Jenna's Cowboy Hero

Jenna's Cowboy Hero

by Brenda Minton
Jenna's Cowboy Hero

Jenna's Cowboy Hero

by Brenda Minton

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Former football player Adam Mackenzie arrives in small-town Oklahoma to fix up a camp for underprivileged kids. But the city slicker doesn't know horse tack from a touchdown. He's desperate for help—and the pretty rancher next door is the answer to his prayers. War vet Jenna is back home after a stint in Iraq, and she's got a five-year plan: raising her twin boys, running her ranch—and not falling in love. But she can't say no to gorgeous and kind Adam. Can he make her forget all her plans and open her heart to love?

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426845185
Publisher: Steeple Hill Books
Publication date: 12/01/2009
Series: Love Inspired Series
Format: eBook
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 435,856
File size: 165 KB

About the Author

Brenda Minton lives in the Ozarks. She's a wife, mom to three, foster mom to five and grandma to a princess.  Life is chaotic but she enjoys every minute of it with her family and a few too many dogs. When not writing she's drinking coffee on the patio, wrangling kids or escaping for an evening out  with her husband.  Visit her online at

Read an Excerpt

"What do you mean, there's no money in the account?" Adam Mackenzie shouted into his cell phone.

His manager, Will, sighed from five hundred miles away. "The money is gone, Adam. Fortunately, a lot of the work on the camp has already been done."

Adam gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and went through the list of reasons why this wasn't the worst thing that could have happened to him. He had been through worse things.

The most important thing to remember: the camp wouldn't be his problem for very long. But how could the money be gone? He'd given his cousin Billy more than enough to build the camp.

"What happened to the money?" Adam leaned and flicked his gaze to the left, looking for a road that he was starting to question the existence of. Not one Internet map had directions for Camp Hope on the outskirts of Dawson, Oklahoma, population fifty.

For the last few miles, since he'd left the main highway, he'd seen nothing but fields of grazing cattle, a few small oil wells, and a smattering of aging farmhouses.

Will cleared his throat, the way he did when he didn't want to give the answer.

"What do you mean, what happened?" Will said, avoiding the answer. Adam came close to smiling, because he knew his agent that well, and he liked him that much.

"You know what I mean." Adam slowed when something moved into the road a short distance ahead. "Where did my money go?"

"It looks like Billy took a few trips, bought a car for his girlfriend and lost a big chunk of cash in Vegas." Will paused at the end of the list. "I really am sorry about this."

"It was my money." Adam wanted to yell but he didn't—this time. It wouldn't do any good to lose his temper. But it sure would have felt good.

He'd learned from experience that giving in to what feels good can get a person into a lot of trouble. He'd learned from the experience of losing contracts, being pushed off on other teams and having his face on tabloids. He'd learned that he didn't have a lot of real friends.

"I know it was your money. And now it's your camp," Will said with conviction and probably a smile, judging by his tone.

"I get that. But no way is this my camp, or my problem. I'm trying to rebuild my reputation so that the Sports Network sees the new me, not the old me, when I interview for the sportscaster job. That's my problem, Will. The last thing I need is the responsibility of a camp and a bunch of kids."

"Sorry, Adam, the camp is now your problem."

"Of course it is."

Billy had lied. Like so many other people had lied. People liked to use him. Adam's family used him. Women used him. Billy had used him.

He reminded himself of one important fact. Will, his manager for the last few years, had never used him. He had never lied.

"What am I going to do with this place?" Adam asked as he reached to flip the visor and block the setting Oklahoma sun.

Before Will could answer, something at the side of the road caught Adam's attention. A dog. Don't move, dog. Don't make this day worse. Worse happened to be two kids holding the leash attached to the dog. Two small boys wearing shorts, and T-shirts. Adam honked the horn. The dog looked up, but continued to back into the road, away from the boys who stood in the ditch.

"This can't be happening. Gotta go, Will." He slammed on the brakes.

The car veered and Adam held tightly to the wheel, trying to see where the kids had disappeared to. The car spun and then jolted, slinging him to the side as it came to rest against a tree with a thud.

His brand-new car. The thought barely registered when he heard the whoosh of the air bags. Other words slipped through his mind. And he still didn't know if he'd hit those kids or their dog.

