TO THE BIG SKY ROMANCE
THE BRAND FAMILY'S MONTANA RANCH
When Officer Logan Wolf pulls over Josephine Brand for speeding, her stunning blue eyes pierce him. The laid-back policeman is instantly drawn to the intense law student. And Jo so happens to be the maid of honor in her sister's Montana wedding to his best friend! There's nothing Logan wants more than to charm the lovely brunette and redirect her passion to him
Josephine's hurt when her commitment-phobic boyfriend, Brice, breaks up with her before the wedding. But fate places a sexy temptation in front of her in the form of Logan. He makes her laugh more than her ex ever did. Josephine's pain begins to fade just as Brice shows up, wanting a second chance. Can Jo trust her heart to lead her to her own happy ending on the range?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
" Lieutenant Wolf checked his watch. "I can't believe I got stuck working overtime the day I'm supposed to start my leave."
"Don't worry about it I've got this. Why don't you take off?" Officer Cook asked.
"I appreciate it, but I don't feel right cutting out early. I'll just give my friends a call and let them know that " Logan stopped midsentence, his attention was drawn to a silver car speeding their way. "Wait a minute wait a minute how fast are they going?"
Logan stepped closer to the side of the road, aimed his radar gun at the car, and clocked it breaking the speed limit by twenty-one miles per hour. Logan acted on pure instinct, sprang into action. He jumped onto the road, jerked his arm to the left, finger pointed at the side of the road.
"Pull over! Now!" Logan yelled at the driver. He stood his ground with his feet planted on the black asphalt until he saw the driver slow down and turn on their signal.
"That's reckless, right there " Cook came up beside him.
"Sure is." Logan nodded.
Logan handed the radar gun off to his partner, grabbed his clipboard and pen, and then headed across the two lanes separating him from the car he had just flagged down. Giving this driver a well-deserved ticket was the last thing he was going to do before he went on leave.
Josephine Brand glanced over her shoulder to see the motorcycle cop striding across the lanes in her direction. She went back to frantically riffling through her glove box to find her most current insurance and registration information. She always kept everything together neatly in a labeled envelope in the glove box on top of the car manual. But it wasn't there!
"I can't believe this is happening " Josephine shut the glove box and went back to searching in her wallet.
She was already late, and she hated to be late so she made it a point never to be late. But she had gotten into an argument with her boyfriend, Brice, the night before and their disagreement had followed them into the next morning. They rarely fought, but when they did fight, it was usually a knock-down, drag-out affair. She was exhausted from lack of sleep, emotionally drained from fighting, and now she was going to get her first speeding ticket in years.
"Great." she muttered. "Just great."
When the second search through her wallet was unfruitful, Josephine let out a quick, frustrated sigh and shoved the wallet back into her purse. License out and ready to be handed over, Josephine rested her head in her hand and waited for her inevitable ticket.
"Afternoon, miss." Logan had already surveyed the car and the driver as he crossed the street. Nothing looked suspicious, so he intended to treat this like a routine traffic stop.
"Good afternoon, Officer," she said respectfully and extended her license to him.
Logan positioned himself by the side-view mirror, his body facing oncoming traffic, his feet out of the line of the tires. He accepted her license, clipped it to the clipboard.
"Do you know how fast you were going?"
"No." Josephine slipped her sunglasses to the top of her head so he could see her eyes. "I'm sorry.I don't."
She had been stressed out about being late to the airport, and her mind had still been distracted by the fight with Brice, so she just hadn't been paying attention.
From the beginning, Logan had noticed that the driver was an attractive woman, much in the same way he had noticed the model of car she was driving. It was his job to notice everything about his stops. And taking inventory of drivers and passengers was routine. So, yes, he noticed that her hair was long and golden-brown, that the hair framed her oval face, and that her frowning lips were naturally pink. But when she lifted her sunglasses and looked up at him, he was temporarily captivated by her stunning aqua-blue eyes.
Annoyed that he had allowed himself to be distracted from his purpose, Logan shifted his weight and refo-cused his mind on the task at hand. He had a job to do and he needed to get it done.
"The posted speed limit here is thirty-five. I clocked you at fifty-six miles per hour," Logan said. "Twenty miles over the posted speed limit is considered reckless driving."
Josephine's eyes widened, her lips parted slightly. "Reckless driving? No. That can't be right. I swear to you, Officer, I wasn't speeding intentionally," Josephine explained quickly. "I haven't had a ticket in ten years. When you look me up, you'll see. I have a perfect driving record."
She could tell by the lack of expression on the officer's face that he wasn't remotely swayed by her explanation. He waited quietly for her to finish, then he asked for her proof of insurance and registration.
