Bella felt the soft grass under her as she lay on her back, staring up at the sky. It poked her, but it wasn’t too bad, and she wanted to observe the clouds with her friends, Damon and Constance. They were brother and sister. She had her brother with her, too, but he was just one year old and sleeping soundly in the pram she’d placed next to their picnic blanket.
Constance lifted one arm and pointed up at the sky. “That one looks like an elephant with a flag in its trunk. Don’t you think? It looks like that to me.”
Bella scanned the sky for the elephant cloud but didn’t find it. Damon did and pointed, too.
“I see it! There it is!”
They both laughed as if they had shared a funny joke she didn’t get. She smiled. They were often like that. Damon was the devoted older brother, Constance was the doting little sister. He was a protective force for the girl and Bella, as well. She considered him her best friend. She was safe from all harm whenever he was around.
“I do hope we have pretzels as a snack today. I love them with salt on top.”
“Pretzels are delicious,” Bella said in a stern voice, as though arguing the point. She giggled afterward and used her “teacher” voice. “And I am quite sure they are good for us, too. That’s what Ma would say.”
Her friends laughed, making a tingle of delight spread through her body. She was happy. She was just eleven years old, with her whole life ahead of her. She was a bright girl with a positive spirit. She was sure she could accomplish anything she set her mind to.
She heard her mother calling from the shelter near the barn. She sat up and looked in her direction. Mrs. Whittaker was waving both hands. Behind her, her father and the Beesons stood around a picnic table, chatting and laughing. It was good to see them having a good time. Her father worked hard on his ranch and was generally tired.
He spent as much time as he could with his family but was a hard and constant worker at the same time. Bella admired how strong her father was. She’d seen him pick up large objects like they were nothing.
“Come get some food, children!” her mother was calling, a big smile on her face.
Bella pushed herself to her feet and held one hand out to each of her friends to help them up. She pulled them up, though Damon, at 14, was heavier than her and pulled her forward with his weight.
They laughed, all three settled on their feet. Damon and Constance ran off toward the shelter, and Bella moved to grab the handle of the pram and push it down the slight grassy slope, following behind them.
Damon made sure to sit in the middle, between his sister and Bella. He took several plates from the stack at the end of the table and piled bread, meat, deviled eggs, and other delicious food items on the plates, doling them out to the children.
He looked at the adults, who watched as he piled food on the plates.
“You can get your own, right?” he asked with a grin.
His father broke out in laughter, punching Mr. Whittaker lightly on the arm. “That’s my boy!”
Mr. Whittaker gave his friend a sardonic look before reaching out for his own plate. “Would you like me to make you a plate, dear?”
Mrs. Whittaker shook her head. “I’m not going to eat quite yet. Orfah and I are going to take a walk before we eat.”
Mr. Whittaker leaned over and kissed his wife on the cheek, placing one large hand on her small arm. “You take care, my dear.”
Mrs. Whittaker smiled. “I’ll be fine. We’ll be right back.” She turned to Mrs. Beeson, and they linked arms, strolling away from the shelter into the bright sunlight.
Bella watched their interaction. Her parents and the Beesons had been friends for as long as she could remember. She couldn’t think of a time when Damon and Constance had not been in her life. Shallow Creek would have been a very lonely place without them.
She picked up a slice of ham and bit into it, swinging her legs below her.
“Don’t eat too fast,” Damon whispered, leaning toward her and bumping her gently with his arm against her shoulder. “Chew your food all the way. Clean off your plate.”
Bella scrunched up her nose and stuck out the very tip of her tongue. She didn’t want to be impolite. If her father saw her sticking her tongue out at Damon, he might be unhappy with her. She didn’t like it when he scolded her. Just knowing he was upset made her feel very sad. She tried not to do anything wrong, aiming to please him and receive his praises, rather than act out and be in trouble.
Her eyes flicked to her father’s face, but he wasn’t looking at her. With a triumphant smile, she looked back at Damon and stuck her tongue out a little further.
Damon just chuckled, shaking his head.
“What do you want to do when we’re finished eating?” he asked in a competitive tone.
Bella knew what he was thinking.
“It’s not fair to have a foot race with you, Damon. You’re taller than me, and your legs are longer.”
“I’ll give you a head start,” Damon offered. “We can all three of us race. It doesn’t matter who comes in last. It’s fun.”
