Made for the rancher, p.1

Made for the Rancher, page 1


Made for the Rancher

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Made for the Rancher


  Jasmine Telford has just told her boyfriend she can’t marry him when their small plane crashes into the Sapphire Mountains of Montana. Miraculously, no one is seriously hurt. Instead, the tall, gorgeous cowboy who comes to Jasmine’s rescue leaves a dramatic, very emotional impression. But Wymon Clayton is quickly becoming more than just a hero to her...

  Wymon’s attraction to Jasmine is like nothing he’s ever felt. He should know better—sophisticated women rarely long for the simple ranching life. Yet he can’t resist the beauty of her green eyes, her warmth or how she always says something unexpected. Now Wymon’s falling head over spurs for a woman who is clearly made for him...if he can trust her not to break his heart.

  “I’ve wanted to see you again and tell you how grateful I am...”


  Her heart leaped, but she was afraid, too. “But if you tell me you think I’m emotionally unstable because of the crash and don’t know my own mind, then I’ll get out of the truck right now and we won’t be seeing each other again.”

  He leaned across and caught her softly rounded chin in his hand so she was forced to look him in the eyes. They’d darkened with emotion.

  “When I was witness to the magnificent way you handled yourself at the crash site, I knew you were the most emotionally stable woman I would ever meet in my life!”

  “Thank you for saying that.” She wanted him to kiss her. Oh, how she wanted him to take her in his arms.

  She was no longer the same woman who’d answered the front door.

  The earth had turned on its axis because Wymon Clayton had happened to her...and nothing would ever be the same again.

  Dear Reader,

  Montana, the land of mountains, is still a wilderness where you can get out to see wildlife in their natural setting. I’ve spent years vacationing throughout the western part of the state from the Sapphire Mountains to West Yellowstone. Whether horseback riding or hiking, there’s no sight more thrilling than coming across a trophy elk or a bull moose drinking at an ancient water hole early in the morning. There’s nothing more incredible than coming across a mother grizzly bear with her cub ambling through the pines toward evening. The majesty of all God’s creations comes alive at moments like these. In this novel, Made for the Rancher, I wanted to celebrate the wonder of two people who miraculously meet after an accident and fall madly in love in this incredible setting. Everyone should be so lucky to visit this part of the country at least once in their lives.




  Rebecca Winters

  Rebecca Winters, whose family of four children has now swelled to include five beautiful grandchildren, lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the land of the Rocky Mountains. Living near canyons and high alpine meadows full of wildflowers, she never runs out of places to explore. They, plus her favorite vacation spots in Europe, often end up as backgrounds for her romance novels, because writing is her passion, along with her family and church.

  Rebecca loves to hear from readers. If you wish to email her, please visit her website,

  Books by Rebecca Winters

  Harlequin Western Romance

  Sapphire Mountain Cowboys

  A Valentine for the Cowboy

  Lone Star Lawmen

  The Texas Ranger’s Bride

  The Texas Ranger’s Nanny

  The Texas Ranger’s Family

  Her Texas Ranger Hero

  Hitting Rocks Cowboys

  In a Cowboy’s Arms

  A Cowboy’s Heart

  The New Cowboy

  A Montana Cowboy

  Visit the Author Profile page at for more titles.

  Join Harlequin My Rewards today and earn a FREE ebook!

  Click here to Join Harlequin My Rewards

  Dedicated to the memory of the great John Muir, also known as John of the Mountains. He was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of the preservation of the wilderness in the United States.


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Excerpt from The Rancher’s Baby Proposal by Barbara White Daille

  Chapter One

  “Mr. Clayton? I’m Ross Lee from KUSM-TV. Would you mind answering a few questions?”

  Surprised to hear his name called out, Wymon glanced to his left. He’d just come from a committee meeting and had walked out onto the steps of the Montana State capitol building in Helena with his close friend Jim Whitefeather, only to have a microphone shoved in his face.

  “Good news travels fast,” Jim muttered. The two of them were disappointed that a final decision wouldn’t be reached for another month when they would meet with the governor again. The eager-beaver reporter already suspected the worst outcome would happen in thirty days. No doubt he considered this delay good news.

  Wymon and the members of the committee had been in the public eye for the last six months raising awareness of a controversial issue close to his heart. They’d welcomed the publicity to get their message across and had held debates across the state, some of which had been in the news.

  On this day, however, he would have liked to ignore the negative attention. He and Jim needed to be diplomatic because their fight wasn’t over. They had another month to convince the public that this issue was worth fighting for.

  “Naturally I’d hoped for a positive decision today,” Wymon told the reporter. “But I’m feeling confident that next month we will be successful.”

  He felt the reporter bristle. “With you being the head of the Sapphire Ranch, it’s well known that you’re one of the biggest proponents for the reintroduction of the grizzly bear to the Sapphire and Bitterroot wilderness in western Montana.”