"I don't have them " Josephine admitted. "I always keep them right there in my glove box." She gestured to her glove box. "I just received my new registration. I think I must have just forgotten to put the envelope back in the car. But, I promise you, I have a current registration and valid insurance."
The officer gave one slight nod of his head, wrote something down on his clipboard, then walked to the front of her car to write down her tag number.
"I'll be back," he said to her before he headed back to his motorcycle parked in the median.
Josephine hit the steering wheel with the palms of her hands and dropped her head back. Now she was really late, and if this cop wanted to be a real jerk, he could easily cite her with reckless driving! Why couldn't she flirt her way out of stuff like some of her friends did? She'd never been good at flirting or using her femininity to get her way. She always felt stupid when she tried to flirt and it usually backfired anyway. So she didn't bother to try anymore.
While she waited for the cop to return, she called her twin sister, Jordan.
"I'm running a little late, Jordy." She didn't offer a reason why and she was glad when Jordan didn't ask.
"Don't worry about it. The plane can't leave without you." Unlike her, Jordan had never been uptight about sticking to a schedule.
Josephine noticed the cop heading her way and tried to rush off the phone. "I've got to go, okay? But, I should be there in fifteen or twenty minutes."
"It's all good," Jordan said before they hung up the phone. For once, her sister's cavalier attitude about being on time came in handy.
"I'm going to have to give you three citations today, Ms. Brand. One for lack of proof of insurance, one for failing to produce your vehicle registration, and one for speeding." Logan handed her the clipboard and a pen. "I'll need to get your signature on the bottom of all three citations."
Josephine felt the blood drain from her face; her heart beat faster. She'd never gotten that many tickets at one time! She had a spotless driving record, and yet this cop couldn't show her even one little ounce of mercy? All of her internal frustration flowed into her tense fingers; she gripped the pen so tightly that her knuckles turned white. The lines of her signatures were heavy, dark and smudgy.
When she was finished, she slapped the pen onto the top of the first citation, handed the clipboard back to the officer and then slid her sunglasses back down over her eyes. Since she couldn't, at the moment, look at the officer with the respect she felt his uniform deserved, she didn't want him to be able to see her eyes at all.
Logan quickly finished the transaction, separated her copy of the citations from his, handed them to her with her driver's license.
"You'll note that I didn't cite you with reckless driving," the officer said. "And, once you show proof of insurance and current vehicle registration, the other two citations will be dropped."
Well, that was something at least; he'd dropped the reckless driving charge. Josephine folded the tickets neatly in half and tucked them into her purse. It sounded, to her ears, that the officer sounded almost sorry that he'd had to give her that many tickets. But it certainly hadn't stopped him from throwing the book at her!
When she turned her face back to the officer, she noticed that he had taken his sunglasses off. She was immediately drawn, naturally drawn, to his eyes. They were such a dark, rich brown that they were very nearly as black as his pupils. His gaze was direct, and there was a moment, a flash second, when she thought that she had caught a glimpse of this man's soul.
"On a personal note, are you related to Jordan Brand?" the officer surprised her by asking.
"She's my sister." Josephine replied stiffly. "You know her?"
"I actually pulled her over downtown about a year ago," Logan explained.
"I'm not surprised." Josephine retorted. "Unlike me, Jordy speeds all the time."
"Well " Logan hadn't missed the sarcasm. "All I can say is that I'm sorry that we met under these circumstances and it's actually ironic because."
"Look " Josephine cut him off. Was this guy really going to try to pick her up when he'd just written her three tickets? "Am I free to go? I'm really late."
"Yes. You're free to go." The officer put his sunglasses back on and stepped away from her car. "Drive safely, Ms. Brand."
Josephine ran through the private airport, lugging two overstuffed carry-on bags on each shoulder, and dragging one oversize rolling suitcase behind her. She had never been to Montgomery Airport in San Diego before, but she had printed out a map of the facility the night before and highlighted the quickest route to her destination. She had been raised on a Montana ranch, but she had learned how to run in high heels years ago. Up on the ball of the foot and full steam ahead!
"I'm so sorry I'm late!" Josephine called out to her sister, Jordan. Jordan was standing in front of her fiance's private jet, occupied with her phone.
Jordan looked up, spotted her, and smiled brightly. Her sister jogged over to greet her with a warm hug.
"Relax, sis!" Jordan said. "You know that nothing's set in stone for me."
Jordan slipped one of the bags off her shoulder, and the bag dropped to the ground with a dull thud. "Uh. wow, Jo. What in the heck did you pack?"
"Textbooks." She would be a third-year law student in the fall and the suggested summer reading list had been pages long. "I hope I brought enough."
"Trust me, you brought enough," Jordan said teasingly. "I just hope your bags don't put us over our weight restriction. We might have to make a tough choice between you and your books."
