Second Chance at Sunflower Ranch (The Ryan Family #1) - Carolyn Brown Page 0,2


“Surprise!” he said, but his voice sounded hollow in his own ears.

Addy certainly didn’t have any gray in her kinky, dark brown hair, which she had swept up in a ponytail. Ringlets escaped and framed her delicate face. She met his stare, and their gazes locked over the top of Pearl’s head. Her crystal-clear blue eyes still mesmerized Jesse as much as they had in the past. She had put on a few pounds, but every one of them looked fine on her. Her jeans dipped in at a tiny waist, and her T-shirt dipped low in the front to show a little cleavage. She probably still got carded when she tried to buy a six-pack of beer.

“I thought you were a nurse. Why would you be cleaning troughs?” He wanted to kick himself the moment the words were out. Not a hello, how are you doing, good to see you, like he should have said.

“I am, and when Sonny or Pearl needs my nursing skills, I’m right here, but I’m also a farmhand. If you’ll remember, I was raised on the ranch right next door to this one, so I know how to clean troughs, herd cattle from one pasture to another, and—”

“Mornin’.” Another woman came into the kitchen by the back door. “Hello, Jesse. I’d know you anywhere from the pictures Nana and Poppa have on the mantle. You’re early.”

She stuck out her hand to shake with him. Her grip was firm, and her green eyes sparkled. “I’m Addy’s daughter, Mia. Does this mean the big welcome home party next week is off, Nana?” She let go of his hand and went over to the kitchen chair where Sonny was sitting to kiss him on the forehead. “Did he almost give you a heart attack, Poppa?”

“Yes, he did,” Sonny admitted. “We’ve talked so much about Addy and Mia the last few years that you probably feel like you already know all about them.”

“Yes, I do, but it’s really good to put a face to a name.” When his mother had told him that Addy had a baby and was raising the child on her own, Jesse figured that Addy had gotten involved with someone right after he had left for the military. At least knowing that made him understand why she had cut him off so suddenly and wouldn’t even take his phone calls all those years ago.

“Well, now that we’re all here, let’s get breakfast on the table. We’re burnin’ sunshine,” Mia said. “I’ve got hay ready to bale, and then this afternoon, I need to spend some time in the office with the books.”

Jesse shot a look over toward his father. Sonny flashed a smile and said, “Mia just got home from college last week, and she’s missed the ranch.”

Mia opened a cabinet door and took down six plates. “I wouldn’t even be in college if I hadn’t promised Nana and Poppa that I’d go. I can learn more right here on the ranch than I can sitting in a classroom.”

“If I’m going to turn all the bookwork over to you, then you need to understand agriculture business and learn all that computer crap that you can. It confuses the hell out of me, and Pearl refuses to have anything to do with it,” Sonny said.

“Some of us old dogs don’t want to learn new tricks.” Pearl took a pan of perfectly browned biscuits from the oven.

Jesse watched as Mia set the table. There were only five of them, but she was getting ready for six people.

“Is someone else coming for breakfast?” he asked.

“Dr. Grady Adams comes on Saturday morning,” Mia answered. “He comes early so he can check Poppa before he does his rounds at the hospital over in Bonham.”

“You’ll remember Grady Adams.” Pearl dished up a bowl full of scrambled eggs. “He graduated with you and Addy. He’s your dad’s doctor.”

Of course Jesse remembered Grady. As a kid, he had always had his nose in a book, so it wasn’t any wonder that he had become a doctor. But Grady Adams wasn’t the person causing his heart to pound out of his chest, and his breath to come in short gasps.

At that very moment, Grady poked his head in the back door. “Anybody home?”

“Come on in.” Sonny motioned him inside with a flick of his wrist. “We was just about to say grace, so you’re right on time. Have a seat, and we’ll have some breakfast before we go talk medicine and cures for