His to claim the westmor.., p.1

His To Claim (The Westmoreland Legacy Book 4), page 1

 part  #4 of  The Westmoreland Legacy Series

 

His To Claim (The Westmoreland Legacy Book 4)
 


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His To Claim (The Westmoreland Legacy Book 4)


  It could be his toughest mission yet:

  win back his wife.

  When navy SEAL and honorary Westmoreland Mac McRoy returns home, he discovers his wife has left. Teri has retreated to the Wyoming ranch they’d planned to visit together, and is resentful when he follows. She doesn’t want a second honeymoon; she wants a marriage Mac doesn’t take for granted. But life-or-death circumstances are about to put their love to the ultimate test.

  “Teri isn’t here, Mac.”

  Mac frowned. “What do you mean she isn’t here? Why?”

  “She’s the one who has to tell you that, Thurston. It’s not for us to say.” His mother looked up at him with an uncomfortable expression on her face.

  Mac drew in a deep breath, not understanding any of this. “Fine. Where is she?”

  It was his father who spoke. “She left three days ago for the Torchlight Dude Ranch.”

  Mac’s frown deepened. “In Wyoming?”

  “Yes.”

  “What the hell did she go there for?”

  His father paused and then said, “She said she always wanted to go back there.”

  Mac rubbed his hand across his face. Yes, Teri had wanted to go back there, the place he’d taken her on their honeymoon nearly ten years ago. And he’d always promised to take her. But life had gotten in the way.

  Why would Teri go to a dude ranch by herself? He knew the only person who could answer that was Teri.

  It was time to go find his wife.

  * * *

  His to Claim is part of the Westmoreland Legacy series by New York Times bestselling author Brenda Jackson!

  Praise for New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Brenda Jackson

  “Brenda Jackson writes romance that sizzles and characters you fall in love with.”

  —New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Lori Foster

  “Jackson’s trademark ability to weave multiple characters and side stories together makes shocking truths all the more exciting.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “There is no getting away from the sex appeal and charm of Jackson’s Westmoreland family.”

  —RT Book Reviews on Feeling the Heat

  “What is it with these Westmoreland men? Each is sexier and more charming than the one before.... Hot, sexy, smart and romantic, this story has it all.”

  —RT Book Reviews on The Proposal

  “Jackson has a talent for creating the sexiest men and pairing them off against feisty females. This story has everything a hot romance should have.”

  —RT Book Reviews on Hot Westmoreland Nights

  “Is there anything more irresistible than a man so in love with a woman that he’s willing to give her what she believes is her heart’s desire? The Westmoreland clan will claim even more fans with this entry.”

  —RT Book Reviews on What a Westmoreland Wants

  Brenda Jackson

  His to Claim

  Brenda Jackson is a New York Times bestselling author of more than one hundred romance titles. Brenda lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and divides her time between family, writing and traveling.

  Email Brenda at [email protected] or visit her on her website at brendajackson.net.

  Books by Brenda Jackson

  Harlequin Desire

  The Westmorelands

  The Real Thing

  The Secret Affair

  Breaking Bailey’s Rules

  Bane

  The Westmoreland Legacy

  The Rancher Returns

  His Secret Son

  An Honorable Seduction

  His to Claim

  Visit her Author Profile page at Harlequin.com, or brendajackson.net, for more titles!

  You can find Brenda Jackson on Facebook, along with other Harlequin Desire authors, at Facebook.com/harlequindesireauthors!

  Join Harlequin My Rewards today and earn a FREE ebook!

  Click here to Join Harlequin My Rewards

  http://www.harlequin.com/myrewards.html?mt=loyalty&cmpid=EBOOBPBPA201602010002

  Acknowledgments

  To the man who will always and forever be the love of my life and the wind beneath my wings: Gerald Jackson, Sr.

  Special thanks to my readers who are attending the Brenda Jackson Readers Reunion 2019 as we cruise to Aruba. Fun! Fun! Fun! I always enjoy spending time with you!

  To all my readers who requested Mac’s story. This book is for you.

  Sending congratulations to my goddaughter, Ty’ra Malloy, who is celebrating her graduation from Florida State University. Your Goddy is very proud of you!

  Though thy beginning was small,

  yet thy latter end should greatly increase.

  —Job 8:7

  Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Epilogue

  Note from the Author

  A sneak peek of Pete’s story by Brenda Jackson

  Excerpt from Rancher in Her Bed by Joanne Rock

  One

  Thurston McRoy, called Mac by all who knew him, got out of his rental vehicle and slid the keys into the pocket of his jeans. There was a dark blue sedan parked in his driveway.

  At two in the morning.

  It looked like a brand-new luxury Lexus and had a Georgia license plate. The only people he knew who lived in Georgia were his parents. Was this their vehicle?

