Wyatt's Ready-Made Family: The Texas Brotherhood

Wyatt's Ready-Made Family: The Texas Brotherhood

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by Patricia Thayer

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Maura Wells thought she'd finally found a home for her uprooted family on a sprawling Texas ranch. Until an intruder barged in—all six-foot-plus, heart-stealing man—and claimed her new home actually belonged to him…

A man in search of his heritage, Wyatt Gentry arrived at the Rocking R in the dead of the

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Maura Wells thought she'd finally found a home for her uprooted family on a sprawling Texas ranch. Until an intruder barged in—all six-foot-plus, heart-stealing man—and claimed her new home actually belonged to him…

A man in search of his heritage, Wyatt Gentry arrived at the Rocking R in the dead of the night only to find an alluring interloper pointing a rifle at him! Wyatt had no choice but to offer to share his digs with the head-turning blonde and her children. But having them around was fast turning the temporary arrangement into a permanent affair…and a crusty Lone Star bachelor into a family man.

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Texas Brotherhood , #5
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Meet the Author

Patricia Thayer was born in Muncie, Indiana, the second of eight children. She attended Ball State University before heading to California. A longtime member of RWA, Patricia has authored fifty books. She's been nominated for the Prestige RITA award and winner of the RT Reviewer's Choice award. She loves traveling with her husband, Steve, calling it story research. When she wants some time with her guy, they escape to their mountain cabin and sit on the deck and let the world race by.

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Wyatt's Ready-Made Family

By Patricia Thayer

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-19707-1

Chapter One

Why hadn't she gotten the lock fixed?

Maura Wells huddled with her young children in the upstairs hallway, her hearing honed in on an intruder scavenging around downstairs in the house. Oh, God, why doesn't he just leave? There was nothing down there worth stealing.

The slamming of another door pierced the silence. Jeff and Kelly jumped and she hugged them tighter. Then the sound of the intruder's booted steps passed by the staircase. She held her breath, trying to control her shaking. At the same time praying he wasn't coming up. She closed her eyes and the image of outraged Darren formed in the blackness. Her heart hammered in her chest. Could he have found her ... so soon? Her lawyer had assured her ...

Maura drew several breaths, listening as the unwelcome guest went into the kitchen, then began opening cupboards. It was just like her ex-husband to make her suffer - make her wait for her punishment.

She'd always known someday he would come after her. Well, she wasn't just going to stand here helpless. No more. If she'd learned anything at the shelter, it was that she couldn't let Darren make her a prisoner again, in her own home. But living in the country meant she couldn't expect a quick response from the police. At least she'd had the presence of mind to call her neighbor, Cade. He was on his way. But how long would it take for him to get here?

"Mommy, I'm scared," her daughter whispered.

"Make the bad man go away."

"I will, honey." Fighting her own fears, Maura pushed the kids into her bedroom. "You two wait in here. I'm going to make him go away. Don't come downstairs no matter what. Promise?"

With nods from both her six-year-old son and her three-year-old daughter, Maura closed them inside her bedroom, then crept cautiously to the hall closet and took out an old rifle that had been left behind before she'd moved in. She suspected it wouldn't shoot, not that she could pull the trigger anyway, but she wasn't going to let the intruder know that.

Maura started down the stairs. With each step, she struggled to slow her breathing. A small table lamp was on, casing a soft glow over the large sparsely furnished living room. Most everything in the house had been given to her secondhand, except the black duffel bag beside the front door.

That belonged to the visitor.

She stayed back in the shadows, knowing that if it was her ex-husband, there would be no reasoning with him, but she would do anything she had to do to keep him away from her kids. She listened at the sound of cupboard doors being opened and closed. Then the sound of boots on the bare floors told her he was coming toward her. Here was her chance to catch him by surprise.

The huge shadow appeared, too big to be Darren. A strange relief ran through Maura, then she realized she faced a different kind of danger. He was a thief, maybe worse. She pointed the rifle at him. "Just hold it right there, mister."