Bella had to agree with him. Someday, she would beat him in a foot race; she would make sure of that. She didn’t know how she would pull it off, but she was going to do it. Someday.
“Yes, let’s have a foot race, Bella!” Constance leaned forward, her excited ten-year-old face glowing.
“If you plan to run,” Mr. Beeson spoke up. “You’ll want to take a short break after eating to rest your stomach. You might give yourself a cramp if you run after you eat.”
“Okay, Pa.” Damon nodded. “We’ll go sit by the creek and skip rocks for a while. Then we’ll have our foot race.”
“And can we go swimming, Pa?” Constance asked. “We’re gonna be right there at the creek anyway.”
“Did you bring your swimming clothes?”
Bella looked up at Damon. He’d told her to wear her swimming suit under her dress and to bring a towel. She was just realizing the two hadn’t even gotten permission yet. She pressed her lips together and scanned her father’s face. He was already smiling at her.
She grinned wide.
“I can go swimming, Pa?”
“If Josiah says Damon and Constance can go, you can. But not if he doesn’t.”
Immediately, the three children began to beg Mr. Beeson, who laughed heartily, his hands on his ample stomach.
“All right, all right. I don’t see why not. Damon, you better watch these girls, you hear?”
“Yes, Pa.” Damon nodded energetically. “You don’t have to worry about us. I won’t let anything happen to either of them.”
“Will you watch Reece, Pa?” Bella asked, glancing at the pram near her where her little brother was still sleeping soundly.
“Your mother will be back soon enough and he’s sleeping,” her father replied. “I think I can handle it.”
Bella smiled at him. She was delighted when he grinned back, reached across the table and tapped her lightly on the nose.
“That’s my girl.”
Bella felt like she was glowing from the inside out. She finished her food and walked back to the wagons for her towel with her friends. She hoped it would be that way for the rest of her life. She was alive and happy.
The three children waited only until they got to the wagon and retrieved Bella’s towel to have their foot race. She didn’t put everything she had into it, because she didn’t want a cramp, but she knew she would lose to the taller, faster Damon anyway.
But it was fun, and when she got to the creek, Damon was waiting for her there. Constance was by her side most of the run probably for the same reasons as she.
“Okay, now we have to … rest before we … go swimming …” Damon said breathlessly. He was leaning over with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.
“You shouldn’t have run so fast, Damon,” Bella said. “You’re out of breath, and you could have gotten a cramp. You were going to beat me anyway.”
Damon laughed. “It wouldn’t have been as much fun if I hadn’t used my top speed,” he replied in a boastful voice. “I have to keep practicing so I can get faster.”
“You’re already fast enough, Damon Beeson!” Constance called out as she ran toward the water.
“Don’t go in yet, Connie!” Damon yelled. “Pa said to wait. You don’t want a cramp, do ya?”
Constance halted on the small shore beside the creek and looked back at him, squishing her bare feet in the sand. “I just wanted to feel the sand under my feet. This is the only place where it feels like this. I like to squeeze it between my toes.”
Bella laughed as she pulled her own shoes off and ran to squeeze sand between her toes, too.
Shallow Creek seemed quiet to Bella. So very quiet.
She was seated, remaining still and quiet with her hands folded in her lap and her head down. Her face couldn’t be seen anyway. The black veil draped over her hat hid it from view.
She didn’t have to look to know Reece had come to sit next to her. Her 15-year-old brother was left speechless and numb by the death of their father. He was unable to speak even to her. It had been three days and still he was silent.
Bella didn’t want to show her nervousness to him. She had to be strong. At 27, with the loss of her father, Bella was now in charge of running the ranch. When Mr. Whittaker was on his death bed, he had asked her to do whatever she could to keep the ranch in the family, and that’s what she intended to do.
But in her heart, Bella knew she was in trouble. She had no idea how to run the ranch without him. She had done no work, physically or financially, over the years because it was expected that Reece would take over. Her brother had only recently begun to learn the ropes. Now, to suddenly have it thrust on their shoulders … Bella didn’t know what to do.
“How are you feeling, Bella?”
She looked up to see her friend, Allison, had sat down on her other side. The young woman reached out and took her hand, squeezing it gently. She was looking at Bella with sympathetic eyes. It made Bella want to cry more. She knew she would end up bawling at the wake of her father. She’d been crying for three days. Why stop now?
