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Feel-Good Fiction Books

Book 8: Gideon (Seven Sons Ranch in Three Rivers Romance™)

Book 8: Gideon (Seven Sons Ranch in Three Rivers Romance™)

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Meet the Walker brothers at Seven Sons Ranch!

About GIDEON: It's 1971, and Gideon Walker is on the cutting edge of all the technology coming out of Texas. He has big dreams and wants to make something of himself. Then he meets Penny Aarons, and everything changes. He only has eyes for her, but she's got plans and dreams of her own…

Read this origin romance for Momma and Daddy from the Seven Sons series today!

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

Gideon Walker left the farmhouse where he’d grown up and headed for the detached garage. “Come on, you lazy things,” he said to the two dogs lying in the shade beneath the porch. “Let’s go to the park.” 

Mack got up, a goofy grin perpetually on his face. He was a big, black animal with absolutely no sense whatsoever. But as he trotted alongside Gideon, a sweet sense of camaraderie moved through the man. He barked at something only he could see or smell, and Gideon ducked inside the garage to get their leashes.

“Hey, Daddy,” he said when he found his father inside, working on the riding lawn mower. His dad twisted the wrench, trying to get the bolt to move. It didn’t.

“Hey, son.” He sighed and looked over to Gideon. The atmosphere changed, though Gideon tried to ignore it. He reached for the leashes, but both dogs had wandered off, probably in search of a squirrel or prairie dog. Mack especially had the attention span of a gnat, and Gideon had chased him down at the park just yesterday to get him to stay away from a family of geese. 

“Goin’ to the park?”

“Yeah,” Gideon said. “What’s going on with that?” 

“Oh, it keeps stalling.” Daddy looked over to Gideon. “You’re really going back to Austin in the fall?”

Gideon sighed and looked away. “Yes, Daddy.” It was July, and Gideon had finally told his parents he wanted to return to the university in Austin in the fall instead of staying to work the family ranch. He loved it here, under the shade of all the trees, the still air—especially at night—that allowed a man to truly think, and the scent of horses and freshly mown hay.

He’d worked hard growing up, and he didn’t mind it. But the fact was, Gideon was the middle son. He’d never expected to inherit the ranch, and he’d only just realized that his father had wanted him to go to college, and then, Gideon was expected to come home and work the ranch. That was just what Walkers did.

Gideon didn’t want to be that brand of Walker. 

His father returned to the lawn mower, and Gideon wondered if it really wasn’t running. His father loved to tinker with mechanical things, and Gideon didn’t hate it either.

He whistled for Mack and Moose, because he was tired of this same old conversation. Mack came trotting over, and Gideon held up his fist, the universal sign to get the dog to sit. Mack just stood there, panting, and Gideon rolled his eyes as he clipped the leash to the dog’s collar. 

He looked around for Moose, but the other dog had disappeared. 

“I think you and Jonas and Spencer can work the ranch together,” Daddy said. “That’s what we’ve always planned for.” 

Gideon usually enjoyed the personal connection he and his daddy had, and all of his best memories had originated in this garage while they fiddled with something, or organized lumber for a new construction project, or held their ranch meetings. Only Jonas and Daddy met about the ranch now, though, and Gideon hadn’t even been told the truth.

He didn’t want to hurt his father, but he’d never been completely honest with him about why he wanted to go back to Austin this fall. He’d never revealed what he knew.

“I don’t want the ranch,” Gideon said.

“What are you going to do then?” 

“I already told you, Daddy. I want to go back to school.” 

“You graduated.”

Gideon drew in a deep breath through his nose. “I know. I got a degree in business. I could buy my own ranch, or help run this one right. But I don’t want to.” He wanted to explore so much more of the world than Sweet Creek in the Texas Hill Country. The world was wide open right now, and the possibilities felt absolutely endless to Gideon.

“What are you going to do?” his dad asked again.

“Well.” Gideon tried to choose his words carefully. His father got overwhelmed easily, especially with new things—the very things that brought excitement to Gideon’s soul. “You’ve heard of the microwave oven. Someone invented that. And I was reading an article the other day about fiber optics, Daddy. They can send pulses of light through a fiber.”

“A fiber?”

And Gideon had lost him. “There are people working on so many things,” he continued anyway. “The space program uses computers, and they’re getting smaller and smaller.” He started speaking faster, trying to get his point across before his father started shaking his head and waving his hand, a signal that he was done listening.

“People invent those things, Daddy. I want to learn the technology. I want to invent the things people will use in the future.” The need to do so practically seethed beneath his skin, making standing still difficult and uncomfortable. 

Gideon didn’t want to stand still. He wanted to get out there in the world and do something. 

“So you’re going to go work at NASA?”

“Maybe,” Gideon said. “But not right away. I need to take more classes.”

“You’ve just spent the last four years in classes.” 

Gideon sighed, because this was a losing conversation. He wished things could be different, but the fact was, they couldn’t.

“I know you had Jonas sign the documents to make the ranch his.”

