Wyoming Heart

By: Diana Palmer


So Cort had decided that he needed a holiday. He’d called a fourth cousin in Catelow, Wyoming—Bart Riddle—and invited himself to help work around the ranch incognito. He explained the situation to his amused cousin, who told him to come on up. If he wanted to ruin his health digging postholes and chasing cattle, welcome.

He also had another cousin in Carne County, Wyoming—Cody Banks, who was the local sheriff—but Banks lived in town and didn’t own a ranch. Cort wanted to get his hands busy. But he had plans to visit with Cody while he was in town.

Bart met him at the airport, an amused smile in his dark eyes as they shook hands. “You own one of the biggest ranches in Texas and you want to come up here and be a cowboy?” Bart asked.

“It’s like this,” Cort explained on the way out of the airport. “I’m tired of being a walking, talking dollar sign to women.”

“Oh, if only I had that problem,” Bart sighed. He stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “I’m older than you, no pinup boy, I budget like a madman and I’m not housebroken.” He chuckled. “I guess I’ll live alone with a houseful of dogs and cats until I die.”

Cort glanced at him, his suitcase and suit bag in one hand and a carry-on bag in another. “What happened to that local veterinarian you were going around with?”

He made a face. “She moved to Arizona. With her new husband,” he added.

“Sorry.”

Bart shrugged. “Fortunes of war,” he said. “I’m giving up on women. Well, not all of them,” he added. “I have one who’s just a friend. Kind of like a baby sister.” He smiled. “She’s a writer.”

“We have a lot of writers back home,” Cort mused. “Hopefuls. Not a published one in the bunch,”

“This one is very published. Her latest book actually landed on the USA Today bestseller list.”

“Not bad. How about the New York Times list?”

He shook his head. “But it’s early days yet. She has the talent.”

“What does she write?”

“Romance novels.”

Cort made a face. “Drippy, oozy, sugary stuff.”

“Not exactly.” They reached Bart’s big black pickup truck. “Climb aboard. I think it’ll get us home. Halfway, anyway.”

Cort made a face. “What do you do with this thing, herd cattle?” he asked, noting the dents and scratches.

“It goes all sorts of places. I have another one that looks a little better, but it’s in the shop. Had a slight malfunction.”

Cort stowed his gear in the boot and climbed in beside his cousin and closed the door. He reached for the seat belt. “What sort of malfunction?”

“It accidentally got slammed in the passenger door with a tire tool.”

Cort blinked and stared at his cousin, who flushed. “It what?”

Bart’s lips made a thin line as he cranked the truck, put it in gear and peeled out of the airport parking lot. “That’s a long story.”

“I’ll wait with breathless abandon to hear it,” Cort replied with a chuckle.



* * *



HE LOOKED OUT the window at the passing scenery. Wyoming was a lot greener than Cort’s part of Texas, where there was sand and desert and sharp mountain peaks and salt. The ranch was in an area that got a little more rainfall than its surroundings, so at least he had the semblance of good pasture. But Catelow looked as if it had more than its share of rainfall. The pastures they drove by were lush.

“Nice forage,” he remarked.

Bart chuckled. “Expensive forage,” he corrected. “We don’t get a lot of rainfall here. We depend on snowmelt, and we haven’t had as much snow in past years as we’d like. But if you’ve got enough money, you can pamper your cattle. This guy—” he indicated the ranch they were passing “—has millions. He has ranches here, in Montana, and even a big property in Australia. Name’s Jake McGuire.”

“I know him,” Cort replied. “We met at a cattle convention in Denver about three years ago.”

“He’s a good guy. Always trying to help people.” He sighed. “I guess if you’ve got enough money, you can have forage and do charitable things as well. I wouldn’t know.”

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