Home > Cowboy SEAL Homecoming (Navy SEAL Cowboys #1)(2)

Cowboy SEAL Homecoming (Navy SEAL Cowboys #1)(2)
Author: Nicole Helm

   “Denton. Becca Denton.” She held out a hand and shook both Gabe’s and Jack’s outstretched ones. “It’s good to have you all here. I’m sure this will be a really interesting experience for all of us.”

   Alex didn’t miss how forced the words sounded, but he supposed a young woman inviting three former military men into her home wouldn’t be easy. Even if the home was technically his.

   He really had to stop thinking that way. Their home. Their ranch. Dad had left it to both of them. That was the reality, and Alex had accepted it. Just like he’d accepted his injuries and not being a SEAL anymore. He was an expert at accepting things.

   “Let’s get you guys to the ranch. It’s a bit of a drive. Do you have any bags?”

   All three of them pointed to the bags at their feet—small but all they had. If Becca was at all surprised by that, she didn’t show it.

   “All right. Follow me then.”

   They shouldered their duffel bags and followed her to the parking lot. If she noticed all three of them limped to varying degrees, she didn’t comment on that either.

   It was a good start, all in all. A very good start.

   * * *

   Becca thought she was doing a pretty good job of not appearing nervous even though that was exactly what jangled through her like an electrical shock. She’d been nervous about this for she didn’t know how long. Probably from the very moment Alex had called her up, out of the blue, and said he was coming home.

   This man she’d exchanged a handful of words with in the entire time her mother had been married to his father. After a year of letting her run the ranch as she saw fit, he’d decided he was coming home.

   Coming home at the exact time Mom had finally decided to move off the ranch. Coming home at the time she’d finally scraped out some independence and confidence in herself. Now three big, muscled military men were moving into her house—at least until they could get the bunkhouse hospitable.

   She drove, focusing on the road and her breathing and trying to corral her thoughts into a sensible path. She had some issues with Alex that were neither fair nor at all his fault, and she’d hoped to never have to work through them.

   She should have known life didn’t work that way.

   It wasn’t fair to think of Alex as an enemy or as an outsider. Though she’d only met him a few times, she knew how much Burt had loved him. Burt would be overjoyed his son was coming home to build a life.

   Even knowing that, telling herself that, she couldn’t tap into any of that joy. She wasn’t happy at all. She felt invaded. She couldn’t help but wish Burt had left her the entire ranch.

   Not fair, Becca. That is not fair.

   She blew out a breath which sounded exceptionally loud in the cab of her truck. The three men were not chatting, not fidgeting. They were silent walls of presence.

   She drove down Main Street, which cut through the valley the town had been named for. The town itself was surrounded by ranches of varying sizes,products, and degrees of success. The Maguire ranch was situated on the north side of town and dealt primarily with cattle. Quite successfully too.

   No matter how many times she drove past the northern limits of Blue Valley and up the rough, curving road toward the Maguire ranch, she always remembered the first day she’d seen it. Her mom had dated Burt for a long time before she’d allowed him to meet Becca, or maybe it was vice versa. Back then, Becca had always assumed it was for the same reason Mom kept everything from her: to protect her fragile health.

   It was only later she’d learned her mother hadn’t wanted Becca under the influence of Burt’s teenage son.

   She flicked a glance at Alex.

   He was exactly as she remembered him. Tall and broad and serious. He had one of those faces that looked like it was carved from granite, all intense cheekbones and strong jaw. There was a sharpness to him she’d always found fascinating and scary at the same time.

   Truth be told, everything about Alex had always been a little fascinating and a little scary. He was Burt’s biological son, so she’d always felt a kind of competition between him and herself, though she knew Alex felt no such thing. He was…

   Well, he was. He was attractive. Strong and determined. Tall and solid. And his arms…

   Where were her thoughts going? This was ridiculous. He was technically her stepbrother and she’d always felt weird thinking he was hot. But there he was, being all hot.

   Stop thinking about him being hot. All three of them could have been Captain America and it wouldn’t have mattered. They were going to be partners in this business endeavor she was totally, one hundred percent committed to above all else.

   She’d wanted to start a therapeutic horsemanship arm of the ranch long before Burt had suffered his stroke. She’d originally planned on focusing on kids going through illnesses, but after Alex’s injuries, she hadn’t been able to get him out of her head. It was better than wallowing in her grief over Burt. So she’d started thinking of her dreams in a different light.

   When Alex had called to talk about taking his half of the ranch, she’d had an idea ready for him. He’d jumped on it with an enthusiasm that had surprised her.

   Now, they were here. On the Maguire ranch, barely knowing each other, ready to start a business together. A nonprofit. It filled her with so much joy and hope and bone-numbing fear.

   “Well, here it is—your new home. Well, your old home. Home. It’s…home.” She pushed the truck into park and hopped out. She knew she sounded like a bumbling idiot, and she didn’t plan on seeing how they reacted to it.

   Ranger and Star came running from the porch, yipping and barking in happy welcome.

   “Stop. Stay.” The dogs wiggled into a sitting position, barely containing their excitement over new people. They wagged their tails and panted happily at the three men who assembled next to her.

   Becca took a step next to the dogs, resting her hands on their silky heads. She let out a steadying breath.

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