That got Daddy to stop tinkering with the blasted lawn mower. His eyes met Gideon’s, and he saw so much of himself in the dark depths. 

Everything about the Walker men existed in shades of darkness. Dark hair, and Daddy’s was some of the darkest. Gideon’s was lighter, though not by much.

Dark brown eyes, and again, Daddy had the deepest, darkest pair. Gideon’s rivaled his though, especially when he was frustrated or angry. 

He tanned easily, and he seemed to be able to eat whatever he wanted and still stay trim. His height contributed to that, and the fact that he’d once loved to lift his father’s barbells, which he kept in the barn, before he left for school each day.

Moose came bounding toward the garage, and Gideon masked his frustrated sigh as a grunt as he bent to clip the second leash onto the dog’s collar. Moose was a big, hairy, brown dog who was named after the animal he most represented. The mutt had long legs that didn’t seem to move the right way, so he always seemed one step away from falling completely.

He had a big snout too, and he loved to run around the park and sniff everything—and everyone—he could. Most people around Sweet Creek knew Moose, because while he was big and clumsy, he at least had some intelligence.

There wasn’t a dog kennel in the county that could hold Moose, and not just because of his size. Gideon swore the dog’s paws morphed into human hands when he was alone, because he could open doors.

“Come on,” he said to the two dogs. “Load up. We’re going to the park.”  

His father watched him, still silent and not admitting that he’d passed the ranch to Jonas, which everyone knew left nothing for Gideon or Spencer.

“Momma’s got dinner on,” his dad said as Gideon got behind the wheel. 

“I won’t be late,” Gideon promised, and he got off the ranch as quickly as he could without spitting gravel behind his tires. He wanted to, but he knew from experience that his show of anger would only land him in hotter water with Daddy.

“Work the ranch together,” Gideon scoffed. “There’s no together if Jonas owns the whole thing, Daddy.”

He continued to rant as he drove to town. Sweet Creek wasn’t a huge place in the Hill Country, but it had a decent number of people in town and the surrounding hills. Probably ten thousand or so. 

Their department stores had the microwave ovens Gideon had spoken of, though his momma hadn’t purchased one. When they’d first been introduced, Fisher’s had put one in the front display window and done hourly demonstrations.

Gideon remembered them clearly, and perhaps that had been when the invention bug had bitten him. “No,” he told himself. “You’ve always wanted to push the boundaries. Explore the new. Make something out of nothing.” And that was true.

Gideon Walker had the drive and intelligence to invent, and he wouldn’t settle for working a ranch he didn’t own and had no chance of owning.

“There’s no future for me here.” He wanted to be somewhere important, somewhere where things happened, where men thought outside of boxes, and where fences didn’t exist.

He pulled up to the sprawling park across the street from the church he’d attended for the first eighteen years of his life. For a moment, relief pulled through him.

After he threw the ball for Moose and managed to tucker out Mack, perhaps he could go sit down on one of the benches and pray for guidance.

The wind picked up, and Gideon pressed his hand down on his cowboy hat so it wouldn’t get stolen. Heaven knew he’d lost plenty of hats to a stiff breeze, especially around these parts of Texas.

“Come on,” he said to the dogs. “Now stay by me, okay? There are a lot of people here today.” Summer in Texas usually took people to the water parks, the rivers, the lakes. This park had a lake in the middle of it, and plenty of grass surrounding that. Enormous cypress trees kept things shaded, and families brought blankets and picnic baskets to spend afternoons together. Couples snuck off to the more private parts of the park, and Gideon had seen black rabbits in the park year-round. 

Mack especially liked to chase them, and Gideon swept the patch of park he’d chosen for the dogs. It was remote enough, hopefully, to keep them entertained, but out of other people’s hair. Mack didn’t have personal boundaries, and he thought everyone he met had just come to give him a pat.

Moose didn’t know his own strength, that was all. They were both kind, gentle dogs. They just required the right kind of person to love them.

Gideon did love them, but not as much as Daddy. Daddy had always loved dogs, and they had at least fifteen on the ranch. Maybe more. Momma had put her foot down when the third dog had started coming inside to sleep and eat, and Daddy got more dogs as a way to “rescue them.”

“Stay by me,” he told the dogs again, and he picked up the ball Moose loved to chase. He threw it as far as he could and reached for the bowl he’d fill with water from the drinking fountain.

No beast—man or canine—could go long in the July Texas heat without a good, long, cold drink of water. Gideon’s mouth felt dry right that instant, in fact.

He watched Moose and Mack chase after the ball. Moose got it, of course. Mack didn’t even seem to know there was a ball present, but he loved to run alongside his friend.

“Bring it,” Gideon called, but Moose just dropped the ball and trotted over to a tree, his sniffer working overtime.

Irritation flared in Gideon’s soul. “Just bring it back,” he muttered as he started across the lawn toward the pair of dogs.

He kept his eyes on them, because they could bolt at a moment’s notice. Thankfully, they didn’t, and he picked up the ball and threw it again.

