USA Today Bestselling Author
Nearly five years ago, Cheyenne Hawkins came to Whiskey Ranch for one thing: to train to be the best. When she left, she was confident she’d be at the top of the rodeo circuit until a dizzy spell landed her in the hospital and she found out she left the ranch with much more than she expected. However, Cheyenne was already engaged to someone else. Cheyenne told herself it was for the best if she stayed away from JB. She told herself she loved her fiancé, and she had a career to chase. And that’s exactly what she did. Five years later, divorced, she’s one of the best cowgirls in the circuit, and her four-year-old son, Jimmy, couldn’t be prouder. The last thing Cheyenne wants is to see JB Whiskey, but when he shows up at a rodeo and spots her with their son, she realizes she must face the music and tell him the truth.
She can handle his anger. She can even deal with JB not wanting anything to do with her or her son, but nothing could have prepared her for the idea that JB would demand she allow their son to come to the ranch for an extended visit so they could get to each other.
Jim Beam Whiskey never thought he’d be living alone. He always believed his brother, JD would be his roommate forever. They both shared one major common bond: a broken heart. But his brother went off and did the unthinkable and found himself the kind of love that heals a wounded soul.
Well, JB had done that once, and Cheyenne ran out him, leaving him to pick up the pieces for the second time. He vowed, there would never be a third. That is until he sees a young boy with a double shot of JB’s eyes and a hauntingly familiar smile. JB doesn’t need a paternity test to know he’s Jimmy’s father. However, he is going to need to find a way to forgive Cheyenne for leaving him all those years ago as well as proving to her that he can change and be the kind of father Jimmy needs and the kind of husband Cheyenne deserves.
Five years ago Cheyenne spent time at the Whiskey Ranch training with JB. During that time they fell into a relationship and when her fiancé shows up on the last day it very near broke JB. He wouldn’t let her explain and she married the man she left the ranch with. That didn’t work out for her once she discovered she was pregnant. There was no way it could be her husband’s child.
Cheyenne is been back on the Rodeo circuit, her goal is the same as it’s always been, win and beat the world record. This rodeo in Nevada is where she started her career and as of today she would end it.
JB has to pick up a couple of horses at the rodeo and he brings JD’s wife’s assistant Paget along to help with them. Normally he’d watch the events but his plans were to avoid Cheyenne. That is until he sees Jimmy and realizes he’s Cheyenne’s son and looks just like him.
After her ride there was some conversation until Jimmy joins them. The scores were about to be announced.
This is a favorite scene.
Cheyenne squinted, covering her eyes from the glare of the lowering sun’s rays stretching through the wide-open barn doors. “Who’s that?”
“Paget. She was a stall girl when you were at the ranch. We’re here picking up a couple of horses,” JB said. “Sorry. But look who I found. Paget is a fan.”
“It’s such an honor to officially meet you.” Paget stretched out her arm. “That was an amazing ride. I tried bronc riding a few times and realized I should stick with basic horseback riding lessons and training.”
“Well, those are the most valuable skills because without them, I wouldn’t exist.” Cheyenne tipped her hat. “I remember you, and you had to be the hardest working person in that barn.”
“She still is.” JB pointed toward the corral. “They are about to announce the scores.”
Cheyenne glanced around nervously for Jimmy. “Do me a favor. If, by a miracle, I did break the world record, please help Katie keep Jimmy away from the press. He’s never been photographed.”
“Why?” JB asked.
“Because I didn’t want reporters questioning his paternity on camera before I had the chance to come clean with his father,” she admitted.
“Who’s his dad?” Paget asked.
“I am,” JB said, puffing out his chest.
Cheyenne clenched her jaw. She knew everyone on Whiskey Ranch would know by daybreak, but she didn’t need him announcing it to the world now.
“Oh, Mylanta,” Paget said. “Everyone knew you two were an item back then, but I didn’t know—”
“And my son doesn’t know yet, so please, can you keep that piece of information to yourself.” Cheyenne sucked in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. She hadn’t meant to sound like such a bitch. “Jimmy expected to meet his father this summer; he just doesn’t know he’s already met him.”
Paget twisted her hair between her fingers. “Did you know?”
JB shook his head. “And I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m sorry, Cheyenne.”
“You have my word. My lips are sealed,” Paget said.
“All right. I have to go.” Cheyenne smoothed down the front of her chaps.
Jimmy strolled into the barn carrying a large bucket of popcorn. “Mommy. You better hurry. They’re about to call out the times.”
“Wish me luck, little man.” Cheyenne leaned over and kissed her son. “You’re my good luck charm.” Tears welled in her eyes as she turned her back and waltzed toward the corral.
No matter what happened, her life would never be the same again.
She took her place in the center of the ring. Bronc riding was very much a male-dominated sport, and she’d often been treated as the ugly stepchild, even when she’d proven herself as being the best of the best.