The compassion she felt emanating from the friends who had gathered was thick in the air. It made her feel very loved but brought out the ache in her heart that her father was no longer with her. He had acted as a guardian, a friend, a father, and a protector all her life, especially after her mother died five years ago.
“I’m still in shock, Allison,” she murmured.
Allison squeezed her hand again. “It’s going to take a little time, dear. You give yourself as much time as you need.”
Bella wished she could talk to Allison about the real cause of concern she had, the reason why she couldn’t take all the time she needed. The ranch would surely fall apart quickly if it wasn’t run properly. She would be devastated if she ran it into the ground and lost everything her father had worked so hard for all his life.
She had to be strong. Stronger than she thought possible.
“I’m going to try,” she responded in a quiet voice. She looked to her left to see Reece had gotten up and was on the other side of the room, talking to one of their father’s friends. The older man was consoling Reece, whose face was ashen and sorrowful.
She turned back to Allison, placing her other hand on top of Allison’s. “It’s Reece I’m really worried about. He’s too young to lose his father.”
Allison shook her head and spoke in a knowing voice. “It’s unfortunate when people die too young. But it’s happened to a lot of people who can relate to you. That’s Joe Shrock he’s talking to. Do you know him?”
Bella nodded, turning her eyes to scan the older man, who had one hand on Reece’s shoulder and was talking soberly to him in a low voice. “He was a friend of Pa’s. He owns a ranch nearby.”
“There’s a lot to that man that you probably don’t know, Bella. I’d be willing to bet he’s telling Reece about it right now.”
Bella cast confused eyes at her friend. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, Mr. Shrock lost his family one by one at a rate of about two a year for a while there. He was the only one who didn’t get sick. Smallpox took half his family, including his father and two sisters. Then there was a wagon accident and it killed another sister and his mother. He had a brother who died when he was young and several other relatives who were killed or died somehow. He’s been through a lot.”
“That’s terrible.” Bella turned her eyes away from the man, sympathy filling her eyes with fresh tears.
Allison squeezed her hand. “I didn’t mean to make you cry, Bella. I don’t want you to feel worse. I just wanted you to know if anyone can relate to what Reece is feeling, it’s Mr. Shrock.”
“I’m glad he’s talking to him, then,” Bella whispered, dropping her eyes back to her lap.
Allison pulled her hand away gently and rested it on the purse she held on her lap. “Do you know what you will do with the ranch? Do you plan to sell?”
Bella shook her head, looking up at the woman. “No. My pa wanted it to stay in the family.”
“So you are planning to run it yourself? Surely Reece isn’t old enough.” Allison sounded shocked and more than a little skeptical.
Bella understood why and didn’t hold it against her. She nodded. “I don’t have a choice. Until I get married or Reece is old enough, I have to run it.”
“Well, surely you have a good ranch foreman so you don’t have to deal with the crew. And I’m sure you can get help from someone in Shallow Creek, maybe even Mr. Shrock to help you understand the finances.”
“I’m sure I’ll need all the help I can get,” Bella murmured.
“Just know you aren’t alone, Bella,” Allison continued, gently. “We are all here to help you however we can. You know that, don’t you?”
Bella nodded, grateful for her friend’s supportive words. She pulled in a deep breath and nodded when Allison stood up, squeezing her hand once more before letting go and walking away. She was surrounded by friends, but Bella still felt alone. She expected to feel that way for a while to come.
She wondered what the townsfolk of Shallow Creek were thinking about her and her brother, left alone to run a large ranch by themselves. She surveyed the small crowd, just a small portion of the 300 residents, walking around, murmuring to each other. She heard her father’s name several times.
Once she heard someone mention him, and the two men he was talking to laughed with him. It was a pleasant laugh. They had recounted a memory, most likely, something her father had done to amuse them.
She smiled, though tears threatened her eyes again. Her heart ached. She missed him so.
Reece returned and sat in the chair he’d abandoned.
“I’m so sad, Bella,” he said in a strained voice. “I just want to cry and cry, but I can’t because I’m a man and now I have so many … responsibilities … and …”
“Don’t think about that right now, Reece,” Bella said, softly, reaching out to take his hand the way Allison had taken hers. “We’ll get through this. We’re both strong, and I won’t let us fail. With your help, we can keep everything just the way it used to be.”
Reece shook his head, looking at her with sad eyes. “Nothing will be the same, Bella. Just like when Ma died. Everything changed. Now everything will change again.”
