On Tour with Prism Book Tours.
(Those Marshal Boys, #2)Paperback & ebook, 385 pages (large print)
by Loree Lough
Adult Contemporary Romance
by Loree Lough
Adult Contemporary Romance
September 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming
HE CAN SAY NO TO EVERYONE BUT HER...
Nate Marshall used to be a yes-man... until being so agreeable cost him dearly. But Eden Quinn has a way of getting him to reconsider his "just say no" policy. Which is how a bunch of troubled teens end up at his ranch for the weekend. Nate can't help but be attracted to the woman who keeps them in line.
This cowboy knows Eden's no damsel in distress, yet hers isn't a one-woman job. If she must do everything on her own, how can he help her... let alone get her to fall for him?
About the Author
Yes, it's true: Once upon a time, best-selling author Loree Lough (literally) sang for her supper, performing before packed audiences throughout the U.S. Now and then, she blows the dust from her 6-string to croon a tune or two for the "grandorables," but mostly, she just writes. (And writes.) Over the years, her stories have earned nearly 100 industry and "Readers' Choice" awards, 7 movie options, and over 80 4- and 5-star reviews.
There are more than 5,000,000 (yes, that's FIVE MILLION) copies of Loree's books in circulation, and in September of 2015, she'll have 108 books (fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults) 72 short stories, 2,500+ articles in print. To date, she has received 50,000+ letters from fans (a carton of books goes to Meredith P. in Joliet, IL -- which she has elected to donate to her local library --for writing the 50,000th letter)!
Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic approach makes her a favorite (and frequent) guest of writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, college and high school writing programs both here and abroad.
A writer who believes in "giving back," Loree dedicates a portion of her income to Soldiers' Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and other worthwhile organizations.
She splits her time between her home in the Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and shares both with her real-life hero Larry, who rarely complains, even when she adds yet another item to her vast collection of lighthouses, wind chimes, and "wolf stuff."
Nate rested gloved hands on the gate post and watched as a long green van pulled up to the barn. He’d spent ten minutes on the phone with Eden Quinn, who’d explained that she ran a halfway house for troubled teens in Denver, that she believed communing with nature might help them realize there’s more to life than drugs and gangs, how she hoped he’d agree to putting them up for a long weekend so they could experience, first hand, the positive results of good old-fashioned work.
He’d learned the hard way that little good comes from saying yes—especially when his gut told him to say the opposite—so he issued a terse, knee-jerk, no explanations no. He had to hand it to her, because amazingly, she used different words to repeat the same spiel. On the third go-round, Nate gave in. With a little luck, he wouldn’t be sorry when the beat up van rolled away from the Double M Ranch.
It was Memorial Day weekend, and as usual, the ranch hands had scattered to the four winds, leaving him and old Smitty to hold down the fort. The boys ought to be comfortable in the bunk house, and after he’d taken her measure, Nate would figure out where to put their lady counselor. City folk, in his experience, tended to shy away from work that involved powerful animals and manure. If they lasted the first afternoon, he’d be surprised.
As the van came to a stop, Nate thumbed the tan Stetson to the back of his head. The boys, staring out the windows, did their best to look older and tougher than their years. To date, his only experience with kids of any kind had been with nieces and nephews and his cousin’s children, all under age ten and part of the big happy Marshall clan. Nabbing sweets without permission was the worst crime any of them had committed. Something told him this hard-edged bunch was long past lifting cookies before dinner, and he hoped he hadn’t made a gigantic mistake, inviting them to the Double M.
The noonday sun, gleaming from the windshield, blocked his view of the driver. After seeing the boys’ sour expressions, he half expected a burly prison guard in full combat gear to exit the vehicle. Instead, a petite woman in snug jeans hopped down from the driver’s seat and slid open the side door open with a strength that belied her size.
“Okay, guys, everybody out!”
He recognized the husky-yet-feminine voice from their phone call. He’d been way off base, thinking it she’d resemble a female linebacker. Based solely on her youthful face, Nate guessed her age at twenty-four, Joe. The fact that she’d passed muster with the state officials who’d hired her—and earned the boys’ respect to boot—inspired Nate’s grudging admiration.