The announcer continued to rattle off the competitors and their scores.
“And now we have the last man, or shall we say, the last woman standing,” the announcer said.
Her cheeks hurt from smiling. Her heart beat so fast she figured everyone could hear it pounding in her chest. She didn’t need to beat the world record. Going out on top would be good enough. She kept her gaze on her son. JB had picked him up and held him on his hip, and it didn’t sour the moment.
Not even close.
It was actually a great weight off her shoulder to see her son with his biological father. A moment she’d been dreaming about since the day Jimmy had come into this world.
“It is with great honor that I not only present the winner of this year’s bronc riding competition, but more importantly, that I get to announce that you, Cheyenne Hawkins, just made history.”
She gasped, clutching her chest.
“You broke the world record with 93 points, and you are the first woman to take that title. Congratulations.”
The crowd roared and jumped to their feet. Cowboy hats flew in the air. She wiped the tears that burned a path down her cheeks. She turned in a circle, waving as one of the rodeo helpers brought a horse for her to take a victory lap. Wasting no time, she mounted the beautiful animal and made a beeline for her son.
What the hell. This was her last moment. Her final ride. She wanted Jimmy by her side. She wanted the world to see her pride and joy. After today, she could hide out at Whiskey Ranch until the shitstorm blew over.
If there even was one. Everyone knew she had a kid, and no one ever questioned who the father was, and since she kept her private life just that, it had never been a problem. Most people just assumed Jimmy’s father was her ex-husband, and she never corrected anyone.
“Whoa.” She pulled back on the reins in front of the stands where her son and JB stood. “Hey there, little man. Want to take a victory lap with your mommy?”
“Can I? Really?” He glanced between JB and her with wide eyes.
“Hop on,” she said.
JB lifted him over the railing and set him in front of Cheyenne.
“Congratulations. I had no doubt.” He reached out, cupping her chin. Leaning over, he pressed his lips firmly on her mouth, letting the kiss linger for what seemed like a good minute.
Which was fifty-nine seconds too long.
Hell, he shouldn’t be kissing her at all. Not with a million people watching both in the stands and at home.
And what the fuck. Why was she kissing him back?
“You better take the lap,” JB said as he patted the horse’s backside.
She made two full circles around the corral before making it back to the center. She dismounted, helping her son to the podium.
“So, Cheyenne. How does it feel?” the announcer asked.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said, holding Jimmy’s hand. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I was about the same age as my boy here.” She glanced down at him and smiled. “As you know, this was the very first rodeo I competed at, and when I came here today, I knew that no matter what happened, it would also be my last.”
A collective gasp followed by deadpan silence filled the late afternoon summer air.
She scanned the stands. Everyone still stood, but now they all held their hats while they stared at her with open mouths and shocked gazes.
“Everyone here I’m sure is wondering the same thing I am. Why?” the announcer asked.
Her son tugged at her sleeve. “You’re not going to compete anymore?”
She shook her head. “I’ve loved the rodeo, and I’m sure I’ll always be a part of it, in a different capacity. But it’s time for my son to spend a little quality time with his father instead of being on the road with me all the time.”
“Really?” Jimmy jumped up and down. “When?” he asked as if they weren’t even in front of a sea of people.
She ignored his questions for now. “I want to thank all the fans. You have made my comeback the most incredible experience of my life.” She lifted Jimmy into her arms. “My son and I give you our deepest gratitude.” She handed the microphone to the announcer and stepped from the podium.
Jimmy palmed her cheek. “Mommy? I get to meet my dad?”
“You already have, honey.” She pointed to JB. “He’s your daddy.”
“JB?” Jimmy asked.
“Yes,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I didn’t know he was going to be here, or I would have prepared you both. I’m sorry, little man. I should have told you, and him, sooner.”
Jimmy wiggled and kicked. “Put me down, Mom!”
She did as her son asked, and he took off running with his little legs taking him as fast as he could go. His hat went flying off his head. “Daddy,” he cried with his arms stretched wide.
Cheyenne slowed her pace as JB jumped the fence, bent on one knee, and scooped up his son, hugging him tight.
As he should.
Jen Talty. Jim Beam: It’s All In the Whiskey (Kindle Locations 405-469).
Cheyenne makes two startling revelations to the crowd after taking her victory laps, first she’s retiring and second, JB Whiskey is her son’s father.
JB is more than willing to step into the role of father, but he really wants more. He still loves Cheyenne and she loves him, but the barriers they’ve both put up will be hard to break down. The interactions with Jimmy with JB and the rest of the family are full of love and fun. However, Cheyenne intends to return to Texas with Jimmy only to visit on long weekends and holidays. JB is determined to change her mind, but in order to do that he must say the words.
I loved this story with all it’s ups and down’s, the birth of a baby, some sizzling heat, and so much more!
5 Contented Purrs for Jen!
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Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.
I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.
I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.