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Feel-Good Fiction Books

Book 6: Schooled by the Cowboy (Brush Creek Cowboys Romance)

Book 6: Schooled by the Cowboy (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 SCHOOLED BY THE COWBOY: He's busy up at the ranch. She's the principal and even busier. Can he dig deep and rely on his faith and his Brush Creek cowboy friend to make a relationship with Shannon successful?

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

Principal Shannon Sharpe was aware of exactly how long the cowboy had been standing at the corner of the building. It was her job to know, and though he’d never done anything, he couldn’t keep coming around school grounds and watching.

She’d employed her excellent detective skills to figure out who he was. After all, she didn’t want to alienate a parent, but she also couldn’t risk the safety of her students and teachers if the man had a restraining order against him or wasn’t allowed to see his child.

Thankfully, this cowboy didn’t fit any of that. Wasn’t married. Had never been married. Had no children.

He’d dated one of her second grade teachers for a brief time last year, and Shannon suspected the poor guy wasn’t over beautiful, bubbly, blonde Claire.

Still, she told herself as the children continued to practice their dance festival pieces. He can’t just show up at school and stare. If a parent saw….

She turned away from the sixth grade class doing the cha-cha and clicked her way toward the far corner of the building. Her necklaces jangled as her heels made sharp noises against the blacktop. She fiddled with the hummingbird ring on her middle finger as she approached, the only sign of her nerves.

“Sir?” She paused out of his reach and touched her dangly, sparkling earrings.

The man startled as if he hadn’t noticed her approach. He had black hair that extended into a pair of sexy sideburns all the way to his chin. His eyes reminded her of her favorite black tea, and his quick smile made her relax her weight onto her right foot.

“Ma’am.” He swept his cowboy hat off and tipped his head in acknowledgement. Shannon wished she was meeting him at one of the town’s summer activities, or the community country line dances, or a church function, because he was gorgeous. Tall and broad, with biceps that showed his muscles when he folded them across his chest.

“Can I ask what you’re doing here?” she asked, her voice betraying her frantically beating heart. She told herself she would never react like this to a parent, but she already knew this man didn’t fit that bill. So her erratic pulse and sudden hopes were justified.

“Oh, I—” His gaze flickered to the open blacktop and back to hers. He seemed to sink into her gaze, and Shannon’s hand lifted and pressed against her heart like she was saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I’ve seen you around a few times,” she said. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” True regret lanced through her, because she’d very much like this man to stay, maybe come to her office where she’d close the door and learn more about him. She’d seen him at church with another cowboy from the horse ranch up the canyon and had learned everything she needed to know but his name. And Shannon didn’t live in small-town Utah because she disliked cowboys.

Quite the opposite. Problem was, she’d dated every available man during the six years she’d been in Brush Creek, and she’d given up hope of finding someone here. Her disappointment that a transfer hadn’t come through this year dried up. Very aware of how unreasonable she was being, she added, “And I think you should stay away. I don’t want to have to call the police.”

The man fell back a step, alarm entering his eyes. “No need for that. I’ll go.” He turned and walked away without looking back. A pang of renewed disappointment sang through Shannon, and she sighed as she turned back to the activity on the blacktop. Why did she run off every available man?

It didn’t matter. She hadn’t gotten a transfer this year, but she’d been at Brush Creek Elementary for six years. Next year would be number seven, and if she didn’t get a transfer then, she’d know something was wrong with her performance.

But her parent and teacher surveys had been positive, and she’d never received a negative supervisor evaluation.

With her future almost certainly not in Brush Creek, she didn’t need to worry so much about dating. But Shannon also knew she wasn't’ getting any younger, and her biological clock seemed to be ticking in her ears louder and louder every day. She wanted a family and children—of her own. Her staff and students had always provided those things for her, and for a while there, Shannon thought that would be enough.

But she knew now that it wasn’t. She wanted her own home, her own husband to come home to at night, her own children to cradle and cuddle and cater to.

She swallowed as a fourth grader ran toward her. “Miss Sharpe! Come see our hip hop dance.” The excitement on the boy’s face brought a smile to Shannon’s face, and she moved as quickly as her heels would let her toward the fourth grade group, the pit in her stomach remaining no matter how much she enjoyed the children.

* * *

By the time Shannon finished work for the day, exhaustion consumed her. She unlocked her front door—she was possibly the only person in Brush Creek to lock their door—and exhaled as she entered.

At least she didn’t have to come home to darkness and emptiness, as the early May evening still provided sunlight and her two dogs came trotting toward her, seemingly smiling and their tongues hanging out.

“Hey, guys.” She put her keys and purse on the front table and bent down to rub her dogs. “Hey, Theo. Did you have a good day?” The curtain at the back of the house fluttered slightly in the wind, an indication that the short-haired Australian shepherd had opened the sliding glass door again.

Her goldendoodle nosed his way into the pat-down, and Shannon chuckled. “All right, Bear. I’ll rub you too.” The dog flopped on the ground and rolled onto his back, wanting his belly rubbed. “You big baby.” She grinned at him, the reason why she locked the front door obvious. Neither of these dogs would bark or scare anyone who tried to break in. And Theo practically invited intruders in by opening the door so he could romp through the backyard.

Shannon straightened and started taking herself apart. First, the earrings came off. She massaged her sore lobes, vowing never to wear that particular pair again as they were too heavy. Then the multiple necklaces. The rings. The business jacket. The heels. Shannon took meticulous care putting every piece in place before she left the house, and it was a relief to just be in her own home.