She could hear the effort he was putting into not shedding any tears.
“You have to be confident, Reece. Be strong for me. We can do this.”
“But, Bella …”
Bella wouldn’t let him finish. She shook her head and squeezed his hand. “Reece. It’s okay right now to be sad. We don’t have to think about all that right now. Hank is taking care of the ranch for the next week. That will give us time to work through these feelings. Okay?”
Reece didn’t answer. Bella was just happy he’d spoken to her. It was the first conversation the two of them had shared since her father passed.
“Come on, Reece. Let’s take a walk and get out of this stuffy room.”
“I don’t want to walk,” Reece said in a stubborn voice. “I don’t want to do anything.”
“Stop that,” Bella gently scolded him. “You sound like a small child. Come with me, let’s walk around and get out some of this nervousness. I need to move. I can’t stay here and sit for the rest of the day.”
Reece reluctantly agreed, trudging beside her when she took his hand, stood up and walked to the door of the parlor. She looked back at the coffin in the middle of the room, its lid closed to hide her father’s resting form. Someone had recently shut it. Before that, she could see him, still and silent, his body still on earth but his spirit in Heaven.
She didn’t want to see him anymore. She preferred to remember his life, how vibrant and strong he had been.
The strongest man she had ever known.
No one would compare to the man her father was. Any suitor she might have would have to measure up to him. She wasn’t sure she’d ever meet another man like him.
A memory of a long ago picnic crossed her mind. Her long-time friend, Damon, her best friend, really, throughout her growing years. She hadn’t seen him in more than ten. At one time, she’d thought he would measure up to the kind of man her father was.
But that dream had long ago ended. She hadn’t thought about Damon in years. She dismissed the thought of him, pushing her hand through the crook of her brother’s elbow.
Reece was eleven years her junior but just as tall as her, if not a little taller. She walked comfortably with him.
They walked through the foyer to the front door and stopped. Reece pulled the door open and let her go through first. They went down the front steps and walked in silence to the field overlooking the pasture down a gentle slope covered in bright green grass.
A breeze lifted Bella’s shoulder-length hair. She lifted her chin and closed her eyes, feeling the sun’s warmth on her face.
The pastor of the Shallow Creek church, Reverend Daniel Caldwell, and his wife, Andrea put together the wake and funeral for Bella since they were the only ones left of their immediate family. With no grandparents, aunts, uncles, and now, no parents, in Shallow Creek, they were the only Whittakers left.
She pulled in a deep breath, stopping in place to look out over the field in front of the house.
“We have such beautiful land, Reece,” she said in a soft voice. “Don’t you think? I don’t think I ever really appreciated it before.”
Reece grunted. When he spoke, Bella heard a young man and not a boy. “I told Pa every time we went out how much I loved it here. How I never wanted to leave. He said I would never have to.”
A nervous sensation ran through Bella. She would keep the ranch in the family no matter what it took.
Damon Beeson sat in his favorite chair, a lit cigar in his hand and a brooding look on his face. He was feeling miserable and was glad he was alone. He didn’t want to take his mood out on anyone. He’d been doing that a lot lately, and even though he knew he was doing it, he couldn’t seem to stop.
He crossed the lengthy room to the other side, picking up the folded newspaper from the marble-topped table as he went. He stopped at the fireplace, lifting the hand with the cigar up to rest on the mantle. He sighed, lifting the paper to read the first article his eyes fell on.
It was the announcement of the passing of Andrew Whittaker. Just seeing the name brought back a flood of memories. Damon felt a tingle of recognition and nostalgia.
Survived by his children, Arabella and Reece Whittaker.
Damon lowered the paper and stared at the low burning fire, blankly, lost in memory. He could see Bella as a child, running through the fields alongside him, trying to beat him in a foot race. For the longest time, he wouldn’t let her win. But as he got older, he began to realize the power of success. He began to run with her, instead of trying to beat her. As he went, he called out encouraging words, telling her she was getting better, faster. And she was. She just didn’t realize it.
Damon smiled at the memory. Bella was a fun friend. It was a shame it had been so long since they’d spoken. He was three years older than Bella, so he’d felt like her big brother until he turned 16. His focus turned to girls his age and then the tragedy happened that changed his life forever. At the young age of 23, his entire family was taken away by smallpox. He was the only survivor.
It had left him with a heavy guilt that he had yet to shake. There was no reason for the disease to skip him and attack his sister, parents, and grandfather.
