Authors: Grace Warren
A Ranch to Call Home
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Lucy Carson is single woman from the big city; unfortunately,
her bank account is nonexistent along with her social life. Nash McCain is a
widowed Texas rancher with a hard headed sister in law and two amazing
When fate, through an obscure internet site, brings them
together it’s a roller coaster of emotion for all involved. Lucy is in love
with the children at first sight, but she can’t seem to get Nash to notice her.
Aunt Van wants nothing to do with her. Finally, able to see the truth Lucy lets
the chips fall where they may.
Will she travel back to New York empty handed and broken hearted
or will Nash open his heart and learn to love once again? Find out in this new
original romance A Ranch to Call Home.
“A Ranch to Call Home”
© Grace Warren 2016
Moon and Stars Press
All Rights Reserved
Also by Grace Warren:
Order Bride of the Ages
The sound of a
train braking on the tracks was deafening in the early morning hours, outside
the small town station on the outskirts of Smyrna, Texas. Slender legs and
dainty feet adorned in open toed wedges stepped from the train car ramp and
into the morning fog that covered the arrival dock. Lucy wheeled her single bag
in one hand while she scanned over the printed information from the online
service in the other. According to the travel itinerary, she was to meet the
taxi just outside the station and travel directly to the county clerk’s office.
She assumed she would proceed onward from there by other means, as that was her
ending destination on the print out.
The cab driver
stood waiting for her outside the station door. He didn’t hold a sign and he
didn’t ask questions, it was obvious he was waiting for her, he had to be, she
was the only passenger left waiting of the few that had exited. The man
assisted her in loading up her bag and closed the door behind her. The fare had
been taken care of in advance, per the set up of the whole situation, leaving
Lucy with nothing more to do but wait out the drive. She leaned her head
against the window and stared out at all the open spaces that surround her.
Expansive fields of cotton and enormous pastures with cows and horses were laid
out for miles as she traveled down the highway. It was an eye opening
comparison to where she had come from. Her 600 square foot loft back in New
York could fit several times over in some of the houses she was passing by. Not
to mention, each house was situated on acres and acres of beautiful lawn and
fields with running fences that went on for miles. Lucy was feeling overwhelmed
and scared. She hadn’t expected to feel so insecure, she hadn’t realized how
comfortable she had been living in the tight quarters of the city and she
hadn’t fathomed she would be questioning her decision with this much doubt,
until this moment in time.
unfolded a well weathered singular piece of paper. The creases showed that it
had been opened and folded numerous times. Lucy opened it one last time and
starred at the printed picture of a man in a white button up dress shirt, deep
tanned skin and light scruff about his neck and chin. His dark hair was
complimented by bright, sea foam green eyes. Lucy saw sorrow in his eyes
although there was a smile on his lips. The man was flanked on either side by a
child; a young girl of eight on his right, her golden hair in pig tails and a
dimple on each cheek and a boy who was the four-year-old version of his father,
on the left. She had gazed on this picture everyday for the last three months.
The man was Nash McCain and the children were Olivia and Galen.
Lucy followed the
steps it had taken to get here as if it were a well rehearsed mantra, which in
fact it was. She had lost her teaching job a year ago due to educational cut
backs. Three months after that, her father had passed away, leaving her as the
sole surviving member of her small family. When she had finally managed to pay
all the bills involved with his passing, her saving had been devastated, she
had to work three jobs, a waitress, a dog walker and the occasional babysitter,
to make ends meet and that wasn’t enough to give her any financial cushion. She
had been so busy trying to stay afloat that there had been no time for anything
else, let alone anybody else. So, she had turned to the internet for
socialization. That is how she found the website, a site that had guaranteed
her a social life and financial security. Lucy recalled how skeptical she had
been at first, but the more she delved into the site the more it made sense to
her. When the day came that she could no longer afford the loft she felt that
she had no more options available to her. That is how she ended up with the
printed photograph of Nash McCain.
The taxi parked
in front of a large stone building. Tall white pillars loomed before her as she
made her way up the marble steps and into the foyer of the county building. She
double checked the office number and conferred with a laminated map of the building
before proceeding through security and up another flight of stairs to the
second floor. Sitting outside the office, on a bench that looked less than
accommodating, was a man. Lucy stood still for a moment and took in his form.
His feet were clad in weathered cowboy boots, dark jeans that looked brand new
covered his long legs, finishing off with a light blue button up shirt and a
black Stetson that was tilted so far down on his head she was not able to see
his face. Lucy had to bite her lip to stifle a giggle. She knew she was in
Texas, but she didn’t expect the stereotypical cowboy look so soon. It threw
her off guard and his image, mixed with her travel weary emotions, and brought
laughter that she could not hold back.
twitter of amusement, the man looked up, a look of recognition washed over his
shadowed features and his sea foam green eyes shown bright when he removed his
hat, holding it against his chest. “Are you Lucy Carson?”
Lucy covered her
mouth to stop the giggles from coming out and appearing rude. She nodded,
unable to speak. The man took a few steps forward and offered his hand.
His large hand engulfed hers, but his touch was gentle. “It’s a pleasure to
meet you face to face, Ma’am.”
The couple walked
into the office together, Nash carrying her single piece of luggage. The clerk
welcomed them and asked how she could help.
Nash cleared his
throat. “We’d like to get a marriage license.”
