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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Lost Love at the Rodeo

 Hi dear Reader,

I hope this finds you well! It has been an absolutely gorgeous week here in Minnesota. I’m writing to you from my backyard. It’s sunny with a slight breeze. The insects are chirping and Tank, my Longhair Dachshund, is rolling in the grass. Yes, he was my inspiration for Clifford. It is only fitting as he sits under my writing desk or next to me on the couch while I am working on a story.

Thank you to everyone who has read my story, commented, or sent me emails. I am so grateful that you took time out of your day to read my words. The story is finished and will remain up for another couple weeks. It will go behind a paywall on Oct 5th as that is when My Cowboy of Convenience will go up for preorder on the retailers. So now is the time to read it for free! Here’s the chapter index if you want to start at the beginning or missed some chapters!

 My Cowboy of Convenience Index

On October 5th, I’ll share the preorder link for anyone who is interested. It is going through final edits and formatting. So exciting!

I have a short story to share with you. A couple of years ago, I was buying my mom a bottle of wine at the Piggly Wiggly in my hometown when I came across a little booklet at the checkout. It was 5-minute Romance Summer Love published by Woman’s World. It contained 40 romance stories that were about 2 pages long. It was a fun read for those short time spans where I didn’t want to get dragged into a novel. So I thought that I would give it a try. Here is the first one.

Lost Love at the Rodeo

Emily grabbed the doctor’s bag off the truck seat next to her before sliding to the ground. She slammed the door to her veterinary truck closed and took a big breath. This was the third after-hours emergency this evening. Her stomach growled, empty from the smoothie she had for breakfast this morning. She realized at that moment she forgot to eat lunch. She gripped the doctor’s bag in one hand and held her cell phone in the other as she got her bearings of the rodeo grounds.

A stream of people tricked down from the parking lot to the rodeo arena. The announcer’s booth crackled to life with someone tapping on the microphone and saying, “testing, one, two, three.” A line of people stood in front of the concession stand where the aromas of kettle corn and hotdogs teased Emily’s empty stomach. She gritted her teeth as she strode by wishing she had time for dinner.

The message came from the answering service that someone had a lame horse and could not wait until business hours to be seen. Emily rolled her eyes at the message: Need a horse vet STAT. Need to rodeo.

“If they would only take care of their horses and not treat them like vehicles,” she grumbled to herself. “Then, things like this wouldn’t happen.” She signed. It was all part of the jog. It pained her that not everyone felt about their horses like she did.

She wove through the contestant parking lot. Horse trailers and campers wedged together like cows in a trailer. Most of the horses were saddled and waiting for their turn in the warm-up arena. The message said that it was the trailer at the end of the lot with Montana plates. Why was a Montana cowboy rodeoing in Texas for the summer rodeo circuit. Surely, they have rodeos up there.

She rounded the line of trailers to the last one at the end. A shiny brand-new horse trailer with living quarters and truck stood out from the average Texas rig. Most of the contestants were local working cowboys. A beautiful sorrel horse stood tied to the side. A full hay net and water bucket hung within his reach. He rested one front foot out in front, barely putting any weight on it. Yep, this was definitely the lame horse.

Emily walked around the horse to the living quarters door. She raised her fist to knock when the door swung open. A tall cowboy filled the doorway. A Stetson hat pulled low on his forehead, shielding his eyes. Emily craned her neck to meet his gaze. His eyes roamed from the top of head to her battered cowboy boots. The tips of her ears reddened and her cheeks flushed under his perusal.

“I’m here to check out your lame horse.” She nodded to the sorrel, dozing a few feet away.

A slow smile spread over his face, causing a warmth to spread throughout her. “I’m glad you could fit us in, Doc Emily.” He advanced out of the trailer and approached the horse. “King, here, stepped off the trailer lame.” He untied the horse and rubbed King’s forehead. King nickered softly and nudged the cowboy in the chest with his nose. The cowboy chuckled, giving King a sugar cube from his pocket.

