Jesse Hayworth Harvest at Mustang Ridge

ISBN 13: 9781494512507

Harvest at Mustang Ridge

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9781494512507: Harvest at Mustang Ridge
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With guest season about to start at the ranch, Krista Skye needs to track down a new head wrangler fast. Unfortunately, the best man for the job is the last person Krista wants to see-Wyatt Webb, the college sweetheart who left her behind. Wyatt has major reservations about working with Krista as well, but he has his own reasons for wanting to stay in town.

Although Krista and Wyatt are all business at first, sparks fly as they work side by side, preparing for an upcoming country fair. Even though rekindling their relationship brings up painful memories, they're not the same people they used to be, and neither can deny that there's still something special between them. They have one last opportunity to save a good thing before it's too late, but one of them will have to find the courage to take a chance on love.

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About the Author:

Jesse Hayworth, the author of the Mustang Ridge series, is a farm girl from way back, complete with tractors and livestock. Now farmless and driving a Subaru named Roo, Jesse lives on the East Coast with a cranky tabby she rescued from an auto shop and a beloved husband, who rescued her from match.com. Visit her at jessehayworth.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF JESSE HAYWORTH

Also by Jesse Hayworth

SIGNET ECLIPSE

 

Dear Reader,

Once upon a time, one of the girls at the barn where I worked sidled up to me and whispered, “Tim likes you. He wants to know if you like him back.” And so began my first relationship—he was my first kiss, my first “I love you,” and my first a whole lot of other things. And for a splendid year, everything was perfect. We planned our futures, named our kids, and did all the things you do when you think there’s no way that something so great won’t last forever. But then I went off to college, and he stayed home to work in the family restaurant, and even though we promised nothing would change, everything did. He started making excuses, I started clinging, and things went downhill from there. And eventually, he became another first for me: my first heartbreak.

Maybe that’s why I love reunion romances . . . not because I want to get back together with Tim—who I hope is happily married with a restaurant of his own and a bunch of kids—but because I adore the idea of two people much like us finding each other years down the road, when they’ve had time to grow into their own skins.

Take Krista Skye and Wyatt Webb, for example. They loved each other utterly in college, but when Wyatt betrayed her—betrayed them—the pain almost destroyed her. Now, years later, she’s the heart and brains of Mustang Ridge Dude Ranch in the beautiful Wyoming hills . . . and she needs his help. So let’s saddle up, grab some of Gran’s famous biscuits, and join Krista and Wyatt for a wild ride!

Love,

Jesse

1

“Knock, knock?” Krista cracked the sliding barn door and stuck her head through to scan the interior. “Anyone home?”

Horses moved in the stalls that lined both sides of the concrete aisle, offering her a couple of snorts and an optimistic whinny, which she interpreted as Got carrots? There was no answer of the human variety, though.

Stepping out of the summer heat, she scanned the stall doors. “Claire? Are you in here, honey? Your mom is looking for you.”

Instinct had Krista heading for the last stall on the right, where a small sparkly purple halter hung beside a nylon stall guard, which was only a couple of feet off the ground but was chest high on the fuzzy gray pony within. And, sure enough, she saw the toe of a small pink sneaker peeking out from a corner.

“Hey, Marshmallow,” Krista said. “I don’t suppose you’ve seen Claire, have you? You have? Where— Oh!” she said as the sneakers moved and a dark-haired girl eased into view. “There you are!” Phew. “Did you come to give Marshmallow another hug and tell him you’ll see him soon?”

The little lower lip went into quiver mode, and Claire’s big brown eyes filled as she whispered, “Next summer isn’t soon.”

Krista fought a small smile, knowing it wouldn’t help the situation right now. But as far as she was concerned, the response deserved something along the lines of trumpet fanfare, a big TA-DAAA and a standing ovation. A week ago, when the new guests had stepped off the airport shuttle, Claire had tried to make herself invisible, staying hidden behind her mother. Now she was sneaking out to the barn and talking back. Maybe that wouldn’t seem like a victory to some, but Krista would totally take it. Same for Claire’s mom, who had already booked a return trip for later in the season, swearing the staffers to secrecy because it was going to be a birthday surprise for the little girl.