Turning his thoughts back to the good times with Bella would have made him feel better. He knew it was the right thing to do. But instead, his mind turned dark again. He frowned and sighed heavily dwelling in his misery.
Three years after the loss of his family, Damon severed all ties with the Whittakers over a land dispute. He didn’t speak to any of them, despite their close proximity and the size of Shallow Creek. He had successfully avoided talking to or seeing any of them for several years now. He would let the lawyers settle what they needed to.
The feud dragged on for years with no real end in sight. Both men wanted to expand their ranches, but it would infringe on the other’s. In hindsight, Damon thought it wasn’t something severe enough for them to have had such a devastating falling out. He was aware that Andrew had ordered Bella to stop talking to Damon. But he hadn’t sought out her attention either. So it was just as much his fault.
Now Andrew was dead, and Damon was filled with regret.
Damon sometimes wished he had kept in contact with Bella, not just after the death of his family and the severance of ties with her father, but when he turned his attention elsewhere. It wasn’t that Bella wasn’t a beautiful girl. Eventually, she would be. But at 13, she hadn’t matured like he had, and there was already a girl in Shallow Creek he’d had his eye on.
Damon couldn’t even remember the girl’s name. She and her family moved when he was 18, going to California to buy up some land.
He’d given up one of his best friends for someone whose name he couldn’t even remember.
Damon turned away from the fireplace. He was certain he heard hoofbeats approaching the ranch. He had no appointments today, so it had to be someone just stopping to visit or his ranch foreman, Caleb.
He walked to the door of the study and swung it open wide. He watched as Caleb dismounted and threw his reins over the white wooden hitching post. He took off his hat as he ascended the stairs, his brown eyes looking directly at Damon.
“Boss. We gotta talk.”
“What is it, Caleb?” Damon stepped back into the study, and Caleb passed him.
“We got some missing cattle. There’s a fence down. These recent rains we’ve been having, couple of pretty bad storms must have done it.”
Damon felt irritation slide through him. He frowned. “How many are missing?”
“About 20 head.” Caleb’s voice lowered with the seriousness of it.
Damon’s frustration mounted. “What have you done about it?”
Caleb tapped his hat against his other hand nervously as he answered, “I sent the men out looking for a broken fence today when I saw the count was off. They found the broken fence and it … it leads onto the Whittaker land, boss. That’s why I thought I better come tell you about it.”
A chill ran up Damon’s spine. His cattle strayed onto the Whittaker land just after Andrew died. It was up to Bella and Reece whether or not they would sell him all or a portion of the land they now owned.
The newspaper said the wake was going on that day. It was three days long, and it would continue to the next day. He had time to prepare himself. It was already pulling into the afternoon hours.
“Okay, I’m going to the stables,” Damon said. “You take me there. If I’m on the land helping you search, we’re a lot less likely to get shot for trespassing. All the ranch hands there know me.”
“Okay, boss.” Caleb turned away from him and trotted back across the porch to go down the steps. He pulled himself up in the saddle while Damon plopped his hat on his head, grabbed his gun belt, and closed the door behind him.
He walked across the porch, strapping on his guns. He landed hard on each step as he went down, enjoying the thumping sound. He was across to the stables in less than a minute, pulling open the door to the stall.
“Okay, boy, let’s go find us some beef. You want to ride? Get some exercise.” He patted the horse on its wide neck affectionately.
Five minutes later, he was riding alongside Caleb toward the Whittaker land. He spotted the broken fence from a distance and shook his head. It didn’t happen often, and when it did, it had to be the Whittaker ranch.
He didn’t have a clue how Bella would treat him. He wasn’t really concerned about it. He was sure he could charm her into giving him what he wanted. Her old man was stubborn. Didn’t mean his daughter was the same.
Reece … he would inherit the majority ownership of the ranch, but it was unlikely he was old enough to run it himself. Damon thought about the boy as he rode closer to the broken fence. Four men were quickly closing it off, but they’d left it open enough for Damon and Caleb to fit through. The other men Caleb had gathered were on their horses on the other side, waiting for their boss so they could search for the cattle.
Damon tried hard to remember how old Reece would be now. He subtracted by how old Bella was when Reece was born. She’d been twelve. He remembered because it was the last best summer he’d ever spent with her. He’d never told anyone how much that summer meant to him once he was in his mid-twenties.