  “That’s right. My colleague here, Mr. James Whitefeather of the Nez Perce tribe, is another big proponent. We’re part of a much larger group dedicated to fulfilling our initial mission statement.”

  “If you would, highlight it again for our television audience.”

  Taking the opportunity to speak on one of his favorite subjects, Wymon said, “Our vision is that one day the grizzly will once again have a population in northwest Montana. We want to see them interact with the greater Yellowstone area population to the south as they did hundreds of years ago when thousands of them lived here before being killed off.”

  “But, Mr. Clayton—as I understand it, today’s lack of a decision means most voters in Montana believe the issue is on a downward spiral.”

  “All great ideas face setbacks,” Wymon countered. “We’re continually working to get the necessary votes. In a month’s time we hope to win by a landslide.”

  The reporter squinted at him. “You think that’s possible?”

  “Anything’s possible, and the decisions made by our committee will serve to guide the federal and state agencies involved in grizzly bear management. It’s our belief that a new grizzly population will contribute to the balance and harmony of nature. It will also contribute significantly to long
-term conservation and recovery of the species.”

  “What do you have to say in response to State Representative Farnsworth’s attacks on your coalition? He claims that the majority of people are against reintroducing the Ursus horribilis to the area. This hot issue has had tempers flaring on both sides of the state border.”

  “A slender majority are currently against it.” Wymon’s jaw hardened in reaction. “I’d say the man who gave the species its scientific name had never encountered a grizzly outside of the Lewis and Clark reports. A damn shame considering it was rightly recognized as Ursus arctos, but the ‘horrible’ stuck, and the grizzly was forever mislabeled in the cruelest of ways.”

  “You question history?”

  “Not history, just one man’s uninformed opinion. I wonder how many people in your viewing audience realize that in the entire 142-year history of Yellowstone National Park, there have only been eight reported human deaths by bears, and not all of them have been proven to be by grizzlies. That’s one in every seventeen years. The chances of being killed in a car accident or in a plane accident are so much greater—there’s no contest.

  “But to answer your question, I’ll give you a quote from John Muir, the Scottish naturalist, who was an early advocate for preserving America’s wilderness. He spent three nights in the forest with Teddy Roosevelt who had the foresight to establish our national parks. You know the story about how the teddy bear was named after him?”

  “I can’t say I do.”

  That didn’t surprise Wymon. “His hunting party treed a small black bear and waited for Teddy to take the shot, but he decided that killing the young trapped bear wasn’t sporting.

  “To paraphrase a quote of Muir’s on the grizzly, he said, ‘He’s neither an enemy nor a means to our spiritual development, neither something to conquer nor something to experience. He’s simply an equal.’”

  “An equal?”

  “Yes. Muir said, ‘Nature’s object in making animals and plants might possibly be first of all the happiness of each one of them.’” Wymon emphasized the specific word.

  The reporter frowned. “You mean they were created for their own happiness? Even the grizzly?”

  “That’s right.” Jim took over to finish the quote. “‘And not the creation of all plants and animals for the happiness of one who wants things his own way.’ That is man’s arrogance. A better title for him should be Homo sapien horribilis.”

  At the reporter’s stunned expression, Wymon almost laughed out loud. He’d bought horses from his good friend Jim for several years. The man had a great sense of humor, which was very much in evidence at the moment.

  Jim kept talking. “Consider that Montana has fifteen mountain ranges above six thousand feet in seventeen counties that include, among others, the Bitterroot, Garnet, Big Belt and Sapphire. All were the natural habitat for the now-dead grizzlies who have every right to be here today.”

  Wymon muttered “Amen” under his breath. “Now you’ll have to excuse us. We’ve got to get to the airport.” He and Jim left the confused-looking reporter to grill the others coming out of the meeting and hurried down the steps in the June heat to a waiting limo.

  During the short ride they talked business. Next week they would meet again and figure out a ground game to reach every voter in Montana and Idaho. Wymon also planned to go up in the mountains with a couple of the wildlife experts and rangers to discuss a new conflict management program to put in place.

  One of their biggest priorities was to discuss the uncertainty of the survival outlook for translocated grizzlies. There was also the problem of capturing enough sub-adult females to meet the shortened time frame when they were in heat.

  Once they reached the airport, Jim got on a plane to fly back to his family in Missoula. Wymon took a flight to Stevensville, a small town in Ravalli County in the western part of Montana. From there he’d drive his truck to the ranch five miles away.

  It was a good thing Wymon’s brother Eli had married recently and was running the ranch on a full-time basis. It allowed Wymon to focus on finding the funding necessary to revitalize the program he and his friends had instituted the year before.

  No doubt it would take a hundred years at least to see his vision realized. Wymon would be dead before then, but he and Jim were in lockstep to help secure a recovered population of grizzly bears that would one day include a core of five hundred or more in the northern Continental Divide area.