"What the hell?" The man stopped at the entrance of the room.

Maura bit back a gasp as she took in the tall, handsome stranger. He was dressed in a Western shirt and jeans with a big silver buckle on his belt. He had midnight-black hair long enough to brush against his collar. His eyes were a brilliant blue hooded by dark brows.

"Raise your hands," she said, fighting to keep the quiver out of her voice, and her hands steady.

To say the least, Wyatt Gentry was surprised to find this pretty interloper in his house. By her state of dress, the long nightgown and her mussed, honey-blond hair, she'd been awakened from sleep. And she looked sexy as all get out. So she was the reason the inside of the house had looked so neat ... so welcoming. Too bad the woman holding the rifle didn't.

He sure-as-hell didn't want to talk to anyone holding a weapon at him. "I'm not here to cause any harm, ma'am."

"Then you shouldn't have broken into my home in the first place."

Her home? "Why don't you put the rifle down and we'll talk about it?"

"No! We'll just wait until the sheriff gets here." Her chocolate-brown eyes widened as she waved the rifle toward the sofa. "Go and sit down."

Wyatt started to walk across the polished hardwood floor, but decided he didn't like this situation at all. And he needed to do something about it. Now. He swung around, grabbed the barrel of the rifle and jerked it from her hands. What he didn't expect was for her to fight him like a sharp-clawed cat. Her small size didn't diminish her strength as she pushed him off balance, but he took her with him when she refused to let go of the rifle. They ended up on the floor. When he finally got leverage, he rolled her over beneath him, then straddled her. She still didn't give up the fight, causing her shapely body to rub against his, reminding him that she was nearly naked and very much a woman. The friction between them was like a jolt of electricity.

"Will you stop fighting me so we can talk about this?" he asked when suddenly something hit him from behind.

"You leave my mother alone," a youngster said as a small fist plummeted him. Hard. Wyatt reach back and pulled a boy off him as he stood up.

"Hey, kid. I'm not going to hurt anyone." He held the small flailing body away from him. He glanced at the woman as she scurried from the floor to the little girl crying on the stairs.

"Please, release my son and just take what you want," the woman pleaded. "I have a little money in my purse. Just don't hurt us."

Seeing the fear in the woman's eyes, Wyatt hurried to reassure her that he wasn't going to harm her or her family. "I'm not going to hurt anyone," he insisted and tossed the rifle on the sofa. He doubted it would fire anyway. "And I don't want your money. I'm only here because I own this house and property. I have a key."

Shock turned to puzzlement on the woman's pretty face. "You bought this ranch?"

He nodded. "As of three o'clock this afternoon when I signed the papers."

"Jeffrey, stop!" she commanded her still struggling son. "The man isn't going to hurt us."

The boy finally stopped fighting, but continued his threatening stare as he was lowered to the floor and backed away toward his mother.

Wyatt straightened. "I'm Wyatt Gentry. Sorry, I had no idea anyone was living in this house."

"I'm Maura Wells, my daughter, Kelly and son, Jeff. We've been staying here for a while ..."

"A while. You're renting the place?"

Her incredible dark brown eyes rounded before she glanced away. "I had an agreement with the owner - previous owner. But since you're here now we should leave."

Wyatt had no idea he would be greeted by a full house. Why hadn't the lawyer told him about the renters? How could he toss this woman and her kids out in the middle of the night? And where was her husband? He glanced at her ringless left hand.

"There's no need for you to leave -" he began.

Just then the front door burst open and a tall man rushed in and headed straight for Wyatt. He grabbed a handful of his shirt. "If you laid one hand on any of them you're going to be sorry -"

"No, Cade, please, don't," Maura said as she stepped between them, then reached for the man's arm. "It's okay. This is Wyatt Gentry. He just bought the place."

Cade released him. "You bought this ranch?"


Excerpted from Wyatt's Ready-Made Family by Patricia Thayer Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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