"Haha, very funny." Jordan had always picked on her about her overachieving ways. They were more than twins, more than sisters; they were best friends. But they were complete opposites. Jordan was a professional artist, a painter, who had dropped out of graduate school to pursue her passion. Josephine, on the other hand, could never stop something before she finished it. She finished everything she started, and she finished it well.
Together, they walked the short distance to Ian's jet.
"I can't believe that this is the start of your wedding trip, Jordy." Both sisters stopped walking and talking at the same time; they looked at each other, and easily read each other's thoughts.
"Holy crap, Jo! I'm getting married!" Jordan shook her head in disbelief.
"You're getting married." Josephine smiled, her eyes starting to tear from a mixture of happiness for her sister and sadness for the changes that would inevitably follow. Nothing ever stayed the same.
"OMG, don't start crying already!" Jordan hugged her again. "I swear, between Mom and you, there's not gonna be one tissue left in the entire state of Montana."
Josephine laughed and brushed the tears out of her eyelashes. "I'll do my best to keep the waterworks to a minimum at least until the ceremony. After that, no deal."
"Well, of course you have to cry at the ceremony," her twin said as Josephine rolled her large suitcase over to the cargo area for the pilot to load.
"Hey, you got my message that Brice won't be joining us, right?" Josephine asked.
"Yeah, what's up with that?" Jordan put her hands on her slender hips. "Is everything okay with the two of you?"
"Well, actually, that's why I was " Josephine started to say.
Jordan got distracted by a man walking through the airplane hangar.
"Captain Stern!" her sister yelled and waved her hand in the air. To her, she said, "Hold that thought, Jo. That's our pilot and I need to tell him something before I forget."
"Okay." Maybe she shouldn't tell her sister about the fight with Brice anyway. Her family, especially Jordan, had never really been fond of him.
Jordan started the walk over to the waiting pilot; she turned around and walked backward for a few steps.
"Why don't you go get settled?" her sister suggested. "Ian'll tell you where to find the booze. He only stocks the best."
Josephine lugged the carry-on bag loaded with textbooks up the small flight of stairs that led up to the main cabin of the jet. She'd seen pictures of the jet, of course, but to see it in person was an entirely different experience. The cabin was decked out in sophisticated grays and blacks and accented with polished mahogany. There was a long leather couch on one side, while the other had two separate seating areas with oversize re-cliners and a small table in between. In the back, there was a narrow hallway that led back to a bedroom and en-suite bathroom.
Ian Sterling, Jordan's fiancé, was sitting on the couch. Next to Ian's left leg sat a muscular black Labrador retriever.
"It's me, Ian," Josephine said to her soon-to-be brother-in-law.
"I thought I heard your voice." Ian stood up to greet her. He was a model-handsome man and world-famous for his photography. But a rare eye disease had recently destroyed his central vision, rendering him legally blind and sidetracking his career as a professional photographer.
Josephine hugged Ian; it made her feel really good that Jordan had found her perfect match in Ian Sterling. She had never seen two people as crazy for each other as they were.
"And who's your friend?" Jordan had finally managed, after nearly a year of trying, to convince Ian to get a service dog.
"Shadow." Ian rested his hand proudly on the dog's head.
"Is it okay if I pet him?"
"At ease, Shadow," Ian commanded gently.
Shadow's body language changed on the command and he started to wag his tail.
"Shake, Shadow." Ian gave the Lab a second command.
Shadow immediately extended his right paw to her. Josephine took the paw, smiled, and gave it a shake.
"It's very nice to meet you, Shadow."
Josephine had already set up her computer and unloaded her books in the short time it took for her sister to appear. Jordan plopped down next to her fiancé, tucked her long legs to the side of her body, and frowned at her.
"I hope it's not going to be like this our entire trip, Jo," Jordan complained.
"I'm not going to spend all of my time studying, but I can't just pretend like I'm not in school for two months. The third year is a make-itor-break-it year. That's when they really try to thin out the herd."
"You always say that about everything and then you always end up on top." Jordan rolled her eyes.
"Quit bugging her about it." Ian put his arm around Jordan's shoulder and pulled her tightly to his side. "Not everyone waits to the last minute to get things done like you do, beautiful."
Josephine smiled triumphantly at Jordan. She finished arranging her collection of items in an orderly and precise way: a book stand held a thick constitutional law book upright, her laptop and tablet were both charging, three differently colored highlighter pens were situated in a perfectly even row.
"There." She surveyed her work. "This is perfect."
"I need a drink." Jordan stood up. "Anyone care to join me?"
"I'm good." Josephine sat down in the large recliner and used the controls to adjust it perfectly to her body. "Shouldn't we be getting ready to take off soon?"
"We'll leave as soon as our fourth arrives," Ian told her.
Josephine glanced at her sister. "Didn't Jordy tell you that Brice couldn't make it?"