The Cowboy Meets His Match

The Cowboy Meets His Match by Leann Harris Page A

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Authors: Leann Harris
could use the excuse that he wanted to ride. He was a cowboy.
    He parked his truck and saw Erin in the corral beyond, practicing her barrel racing. He sat for a moment and watched her ride the figure eights. Slipping out of his truck, he softly closed the door.
    She didn’t bounce in her saddle or yank on the reins. She leaned into the sharp turn, pushing down in the stirrups, keeping her weight off the horse’s back. They worked in unison as a well-oiled machine. When she finished the last figure eight, she let her horse canter around the corral, cooling both her and the horse.
    â€œYou’ve got a good seat.”
    â€œHours of practice.”
    Her face glowed, and her entire body appeared relaxed and at ease, the most relaxed he’d ever seen her. This was a joyful woman, who loved riding and competing. As she came toward him, he felt himself being drawn to that smile. Her bay-colored mare had a black mane and black points.
    â€œNice mount.”
    â€œWind Dancer is a spoiled girl, but she loves to compete. The only thing she wants to do more than compete is to ride across our ranch.”
    Sawyer laid his palm on the horse’s light reddish coat and stroked her.
    Erin patted the horse’s neck. “I needed to ride her again. We were competing in Denver when I got news of Dad’s stroke. I drove home, left her here and then went on to Albuquerque. Both Dancer and I need the routine of doing the barrels. It’s a comfort. She’s a bit of a high-maintenance girl. You should understand.”
    â€œI do. Fortunately, my brother promised to keep my horse, Rescue, in shape.
    â€œThinking about it, I remembered more of you and your brother at the charity rodeo. You were quite a team doing pickup.”
    â€œThanks. I was a little rusty at that affair, but Caleb wanted the backup. Pickup is Caleb’s specialty, and when he practiced, I worked with him, so I’ve done it before.”
    â€œSo why didn’t you bring your horse with you here?”
    â€œFor a while, I traveled with Rescue, but he got tired of moving around, so I left him with my brother. When I was driving by your ranch, the urge hit me, and since Tate said I could ride anytime I wanted, I thought I’d go with the flow.” He leaned against the fence post. “I’m sure Tate didn’t think I’d take up his offer so quickly, but... Besides, Tate mentioned your dad’s horse might need to be exercised, so on the drive back from Harding County, I thought about it. He’ll probably be surprised to find me here.”
    â€œHe’s not home, yet. This is the first day we’ve driven him to school, and he wasn’t too happy with me this morning. Betty took the evening shift.” She dismounted, patted Dancer and looked at her watch. “Besides, having to endure his scowls and glares can only be tolerated once a day. He’ll be glad for an excuse to get away from us. You’re welcome to wait for him.”
    â€œI’ll do that. Thanks.”
    After unsaddling Dancer, Erin walked the horse to the corral and let her loose.
    Sawyer joined her at the fence. “Today, I drove to Harding County and talked to those board members about opening for bids,” he said, leaning against the fence.
    â€œWhy not just call?”
    â€œI did yesterday, but I wanted to see the county, meet face-to-face with people. They liked the suggestion of locals getting involved in the revitalization.”
    He caught her smile.
    â€œIt’s good to see everyone get involved. The more the project is talked up and the word spread, the more support you’ll have. Excitement will build and you’ll get free publicity.”
    Erin didn’t look at him, but kept her gaze on Dancer.
    Sawyer wanted to say something to her about what had happened at Lulu’s yesterday, or what he learned from Lisa, but if she didn’t mention it, then he wouldn’t. She seemed to be doing

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