Wyoming Heart

By: Diana Palmer

Cort’s dark eyes smiled. “You do all right,” he returned.

Bart shrugged. “Well, I do know ranching. I just can’t quite wrap my mind around budgets and billing.”

“You need to marry an accountant.”

“Oh, chance would be a fine thing.”

“You never know.”

“I have to stop in town and pick up some supplies on the way home, if you’re not in a flaming hurry?” Bart asked.

“Not at all.”

“Won’t take a minute. I just need a few salt blocks.”

“I’ll wait in the truck, unless you need help loading them...?”

Bart shook his head. “The Callisters took over the feed store. McGuire owns it, but they lease and run it. They’ve got some hefty men who help with the supplies.”

“Callisters. The Montana Callisters?” Cort asked.

“The very same. The youngest son, John, married a local girl, Sassy, who used to work in the feed store. They have a son. Gil, John’s brother, and his wife and kids still live on the headquarters ranch in Montana.”

“That’s not a ranch, that’s an empire,” Cort chuckled.

“It sure is. Not to mention that Gil’s wife is the goddaughter of K. C. Kantor.”

“The millionaire who made his money as a merc, fighting in wars all over Africa,” Cort recalled.

“It’s an interesting family. And we’re here,” he added, pulling up in front of a feed store, just off the main street that ran through Catelow. “I’ll be back.”

Cort sighed as he looked around. He lived in a smallish community near El Paso, which looked a lot like this except there weren’t so many green trees and no giant fir trees like the ones all around town. Lodgepole pines, he recalled from reading about Catelow.

He needed to stretch his long legs. He stuck his creamy Stetson over his black hair and slanted it over one light brown eye as he got out of the truck and walked up onto the sidewalk. He drew the eyes even of older women. He was tall and rangy, but powerfully built with long legs and narrow hips and broad shoulders, a physique that would have looked right at home on a movie lot. He was handsome, too, in a rugged, outdoorsy way. He had a way of looking at a woman that made her feel as if she was the only woman on the planet. And when he wanted to, he could be charming.

He glanced down at the dust and leftover cattle poop on his expensive hand-tooled leather boots. They needed polishing. He’d worn them out into the pasture to look at a sick bull just before he’d left for Catelow. Sloppy, he thought. He should have changed them for something cleaner.

“I never thought we’d have our own shop right here in town,” a young woman with blond-streaked brown hair in a tight bun was saying to a slightly taller woman as they came down the sidewalk. “All sorts of exotic yarns, just right for knitting...”

“Knitting,” Cort scoffed.

The plain woman looked up at him with big brown eyes in a pleasant but not really pretty face. She wore no makeup at all. Shame, he thought. She might not look half-bad if she tried to look attractive. Nice mouth, rounded chin, pretty complexion. But she dressed like a bag lady, and that tightly pulled-up hair wasn’t at all appealing.

The dark brown eyes were openly glaring at him as their owner looked up, a long way up the rangy, muscular body to the lean, tanned face under the cream-colored cowboy hat. “If I had boots as nasty as yours,” she said in a soft but biting tone, “I wouldn’t be so insulting about another person’s choice of hobbies.”

His eyebrows arched. “Do you rock, too?” he asked pleasantly.

She frowned. “Rock?”

“It goes with knitting. Chairs? Rocking chairs?” he taunted.

The glare got worse. “I don’t sit in a rocking chair to knit!”

“You can do it standing up?”

The look, added to the suggestive velvety tone, brought a scarlet flush to her cheeks. She started to come back with something even worse when she was interrupted by her name being called.


She turned. Bart came down the sidewalk grinning. “Hey, girl!” he teased.

She laughed. It changed her whole face. She looked much more interesting now to the tall cowboy who’d been insulting her.

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