“Well that didn’t
take long.” Lucy commented as she sat in the passenger seat of Nash’s Ford
pick-up truck starring at the marriage affidavit in her fingertips. “I don’t
know why, but I assumed it would be a long drawn out process, not a quick ten
minutes.” She looked up at him. Nash was concentrating on the road. “Was your
first marriage that quick?”
His face flinched
then went stoic. Lucy bit her bottom lip.
“I’m sorry, that
was a bad choice of words. Never mind, I was just rambling.” Lucy wanted to
take all the words back. She wished she could still be on the train, or maybe
even back in New York. Her eyes darted back over the affidavit. How could she
have been so inconsiderate? The previous marriage section under the groom’s
side stated that Nash had been married before and that marriage had ended in
the death of his wife. Lucy knew this already, but as she figured the dates in
her head she realized that they had only been married for six years before his
wife’s untimely passing. “Quick” was the word that earmarked his first
marriage. Lucy felt ill.
The truck pulled
up a long dirt driveway several minutes later. Lucy took in the large two
storied country home that sat in the middle of a wide open, well manicured
lawn. There was a front porch that traveled along the full width of the front
of the house and disappeared around the far side. It boasted a few rocking
chairs and a wooden swing. Small tables with gorgeous potted plants dotted the
spaces in between. A beautiful golden retriever sprinted out from a large barn
that was easily visible behind the house. The imagery before Lucy’s eyes was
everything she had imagined. She could not help but smile and feel that
regardless of her misgivings in the taxi earlier, she had been right to choose
this path for her future.
As they walked
the stone pathway to the front porch steps, Lucy envisioned herself sitting on
that wooden swing gazing off into the clear midnight sky. A curtain in an
upstairs window fluttered. Lucy squinted against the morning sun to see beyond
the green shutters and through the pane of glass. The sun was too bright and
before she could ask anything a small boy burst from the front door and flung
himself into Nash’s arms.
home! I missed you. Livia made me eat bananas and Rufus spilled the milk.” Nash
held his son and nodded at each of his statements. “The cat licked it all up
and then Aunt Van found a dead mouse.”
“Well, it sounds
like you have had one heck of a morning there, son.” Nash smiled and walked
over to Lucy. “Galen, this is Miss Lucy Carson. How do we greet guests in our
Galen beamed and
held out his small hand, “Pleasure to meet you, Ma’am.”
Lucy took his
fingers in hers and shook his hand. “The pleasure is all mine, Galen.”
The small child
wiggled in his father’s arms, his face scrunched up as he considered her
statement. “Aunt Van says we have to share.”
Lucy laughed and
Galen finagled his way back down to the ground and took off running, hollering
“Rufus is our
dog.” Nash informed her. “That boy adores him, nothing better than a boy and
Lucy agreed just
as a tall, thin woman with sharp angular features walked out to the front step.
An apron had been swathed about her waist and her golden hair had been tied
back in place with a bandana. She traversed the steps with an air of authority,
wiping her hands on the hem of the apron.
said. “This is my sister in law Vanessa Wellerman. Van, this is Lucy Carson.”
but it did not reach her eyes. She did not offer her hand, nor did she offer a greeting
as Galen had. Instead, she turned to Nash and her smiled faded as quick as it
“You are out of
milk.” She stated.
“Alright, I am
certain we can mange until one of us can get to the market.” He assured her.
“I can’t make
anything for lunch without milk, Nash.”
He reached over
and took her hand, patting it. “Van, why don’t we worry about that later. We
can go out for lunch if necessary. Where is Olivia?”
It was obvious to
Lucy that Vanessa was not use to having her demands dismissed. She huffed and
threw her hands in the air. “Where do you think, Nash?” Vanessa turned and
stomped up the stairs and back into the house.
Nash turned to
Lucy with an apologetic look. “I’m sorry, Van runs a tight ship. She has been
my right hand crew for the last few years, well…” he paused and Lucy saw that
sorrowful cloud darken his eyes, “since Lilly passed.”
He cleared his
throat and changed the subject. “You must be tired. Let’s get you situated and
we can finish up introductions after you have rested a spell.” Nash picked her
bag up and guided her into the house and up the staircase. She didn’t have time
to look around before he had led her to a room at the end of the hallway. He
remained outside the door, standing off to the side to allow her to walk by him
and into the bedroom.
“Van set it all
up for you. There is a separate washroom that has plenty of towels and
toiletries.” He pointed to a large box at the foot of the canopied twin bed.
Lucy recognized it as her shipment from New York. “That arrived for you
yesterday. I hope nothing was damaged.”
Lucy didn’t know
what to think or what to say. “Thank you”
He nodded and
closed the door between them with a soft click of the knob. Lucy sat on the edge
of the bed; her thoughts were a jumbled mess. She was anxious to meet everyone,
yet her body was exhausted. As she washed her face and changed into more casual
clothes, she wondered why Vanessa had been so cold, was it the thought that
Lucy was replacing her after all these years of running the McCain household?
She had no intentions of displacing anyone and she was in no position to make
enemies. As she lay down, starring up at the lace canopy, she promised herself
that she would speak to Vanessa that afternoon and assure her she had no plans
to uproot her from a place she was very much a part of. She turned and took the
document from the county office out of the side pocket of her bag. The clerk
had said they had sixty days before it expired. Sixty days to learn this new
family, plan a wedding and start a new life. She sighed and put the paper in
the drawer of the bedside table before closing her eyes and letting sleep steal
her away from it all.