His phone rang. He pushed at the air bag and freed himself from his seat belt. The phone rang again. Will's ring tone. Adam lifted it to his ear as he leaned against the headrest, waiting for his heart to stop hammering against his chest.

"I'm fine, Will."

"Do I need to call 911 for you?"

"Like I could give directions to this place. Talk about…"

"No such thing as Godforsaken, buddy."

Adam groaned as he pushed past the pain in his shoulder. "Save the sermon for my funeral. I have to make sure these kids are okay."


"There were two kids out here. I swerved to keep from hitting them and their dog."

He pushed at his driver's side door. It wouldn't open. Will was still on the other end, asking questions.

"I can't get out of my car."

"I can call for help." Will sounded a little too amused. "Doesn't that car have one of those fancy talking computers that asks if you need assistance?"

"I had it disconnected. I don't need a bossy female asking me if I'mlost or need assistance. I'll call you later."

He pushed and then kicked the passenger's side door. It opened and he climbed out of the car, stumbling as his feet hit the ditch. Thorns from a wild rosebush caught his arms and sleeves. He untangled himself and waded through tall weeds to reach the road.

The boys were standing at the edge of a gravel drive. The dog, a black-and-white border collie, sat next to them, tongue hanging out and ears perked. They watched him, eyes big and feet moving nervously— like they were getting ready to run for their lives.

He probably looked like a giant coming up out of that ditch. Especially to two little boys.

"What are you boys doing by the road?" He glanced up the drive to the old farmhouse not two hundred feet away. The house was old, but remodeled, the white siding wasn't green with moss, and the windows gleamed.

The boys shifted in front of him, tugging on the dog's leash, keeping it close to their side.

"Our dog needs to learn to walk on a leash," the heftier of the two boys, obviously twins, answered. They weren't identical, but they were close.

"Well, that dog won't do you any good if you get her hit, or get yourselves hit." He spoke as softly as he could, but it still came out in a growl. They had scared ten years off his life.

He stood at the edge of the road, thinking he should march them up to the house and let the parents know what they'd been up to.

Or he could leave and forget it all.

A glance over his shoulder and he knew he wouldn't be driving away, not in the car that was lodged against a tree, two tires flat.

He'd had some bad days of late. This one took the cake. He didn't even like cake.

"Our dog's a him," the bigger boy muttered, his gray eyes wide, not looking away. "Are you a giant?"

"No, I'm not a giant. Where are your folks?" Adam eyed the smaller boy, the one with the thumb in his mouth. The kid was shaking. Adam took a deep breath and lowered his voice. "And what are your names?"

The bigger twin started to answer. The little one nudged his brother with a bony elbow that prompted him to say, "We don't talk to strangers."

Both boys nodded and the bigger twin chewed on his bottom lip, obviously wanting to break the no-talking-to-strangers rule. Adam wanted to laugh, and that took him by surprise.

"Well, this stranger wants to let your parents know what you were up to."

A screen door slammed, reverberating through the quiet of an Oklahoma afternoon. He glanced toward the house and knew he was in big, big trouble, because he didn't have the skills for dealing with mad wet hens. She came off the front porch and stomped toward him, brown hair with streaks of blond, bouncing, lifting in the soft breeze. Faded jeans and a T-shirt, her face devoid of makeup, and he was suddenly sixteen again.

He let out a breath and remembered who he was and why he was here. And he remembered to be angry about his car and everything else that was out of his control.

"What's going on here?" She came to a stop behind the boys, her accent an Oklahoma drawl, half Southern belle and half redneck woman. She was pretty, but looked like a scrapper, like she wouldn't be afraid to come at him if he messed with her or the boys.

And the dog was growling now.

"Your dog was in the road, and the boys were pretty d—"

She raised a hand and her eyes flashed fire. "Watch it."

"Your boys were close to getting run over, and you're worried about my language?"

"Yes, sir, I am."

"Great, total insanity."

"Only partial." She smiled. Huge brown eyes lit with golden flecks caught and held his gaze. She took a few more careful steps and he realized that she wasn't much bigger than her two boys. Five feet nothing, and he felt like a giant towering over her.

Adam stamped down the desire to ask her name. He pushed aside old habits that had gotten him into more trouble than he could handle. More gossip than real trouble, but to the world, it might as well be true.