Something about the way he rubbed the horse’s head and his laugh sparked something in Emily’s memory. It was gone before she could catch it, though.

“Well, let me take a look at him.” Emily set her doctor’s bag down and started her exam.

The whole time the cowboy rubbed King’s head and crooned to him. Emily had sworn off cowboys a decade ago, but this one was melting her heart. Plus, he was handsome, and his horse loved him.

Emily pulled out the hoof testers and placed it on King’s hoof. He jumped and snorted when she got to the sore spot. She examined the hoof closer.

“Ah ha, I’ve found it.” She bent over the hoof and used her hoof knife to dig out an abscess. Within a few minutes, pus shot from the small hole she created in the sole of King’s hoof.

King sighed and placed the foot squarely on the ground. Emily straightened, rubbing her lower back.

“I’ll treat it and wrap it for you. He won’t be able to compete this weekend, though. I can write you a release to get your money back.” She extracted bandage materials from her bag. She medicated the abscess and wrapped the hoof in a colorful green bandage.

“I’m not worried about the entry fees.” The cowboy rubbed King’s forehead. “I just want him to feel better.”

“Give him a few days. Soak the foot in warm water and Epsom salts and keep it wrapped. He’ll be right as rain. Do you have any pain meds for him?” Emily packed everything back into her bag and turned to the cowboy.

“I have some bute. Never leave home without it.” He smiled at her.

Something about his smiled tugged at the corner of her mind. It made her feel giddy like a schoolgirl as a blush colored her cheeks. “Good. He can get a dose or two.” She pulled out her receipt book and wrote down the charges to avoid his gaze. She hoped he didn’t notice her blush. “We take cash, checks, or credit cards.” She paused her pen over the page. “What was your name?”

“Roy McLaughin,” he said softly.

Emily’s pen hit the ground as her whole body froze at his words. Her heart skipped a beat before plunging forward at a gallop. She swallowed, bringing her gaze to meet his.

His smile spread wide. His eyes danced in merriment. He crossed his arms over his chest, his muscles bulging as she took him in.

“Hi, Emily.” He took a step toward her, lowering his voice. “Didn’t recognize me?

Emily shook her head, still in shock. The familiar feeling took hold and brought back all the memories. “Roy, I can’t believe it…it has been so long.”

He grasped her hands with his, engulfing them. They were roughened by years of hard work and tanned from the sun. “I didn’t think that I’d ever come back. But I am.”

Her heart leaped at his touch. It had been years since Roy said good-bye to chase his dreams of becoming a rodeo star. She was left with a broken heart and a full ride scholarship to Texas A&M. He tugged her gently, closing the gap between them. Their breath mingled and their hearts called to one another.

“Are you home for good?” Her voice shook with emotion as she held his gaze.

His hand drifted up her arm over her shoulder to cup her chin. He held it there as his eyes searched hers. Emotions swirled in them. “Yes, I’m home to stay. Grandpa is retiring and wants me to run the ranch.” He bent close to her. “What do you say about seeing me again?”

Emily’s chest grew tight and the words squeaked out of her. “That sounds wonderful.” His touch sent shivers through her, making it hard to speak. Her cowboy was home again and still wanted her.

He closed the gap. His lips hovered above hers, unsure but hopeful. Emily stood on her tiptoes and pressed her lips to his. The kiss lingered as it brought back all the memories of their time together. It held promise of everything yet to come. Emily melted against his strong chest as his arms wrapped around her, holding her like he would never let go. He rested his chin on top of her head.

“Leaving you was my greatest regret,” he said. He pressed his lips against her temple. “I’ve missed you so much.”

“I missed you, too.” Emily leaned back in his arms. Their gazes met and held, speaking unspoken words. Her stomach rumbled with the forgotten hunger pains. They laughed.

“Why don’t I buy you some supper and we can catch up?” He threaded his fingers in between hers.

“That sounds wonderful,” she grinned. Her busy day ending on a high note.


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