Heart of a Cowboy by Kristin Vayden
A stubborn cowboy has sworn never to forgive or forget—but one special woman may find a way to change his mind . . .
Hospice nurse Laken Garlington helps people face the end with peace and dignity, surrounded by their loved ones. But the son of her new patient didn’t come home to reunite with his dad. So why is Cyler Myer back in horse country? It’s clear the sexy, six-three hunk with the steely eyes has a score to settle, and Laken doesn’t plan on being collateral damage . . . no matter how irresistible she finds the prodigal cowboy.
Dying is too good for the father Cyler will never forgive—not in this lifetime.
Showing up at his family’s Washington State ranch is the first step in his plan. But revenge takes a back seat to desire when Cyler meets a bossy beauty who arouses feelings he isn’t ready to face. As they work together to save an ailing mare, Cyler realizes he must decide where his true destiny lies. With
darkness . . . or with the woman who offers the promise of redemption with every kiss.
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Love Words between Cyler and Laken
“I smell fire.” Cyler remarked with a dry humor as his wife led him into their home blind folded.
“Keep your eyes closed.” Laken remarked. “And that’s not fire, that’s…just, keep your eyes shut. I can’t give anything way.” Her grip on his fingers tightened as she guided him down the hall toward what he suspected to be the living room.
“Did you bake something?” He asked with a tinge of fear, his tone thick with amusement.
He heard Lake’s beleaguered sigh. “I’m trying to be romantic here and you’re making it very difficult. Maybe less talking, more following.”
“Just preparing myself for all the…romance.”
“Seriously.” Laken muttered.
Cyler bit back grin, then winced as his toe hit something hard.
“Yeah, that was on purpose.”
“Maybe. Laken teased, her tone light.
Cyler’s grin widened. It was a fantastic thing to not only love your wife deeply, but to have fun with her. Fun was underrated. He’d never considered it a huge aspect of love, but it really was. It was a blessing to be married to someone you were deeply attracted to, but also enjoyed. Laken certainly kept him on his toes, and brightened even the grayest of days.
“Careful, go slow so you don’t trip on the bench.” Cyler slowed his pace and took a few tentative steps till Laken sped up. Since she mentioned the bench, he knew they were past the living room and into the hall, towards their bedroom.
It was their first valentines day together, and he’d already made plans to surprise Laken, but she’d beaten him to the punch. As soon as he’d arrived home from work, she’d pounced on him from the moment his truck parked in the driveway, dangling a long length of black silk in one. He double-checked the gift in the back of the cab, made a few adjustments to make sure a short delay would be all right, and stepped from the pickup. Her surprise would have to wait a little longer in the car; thankfully it wasn’t a chilly February so far, but a nice fifty or so degrees.
He didn’t have to be asked twice to hold still while she fastened the length of cloth around his head.
“Ok, hold still.” Laken requested, and he waited patiently while she fumbled with the blindfold knot.
“Nope. Just be patient.”
“I’ve been known to struggle with that.”
“Practice makes perfect.”
“Are you finished yet?” He asked, just to ruffle her feathers.
The blindfold came loose and he blinked to adjust his eyes to the dim room. He had expected something predictable, not that he would have minded, but what he saw brought a huge smile to his face. She’d totally shocked him.
He shook his head, turned to his wife, and sighed in astonishment.
“I figured it was time.” She shrugged, her smile illuminating the room far more than the fifty or so candles she’d lit.
And in the middle of the room, on the bed, snuggled tightly in a ball was a coal black lab puppy, sound asleep. “You totally pulled on over one me, sweetheart.” Cyler pulled Laken into a tight hug, kissing the top of her head. “Thank you.”
Laken laughed softly, then leaned up and kissed him sweetly, her lips lingering against his as he memorized the moment. She leaned back from the kiss. “Happy Valentine’s day.”
He smiled, then remembered his gift for her.
“Hold that thought.” He cast a quick glance to the puppy, making sure it was still asleep, then he darted down the hall, out the door and to his truck.
Sure enough, a small white little ball of fur was curled up in an old sweatshirt where he’d left her. Tenderly, he lifted her from her warm bed and snuggled her close to his chest, carrying her to the house. The little kitten’s head popped over his arm to study the new surroundings, yawning contentedly. As he walked into the house and down the hall, Laken came out from the bedroom. Her head tilted slightly then her face lit up like the fourth of July as she realized what was in his arms. “Oh! How sweet.” She whispered gently and glanced up. “Can I hold it?”
“Her. I figured every ranch needs a barn cat.” He smiled, offering the gift to his lovely wife.
“She’s so soft.” Laken marveled.
Cyler kissed her forehead, then moved past her to the bedroom, where he tenderly lifted the waking pup from the bed and held him, scratching behind his ears. “And every ranch needs a hunting puppy too.” He murmured to the little rascal.
“What are you going to name him?” Laken asked, walking back into the room.
“Him, huh?” Cyler studied the sweet little face of the lab, the coal back of his shiny eyes and the bright pink tongue that kept trying to tick everything within reach.
“Clyde.” He nodded, proud of his name.
Laken arched a brow. “That narrows my window for naming her.” She teased. “But that’s ok, she looks like a Bonny.”
“I figure it’s only appropriate. They’ll be probably get into their share of trouble.”
“They say that animals reflect their owners.” Laken remarked, winking at her husband.
“Then there really is not hope for them.” Cyler chuckled. “Happy Valentine’s day, Laken. I love you, darlin’.”
Laken’s smile widened. “Happy Valentine’s day, Cyler. Love you too.”
About the Author
Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! Life is full—of blessings and adventure! Needless to say she’s a big fan of coffee and wine…and living in Washington she’s within walking distance of both!
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