Hearts Crossing Ranch: The Anthology
Take a trail ride to Hearts Crossing Ranch where you'll encounter a family full of love, a land rich in history and contemporary challenges...and a band of brothers and sisters who'll do anything for each other and the men and women they love.
Hearts Crossing Ranch Anthology contains all seven Hearts Crossing Ranch series of Christian romances plus the never-before-published "Cross Your Heart", the final chapter in the Martin siblings' stories of heartbreak, triumph and finding those happily-ever-afters western style.
Hearts Crossing Ranch
Right to Bragg
Cross Your Heart
Excerpt From "Cross Your Heart"
“Dutton? What on earth are you doing here?”
Dutton Morse fought for breath at the sound of his name. Chelsea. Chelsea at last. She stood motionless at the front porch of her family’s big ranch house, the mountain breeze tussling her long hair and chilling his shoulders. But her voice warmed him through.
Walking toward her, however, Dutton lowered his gaze, not liking the whiteness of her face against her black Stetson and dark red hair. The wide eyes almost wild, body tense against the porch post. Well, she was beautiful no matter what, and the sight was sure better than the pale, tear-streaked cheeks he’d left behind three years ago. Better because, then, he was walking away. This time, he was coming back. Things in his life had changed. He had to let her know.
A flash of guilt flickered. Well, he wasn’t about to let her know everything. Not yet. She wasn’t the entire reason he was here, but he had to take full advantage of her presence while doing Gramps’s errand. He walked faster.
“I’m here to take a Hearts Crossing wagon train adventure,” he said in the same easy voice he’d used years ago as the unofficial “tour director” of their little group’s hobble across Europe. Right now, he ached to reach for her. Instead, he forced into his pocket the hand that, back then, had taken hers for the first time while crossing the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Dutton ran his tongue over his mouth as if tasting once again their first kiss in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
Hoped against hope his playful tone at this moment would make her smile. “Come on,” he urged. “You always said how much fun a wagon train is.”
Clearing her throat, she scraped the toes of her boots across the dusty gravel. “It will be. Welcome.” Finally, she looked him straight in the face.
“Chelsea…” Even he heard the plea in his voice. Didn’t she long for him to reach for her? Surely she’d imagined a moment just like this. Them back together.
“You’re a surfer,” she blurted. “What are you doing wearing a Stetson?”
“Aw, I just bought it in your mom’s gift shop.” He held out his other hand, and as though she weren’t really thinking, she placed hers in it. And there was a jolt, no denying. Without really thinking himself, he pulled her against him. Not an embrace. Just a hug like long lost friends did. Her arm was between them anyway. Her hat knocked to the ground, and for a second, he rested his chin in the old wonderful way against the top of her head. Her hair smelled like same peaches it had before.
Then, she stepped back and bent down to retrieve her hat. Her fingers moved restless against it to wipe away any dust, but her troubled gaze was firm and direct. “Answer me, Dutton. What are you doing here now?”
“I’ve changed, baby.”
“Don’t call me that.” She bristled. “Answer me.”
“Can we sit and talk for a minute?”
“No. You need to listen to my brother’s orientation. He’s the wagon master. Maybe then you can tell me what you’re really doing here.”
“I already said—”
“I sorry I can’t believe you. Summer is when you yacht somewhere with your mother. Or, I don’t know. Hunt down the next big wave.”
“Those days are gone.” He almost felt weak at the loss, wished he could lean against her for support. “No more yacht.” Her eyes widened again, in the motionless shock of a minute ago. “No more surfing. No more sail boat. No more trust fund.”
“Wha—” she started, but he rushed on.
“Honest. That Wall Street Ponzi mess? There it went. “ He shook his head, a colder breeze rushing down his collar. His late father’s fortune, his mother’s generous pre-nup support. Life as he knew it. All gone.
“Dutton, I—” She reached for his hand and let out a deep breath. “Maybe we should sit down.” Holding tight, he led her to a rough-hewn bench against the bunkhouse wall. They sat, not touching other than fingers still knit together.
“But your grandfather’s oil company?”
Dutton shrugged so he didn’t shudder. “Gramps merged with Charisma Oil eighteen months ago. Everything went down in flames when that rig exploded off Rio. The lawsuits and settlements. Fines. Fees. Investors gone just like that.”
But there was hope.