Sweet Talking Rancher (The Millers of Morgan Valley #5) - Kate Pearce

Chapter One

Miller Ranch

Morgan Valley, California

Danny Miller gently released his horse’s foreleg and straightened up.

“Looking good. Thanks for doing this, Andy.”

His gelding, Applejack, snorted and tried to knock Danny’s Stetson off as Andy Ferraro gathered his tools. They were in the horse barn, which sided onto the ranch house, and it was as hot as hades.

“You’re welcome,” Andy said. “I’ve built up the shoe at the back, but I’ll change it out once he’s walking better. Anything else you need me to look at while I’m here?”

“Nah, I think we’re good.” Danny clapped his friend on the back. “Come on in and have something to drink before you go.”

“That would be appreciated.” Andy narrowed his eyes and looked up at the unending blue sky. “It’s darn hot out here. Mind you, it’s better than that endless rain we had all spring.”

“Which is probably why you prefer to live in Bridgeport these days.” Danny put Applejack away in his stall, made sure the door was bolted, and headed toward the ranch house.

“I’d come back if it was worth my while,” Andy said. “My parents still live here, and I know they’d love it if I was closer.”

Danny held open the screen door that led into the mudroom. “We could do with a farrier in the valley. You should talk to the Morgans. With all the horses they have for the dude ranch, I bet they’d love to have you around full time.”

“Yeah?” Andy paused to heel and toe off his boots and wash his hands. “Ron McDonald used to do a lot of the local horses in Morgan Valley, but as he’s retiring, maybe they will need someone new.” Andy gave Danny a sidelong glance. “You did know he was retiring, right?”

“Yup.” Danny braced himself for the inevitable follow-up question.

“I hear Faith’s coming back to run the veterinary business with Dave,” Andy said in a way-too-casual voice.

“Is that right?” Danny led Andy through to the large family kitchen, which was mercifully free of his siblings and parents.

“You worried about that, bro?”

“Why would I be?” Danny smiled. “She’s just as entitled to come home to work for her family as anyone else.”

“So, you guys won’t be changing vets or anything?”

“Why would we? The McDonalds have always been awesome.” Danny gestured at the refrigerator. “What would you like to drink, Andy? Something cold? A beer?”

“Seeing as I’m driving, I’ll take something cold, but not alcoholic if that’s okay.” Andy wandered over to the window that looked out over the fenced-in paddocks. “Grass is looking good because of all that spring rain. Wonder how long that will last?”

“Not long enough I can tell you that.” Danny opened the refrigerator, took out a jug of lemonade, and held it up. “This okay? Mom made it this morning.”

“Looks great.” Andy’s gaze went to the kitchen door. “Hey, Mr. Miller, what’s up?”

Inwardly Danny groaned as his father, Jeff, entered the kitchen and sat at the table. He still couldn’t get used to seeing his old man around the house during working hours. Since his heart attack Jeff had been unable to maintain his five-in-the-morning-until-whatever-time-the-work-was-done schedule. He also made sure that everyone in the family knew how much he hated his current existence.

“Afternoon, Andy. I don’t know why Danny called you all the way out here just to look at something he could easily have fixed himself, but it’s good to see you.”

“It’s good to see you, too, Mr. Miller,” Andy replied. “My mom said to say hi, and that she’s looking forward to seeing you back at church.”

“I’m looking forward to being allowed off my own ranch, too.” Jeff gave Danny a pointed stare. “My family act like I’m incapable or something.”

“We’re just following doctor’s orders, Dad. You’ll be good to go this weekend.” Danny gave his father and Andy glasses of lemonade and sipped his own. “Where’s Mom?”

“She’s over at the Morgans’. She said that someone can start dinner if she’s late.”

“Will do.” Danny liked to cook and with Adam staying in town with Lizzie right now, he was the backup chef. “There’s no need for her to rush home. I’ll text if I need any instructions.”

Andy sat at the table with Danny’s father. “Did you know Ron Mac is retiring, Mr. Miller?”

“Yup, and about time, too. He’s getting way too old for that job.”

“He’s the same age as you,” Danny pointed out. “And you’re not willing to retire yet.”

“His mind is on the golf course way too much these days and not on the job he’s supposed