Rhonda Lee Carver
To really move forward,
sometimes it takes going back to the very beginning.
Trying to escape a bad relationship, and desperate to find a safe place for her daughter, Megan Nash returns to Cooper’s Hawk. Down-on-her-luck, she has no other choice but to ask her estranged father-in-law for help. He still blames her for the accident that killed his son, but learning that he has a granddaughter, he offers them a roof over their heads…just until Megan can get back on her feet. Yet, being civil isn’t part of the bargain.
Her patience will be tested.
Ely Dutton has physically healed from a mortar blast that left him injured and scarred, but he’s still on the mend mentally. Realizing hiding away in an isolated cabin on a mountain isn’t helping, he decided to go back to his childhood home. He accepts the position as Sheriff, because a man has to live. He likes things simple, so when an old connection is sparked with Megan, he attempts to ignore his attraction.
especially with a single mother,
isn’t part of his five-year plan.
Further complicating what should have been an easy job as Sheriff, he must shed light on a mysterious death that is connected to Megan. As new clues are exposed, so are the secret layers of her past.
In a quest to navigate their new lives and old demons, Megan and Ely will learn to trust, love with all their hearts, and let go of hurtful ties.
Ely had isolated himself with his dog Finn after retiring from the military. He finally feels ready to move forward with his life, accepting the position of Sheriff, Ely Dutton has returned home to Cooper’s Hawk. Things weren’t quite the way they were since his father had sold the family ranch and moved away. His sister Penny is still there and that’s where he’s staying until the place he’s renting is ready for occupancy.
Megan Nash had to leave Texas, opening her heart only betrayed her. Now she’s doing what’s best for her daughter, even though it means facing her father-in-law. Returning to Cooper’s Hawk is hard, many blamed her for her husband’s death including his father. She can only hope the man will let them stay so she can get her life together. Noah doesn’t make it easy but finally allows her to stay in the furthest guest cottage from the main house. The work he lays out for her is more than she expected but she wouldn’t shy away from it.
Megan and Ely’s first encounter is less than friendly as he’s distracted and spills coffee all over her shirt. He almost looses his patience with her too, but manages to stay civil.
Little did they know that wouldn’t be the only time they see each other that day. Megan has an envelope to deliver to the Sheriff, who is attempting to make coffee when she enters his office.
This is a favorite scene.
Ignoring the fluttering of butterflies in her belly, she clutched the envelope so tight in her grip that she heard paper crumpling.
“Hi again,” he said so casually, as if they hadn’t exchanged heated words less than twenty minutes ago.
“You’re not Sheriff Conley.” She didn’t bother hiding the hint of annoyance in her tone.
“No, I’m not. Is that who you’re looking for?”
“I think so. Is he around?” Why was Ely Dutton hanging out in the Sheriff’s office?
He planted his wide hands on his slender hips, his gaze narrowing. “If you’re looking for Conley, I’m afraid you’re too late. He’s already gone.”
“Gone as in took a job as a Ranger. I took over his job.”
Things started making sense. “You’re the Sheriff?”
He grinned and stepped over to his desk, picked up a shiny badge and hooked it on his belt. “I need to stop forgetting to put this on. The name hasn’t been changed on the door yet.” He didn’t seem the least bit disgruntled about it either. “I was a bit occupied when you walked in.”
“Looks like you were having some difficulty.”
“What happened to simple coffee makers with one power switch?” he groaned. “Anyway, how can I help you?”
“I guess I’m here to see you. Noah asked me to give you this envelope.” She crossed the rug and laid it on the desk, noticing how wrinkled it was now.
“Great.” He ripped opened the flap, turned the envelope upside down and emptied the contents. A key and a piece of paper fell out. “Finally. The cabin’s ready.”
Sheesh. Not only did she have to face him again, but she’d be seeing him every day since they’d be living less than two hundred feet apart from each other. Back in her teens she would have done flips at the idea of living this close to her crush. She wasn’t a teen any longer though and she’d promised herself to stay far away from men like Ely Dutton with their charming smiles and killer bodies.
Clearing the air might make things easier. “About what happened on the street—”
“You don’t have to apologize.” That lopsided grin deepened. “We all have bad days and near breakdowns.”
“Excuse me?” She blinked, some of the irritation returning. “I didn’t plan on apologizing.”
“Oh? I guess I just assumed.” He shrugged, stretching the fabric to its capacity.
Her bad day suddenly turned into hell. “Look, Sheriff Dutton, we’ve established that your ego is still as insanely big as ever, but I have no desire to deal with the likes of you today.”
“You—wait, how do you know my name? Do we know each other?”
Megan laughed. Of course, he wouldn’t remember her. “I’m Megan Nash—err, it used to be Hart.”
“Megan? Little Megan?” His eyes widened slightly. “I haven’t seen you, wow…how long has it been?”
“Long enough that I prefer not to be called little,” she muttered.
