A Cowboy in Manhattan

A Cowboy in Manhattan by Barbara Dunlop Read Free Book Online

Book: A Cowboy in Manhattan by Barbara Dunlop Read Free Book Online
Authors: Barbara Dunlop
attitude. But he’d done her a favor this morning, and she’d treated him like something nasty on the bottom of her shoe. She might get away with that back in New York City, but it wasn’t cutting it out here.
    “Exactly how long do you expect me to stay?” Mandy teased Caleb.
    His voice went deep, communicating more emotion than a single word. “Forever.”
    Realizing he’d nearly burned the eggs, Reed twisted the burner control to the off position and moved them to one side.
    “Cute.” Mandy patted Caleb’s cheek, seeming completely unaffected by his staunch declaration.
    “Well, I should get back,” said Katrina.
    “Oh, no.” Mandy walked forward toward Katrina before coming up against the tether of Caleb’s hand in hers. “Stay.”
    Katrina turned to her sister. “Why would I stay?”
    Stay and ride your bicycle, Reed found himself fuming. The least she could do was give it a try.
    “You might as well be here as down there,” said Mandy. “We haven’t had a chance to talk.” She tugged playfully at Caleb’s hand, while he held her fast. “And I don’t think this one’s going to let me leave.”
    Out of the corner of his eye, Reed saw Katrina glance his way.
    “Reed’s not going to care,” said Mandy.
    “I don’t want to get in the way.”
    Reed turned to face her full-on. “This isn’t a country club.”
    Her head jerked back, eyes going wide, as if he’d wounded her, and he immediately felt like a heel.
    “Reed!” Caleb admonished. “What the hell?”
    “It’s okay,” said Katrina, setting down the half-eaten plum. “Obviously, I should—”
    “No, you shouldn’t. ” Mandy shot Reed an annoyed glare. “He’s in a bad mood, that’s all. Terrell men get that way.”
    “Excuse me?” Caleb was obviously affronted at being lumped in unfavorably with his brother.
    Katrina seemed to be at a loss. She suddenly struck Reed as a fragile, frightened bird. And he had to struggle against an overpowering urge to reach out and reassure her. He wanted to draw her into his arms and apologize for anything he’d ever done, thought of doing or might do in the future to hurt her.
    But the rational side of him knew that would be ridiculous. She’d trounced all over his best intentions this morning, and now she was using those big, gorgeous blue eyes to bring the world onto her side.
    Well, he wasn’t falling for it.
    “You’re more than welcome to stay,” Caleb told her staunchly.
    Katrina looked to Reed, and he felt his defenses melting like spring snow. He fought against it, but stubborn as he was, she won the battle without lifting a finger.
    “You’re welcome to stay,” he echoed his brother’s invitation.
    Then he determinedly turned his attention back to breakfast. The sausages were overdone, as were the eggs. He’d forgotten to push down the toast, and he couldn’t seem to remember what the hell he’d done with the strawberry jam.
    Katrina felt as though she was ten years old again, trailing along behind Mandy through the Terrell barn, feeling out of place, her nose wrinkling at the smell, making sure she steered clear of anything with hooves and teeth.
    “There’s a gorgeous meadow up by Flash Lake,” Mandy was saying. She stopped beside a stall to scratch the nose of a chestnut mare. “It’s really not that far to ride. The fireweed’s up, and the lilies and columbine. You should see something more than the ranch yard while you’re here.”
    “You don’t remember, do you?” Katrina asked.
    “Remember what?”
    “That I don’t know how to ride.”
    Mandy turned. “That’s ridiculous.”
    “No, it’s not.”
    “Of course you know how to ride.”
    Katrina shook her head, then tucked her loose hair behind her ears. “You guys used to put me up on a horse a lot. But I could barely hold on. I sure couldn’t control it.” If her horses hadn’t willingly followed her sisters’ and brothers’ animals back home, she’d have been permanently lost in the

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