“You’ll be back here sooner than you think.” Krista held out a hand. “Come on. Let’s make sure your mom packed Mini Marshmallow.” The stuffed toy wasn’t officially part of the ranch’s gift lineup yet, but she had given Claire one of the prototypes last night during the send-off campfire so she would have something more than memories to hang on to when she left.

Claire reached back to stroke the patient pony’s neck. “Do you think he’ll forget about me?”

Krista’s heart tugged, because of course the answer was yes. Soon, Claire and her mom would be back on the airport shuttle, heading home to their regular lives, while the people and animals of Mustang Ridge took a precious few hours of downtime before gearing up to do it all again with a new crop of guests. And while Krista would remember the quiet little girl who had started to creep out of her shell under the big, wide-open Wyoming sky, she doubted the same could be said of the pony.

But that wasn’t what Claire needed to hear. Krista sensed that she wanted—needed—to feel special. Didn’t everybody?

“Hey.” Krista lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “I’ve got an idea. Can you get me the scissors out of the tack room? They should be on the shelf beside the door.”

As Claire quietly scooted off, Krista worked her fingers through the pony’s mane, sectioned off some of the longer hairs and began plaiting the strands together, weaving them into an intricate four-stranded pattern. She had just reached the bottom when the little girl returned.

“Thanks.” Krista took the scissors. “How attached are you to those pigtail ribbons?” They were pink to match the sneakers, and cute as the dickens with white and purple polka dots.

Claire pulled the ribbons free and handed them over, eyes going wide as Krista cut one of them in two, braided half into the lower section and used the other half to tie off the top. “Is that for me?” she whispered.

Freeing the plait with a quick snip that gave the pony a mini-Mohawk, Krista said, “It sure is, kiddo. Hold out your wrist.” The horsehair bracelet was a perfect fit, and she fastened it in place by tying the ribbon ends into a fat bow. “You can have your mom take it off for showers and such, or even for you to tuck away back home. You don’t have to wear it all the time—but this way you’ll still have a part of him with you.”

Claire touched the bracelet, tracing her fingers over the wiry gray braid. Then she smiled, making rare eye contact. “Thank you.”

How could the words sound so small, yet make Krista feel so big? Grinning, she said, “That’s not all. Watch this.” Taking the other ribbon, she sectioned off an inch of mane right behind the pony’s furry little ears and began a second braid, this time working the ribbon in about halfway down, so the pink with the purple and white polka dots showed alongside the gray. When she reached the bottom, she tied off the braid with a bow that matched the one on the bracelet. “See? Now he won’t forget you, either.”

Eyes wide and round, Claire touched the braid, then leaned in to wrap her arms around Marshmallow’s neck. Pressing her face into his mane, she whispered, “I’ll be back. I promise.”

As the little girl reluctantly pulled away, the barn doors rolled open wider, and Claire’s mom, Vicki, stepped through, blinking as her eyes tried to adjust to the shadows. “Krista? Are you in here? Did you find—Aha!” Her features relaxed as she zeroed in on her daughter. “We figured you might have snuck back out here, Missy Claire. What were you doing, trying to see if you could smuggle a pony home in your suitcase?”

Krista chuckled. “I think the TSA might’ve noticed.”

“I would’ve paid the overweight charge,” Vicki said piously. “What have you got there?” she asked her daughter, noticing the bracelet.

As Claire crossed to her mother and held up her wrist, measured bootfalls rang from the other end of the barn, where a covered walkway connected the newer, guest-friendly structure to the older barn. Krista turned, expecting to see her head wrangler, Foster, even though he was supposed to have left half an hour ago. “Running late?” she called. “I thought— Oh.” She stalled when a stocky form stumped through the doorway. As eyes the same blue as her own landed on her and narrowed, she reoriented. “Hey, Gramps. How’s it going?”

Wearing jeans, a faded long-sleeve work shirt, and a layer of trail dust that said he’d gone out riding early, Big Skye didn’t look much different from when Krista was Claire’s age and had been his constant shadow. Back then, he had put her up in the saddle in front of him and called her his best little cowgirl. Now he just gave her a sour look and said, “Where’s Foster?”

It was stupid to be disappointed. She and Big Skye were getting along better these days, with him helping her out by managing the Over the Hill Gang—a herd of retirees and rescues that had taken over the top pasture. But that didn’t stop her from wishing things could go back to the way they had been between them.