Both dogs took off after it, and once again, Moose retrieved it, but didn’t bring it back.

“Come on,” he called. “Bring it.” He should’ve brought some jerky or liver with him, but he’d been too frustrated by his conversation with his father to think of it.

Moose lifted his head suddenly, and Gideon yelled his name. But the dog wouldn’t be deterred, and he took off at a sprint.

“No!” Gideon called. “Moose, come back. Come back!” He broke into a jog too, though his cowboy boots weren’t really made for running on grass.

Various trees made it hard to see what had sparked Moose’s attention. A squeal filled the air, followed by a hearty, feminine laugh, and Gideon rounded a tree to find both of his dogs, tails wagging, standing over a woman on the ground.

“Guys,” he said, his heartbeat the thing that was sprinting now. “Come on. Leave her alone.” He ran toward her, saying, “I’m sorry. Sorry. Moose. Mack. Come on.”  

But both dogs had gone deaf, and Gideon wanted to march them right over to the truck and lecture them the whole way back to the ranch.

Back to the ranch.

Boy, he didn’t want to go back there.

“Sorry.” He reached the blanket where the woman had been sitting and managed to wrestle Moose away from her. His long tongue still tried to lick her face while Gideon reached for Mack.

“Go on now. Sit down. Stay.” Miraculously, the dogs did what he said, and Gideon turned his attention to the woman with the splay of dark auburn hair across her face.

She giggled like getting attacked by two seventy-pound dogs was the highlight of her day. And then she sat up, brushing her hair off her face.

Gideon froze at the sight of the most beautiful woman he’d ever met. Along with the auburn hair, she had smooth, tan skin, straight, white teeth, and the loveliest pair of green eyes he’d ever seen.

“It’s fine,” she drawled, grinning at him. “I love dogs.”

He extended his hand toward her, the motion he’d been about to make before she’d made his heart start to beat in a strange way.

She put her hand in his, and he helped her to her feet.

She brushed a couple of leaves and plenty of grass from her pants, which flared at the ankle but hugged her thigh. She was slim, but what she lacked in physicality, she made up for in charisma.

She wore a mauve sweater that accentuated her curves, with a deep neckline that Gideon yanked his eyes away from. All he could do was return the smile that still sat on her face.

She seemed made of sunshine and charm, and Gideon wanted to know everything about her. “I’m Gideon Walker,” he said, extending his hand toward her again. He’d been numb the last time her skin had touched his, but this time, he felt every spark of attraction moving through him.

“Penny.”

“Short for something?” he asked, barely keeping an eye on the dogs. He only seemed to have eyes for her now.

“Penelope.”

He nodded. “Do you live around here, Penny?”

“Yeah,” she said, grinning as Mack ran toward her. She bent down and scratched behind his ears. “My family owns the egg farm south of town.” She glanced up at him, and Gideon nearly lost himself in those eyes. That smile. “Aarons is my last name.”

“Oh, right,” he said. “The Aarons Egg Farm. I’ve been by there.” 

She straightened, and Gideon reached down deep inside himself for another round of courage. “Would you like to go to dinner with me?”

“Hey, Penny,” a man said as he came around the tree. “They didn’t have anything but water.” He looked at Gideon and Mack and moved right to Penny’s side. He handed her a bottle of water, which Penny took and twisted off the cap. 

“Thanks, Lee.” She smiled at him too, and Gideon’s heart flopped like a fish out of water. She’d heard him ask her out. He couldn’t take the words back.

“This is Gideon,” she said to Lee before turning to Gideon. “And this is Lee.” 

“Nice to meet you,” Gideon said, but he didn’t think it was nice at all. Moose barked, and Gideon turned away in time to see the dog streak away. “Sorry again about the dogs.” He strode away, never more grateful for the disobedient canines than he was in that moment. 

He rounded them up and threw the ball a few more times, forcing himself not to even look to his right. Penny hadn’t even seemed surprised when he’d asked her to dinner, but Gideon kept wondering where the words had come from. 

He wasn’t shy with women; he simply hadn’t really met anyone he’d wanted to go out with for very long. Penny’s laughing green eyes stuck with him long after he’d loaded up the dogs and driven back to the ranch. Maybe Lee was just her brother. Maybe she would’ve said yes to his dinner invitation if they hadn’t been interrupted.

“Aarons Egg Farm,” he muttered to himself as he closed up the horse barn for the night. His family ranch sat north and west of town, with the egg farm south. He knew of the Aarons, but he didn’t know much more about them. 

He definitely wanted to learn more.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the parents of the seven Walker sons. Their story was engaging and made me want to go back and read all of the Seven Sons books over again.” ~C. Myers

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I absolutely loved this series! It was so hard to put down!” ~Renea S.

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The Walker Brothers have moved to small-town Three Rivers...and refused to date.

Oh, boy, do the women of this town want a piece of these cowboy billionaire brothers! And you can read all about it in the Seven Sons Ranch in Three Rivers Romance books!