Whoever heard of a bookish cowboy? When Logan McDaniel’s brother-in-law dies, he steps in to help his beloved sister run her ranch. But what does a city boy know of herding cattle? Claire Langley loved her cousin. After he dies, she agrees to serve as a temporary nanny for two heartbroken children. Claire and Logan find they share a love of books, and Claire can’t resist the nerdy uncle who is great with children, and who reads to her of pirate romance. Claire’s ailing mother needs her in Seattle. Can she break away? And if she does, can there ever be a future for Logan and her?
Logan McDaniels lugged his baggage through the airport. So many people wearing cowboy boots and hats. How in the world was he going to fit in here, what with his black-rimmed glasses and lean build? You never saw cowboys in glasses. Maybe they wore contacts. Now, that was a picture—cattle proddin’ macho dudes jabbing lenses into their eyes.
His sister Macy stepped forward, a baby on her hip. Where did that little tike come from? Last he knew, she had only Cody, age eight; and Aubrey, age five. He hugged Macy with one arm, careful not to scare the kid. “What gives, sis? You have another one when I wasn’t looking?”
“Har har. No, she’s a neighbor’s daughter. I’m just watching her for a couple hours while her mom’s at an appointment. Another baby on the way.”
He sighed to himself, glad his sister and bro-in-law stopped at two. Especially now.
The threesome headed toward the airport exit. He glanced around. “What? No niece or nephew for me to pester?”
“Nope, they’re with the nanny. Lucy here wouldn’t stay with Nanny Claire.” Even now, the rug rat clung with white fists and wary eyes.
Wait a minute. Back this truck up. “Your nanny?” Since when could she afford one?
She clicked open the pickup with its crew cab—the ideal “family” vehicle for ranch owners. Then, she nodded toward the open truck bed and his luggage. “Just strap it down back there.”
He reached for a bungee cord and checked the sky. Not a cloud. Then the horizon. No hills, mountains, bodies of water… anything. When had he agreed to come to Oz?
“I know what you’re thinking, little bro. You’re not in Seattle anymore.”
“What gave me away?”
“That look of the land-locked. No Puget Sound or Cascades, Olympics, or foothills. I’m sure I wore the same expression the first three years Nick and I lived here.”
He latched the bag and tugged the cord.
Macy snapped the tot into a car seat directly behind his spot in the truck. “So, Cowboy Logan, you ready?”
He snorted. “I’m not a cowboy.” He climbed aboard with a leery glance in the backseat. “She’s not going to projectile vomit at my head, right?”
“No promises.” Macy pulled out of the parking lot onto a traffic-free road. “She’s in a rear-facing seat. So, even if she does, it’d have to ricochet to reach you.”
“Comforting thought.” He spied an umbrella on the floor. Might come in handy.
Macy looked different. Rounder, calmer than her busy exec days in Seattle. “By the way, nice plaid.”
She tugged on the unbuttoned shirt she wore over her tee. “All part of the garb. You’re going to need new duds, yourself.”
“What, these khakis and canvas tennies won’t cut it?”
“Don’t say it.” He adjusted his glasses and faced the straightaway, which was indeed one straight, long, endless country road leading to his new adventure. Yippee.
“Ha! You weren’t supposed to say it. Anyway, I’m trying to keep my geek status a secret. I won’t be accepted into the club if we’re not discreet.” He played at checking left then right.
She laughed. “Get you some plaid, boots, and a cowboy hat, and you’re golden.” She eyed him. “And maybe lose the glasses.”
“Right.” He smiled, but the humor faded. They should address the proverbial elephant in the cab, before the kids and nanny were all over their personal space. “Listen, sis, I’m real sorry about Nick.”
She gripped the steering wheel with both hands, locked her elbows, and pressed back into the seat. It’s a wonder she could reach the pedals in this oversized truck. After a couple of swallows, she cleared her throat. “Thanks, Lo.”
He nodded once.
“And you being here is everything. It means everything.” Her voice went all raspy. He couldn’t handle that. Time to revert to razzing.
“So, a nanny?”
She chuckled. “What? She’s a great help right now.”
“OK, OK. Can’t wait to meet her. Let me guess. I’m picturing five foot nothin’, grandmotherly, kind eyes, wrinkly. Some cooking skills.”
“She’s amazing in the kitchen. You’ll appreciate that after our foreman gets through with you every day.”
She glanced at him. “Just having you here lifts a serious burden, Lo. I mean it. You are a hero.”
“Hmph. We’ll see if I can even stay on a horse.”
“We’ll see if you can walk after you do.”
“Hear that, little Cindy Lou?” he called to the baby. “Trash talk from your babysitter. I’m in for it.”