A Rancher for Their Mom
Cowboy Joel Kaye has ambitions as big as Texas. And after decades away, rodeo glory seems finally within reach. But when two little boys “hire” him to work on their ranch, Joel can’t turn them down. He tells himself it’s only for one week, but widow April Landers and her family soon begin to fill a void in the rodeo rider’s scarred heart. April lives for her three kids—and the ranch she’s fighting fiercely to keep. This determined mama’s not looking for another wandering partner. Will this ready-made family inspire Joel to put down roots…for good?
Rodeo Heroes: Book Two
“Mom, Mom,” six-year-old Todd yelled, the back screen door slamming against its frame. The sound of little cowboy boots pounded through the kitchen and down the hall.
“Where are you, Mom?”
“I’m in the office,” April Landers answered.
The screen slammed again, followed by another set of small boot falls. April winced, hoping the boys didn’t wake their younger sister from her nap.
Breathless, Todd appeared in the doorway. “Wes told me no one born in February could be a cowboy. Only boys born in June could be cowboys. That’s not true, is it?”
Eight-year-old Wes appeared behind his brother, a smirk on his face. April’s brow arched as her gaze engaged her older son. His grin disappeared.
“I can be a cowboy, too, can’t I?” Todd pleaded.
“Opa and your cousin Chad have birthdays in February. Weren’t they cowboys?”
Todd’s frown disappeared and his eyes widened. “Yes.” He turned to his brother and stuck out his tongue.
Wes’s expression went from somber to a grin. He shrugged.
“Ha, you’re wrong. I can be a cowboy, too.” Todd stomped back down the hall.
Wes turned to follow his brother.
“Stop, young man.”
Wes halted, his shoulders hunching.
April pushed away from the antique desk. “Come here.”
He looked up and she motioned her son to her side. Wes dragged his feet as if going to an execution and stopped when he got to her knees. He refused to raise his head.
“Wes, look at me.”
Her son slowly raised his head.
“Why did you tell your brother he couldn’t be a cowboy?”
He shrugged his shoulders, kicking an imaginary piece of dirt on the floor.
April sighed. She knew her boys missed Opa—their grandfather Vernon—who had died last September. “Do you think Opa would’ve liked you telling that story to your brother?”
He hung his head. “No. He wouldn’t have liked it.”
“I didn’t like it, either. I’m disappointed with you.”
Wes’s lips pursed.
He moved and April drew him into her arms and hugged him. All sorts of emotions bounced around her chest.
The boys needed a male figure in their lives to help and guide them since Opa’s death. Their father had died in an oil platform accident over three years ago. April’s own father couldn’t fill the role since he still worked on an oil platform out in the Gulf. He was the manager and only made it back to shore once every six months.
“I don’t want you to lie to your brother again. He looks up to you.”
Wes scuffed his boot. “I was just playing.”
“Would you like some of the older boys at school to tease you like that?”
He shook his head.
“You can go outside and play if you boys have finished your chores.”
Wes pursed his lips. “We were almost finished when Todd told me he wanted to be a cowboy like Jimmy Rogers’s dad. You know that Jimmy’s dad is going to compete in the rodeo next week? Could we go? Please?” His eyes filled with hope and longing.
His expression fell and his lower lip jutted out. “ˋKay.”
Wes’s posture, slumped shoulders and dragging feet tore at her heart.
The rodeo was in town, but the competition would take place next weekend. April wished she had the extra money to buy tickets to take the boys to see it. It just wasn’t in the budget. Money was tight, which was why she’d decided to sell the two horses her father-in-law had raised for the rodeo. They were a little young, and if she could’ve held out until December, it would’ve been better, but she couldn’t afford the extra money needed for the horses’ upkeep.
Even with the money woes and problems the ranch faced, she wouldn’t change a thing about her life—except having her late husband’s vision of the future match hers. With all the traveling her family had done as she was growing up, this little piece of Texas in the Panhandle was her ideal spot. Roots. A place to belong. Waking up every day in the same place. That was paradise.
Ross had never understood that need for a home she could live in 24-7, 365 days a year. “Lord, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed here. Could You send me some help?”
The baby cried, alerting April that her few minutes of reprieve were over.