Preview Chapter One
Melissa Danner hurried around the outer hall of the Denver Coliseum looking for seating Section XX where her family’s seats where located.
“Next up is barrel racing, and we have some sharp and eager ladies wanting to show their talent.” The announcement vibrated in the hall.
“Hurry up, Tony.” Missy glared at footwear her co-worker had chosen for his first time at the rodeo--loafers without socks. Her break-up with her long-time fiancé had left her vulnerable to Tony’s quest for a date. He’d been asking for months.
“I’m trying, but I’ve got something in my shoe.” He limped toward her.
“We’re almost to the right section. According to the signs, we’re one more entrance over.”
“I want you to give a good Colorado welcome for our first contest, Julie Long, from Mesa, Arizona,” the announcer continued.
“We don’t have time. Let’s go inside and I’ll locate my family.” She helped Tony climb the stairs. They emerged into the bright lights of the arena just as the first rider finished.
“Miss Julie’s score is 17 seconds. Next up is Carol Jones out of Oklahoma City.”
Missy spotted her family in the next section. They took up the entire row. First in line was her father. Behind him sat Nathan Winters, her oldest brother’s best friend.
Once at their seats, Tony tapped Nate on the shoulder.
He glanced up. Missy quickly made the introductions.
“Your brothers were taking bets if you’d make it on time,” Nate murmured.
She leaned over her oldest brother’s shoulder. “I’m sure you started this entire thing.”
Noah didn’t deny it but grinned.
She turned her head and kissed her father’s cheek, tucking a strand of chin-length brown hair behind her ear. “How are you, Dad?”
He grunted, but flashed a smile.
Nate cleared his throat. She jerked upright realizing she had her backside in his face. He didn’t appear upset but had a twinkle in his green eyes. Missy’s cheeks went hot. Tony frowned. She moved to his right and sat.
After the next two contests, Tony asked if that was all that barrel racing was--racing around barrels.
Missy’s gaze met Nate’s. “These women clock some of the fastest in all of rodeo.”
“And our last contestant is Kylee Danner out of Silverdale, out on the Eastern slope. Let’s welcome a hometown girl.”
Her sister raced into the arena on a bay horse Kylee had named Morning Lightning. She and the horse rounded the first barrel, heading to the barrel on the other side.
“Go, Sis,” her brothers shouted, but Kylee cut the corner on the second barrel and rocked it as she raced to the finish line. The announcer said, “What a ride...16.8 seconds, which is our best time today, but there will be penalty points added for the brush with that barrel.”
Missy and her brothers all sat down.
“I thought she had it,” Wyatt shook his head.
“It was good ride,” Noah added.
The entire Danner clan stood and made their way to the exit where the contestants were housed.
“Are you going, too?” Tony asked her, sounding like a five-year-old.
“Yes. My sister just lost her event and I want to be with her. If you want, you can stay here and watch the bareback bullriding.”
He opened his mouth to reply, but she hurried away before he could say anything. Backstage, Missy made her way to where Kylee stood forehead to for