She switched on the television in the living room and moved into the open kitchen to start dinner. She liked to cook just fine, but tonight, she went for easy. And easy meant a mango-peach protein shake on the back patio.

The neighbors were in their backyard and the shouts of children jumping on the trampoline met her ears, along with the scent of grilling hamburgers. Her stomach twisted and roared for meat instead of fruit. Theo and Bear went over to the fence and sat as if someone would accidentally drop a burger over it.

As if drawn by the panting dogs, Shannon’s neighbor appeared over the top of the fence. She kept a utility chest there and stood on it when she wanted to talk to Shannon.

“Hey, you are home. Want to come over for dinner?” Ruth was the nicest person on the planet, and Shannon had developed a great friendship with her over the years.

“You don’t even have to ask twice.” Shannon stood with a grin and added, “Did you make potato salad?”

“Don’t I always make potato salad when we have a cookout?”

Shannon grinned, stopped by the kitchen to dump out her uneaten shake, and slipped on some flip flops to go next door. She leashed the two dogs together and told them, “Don’t pull. And no jumping,” before walking around the fences and through the gate into Ruth’s backyard. Her three kids bounced and called on the trampoline in the far corner, and her husband stood at the grill with an overly large spatula.

Ruth lounged in a chair at the patio table, and Shannon joined her, commanding the dogs to sit and wait.

“The dogs can go,” she said, and Shannon unleashed them. Theo ran toward the trampoline, more enthralled with play, while Bear made a beeline for Clyde at the grill. The man laughed and rewarded Bear for his loyalty with a corner of bacon.

“Rough week?” Ruth asked, and Shannon opened her eyes. She hadn’t even realized she’d closed them.

“May is a rough month,” she said. “Everyone’s done with school, the principal included.” She flashed a weary smile at her friend. “How are things at the hospital?”

“Slow right now, surprisingly.” Ruth wasn’t wearing her scrubs today, which meant she hadn’t worked. But she’d still know.

“That’s good, I guess.”

“Yeah.” Ruth relaxed into her chair, and Shannon appreciated the silence between them on this Friday night.

“So, has Hannah come around?”

Shannon’s muscles seized. “No.” She didn’t mean for the word to come out like a gunshot, but it still did. “She’s still mad at me.”

Ruth shook her head and patted her hand. “I’m sorry.”

Before last Labor Day, on a rough day like today, after a long week at school, Shannon wouldn’t be sitting next door chatting with Ruth. She’d be on the phone with her sister, telling her all about the faculty meeting that had gone over by thirty minutes and the handsome man she’d run off this afternoon.

But Hannah hadn’t answered any of Shannon’s calls for months. “I honestly thought she’d be over it by now.”

“Steve was her fiancée,” Ruth said.

“Steve was a two-timing jerk who hit on me in my parents’ backyard.” Shannon set her arms across her chest, her internal organs dancing with apprehension, just like they had been every time she thought of the incident. Every time she relived telling Hannah. Every time she thought about calling her sister—which was everyday—to try to explain one more time.

Shannon had been hit on plenty of times, and she hadn’t made a mistake with Steve, no matter what Hannah said. Steve’s immediate absence after Shannon’s accusations should’ve backed up her story, but Hannah only blamed her for Steve leaving as well.

Her heart squeezed too tight and she tried to make everything relax by exhaling. It sort of worked.

Ruth copied her and added, “So, no date tonight?”

Shannon groaned. “I’m sorta off men right now, after that last fiasco.” She didn’t mention the cowboy; hadn’t dared to think too much about him at all. If she let herself, she’d find out his name and phone number and call him in for “extra questioning” herself.

“That wasn’t a fiasco,” Ruth said, having been privy to all the details.

“No? What would you call a man who dates a woman when he already has a girlfriend?”

“Unfortunate?”

Shannon scoffed. “Sure.” She didn’t want to dwell on the unpleasantness of her most recent attempt at dating. Just because the other woman lived two towns over didn’t make her any less of his girlfriend, nor the very public confrontation at the diner any less humiliating. No one had asked Shannon out since, and it had been six months.

Not that Shannon usually let the men ask her out. She almost always made the first move, something she wasn’t embarrassed about. She did wonder if sometimes she came off a little too powerful, too strong, too intimidating. She’d been told that in the past, but she wasn’t quite sure how not to be like that.

“Heard you were askin’ about Grant,” Ruth said next, and Shannon sorely regretted this weekend barbecue.

“Who’s Grant?” she asked.

“Cowboy up at Brush Creek. Only single one left.”

“Black hair? Long sideburns?” Shannon’s only hope was to play dumb, like she didn’t know who Ruth was talking about.

“That’s him.”

“He’s been hanging around my school,” Shannon said. “That’s the only reason I was trying to figure out who he was.”

“Sure,” Ruth said, in the most sarcastic tone possible.

“No really,” Shannon insisted. “He was dating one of my teachers last year and clearly isn’t over her. Poor guy.”

Thankfully, Clyde saved her from having to explain further with an announcement of “Burgers are ready.” He set a platter of cheese-topped burgers on the table, and Shannon had to restrain herself from lunging toward them.

At least she could soothe her weariness, her long week, and her loneliness with smoky beef, cheddar, and toasted bread.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Just finished the series Brush Creek Brides, absolutely loved each and everyone. So heartwarming, once I started had to finish the series. If you like clean contemporary western romance, let this be your next read.” ~Aunt Sue Sue

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "As always, Liz Isaacson delivers. Another great book with well written characters that are easy to get involved with. Good storyline that held my interest from the beginning.” ~Topmom52

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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.