  They both envisioned grizzly bear management similar to the management of other resident species that maintained effective biological connections all the way from Canada in the north to the Bitterroot Sapphire area.

  He’d been excited about the idea of bringing grizzlies back since his youth when he’d spent time in the mountains with his father and they’d talked about their demise. His dad had lamented their loss, and his concerns had served to ignite a fire in Wymon who vowed that when he got old enough, he’d try to make a difference.

  If time had permitted before leaving the steps of the capitol, Wymon would have liked to relate another of Muir’s many journal entries that had always stood out in his mind.

  The night before I left Yellowstone, I found myself in a small crowd squinting at a distant hillside. A grizzly was eating an elk carcass, while a wolf lay in wait just a few meters away. When the bear was sated, she simply rambled off, leaving the carcass behind. The coast now clear, the wolf jaunted over to dig in.

  The crowd there urged the bear to react: “Fight!” at least two people cried, craving some carnal satisfaction in sharp teeth and bloody jaws. The bear, thank goodness, paid us no mind, leaving the wolf free to keep tugging at the meat.

  According to a park ranger, the wolf would bring some back to feed his pups. And the grizzly, with the wolf gone, would return. And so it would continue, two apex predators accepting the other’s presence, engaged in an ongoing dance of wary respect.

  That was the kind of respect Wymon hoped those dissenters of the plan—like Representative Farnsworth’s constituency—would develop in time. What it would take was more information at their disposal and the money to pay helpers for their ground game of dissemination of pamphlets and video clips produced for the public.

  As he drove under the antler arch of the Clayton cattle ranch entrance, he looked up at the majestic Sapphire Mountains behind it, mountains filled with sapphires created at the dawn of time, sapphires his family had mined for years.

  His eyes burned with hot tears. Wymon missed his father like hell. Maybe it was better he wasn’t alive to hear that today’s bill had been postponed. But Wymon had no intention of giving up.

  * * *

  AFTER GETTING OFF the phone with Rob, Jasmine Telford sank down on the side of her bed, wishing she hadn’t told him she’d go with him. But he said he’d be there at 8:30 a.m., so she couldn’t back out now.

  Her gaze strayed to the small suitcase she’d just packed. She’d never gone away with him overnight, but he’d been hinting that this was something important for his career. He’d sounded so serious that she’d agreed to take the day off from her job at the university. But she’d told him they would have to have separate bedrooms. She’d never been to bed with a man and didn’t have those feelings for him.

  Rob Farnsworth, an energy engineer from Helena, was running for a second term as a state representative. She’d met him three months ago in her father’s office, and he’d instantly won over her parents with his charm and intelligence. As for her, she wasn’t so sure, but from that time on he’d pursued her with a vengeance. At first she was flattered, but after a while little things about him started to bother her. He’d been indulged by his wealthy family—and she discovered that his ambition, like theirs, went beyond Montana politics, which made her nervous.

  She’d come from a ranching family. Though her dad had been involved in local politics, h
e planned to get back to the family feed business once he was out of office. Her hardworking father was serving his last term as a state public service commissioner.

  Jasmine’s mother was always right at his side supporting him and often stayed with him in Helena when he had business there, only coming home to Philipsburg on the odd weekend. That left Jasmine, who still lived at home, on her own.

  Heaving a sigh, she phoned her mother and got her voice mail. Jasmine left a message saying that she was going out of town with Rob and would be back the next day, but that she’d stay in touch.

  Before Rob arrived, she went in the bathroom to refresh her coral lipstick and run a brush through her wavy dark blond hair that was naturally streaked by the sun. She kept it medium-short so it didn’t need a lot of work.

  He’d said to dress casually, so she’d put on designer jeans and a short-sleeved khaki blouse. After slipping on her leather sandals, she put on some lemon-scented lotion and decided she was ready.

  Within seconds she heard him honk and left the house with her suitcase. Rob got out to hug her and take her bag. “I hope you’re up for an airplane ride.”

  No-o. Her head lifted. “You’re kidding.”

  “Why would I do that? I’ve been asking you to fly with me for a long time, and you’ve always turned me down. But I’m not going to let you get away with it today. By the way, you look beautiful.” He planted a firm kiss on her mouth, but his plans had caught her off guard.

  “Hey—” His brown eyes swept over her. “What’s wrong? I thought you told me you’re not afraid of flying.”

  “I’m not.”

  “So, it’s just me you don’t trust. Honey, I logged two thousand flying hours in the military.”

  “Trust has nothing to do with it. I’ve said no because you fly for your job. I haven’t wanted to interfere with that.”

  He frowned. “Interfere? I want you with me whenever possible. Remember that huge rally scheduled in Helena in three weeks? You promised you’d come with me and my parents.”

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