  They would often visit Virginia to check on his wife, Teri, and the kids whenever he was away for long periods of time. With his work as a navy SEAL, he often took part in missions where he was out of communication with his family. He appreciated his parents for all they did to make his work easier on his family. However, he was surprised to see their car here, tonight. Over the last year or so, they’d begun staying at a nearby hotel whenever they came to town. Unfortunately, there were no longer any spare rooms at the McRoy house.

  The last time Mac had come home, he’d discovered Teri had given Tia, their oldest daughter of nine, her own room—namely the spare room. According to Teri, Tia was at the age where she now wanted privacy from her three younger sisters, Tatum, Tempest and Tasha. But did she have to take the only spare room in the house? The one that doubled as his man cave whenever he came home?

  He and Teri had always talked about buying a bigger place. Frankly, he had more than enough means to make it happen thanks to the investments he’d made on the advice of his friend and teammate, Bane Westmoreland. However, over the past several years, he’d been gone a lot, sent on several missions, and he was too hands-on to even think of letting her make such a major purchase like that without him. He knew exactly what he wanted in a home and Teri knew what she wanted. And their wants were on the opposite ends of the spectrum. She wanted a two-story home and he wanted ranch style. The fewer stairs he had to climb, the better.

  Tonight, he was returning home from an eight-month-long, highly classified covert operation near Libya. During that time, he hadn’t been able to let anyone, not even Teri, know of his whereabouts.
He had left home in the wee hours of the morning after making passionate love to his wife, without being able to tell her where he was going or when he would return.

  As a toddler he recalled sitting on his maternal grandfather’s knee and listening to stories of his military days, specifically as a SEAL. His paternal grandfather had been a military man, as well, an army ranger. Although Mac’s father hadn’t been in the military Mac had decided early in life protecting his country was something he wanted to do. Being a SEAL had always been his dream and he’d worked hard to make that particular dream come true. Now after almost twenty years whenever he thought it was time to retire, a part of him was convinced there was one more mission, one more opportunity to defend the country he loved.

  The last operation had been brutal, but all the members of his team were alive and accounted for. Now he was glad to be back home with his wife and kids, and as much as he loved his parents, he hadn’t counted on having any company. He needed a cold beer and his wife. Not necessarily in that order.

  He figured everyone was in bed, yet an uneasy feeling crept over him as he entered his home. He paused in the foyer. Was that the television he heard coming from the living room? Typically, Teri would be in bed before ten because she got up around six to jump-start her day.

  Tatum was seven and attended a different school than Tia. Tempest was five and attended kindergarten at the same school as Tatum. Tasha, their baby, who was barely three, attended day care. He hadn’t liked the idea of Tasha in day care, but Teri claimed Tasha needed to be around kids her age at least a few days a week to start developing her social skills.

  Mac hadn’t wanted Teri to work outside the home, either, but she’d insisted that she needed to get out of the house for a while during the day. So now she was working part-time at one of the libraries in town.

  Mindful of not waking the kids, while at the same time intent on not scaring his parents, he took out his phone and texted Teri. She practically slept with the phone beside her. When the message didn’t immediately show as delivered, he frowned, wondering what was wrong with her phone. He’d tried calling her earlier, twice in fact, when his plane had landed in DC. He hadn’t gotten an answer either time.

  What was going on?

  He placed his gear down and was headed toward his bedroom when his father rounded the corner. Carlton McRoy nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw his son.

  “Damn it, Mac, you trying to give me heart failure?” his father asked. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

  Mac crossed the floor to give his father a bear hug. “You weren’t supposed to hear me. I’m a SEAL, Dad.”

  “Why didn’t you ring the doorbell?”

  Mac thought that was a crazy question. “I live here. I don’t need to ring the doorbell. Besides, I didn’t want to wake anyone. By the way, I like your new set of wheels.”

  His father beamed. “Thanks. It’s your mom’s car. I surprised her with it as an early anniversary gift. It’s been almost forty years, you know.”

  Yes, Mac knew. He was the oldest of two and Carlton and Alexis Youngblood-McRoy hadn’t wasted any time after their wedding to start a family. He’d been born a week shy of their first anniversary. He figured he was supposed to be one and done, but his sister Kylie had been born on his parents’ tenth anniversary. “That’s a nice gift.”

  “I thought so, and Lex was more than deserving,” his father said.

  Mac smiled. His parents were special. There weren’t two adults he admired more and they had always been great role models for him and his sister. Their interracial marriage had worked for them because they’d always said love got them together and it would be love that kept them together.

  “Thurston!”

  Mac glanced around and chuckled when his mother practically threw herself into his arms. “Hey, Mom,” he said, placing a kiss on her cheek.

  “I heard voices and thought one of the girls had awakened.”

  “No, it’s just me and Dad. He saw me when I was headed down the hall to my bedroom to let Teri know I was home.”

  He still had his arms around his mother’s shoulders when he felt her tense up. “Mom? You okay?” he asked, looking down at her.