The teens climbed out of the van and stared gap-jawed at the Rockies’ Front Range, and she walked toward him on tennis shoes small enough to fit his ten year old niece. Nate grinned to himself, wondering how feet that small kept her upright…and how long the shoes would stay white.
“Hi,” she said, extending a hand, “I’m Eden. Eden Quinn.”
The strength of her handshake, like everything else about her, surprised him. She pumped his arm up and down as if she expected water to trickle from his fingertips.
“Nate Marshall said I should meet him here at noon. If you’ll just tell me where to find him….”
“I’m Nate,” he said, releasing her hand. “Good to meet you.” He’d said those words to dozens of people on dozens of occasions, but for a reason he couldn’t explain, didn’t think he’d ever meant them more.
Eden tucked her fingertips into the back pockets of her jeans. “I expected you’d be, ah, well, older.” Then she plopped a hand on the nearest teen’s shoulder. “These are my boys,” she said, introducing them one by one.
Nate walked down the short lineup as she stated first names. “Nice to meet you,” he said, grasping each boy’s hand.
“Is that a Stetson?” the one called Thomas asked.
Nate smiled. “Sure is.”
The boy called Carlo nodded. “Cool.”
With the introductions complete, Eden clasped her hands together. “So where do we start?”
He searched each boy’s face to single out the troublemakers. Seeing no signs of mutiny on their young faces, he accepted the fact that his failure to say no meant he was stuck with them. “We’ll come back for your gear,” he said with a nod toward the horse barn, “and get you settled into the bunk house later. For now, let’s saddle up so I can show you around the Double M.”
“B-but…I never rode a horse before,” Carlo admitted.
“Just follow my lead. You’ll be fine.”
“Can we pick any horse we want?” Thomas asked.
Nate shrugged. “I’ll point out the gentlest ones, and you can choose from those.”
The answer satisfied them, and like wild mustangs, they charged ahead, laughing like four year olds as they raced toward the barn.
“Hey, fellas,” he called after them, “hold it down a mite or you’ll spook the horses.”
No one faced him, but he couldn’t help but notice that they obeyed, instantly.
“This is really nice of you,” Eden said when they disappeared into the barn. “Not many people are willing to give kids like these a chance.”
Nate was itching to find out what, exactly, earned them the ‘kids like these’ title. “I wasn’t the best-behaved young’un, myself,” he admitted. First chance he got, he’d pry some background information out of her, but for now, he’d take the boys at face value.
He noticed that Eden had to half-run to keep up with his long-legged stride. “So how did you hear about the Double M, if you don’t mind my asking?” he asked, slowing his pace.
“Oh, I read all about you in Sports Illustrated. You know, that issue where they featured pitchers who aren’t….”
Her voice trailed off, telling Nate she didn’t know how to broach the subject of the injury that ended his Major League career—and killed his fiancé—two years earlier. “Freak accident,” he said, rotating the shoulder, “but it’s pretty much healed now.” With any luck, she wouldn’t mention Miranda.
“Think you’ll ever go back? To pitching, I mean?”
He’d never seen eyes the color of a storm sky before. Funny that instead of cold or danger, they hinted at warmth and sweetness. He hadn’t felt anything—anything—for a woman since didn’t know how to react to that, and tugged the brim of his hat lower on his forehead. It did nothing to block her from his peripheral vision.
“They’d never admit it,” she said, using her chin as a pointer, “but they were more excited about meeting a real live baseball star than spending the weekend at a bona fide ranch.”
“Never was a star,” he ground out. “And anyway, that was then, this is now.”
She leaned forward slightly, looked up into his face. “Ah, so you’re one of those guys who isn’t comfortable with compliments, are you?”
Nate only shrugged.
“Something tells me when they get to know you better, they’ll all have an even bigger case of hero worship.”
The word made him cringe. Before every game, fans from four to ninety-four lined the fence beside the field, holding programs, caps, even paper napkins in the hope of securing a signature. He’d taken a lot of heat from teammates and the press when a kid in the autograph line slapped the label on him. “We’re not heroes,” he’d blurted. “Fans should look to soldiers, cops, and firefighters as their heroes, not a bunch of overpaid athletes like us.” The experience taught him to let his teammates do the talking from that point on, but it hadn’t changed his mind about the subject of hero worship.
“Let’s hope not,” he said, meaning it.
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