Then again, Jenny always said she was the stupid optimist of the two of them. As far as Krista’s twin sister was concerned, Krista either needed to challenge their gramps to a duel—boxing gloves in the bonfire pit, maybe, or seeing who could go eight seconds on Buck the Bull—or grow a thicker skin.

Doing her best to channel a tough-skinned armadillo, Krista said, “Foster is probably halfway to the water park by now. He and Shelby are chaperoning Lizzie’s class trip.” A few years ago, that would’ve sounded like the biggest whopper ever told at Mustang Ridge, but these days her alpha male head wrangler was married and fully domesticated.

“Bueno needs a shoe tacked back on,” Big Skye grumbled. “Guess I can do it myself.”

“Wait!” Stifling visions of herniated disks and her gramps in traction—he was not a good patient—she thought fast. “Nick should be dropping Jenny off any minute. He can do it.”

“And charge us out the wazoo, no doubt,” Big Skye said with a cattleman’s typical reaction to the thought of calling the vet for something simple. Even if that vet was married to his other granddaughter and had to be reminded—repeatedly—to bill Mustang Ridge. But he tacked on, “Any minute you said?”

“They’re on their way.”

“Fine. Tell him to meet me by Bueno’s stall.” He nodded to Vicki and Claire. “Ladies.” Then he thumped back the way he had come, muttering about vets thinking they knew how to shoe horses, and how when he’d run the place, he’d had a dozen cowboys working for him who could’ve set a nail blindfolded.

“What’s that, sweetie?” Vicki asked as Big Skye’s boot steps faded into the shadows of the back barn. She leaned down, listened to her daughter’s whisper, and nodded. “That’s right! That’s the man from the videos.” Straightening, she grinned at Krista. “I had been talking for a while about wanting to bring Claire to a guest ranch, and a friend sent me a link to Mustang Ridge: The Cowboy Way. By minute three, I was ready to book our reservation.”

Krista’s lips curved. “I’ll be sure to tell him.” Big Skye might claim he had come around to supporting the dude ranch—sort of—because of logic and profit margins, but his becoming a minor YouTube celebrity hadn’t hurt the turnaround. “And my sister, Jenny. She’s the filmmaker in the family. She and Gramps made The Cowboy Way and The Early Years while she was on hiatus from filming Jungle Love.”

Vicki’s eyes lit up. “The dating show on TV? How cool! Did you see last season, when Bryce showed up riding that big black horse, pulled Valerie up in front of him, and took her galloping down the beach in the moonlight?”

“I remember seeing that episode.” With Jenny sitting next to her, saying stuff like, “See that cut? I bet she fell off two steps later,” and “Bingo. They totally had to redo her hair.”

Vicki put a hand to her chest. “Swoon! Oh, we should all be so lucky, to have a gorgeous guy like that show up and sweep us off our feet.”

Pass, Krista thought wryly. She had done the swept-up thing, and it hadn’t ended well. “Jenny isn’t on the show anymore. She moved back home and married our vet.” And thank goodness for that.

“Still, how cool that she had those experiences! I think a girl has to get out there and live a little, don’t you?”

“Absolutely.” Krista tipped her head toward the double doors leading out. “Are you two ready to catch the bus? Rumor has it, Gran baked chocolate chip cookies for the road.”

As they headed out—with Claire sending a final wave in Marshmallow’s direction—Krista fielded Vicki’s questions about her twin’s stint on Jungle Love and dished some PG-rated gossip on the contestants, amused yet again that Jenny ranked way higher on the cool scale than she did. That was just fine by her, though. She didn’t need glitz, glamour, or a handsome man to sweep her off her feet. She was good at taking care of the little things.

*   *   *

An hour later, after the last good-bye was said and the airport shuttle gave a cheerful horn blast as it crested the hill, Jenny elbow-bumped Krista. “Okay, they’re off. Now it’s our turn. I hope you’re feeling lucky!”

“On a day-to-day basis? Absolutely.” Krista took a long, satisfying look around them—from the sprawling ranch house, barns, and guest cottages nestled in their valley, to the ridgeline and the gorgeous mountains silhouetted against the clear blue sky. Despite what Big Skye thought, she was true to her roots.

“I’m talking about the mustang lottery, and you know it.”