Whenever anyone asked when his happiest days were, it was those days. His family was alive, everyone was loving each other and getting along … those were the days he wished he could return to.
“I’m sorry about this, boss,” Caleb said, interrupting his thoughts.
He glanced at the foreman grunting a non-response. His eyes trailed over the men working on the fence, nodding at each of them. They nodded back or tipped their hat as he passed them.
“We’ll be back to fix it when ya need us, boss,” one of them said.
Damon gave him a second nod and turned his eyes to scan the landscape in front of him. It was excellent ground for a pasture, and his cattle knew it. That’s why they’d crossed as soon as they were able.
Damon wasn’t sure if Bella was using the land as a pasture or not.
He had his doubts she even knew the answer to that question.
Reece was a good kid, but he calculated once more in his mind and settled on him being about 15 or 16 years old. He didn’t know enough to run a ranch, Damon was sure of that. That left Bella in charge. Might as well just sell the whole thing to Damon.
The possibilities filled his mind. There were so many things he could do if he could combine both the ranches. It seemed like endless possibilities to him. He grinned.
“You see them somewhere, boss?” Caleb said. Damon realized the foreman had been staring at him. Or at least watching him. It confused him for a moment. Did Caleb think he enjoyed being on the Whittaker property?
“No, I don’t. Do you?” He narrowed his eyes at the man. Caleb swiveled his eyes away from Damon’s. They traveled across the hills and valleys, over the green field and into the desert plain beyond, where the grass became sparse and cacti sprung up out of the dirt.
“How long do you think they’ve been out?”
Caleb shook his head. “Not really sure when they got out, but I counted this mornin’ and couldn’t find them. I’d say from the rain and the soaked ground we shouldn’t have too much trouble finding them, though.”
Damon looked at the ground. “Looks pretty trampled through here. Let’s follow it.”
He sped up the pace a little and rode across the land. He didn’t see any of the Whittaker ranch hands in sight. That was one of the reasons he’d used to try to convince Andrew to sell him that part of the land. He wasn’t using it. But Andrew had held fast, saying the land would stay in his family and, if anything, he would be the one expanding onto Damon’s land.
Damon sighed. Stubborn old man. He wished things had been different between them all.
Regardless of the past, he was going to the third day of the wake tomorrow. He would propose a deal with Bella and get her reaction.
He wondered what it would be like to see her again. It was amazing they hadn’t run across each other over the years, considering their land was connected. But the Whittakers owned many acres, crossing two small mountains and the valleys below them. Their ranch house wasn’t on this side of their property.
Once again he sighed, more heavily this time. So much land and refusing to sell. The Beeson land was not as expansive. Growing out into this area would create many new opportunities for more cattle. He was also thinking of expanding to add horses to his ranch, to train them and sell them. One of his ranch hands was an excellent horse trainer whose talents weren’t often put to good use.
“I think I see them, boss,” Caleb said, pointing out across the land. Damon focused in front of him and saw the cattle, bunched together, grazing on the green grass.
“All right, let’s round them up,” Damon used a loud voice so the rest of the group could hear him. They moved around him, going toward the cattle to circle around them and drive them back. Damon pulled off to the side to watch them drive the herd and join them when they got back to him, taking care of any strays that might come his way.
“A Western Tale of Rivalry and Love” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Bella’s last promise to her late father was that she will handle the ranch, until her younger brother comes of age. When she feels utterly lost and incapable of dealing with it, her old best friend reappears in her life. Their families have been rivals for more years than she can remember, but she believes in her heart that Damon is a trustworthy person. However, is trusting him a wise t decision?
Damon Beeson has turned to a ruthless businessman, since he lost his whole family due to smallpox. Conflicts about ranches borders have ruined his precious friendship with Bella many
years ago. Motivated by sordid gain, he knows that expanding his business will be a piece of cake now that Bella’s father is out of the picture. Persuading his long lost friend to sell their ranch will prove to be a much more difficult task than he expected. Will he manage to stay focused on his end goal?
No matter how hard Damon tries to stay away from Bella, she has a weird impact on him. An accident helps Damon to realize his feeling and remind Bella that he is his same old self. As soon as they are finally reconnected, an unexpected arrival will almost destroy their newfound love. When Bella will find out about Damon’s machinations, will he be able to convince her that his love is truthful or will he lose her forever?
“A Western Tale of Rivalry and Love” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.