command post."
"I'll be there soon." Chase had given Jesse a brief summery about his past relationship with Mallory on the trip here. He knew Raines would keep the news private.
They both watched him walk out the door, then Mallory turned to Chase. "You should go, too."
"I will, but first I need to talk with you. How is your father doing?" he asked as he directed her to the kitchen table and pulled out a chair for her to sit down.
"He's going to recover," she said. "He'll be home tomorrow."
"Good. Now, maybe you can answer a few questions."
She looked up at him with those trusting green eyes. He quickly glanced away as he pulled a paper out of his pocket. It was a map of the ranch.
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