“Yeah, but it never hurts to remember to be grateful for what you’ve got.”

“You go ahead. I’d rather look forward to what’s coming next.” Jenny bounced on her toes. “This is going to be fun!”

Thanks to a progressive new mayor and some state funding, the nearby town of Three Ridges—well, nearby in backcountry Wyoming terms, at any rate—was undergoing a major renaissance, including the resurrection of the decrepit fairgrounds and the county fair that had long been an end-of-summer fixture. And with her usual flair, Mayor Tempe Tepitt—often called Tempest Teapot by those who got in her way—had added a modern twist to the old favorite by cooking up the Harvest Fair Mustang Makeover.

The premise was simple: Two-person teams would choose a training project from a group of fresh-caught wild mustangs. Six weeks later, the teams and their horses would meet at the Harvest Fair, where they would compete for prizes and bragging rights. Better yet, all the proceeds from the ticket sales would go to a local mustang preserve.

Last winter when the competition was first announced, Krista and Shelby—aka Foster’s wife, Krista’s BFF next to Jenny, and goddess of all things advertising—had jumped on the idea, even coming up with a new theme week and a plan for the ranch guests to cheer for Team Mustang Ridge in the ride-off. Now, the entry fees were paid, the cabins were fully booked for Makeover Week, and it was time for Krista and Jenny to head for the fairgrounds and pick their mustang.

She’s right, Krista told herself. This is going to be fun. Win or lose, she and Foster would be adding a new mustang to the herd. She’d be posting progress reports to the ranch’s Web site and social media outlets, so their growing network of guests could stay involved. And Makeover Week was going to be a blast, whether or not she picked a horse that could be turned into a superstar. Still, she had rodeoed through her teens and won more than her share, and even though s...

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9780451419163: Harvest at Mustang Ridge (A Mustang Ridge Novel)

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ISBN 10:  0451419162 ISBN 13:  9780451419163
Publisher: Berkley, 2014
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Book Description Tantor Media, Inc, United States, 2015. CD-Audio. Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English. Brand new. With guest season about to start at the ranch, Krista Skye needs to track down a new head wrangler fast. Unfortunately, the best man for the job is the last person Krista wants to see-Wyatt Webb, the college sweetheart who left her behind. Wyatt has major reservations about working with Krista as well, but he has his own reasons for wanting to stay in town. Although Krista and Wyatt are all business at first, sparks fly as they work side by side, preparing for an upcoming country fair. Even though rekindling their relationship brings up painful memories, they're not the same people they used to be, and neither can deny that there's still something special between them. They have one last opportunity to save a good thing before it's too late, but one of them will have to find the courage to take a chance on love. Seller Inventory # AAC9781494512507

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Book Description Tantor Media, Inc, United States, 2015. CD-Audio. Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English. Brand new. With guest season about to start at the ranch, Krista Skye needs to track down a new head wrangler fast. Unfortunately, the best man for the job is the last person Krista wants to see-Wyatt Webb, the college sweetheart who left her behind. Wyatt has major reservations about working with Krista as well, but he has his own reasons for wanting to stay in town. Although Krista and Wyatt are all business at first, sparks fly as they work side by side, preparing for an upcoming country fair. Even though rekindling their relationship brings up painful memories, they're not the same people they used to be, and neither can deny that there's still something special between them. They have one last opportunity to save a good thing before it's too late, but one of them will have to find the courage to take a chance on love. Seller Inventory # AAC9781494512507

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Book Description Tantor Audio. No binding. Condition: New. Dimensions: 6.4in. x 5.5in. x 1.1in.With guest season about to start at the ranch, Krista Skye needs to track down a new head wrangler fast. Unfortunately, the best man for the job is the last person Krista wants to seeWyatt Webb, the college sweetheart who left her behind. Wyatt has major reservations about working with Krista as well, but he has his own reasons for wanting to stay in town. Although Krista and Wyatt are all business at first, sparks fly as they work side by side, preparing for an upcoming country fair. Even though rekindling their relationship brings up painful memories, theyre not the same people they used to be, and neither can deny that theres still something special between them. They have one last opportunity to save a good thing before its too late, but one of them will have to find the courage to take a chance on love. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Audio CD. Seller Inventory # 9781494512507

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