Full Rigged (Lost Creek Rodeo #4) - Rebecca Connolly
Darren was going to turn this place into the greatest ranch in Montana, no question there. It would take less than three years to implement the changes he had planned, upgrade the equipment, and expand the lands to include some acres up for sale on neighboring properties. And once all of that was done, the sky would be the limit, and not much else.
Ford Hopkins shook his head as he looked at his brother’s plans, including the future map of the lands. “Darren, this is good stuff. Real good. If only Dad would let you do it now.”
His older brother groaned and folded his arms on the worn desk of his makeshift office. “I know. He keeps telling me he’ll hang up his ropes and turn it over, but he’s no closer to retiring than John Parks in Fallon.”
“He’s forty if he’s a day,” Ford pointed out.
“Exactly.” The brothers shared wan smiles.
Ford exhaled heavily, pushing the plans back to his brother. “I’m sorry, man. You’ve gotta be chompin’ at the bit.”
“I am,” his brother grunted, pushing the sleeves of his Henley up past his elbows. “Not that I want Dad gone, but he won’t let me do anything except work on the ranch, like I’ve always done.”
“Like we’ve all done.” Ford tapped a finger against the desk absently, his mind taking him back to the hours upon hours they had all spent working on the family ranch, raising the cattle, seeing them sorted and sold, branding, calving, driving the truck of hay before they could fully see over the steering wheel . . . They’d done it all from the day they were old enough to obey instructions.
Not all of the siblings had loved it as much as Ford and Darren had, but at least it had raised them up right.
Darren was the oldest son, and since he wanted to take over the ranch, their father was going to sign it over.
Ford wanted the ranch, too—badly—but he wasn’t about to get between his brother and his birthright, so to speak.
It had always gone to oldest sons, and Darren’s five-year-old boy was already talking about the day the ranch would be his, taking his own chores very seriously on “his ranch,” and even volunteering to help mend one of the fences with the men yesterday.
Their younger brother, Tucker, wanted to stay on the ranch as well, but in a much smaller capacity, which Darren would be more than happy to give him. Tuck was great with the cattle and would make his brother an excellent overseer when the time came.
Ford didn’t want to answer to anyone on a ranch. Not his father, not his brother, not some outsider taking things over. He wanted to call the shots, make the changes, shoulder the blame, and work by the sweat of his own brow and the calluses on his own hands. He’d clash with Darren daily if he tried to work under him, and he’d never enjoyed confrontation.
In his family, at any rate.
It was one of the reasons he’d been a decent hockey player. His frustrations could be vented on the ice, especially in delivering hard hits, and he had done so. But he’d never really had a future in the sport, not when his heart was in being a cowboy.
So he’d turned to rodeo.
It was an easy enough shift, given he’d competed occasionally in rodeo since he was fourteen or so, and most of the events were competitive versions of usual activities on the ranch. And it turned out, where he was only a decent hockey player, he was a darn good cowboy. Good enough to get him scholarship offers to some decent rodeo programs, should he have wanted it.
But Ford had been itching to get out of Montana when he’d finished high school. Just like Darren was anxious to take over the ranch, Ford had been anxious to get the restless energy and frustrations out of his system. So he’d gone out to a small community college in the heart of Texas, mostly to do something with himself and give him time to figure things out, and it had changed his life.
His rodeo career had taken off from there, and now he was arguably one of the best steer wrestlers on the circuit.
Or so he’d read.
It provided well for him, gave him a nice nest egg tucked away for when he did figure things out, but he was content to continue on the circuit for now. As long as he could do