Sweet Talking Rancher (The Millers of Morgan Valley #5) - Kate Pearce Page 0,1

to be doing. Dave’s getting better, but he’s still got a long way to go to impress me.”

“No one impresses you, Dad.” Danny grinned.

“True enough.” Jeff sipped his lemonade.

“So, I suppose it’s good Faith’s coming home,” Andy said. “From what I hear she’s had a lot of large animal experience up in Humboldt County.”

“I’m sure she’ll do great.” Danny chugged his lemonade rather faster than he wanted to and stood up. “I’m just going to text Mom. I’ll be back in a minute to see you out, Andy.”

Andy rose, too. “I’ve got to get back myself, Dan, so I’ll follow you out.”

Danny escorted his friend back to his truck, saw him on his way, and returned to the kitchen where his father was still sitting at the table. He busied himself putting the glasses in the dishwasher and put the jug of lemonade back in the refrigerator.

“Faith McDonald’s coming home, then.”

“So they say.” Danny wiped his hands on the towel and turned to find his father’s penetrating stare focused on him.

“You worried about that?”

“Why would I be?” For the first time, Danny let some of his annoyance leak into his voice. “You’re about the tenth person who’s asked me that this week. Why would I care what she chooses to do? I haven’t seen her for seventeen years. I’m sure she’s a different person now.”

His father shrugged. “No need to get mad when you’re asked a simple question, Son. Anyone would think you’ve got something to hide.”

“Jeez, Dad.” Danny shook his head. “You know what happened, you were right there. It’s not like there was anything suspicious going on.”

“Well, she did hightail it out of here pretty darn fast,” his father commented. “And she didn’t come back, which people might say makes her look guilty of something.”

“Then people would be wrong.” Danny met his dad’s stare. “Can we just stop talking about it now?”

“Why? When the whole valley is buzzing with the news that she’s finally coming home?”

“Because . . .” Danny carefully folded the towel and put it back. “Faith has a perfect right to come here, and she doesn’t deserve all this stupid attention.”

“She hurt you, Son.”

Danny smiled. “I was seventeen. It was a long time ago. She probably doesn’t even remember me.”

“I doubt that.” His dad hauled himself to his feet. “I’m going to take my walk out to the barn. If I don’t come back within the hour, you have my full permission to come look for me. If you start fretting before that, don’t expect me to be pleased to see you.”

Danny took out his phone. “I’m going to text Mom back about dinner and then I’ll be busy getting that started, so I sure as hell won’t be worrying about you.”


Danny waited until his father slammed the back door behind him before he let out a long breath.

Faith was coming back.

He scrolled through his contacts until he found his mother’s name.

In a place as small as Morgan Valley it was inevitable that they would bump into each other sooner rather than later—especially when the McDonalds were the Miller family’s vets.

He tried to picture what she might look like now and couldn’t even guess. They’d parted on such bad terms that even after seventeen years he still wasn’t sure he’d be able to face her, or how she’d react to him. He reminded himself that they were both older and wiser, and that her defection had helped make him the man he was now, something he couldn’t regret.

He half smiled as he started texting his mother.

Maybe Faith really wouldn’t remember him.

Perhaps that would be a blessing,

After receiving detailed instructions from his mother about exactly how to cook dinner, Danny was just about to put his phone away when he paused.

If he had to meet Faith again, he’d prefer to do it away from curious eyes and ears. He thumbed through his contacts and started to type. He was no longer a shy teenager who sat back and let things happen to him. Maybe it was time to make sure Faith knew that as well.

* * *

Faith McDonald suppressed a sigh as she looked around the ramshackle veterinarian’s hospital. After building a separate house on the property twenty years ago for his growing family, her father had left the original homestead entirely for the use of the practice and hadn’t made any effort to improve it since. It was a far cry from the modern offices she and her partners had occupied in Humboldt.

“Yeah, it’s a