The Texas Cowboy's Triplets

By: Cathy Gillen Thacker

“I’d rather you not know. That way, you won’t be predisposed to see something that may or may not be there.”

Made sense, he thought, continuing to study her. “You really want to be wrong about this, don’t you?” She looked so distressed. He wanted to pull her into his arms and hold her close. Instead, he touched her arm.

Kelly sighed, and just for one second leaned into his touch. “Cowboy, more than you could ever know.”

Chapter Two

As Kelly had hoped, the two three-year-old classes at the preschool were completely mesmerized by Dan McCabe’s talk on his work at the sheriff’s department. With the exception of little Shoshanna Johnson, who never really seemed to get involved in any class activity, they sat raptly gazing at him as Dan explained how law enforcement was there to help them. And how not to be afraid to approach one to ask for help if it was ever needed.

Kelly stared, too, for a completely different…extremely inappropriate…reason.

When he concluded his short but very informative talk, she stepped to the center of the student circle and, studiously ignoring the lawman’s sexy, virile presence, took charge once again. “Would anyone like to ask a question?” And get my mind off just how hot Dan McCabe looks in uniform?

To her relief, Brian Alderman’s hand promptly shot up. “Do you sleep at the station, like the firemen?”

“No.” Dan smiled kindly, the glance he directed at Kelly letting her know he realized just how, um, unusually attentive she had been during his speech.

“I live at my ranch,” he said, sending another deferential glance her way. Kelly told herself it was the heat of classroom making her sweat. She moved closer to the air-conditioning vent.

“With horses?” Paul Robertson inquired.

A slow smile tugged at the corners of Dan’s lips. “Six miniature goats and a dog, actually.”

The students appeared perplexed.

“I don’t think anyone has any goats as pets,” Kelly ventured.

So Dan brought out his cell phone and showed pictures. Kelly relaxed. Maybe, she thought, ignoring the melting sensation in her middle, she would get through this without making a besotted fool of herself yet.

It wasn’t that she was attracted to him, per se.

It was that he was so big and handsome and confident-looking, and exuded strength in a hundred different ways that was the problem. A fact he seemed to know darn well, judging by the pure masculine devilry in his smile.

“What are their names?” Sally Baker asked.

Dan put his phone away. “They don’t have any.”

Moans and cries of dismay followed. “If you have a pet, you have to name it,” Teddy Franklin pointed out.

“Point well-taken,” Dan said.

Kelly smiled. “Maybe we can think up suggestions later and send them to Deputy Dan.”

Excited suggestions followed, while in the middle of the group, Shoshanna Johnson sighed, burying her head in her knees.

“Any more questions?” Kelly said, trying not to worry over her new student’s continued lack of involvement.

Another hand shot up.

Uh-oh, Kelly thought, knowing where this was likely to go as Dan turned and called on her triplet daughter. Michelle squinted at him. “Are you married?”

Despite the fact they’d just gone from goats to his marital status, Dan somehow managed to keep a poker face. “No,” he said genially. “I’m not.”

“Are you going to be?” Kelly’s son Matthew asked out of turn.

Dan flashed a devastating smile. “I hope so.”

Kelly could imagine that. There were some men who were just meant to be surrounded by loved ones. Dan McCabe was one of them.

Michelle raised her hand again, and it was all Kelly could do not to groan aloud. “Well, then, can you marry our mommy?” Michelle asked plaintively. “Because she needs a husband.”

Michael—the most independent of Kelly’s triplets—frowned. Forgetting for a moment what he was supposed to be doing, he stood up and argued back stalwartly. “No, she doesn’t!”

Doing her best to stifle a self-conscious blush, Kelly interjected quickly in a desperate attempt to change the subject. “Actually, I have a question for Deputy Dan.” All eyes, including the handsome lawman’s, turned her way. She noted the amusement in his eyes. “Have you ever been called to help a kitten or puppy in trouble while on duty?”

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