  He thought the same thing now that he’d thought while growing up. His mother was a beautiful woman with eyes a unique shade of blue and ash-blond hair. His father had a dark chocolate complexion, which accounted for Mac and his younger sister’s skin tone being a combination of the two.

  When his mother still hadn’t answered his question, he turned his eyes to his father, who had the same wary expression on his face that Mac’s mother wore. Releasing his arm from around his mother’s shoulder, Mac straightened to his full height of six feet three inches. “Okay, what’s going on?”

  When his parents glanced at each other, that uneasy feeling from earlier crept over him again. Not liking it, he turned to go down the hall toward his bedroom when his father reached out to stop him.

  “Teri isn’t here, Mac.”

  Mac turned back to his father. His mother had moved to stand beside his dad. “It’s after two in the morning and tomorrow is a school day for the girls. So where is she?”

  His mother reached out and touched his arm. “She needed to get away and she asked if we would come keep the girls.”

  Mac frowned. He knew his wife. She would not have gone anywhere without their daughters. “What do you mean she needed to get away? Why?”

  “She’s the one who has to tell you that, Thurston. It’s not for us to say.”

  His mother looked up at him with an uncomfortable expression on her face. His gaze left his mother and moved over to his father, who was wearing the same look.

  “What’s going on, Dad? Mom? Why can’t you tell me the reason Teri felt she had to get away?”

  “Because it’s not our place to do so, son.”

  Mac drew in a deep breath, not understanding any of this. Because his parents were acting so secretive, he felt his confusion and anger escalating. “Fine. Where is she?”

  It was his father who spoke. “She left three days ago for the Torchlight Dude Ranch.”

  Mac’s frown deepened. “The Torchlight Dude Ranch? In Wyoming?”

  “Yes.”

  “What the hell did she go there for?”

  His father didn’t say anything for a minute and then gave Mac an answer. “She said she always wanted to go back there.”

  Mac rubbed his hand across his face. Yes, Teri had always wanted to go back there, the place he’d taken her on their honeymoon a little over ten years ago. And he’d always promised to take her back. But between his covert missions and their growing family, there had never been enough time. Teri, who’d been raised on a ranch in Texas, was a cowgirl at heart and for a short while had competed on the rodeo circuit due to her roping and riding skills. She’d even represented the state of Texas as a rodeo queen before they’d met.

  When they’d married, she had given it all up to travel around the world with her naval husband. She’d said she’d done so gladly. Why in the world would Teri leave their kids and go to a dude ranch by herself?

  He knew the only person who could answer that question was Teri.

  “I tried calling her twice from the airport and she’s not answering her phone,” he finally said, his tone truly filled with anger now.

  “She probably couldn’t. We talk to her every day when she calls to check on the girls. The reception at the dude ranch is not good and she has to drive into town to call out. Teri usually phones us around five every evening. I’m sure she’ll be calling today as usual, so you’ll get a chance to talk to her,” his mother said, smiling.

  He stared at his parents. Did they honestly think he intended to hang around and wait for Teri’s call?

  “I want to see the girls. I won’t wake them, but I need to see them before I leave.”
<
br />   “Leave?” his father asked, looking at him strangely.

  “Yes, leave.”

  “Where are you going?” his mother asked.

  He met their gazes. “I’m going to the Torchlight Dude Ranch.”

  “Now?”

  “Yes. Now.”

  Moments later, he slid open the door to his oldest daughter’s room. Tia was asleep but he needed to look at her for himself to see that she was all right. He smiled as he studied her in sleep. She had her mother’s mouth, but that was about it. Everything else was his. Her eyes didn’t need to be open for him to know they were the exact color of his. A color so rich they looked like dark chocolate.

  He’d been the one who’d chosen the name Tia for their first child and it had been Teri’s decision to name all the other girls with the starting letter of T like his and Teri’s names. Tia was determined to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a cowgirl, which was why she’d been taking horse-riding lessons since she turned five. He still didn’t like the idea of her competing, though, not even in her age group, which was another thing he and Teri couldn’t agree on.

  Leaning down, he placed a kiss on Tia’s cheek before leaving the room to check on Tatum and Tempest. Both had honey-brown eyes like Teri and favored their mother a lot. There was barely a two-year difference in Tatum’s and Tempest’s ages and the two were extremely close. They looked out for each other. He liked that about them. He figured that unlike Tia, they would never grow up and ask for separate rooms. They would enjoy being in each other’s pockets for as long as they could. Placing kisses on their cheeks, as well, he moved to the room that was closest to his bedroom. The one where three-year-old Tasha slept.

  Although he tiptoed into the room, he wasn’t surprised when Tasha’s eyes flew open and she stared at him a minute before a huge smile touched her lips. “Daddy!”

  She threw himself into his arms and he held her. After three girls, he and Teri had been hoping for a boy, but when the nurse had placed Tasha in his arms, it hadn’t mattered that he had gotten a fourth girl. Tasha looked more like him than any of the others. She was his Mini-Me.

 
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