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Feel-Good Fiction Books

Book 5: The Cowboy and the Champion (Brush Creek Cowboys Romance)

Book 5: The Cowboy and the Champion (Brush Creek Cowboys Romance)

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There are still more cowboys at Brush Creek Ranch, where some have found love and some are still looking...

About THE COWBOY AND THE CHAMPION: He's a fun-loving cowboy with a quick laugh and a big heart. She's a barrel racing champion with a chip on her shoulder. Can Emmett and Molly get over their pasts in order to build a future together?

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

“Landon?” Emmett Graves entered the homestead at Brush Creek Horse Ranch just after five o’clock on a Friday afternoon. He’d been told by the foreman that the owner wanted to see him before the weekend. So here he was.

Landon, apparently, was not at the homestead, as Megan poked her head up from the kitchen cabinets where she crouched. “Hey, Emmett.” She gave him a smile and disappeared again.

He moved through the living room, past a set of stairs that went down, and into the kitchen, where he found Megan organizing plastic storage containers and nesting them inside each other.

“Where’s Landon?”

“He hasn’t come in from the ranch yet.” She glanced up at him. “What do you need?”

“He wanted me to stop by.” A sense of urgency trickled through Emmett. He wanted to shower, grab something to eat, and get down to town. The country line dances had been going for a couple of weeks now, and he’d enjoyed himself at them.

“I’ll text him.” She stood and sent a message to her husband. “You goin’ dancin’ tonight?”

He laughed. “Don’t talk like a cowboy,” he said. “You can’t even pull it off.”

“Yes, I can.” She slugged him in the shoulder. “So are you going?”


“You meet anyone down there?”

“Oh, don’t start on me.” Emmett groaned. “Between you and Tess it’s a miracle I don’t have a date every other night.”

“Do you want a date every other night?” Megan’s dark eyes glittered. “Because I know a lot of women that would be interested.”

I’m not interested,” Emmett said. Megan tilted her head and looked at him with curiosity, but Landon entered the house through the French doors, saving Emmett from trying to explain.

Trying to explain was all he could do. No one really understood his aversion to women —not even Emmett himself. All he knew was that women couldn’t be trusted. They didn’t stick around when things got hard. His momma had left when he was twelve, and he hadn’t heard from her since.

His father had been married and divorced three times, and both of Emmett’s older brothers had endured divorces as well.

No thank you, Emmett thought as Landon washed his hands.

The fact that the owner hadn’t said anything upon his arrival set Emmett’s alert on high. “Ted said you wanted to see me before the weekend,” he said.

“Right,” Landon said, exchanging a glance with Megan. He sighed, further worrying Emmett.

“I’ve hired another trainer.”

“That’s great,” Emmett said, trying to find the hidden meaning in the words. Or hear words Landon hadn’t said at all.

“They’ll be doing barrel racing as well. I need you to train them.”

An icy wind swept through Emmett. “They’ll be doing barrel racing? What will I be doing then?”

“Barrel racing.”

Emmett’s eyebrows pinched together. “So you’ll have two barrel racing trainers?”

“For a while.”

Emmett straightened his square shoulders. He wasn’t as tall as Landon or some of the other cowboys on the ranch, but he could hold his own. “Am I being fired?”

“Of course not.” Landon looked at Megan again, who came to stand at his side. A flash of resentment for their relationship stole through Emmett. At the same time, he envied them. “I’m just doin’ a favor for a friend, and I need you to show them the ropes.”

“When is this happening?”

“Monday.” Landon held perfectly still, a tactic Emmett had seen him use before. It exuded confidence and the message that he wasn’t going to budge on the topic at hand.

Emmett admitted defeat with an exaggerated sigh. “Fine. Is that all?”

“That’s all. Just be here at the homestead at seven sharp on Monday morning.”

Emmett saluted Landon, who rolled his eyes and said, “Get outta here.”

* * *

With his teeth brushed and his dark hair still a bit damp and curling on the ends, Emmett set his sights down the canyon. The temperature improved by a few degrees as he left the higher elevations behind. The dances were held at Oxbow Park, the largest outdoor venue Brush Creek had to offer.

The days were getting longer now that May was half over, and Emmett parked with several minutes of sunlight left. He made his way past the playground to a large pavilion which had been emptied of all the tables. Music pumped from the lit space, the kind of country twang that brought a quick smile to Emmett’s face.

