No Cowboy Required
by JoAnn Sky
Publication Date: May 14, 2018
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Bliss, Contemporary, Romance
Grace Harper is a pro at handling the unexpected—which comes in handy when she inherits the ranch she ran away from years ago…along with a young, autistic stepbrother she’s never met. And because nothing ever goes easy for her, Grace finds her frustrating, sexy ex-flame, Noah, taking care of JJ. But if she’s getting out of this nowhere town, she’ll have to find a way to keep from throttling Noah—without kissing him first.
Noah Taylor may be enemy number one to Grace, but she needs his help. He knows the girl he used to love is still there, beneath the heels and fancy clothes, so he’ll help her—and keep his distance like she says she wants. Only the more time they spend together, the closer he wants to get. Graci has no intention of staying, but she belongs in his arms—he just has to prove it to her.
Noah lugged her oversized suitcases, all three of them, into the mudroom then nodded toward them. “This mean you’re staying awhile?”
“Two weeks,” she muttered. “Fourteen days too long.” She walked into the kitchen. It was like stepping through a time warp. Same cracked sink, same yellowing linoleum floor, same Formica countertops. Blech. “Sheila did a lot with the place.” She peered into the living room. Worn rug, dirty walls.
Silence strung between them like an inflating balloon—stretching, stretching… Pushing on her chest. Suffocating her.
“I need to find JJ.” She cleared her throat and adjusted her jacket again. “The dirt-caked boy?”
Noah chuckled. “He’s probably down by the creek, or out in the fields watching the wild horses up in the foothills. I’ll walk back there with you.” He eyed her outfit, stalling on her heels. “You should change first.”
He was right; her clothes weren’t fit to slog through dirt and knee-high weeds. What had possessed her to get all dressed up? She knew the answer.
It was who she was now. It was her armor, her shield. It gave her courage. “I’m fine. Well, maybe just my shoes.” She looked at her suitcases. “Can you move my luggage into my room?”
“Uh, sure, but I’m sort of still set up there. I didn’t think I should stay in your daddy’s room.”
A squeezing sensation cinched her spine as she realized what he was saying. He’d been staying in her room, sleeping in her bed. Her bed. Dear Lord, the demons she’d battle tonight in her sleep. Her cheeks heated.
“That makes sense,” she rushed to say. “I didn’t realize, I mean, I get you’re watching JJ, I just wasn’t thinking.” But where did that leave her? She looked back at her luggage. “I’ll stay in town.” Her chest felt lighter as soon as the words left her lips. “It’s probably better. Like you said, JJ doesn’t even know me.”
“Don’t be foolish, Gracie. This is your home.”
Her eyes flicked to his, a snappy retort on her lips.
“I mean,” he said, softening his tone, “you haven’t sold it yet.” He tried for a smile. “Besides, you need to get to know JJ. You’re all the family he has now.”
“We’re not related.” She clamped her lips together wishing the words, fit for a six-year-old sourpuss, had never passed through.
“Blood isn’t a necessity for family,” Noah said tightly.
“I know.” But she still hadn’t gotten used to thinking of the boy as her brother. Judging from JJ’s greeting, the lack of kinship was mutual. And not something that would change overnight. The more pressing issue was where to sleep—and it certainly wasn’t going to be under the same roof as Noah. “Like I said, I’ll stay at a hotel.”
“You’ll stay here. I was planning to move to the cottage, just for a few days, until you and JJ get to know each other. George and I were using it as a work shed, but I cleaned it out when you called. Then you never showed. But it won’t take me long to move my stuff. This way, I’ll be next door if you need anything.”
Her breathing hitched. Next door? Of course, the cottage was next door. And his plan made sense, at least until JJ was comfortable with her. Still, it’d make more sense if it wasn’t Noah. And if next door wasn’t so close.
ABOUT JOANN SKY
JoAnn Sky writes adult contemporary romance and young adult romance with a magical twist. As J.A. Sky, she writes children’s books. For more information about her children’s stories, go to: www.dogsandbooks.com.
JoAnn is a member of Romance Writers of America and its YARWA and Golden Network chapters. Her manuscripts have seen success in various RWA-sponsored contests, including as a Golden Heart® finalist in 2014 (YA category) and 2017 (Contemporary Short category). Originally from the Midwest, JoAnn currently lives in northern Nevada with her husband a.k.a. love of her life, three teenage children, and three crazy rescue dogs.