"I'm really sorry about the boys, and the dog." She had rounded up all three and they gathered close, in a tight-knit huddle at the side of the road.

"It's okay. I just wouldn't want them to get hurt."

"You're right, of course. I'm Jenna Cameron." She held out a small hand with pink-painted nails. "Welcome to Dawson."

"Yeah, thank you. I'm looking for a half-finished summer camp."

"You sound happy about that."

"Real happy." Because he never expected to lose his cousin, and he hadn't expected the camp to be unfinished. He pulled the directions out of his pocket and read them off to her. "Do you have any idea where that is?"

She stepped to the edge of the road and pointed. Three hundred feet ahead, on the other side of the road and barely visible due to shrubs and grass, was a gravel drive. "That's your place."

"You've got to be kidding." He took a step closer to her and the dog snarled, raising an upper lip in a pretty convincing warning. Adam backed away.

"Sorry, he's my guard dog." Her hand rested on the dog's head. "I'm afraid I don't reprimand him for doing his job."

"No need, as long as he doesn't bite me." He didn't want to add dog bite to the things that had gone wrong today. He looked at the overgrown drive and the address on the crumpled paper in his hand. "Are you sure that's it?"

It was a cow pasture dotted with trees. He couldn't see much of the property because trees lined the fence row that ran parallel to the road.

"That's it. Earlier this summer they were working up there, until… well, anyway, they built a barn and a dorm. They even hauled in a single-wide mobile home."

"At least he did that."

"So, you're the owner."

"I'm the lucky guy." He shoved the paper back into his pocket and walked back to his car. She followed, slower, taking it easy over the rocks. The boys and the dog remained at the edge of the road, all three looking at him like he might be public enemy number one.

He was used to that look, more used to the look than to kids. He had made a careful choice not to date women with kids. Or at least he'd had that policy since Morgan.

"You're probably going to need help getting your car out of that ditch." She walked closer, eyeing the car. She smelled like soap and peaches, not Chanel.

"I don't think this car is going anywhere anytime soon."

"I can give you the number of the local garage," she offered, looking up at him. "They can tow it for you."

"Are you going to pay the tow bill, seeing as it was your kids who caused the wreck?"

"If you insist."

"No, I don't insist. Forget it." He glanced back at the boys and the dog. "They're cute."

"Thank you, Mr. Mackenzie, and I really am sorry." She bit down on her bottom lip and averted her gaze back to his car.

He didn't know what to say. She knew him, which meant that even here he couldn't find anonymity. And it wouldn't be long before his family knew that he was back in Oklahoma.

Jenna looked away from the pale blue eyes of the man towering over her. She'd get a crick in her neck if she kept looking up at the six-and-a-half-foot giant, whom she knew well from watching football with the guys in her unit. His face was all smooth planes beneath a sandy-brown goatee, and when he smiled, there was something about it that changed his eyes, making her think a light was hiding inside his heart. It was a kind of shy smile, almost humble, but powerful.

Maybe it wasn't real. It could be a part of his lady-killer image. As an optimist she liked to think that it was something else. It was the real person hiding inside the public image, hidden by tabloid stories of models and actresses.

She'd like to know the real Big Mac Mackenzie.

But of course, she wouldn't. Getting to know a man wasn't on her five-year plan. Or her fifteen-year plan. She would get her boys and walk back up the drive to her house, away from the temptation to ask him questions about his life and why he was here now.

He had finished checking out the wrecked car and walked back to her, shaking his head.

"Is it bad?" She was mentally calculating what a car like that would cost, and how much the repairs would cost her.

"No, I don't think so. Two tires are blown, and there's a good dent in the driver's side door."

"Do you want the number for the garage?"

"I guess I have to." He pulled a cell phone out of his pocket.

"Sorry, you'll have to come up to the house for the number." Jenna gathered the boys and looked back over her shoulder.

He was standing in the road, looking unsure, like this was all some malicious trap on her part. He looked like a giant, but he looked lost and a little vulnerable. She shook off the thought that compared him with David, her smallest twin, after he'd had a bad dream.

Big Mac Mackenzie wasn't a lost child. He was a grown man standing in the road wearing faded jeans, a loose white shirt with the top three buttons undone and a black cowboy hat firmly in place.

"Are you coming?" She waited. "I'll get you a Band-Aid for the cut on your head."

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