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In Gold Valley, Oregon, forbidden love just might be the sweetest…
Dane Parker traded in his trailer-park roots for glory as a bull rider. But when a serious injury sidelines him for months, it’s the first time he can’t just pull himself up by his bootstraps. The last thing he wants to deal with is sweet family friend Bea treating him like one of her wounded animals—or the unexpected attraction that suddenly flares between them.
Beatrix Leighton has loved Dane for years, while he’s always seen her as another sister. When she enlists his help to start her animal sanctuary, she thinks it will give him purpose. Instead, it brings all the desire she feels for him to the boiling point. Bea’s father taught her early on that love means loss. But could her forbidden crush turn into a love that will last a lifetime?
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Bea had put in a full day at Valley Veterinary, and was feeling tired, but satisfied. She didn’t have to work at the clinic while she studied. She had more than enough money to cover her living expenses thanks to her trust fund, but she also felt she couldn’t afford not to.
It gave her the opportunity to give practical application to the things she was studying. Although, practical application wasn’t her issue.
She was good with animals. She had a natural affinity with them.
Of course, she didn’t have experience with vaccinations, surgeries, or any of the technical things she was learning about. But later, when she was further along in the program she would talk to Bennett about the possibility of doing some observations.
“I think Lindy is planning on having everyone over for dinner tonight,” Kaylee said, as they began to lock up the facility. “Do you want to come?”
Bea hesitated. She probably needed to make sure that Evan wasn’t wreaking havoc on her cabin. That window was another thing she needed to get fixed. She didn’t mind having him in the house sometimes, but the fact that he had endless access was an issue. Still, if everyone was going to be there….
She hadn’t seen her friend Jamie in a while, or her friend McKenna, who was now engaged to Grant Dodge.
She would pretend her excitement had nothing to do with the fact that Dane might be there. Particularly since he had put in a full day of work at the Dodge ranch today.
“Sure,” she said, trying to sound casual. “I’d love to.”
She followed Bennett and Kaylee until they forked off, heading back to their own house, probably to pick up Dallas, and she continued on toward Get Out of Dodge. Her heart fluttered, and she pressed her palm to her chest, breathing deeply as she stared out at the scenery, the gently curving two-lane road winding through the trees.
She didn’t need to be fluttery and ridiculous over Dane. She saw him every day right now.
When she had been younger… Well, when she had gone a couple of months at a time without seeing him, the physical response to his presence had always been intense. Her heart would slam against her chest, like there was an angry bull in there, trying to kick its way out.
It wasn’t that bad when he’d been around for a while.
More butterflies than angry bulls. But there was still a reaction. And for the life of her, she couldn’t do anything to eliminate it entirely.
In many ways, she wasn’t bothered by it.
She enjoyed the feeling. She liked being with him.
It was just…
It was good as long as she didn’t get mired in the impossibility of it. And wanting it to be more than it was.
If she could just enjoy being around him, and not worry about the future, then everything was fine.
She pulled onto the ranch property, and down the gravel road that led to the main house. Jamie Dodge was sitting on the porch of the expansive log home, her feet kicked out in front of her.
Bea parked and got out. “Hi,” she said, bounding up the steps toward her friend.
Jamie smiled. “Hi. I didn’t realize you were coming tonight.”