He didn’t join the throng of people already on the cement dance floor right away. He stuck to the edges, checking out the dancers and finding his groove with the music. He chewed his arctic ice gum with vigor, his anticipation of expending some extra energy on the dance floor amping up.

“Hey, Emmett.” A blonde-haired woman walked by, but Emmett barely glanced at her as he returned the greeting. He really wasn’t interested in anything long-term with a female. But spending an evening dancing with one was perfectly fine.

He merged into the crowd during the song transition, finding himself right next to a tall, curvy woman wearing jeans that went on forever. It was the jeans that should’ve tipped him off. Most of the other women there wore flirty little dresses, not jeans, black cowgirl boots, and a blouse the color of clouds.

He tapped the heel of his boot, then the toe, launching himself fully into the line dance. The redhead next to him had clearly missed the last several years of line dances, because she fumbled all over the place, even coming close to backing into him a time or two.

He chuckled and when the song ended, he said, “When’s the last time you line danced?”

She trained her dazzling hazel eyes on him, and Emmett thought he might be really interested in dating her. “It’s been a while,” she admitted. Her gaze slid down his body and back to his cowboy hat, where her lip curled.

She had skin that had spent plenty of time in the sun. Freckles dotted her nose and cheeks, and her hair had to be naturally curly.

“I don’t think we’ve met,” he said. “I’m Emmett.”

“We haven’t.” The woman turned and pushed her way through the crowd to a different section of the dance floor, leaving Emmett to stare after her.

He blinked and a laugh flew from his throat. Another song started, and Emmett kept his eye on the dancing disaster that was the redhead. Another man—sans cowboy hat—spoke to her, and she seemed perfectly warm with him.

Emmett’s mood dampened, and he maneuvered toward the refreshment table. So what if that woman didn’t like him? He wasn’t looking for anyone either. He just thought if he’d nearly trampled someone, the least he could do was apologize. And if someone introduced themselves to him, his good Southern manners dictated that he introduce himself back.

The frustration over the nameless woman left him as he downed a cup of lemonade, the chill of it intensifying against the mint of his gum. He refilled his cup and faced the crowd again. There were lots of other women here to dance next to. He didn’t need her.

He turned to put his nearly-full cup of lemonade in the trashcan but collided with another body. His grip on the plastic cup failed and the yellow liquid doused the woman he’d nearly knocked over.

Now her cloud-colored shirt looked like a dog had peed on it.

“I’m sorry,” Emmett said as he picked up the empty cup and put it in his original target—the trashcan. He grabbed a fistful of napkins and started pawing at the woman’s shirt.

She backed up and held up both of her hands. “Stop. Just…stop.”

Emmett blinked, pure horror flowing through him at the distaste the woman wore on her face. Distaste for him. He wasn’t sure what he’d done to make her dislike him so much—besides dumping ten ounces of ice cold lemonade down the front of her. But she’d seemed cold before then.

He forced a laugh and said, “So you can’t dance, and I can’t drink. Maybe we should both go home before we cause some real damage.” He kept his genuine smile on his face. The smile he wore when he was trying to get something he wanted. The smile that always worked.

Almost always worked.

Because the redhead scoffed, spun away from him, and stomped out of the pavilion. Emmett followed her, pausing where the cement met the grass. “Wait!” he called. “I didn’t get your number!”

She didn’t even turn around, and Emmett faced the dance floor with a chuckle. That woman needed a chill pill, because it was only lemonade. It would come out in the wash, for crying out loud.

“You wanna dance?” The blonde parked herself in front of him, and Emmett figured why not?

“Sure.” He gave that grin again, satisfied that it worked on some women. Human women, he thought as he scanned the darkness beyond the pavilion for the redhead. She was nowhere to be found, so he spun the blonde, and drank too much lemonade, and laughed good-naturedly until the dance ended near midnight.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "This story is very uplifting it gives you hope when you're afraid. Your stories make things very believable as in the characters seem to show their feelings thank you for writing such nice sweet stories.” ~Chanda H.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Such a wonderful heartfelt story beginning to end. So glad they found each other. Can't wait for the next book.” ~Beverly W.

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Go up the canyon to Brush Creek Ranch, where a community of retired rodeo cowboys are looking for love...

This series offers a heartwarming journey through a tapestry of stories that interweave the charm of sweet cowboy romance with the serenity of small-town life.