Montana Cowboy Romance (Wyatt Brothers of Montana #1) - Jane Porter

Chapter One

Joe Wyatt rocked on his heels, trying to stay relaxed as he waited for his soon-to-be bride to enter the terminal. One hundred years ago, he would have been meeting her train in Marietta. Today, he was meeting her plane in Bozeman.

It’d been three months since he’d placed the ad that he was looking for a wife, three months since strangers began answering the ad. Three months where he’d questioned himself even as he explored options, but the questions and doubts were behind him. Sophie had been his first, and final, choice and he, apparently, was hers, as the daughter of California dairy farmers would be stepping through the arrival gate any moment.

He knew what she’d looked like. Medium height, brown eyes, high cheekbones, a strong brow, and dark brown hair. They’d had a half-dozen calls before they had their first FaceTime conversations, and then two more FaceTime conversations after that where they discussed what they wanted, and expected, and how they’d break the news to their families if they really went through with it.

They’d agreed on a simple story. They’d met online—which was true—and they’d become very attached and wanted to be together. Thus, Sophie’s arrival today.

What their families wouldn’t know was that if Sophie and Joe clicked in person, they were planning on being married at the end of the week. They weren’t going to do a long engagement. Sophie was leaving her world behind, and he was determined to include her fully in his.

His granddad and mom knew he’d come to the airport today to meet Sophie’s plane. They didn’t know much else about her.

But why should they? He didn’t know much about her, either.

And then she was there. He spotted her immediately. Sophie Correia looked like a California girl as she walked through the sliding glass doors, wearing jeans, boots, and a cropped denim jacket. It was her waist-length hair that gave her away, hair so dark it looked like coffee in the terminal lighting. She wore a backpack, and pulled a small roller bag, and had polarized sunglasses perched on her small, straight nose.

Her gaze scanned the crowd and, as she impatiently pushed a long strand of dark hair back from her forehead, she reminded him of a California movie star, young, glossy, pretty. Almost too pretty, and he felt a kick of disappointment because he had a sinking suspicion that she’d hate the ranch. The Wyatt ranch was remote, high in the Gallatin mountains, thirty minutes from anything.

He cut through the thinning crowd. “Sophie? I’m Joe Wyatt.”

She looked up at him, lips curving into a smile. “Nice to meet you in person, Joe Wyatt.”

He hesitated only a moment before he took her hand, his fingers closing around hers. Her skin was cool, her palm soft, and yet he felt a tingle of heat and he dropped her hand to reach for her roller bag. “Is this all you have?”

“No, I’ve got two big checked bags coming. They said it shouldn’t take long.”

“It doesn’t, not here. It’s not a big airport,” he said, looking down at her. Her aviator-style sunglasses reflected his own image, and Joe thought it peculiar that she was still wearing sunglasses inside. He wasn’t sure if it was a California thing, or something else, but then, as if she could read his mind, she removed the reflective glasses and slid them into a pocket of her jean jacket before shyly glancing up at him. That was when he saw her brown eyes were watery. Her long black lashes were wet. She’d been crying.

His gut tightened and he felt another kick of disappointment, along with a whisper of concern because she’d ended a serious relationship in the last year. He’d wondered if she was ready for a commitment so soon after that relationship had ended, but she’d assured him she was ready.

Tears worried him, though. Not because he couldn’t handle emotions, but Joe spent most of his day out on the property. He wasn’t available to do a lot of comfort and conversation. His future wife had to be strong, independent. Self-sufficient. She needed to be low maintenance as well.

Sophie had presented herself as all of that, and more, having been raised on a large family dairy farm, familiar with the long hours her father and brothers worked. But seeing her here in front of him, he had serious reservations.

The tension inside of him hardened into a ball inside his gut, even as a little voice in his head said this wasn’t