“Damn, you don’t wear glasses any longer, or braces. You said Nash. You and Bray? Really? You two married?”
“Penny didn’t mention it?”
“She doesn’t tell me anything.”
“Yes, Bray and I married.”
“I’m sorry about the accident.”
“Apparently Penny does tell you some things.”
“I felt like an ass not making the funeral.”
“It’s okay. Bray wouldn’t hold it against you.”
She wanted to leave. “I’d better go, you’re probably busy doing Sheriff stuff.” She backed up.
He dropped the envelope on his desk and hooked his thumbs in his front pockets. “You look different, Meg.”
“You do too, Sheriff.” But better than ever.
“Call me Ely.” The signature Ely Dutton grin parted his lips and her knees wobbled.
She refused to get sucked into his allure again. Nope. Hell no. No way. She’d been so crazy over him that she’d lost sleep.
A familiar tightness developed in her throat. “Sure, Ely. We’re adults now. We’ve changed.” And I will no longer follow you around like a lovesick puppy. Humiliation washed over her. Had she really hung a picture of him on her closet wall at sixteen? She’d torn the photo of him receiving some sports award out of the school paper, where she’d been a writer, and taped it up where she could look at it every day.
“That’s the truth.” Something flickered over his expression. He pushed his fingers through his hair and waves came alive.
“How is Penny?” Penny had been Megan’s best friend all through school. She didn’t have one single memory that didn’t include them hanging out together.
“Same as ever. I’ve been staying with her since I got back to Cooper’s Hawk. She’ll be glad to get me out of her house, even if she says she isn’t.” He picked up the key and pushed it into his front pocket. “You living out at the farm too?”
“Yes. For now. I’m helping Noah out.”
He nodded. “Looks like we’ll be neighbors. Don’t worry. Coffee is strictly in cups only.” His teasing smile lit his eyes.
She needed to get going and fast. “I should go.”
“Okay. I guess I’ll see you later then.”
She took a detour to the coffee maker, pressed a button and the machine whirred to life.
“How’d you do that?” He seemed genuinely shocked.
“It’s very simple. Press the blue button one, two, or three times depending on the strength you want your coffee then hit the red button to start.”
“Damn. I never would have figured that out.”
His laughter lifted the soft hairs on her nape.
“I need to get back to the farm.” How many times would she threaten the act before she finally left? She finally made it to the door, hand on the knob.
“I’ll see you around. Thanks for dropping off the key.”
She hurried from the office and closed the door behind her. In such a hurry to get to the exit, she didn’t see the man standing in her path until she almost bulldozed him over. She lifted her chin and made an attempt to apologize, but her words stuck on her tongue. The man was the same one she saw in the alley with the angry woman. “Sorry,” she finally found her voice.
“Deputy Richards, you remember Megan?” Lorraine asked.
“It was Hart. Megan Hart,” Megan said. Sam had been quiet as a kid. Probably because he’d been in Ely’s shadow, who’d been a star player in every sport. Sam had been up and coming in baseball until he’d injured himself and couldn’t play his senior year. Megan knew this because she’d written the story in the school paper.
“Sure. It’s nice to see you again, ma’am.” His smile slipped some and he walked around her toward Ely’s closed door.
“Did you get your business taken care of?” Loraine asked.
Megan nodded. “Yes. I did.”
“Tell Noah I said ‘hello’.” Did she blush?
Once outside, Megan filled her lungs with a deep breath. So…Ely Dutton was sheriff? And the new tenant?
Getting in her car, she drove out of town toward Nash Farm. She hadn’t accomplished much that morning outside of learning that her old crush could still make her feel like she couldn’t quite get her sea legs.
Rhonda Lee Carver. Cowboy Ely (Kindle Locations 930-1006). Kindle Edition.
Things are far more complicated than they appear, as this story unfolds. Ely doesn’t realize he wants a relationship and Megan only wants what’s best for her daughter.
As threats come in choices are made and surprises happen. I didn’t see that coming.
Fun and entertaining with some action and some sizzle!
5 Contented Purrs for Rhonda!
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Rhonda Lee Carver is a published book writer with a collection of print and eBooks under her wing. She is also a freelance editor. Her first book was published with Wild Rose Press in 2010.
She writes everything from contemporary to steamy to paranormal to suspense…you name it, she’s written it. Her specialty is writing men who love to get their hands dirty—hardworking, blue collar, heroes in everyday life.
When Rhonda isn’t crafting edge-of-your-seat, sizzling novels, you’ll find her with her children and husband watching soccer, watching a breathtaking movie, traveling to exotic places (with Bora Bora on her bucket list), doing (or trying) yoga, saving cats and dogs, and finding new ways to keep life interesting.
Rhonda thrives on making her readers happy. She believes life can be a challenge, but reading is a place where fantasy comes to life. Her motto: “Everyone deserves romance—one page at a time.“