Read Goodnight Kisses Online

Authors: Wilhelmina Stolen

Tags: #prequel, #texas cowboys, #sexy contempory, #novella romance, #contemporary cowboy, #teaser for book, #proposal of marriage, #texas ranch, #contemporary romance western, #love and romanve

Goodnight Kisses

GOODNIGHT KISSES
(prequel novella)
Wilhelmina Stolen

Goodnight Kisses
is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of
the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is
purely coincidental.

ISBN-10: 0-692-77127-1

ISBN-13: 978-0-692-77127-3

 

GOODNIGHT KISSES (prequel novella)

Wilhelmina Stolen

 

Copyright © 2016 by Wilhelmina Stolen

Cover design: Shannon Hayes

Edited by: Connie Kline

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations,
reviews, and articles.

 

Second Edition August 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of
Contents

Chapter One: The Start of Everything Good

Chapter Two: The Deal

Chapter Three: Goodnight Kisses

Chapter Four: A Lesson in Seduction

Chapter Five: The Proposal

About the Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

Many thanks, also, to Carter Link for his
friendship and expert advice on the cowboy way of life.

GOODNIGHT KISSES
Wilhelmina Stolen
Chapter One
The Start of Everything Good

“McCrea is a brawler, a loose
cannon,” Rose pushed the limp brim of her straw hat
up
and
held her arm out for assistance. “And he has quite a reputation
with the women.”

Eleanor took her grandma’s thin arm
and gently lifted. A brawler? Yes. A loose cannon? He could be, and
as for his reputation with women, she had her suspicions, but she
refused to believe he was in any way a threat to her heart. Rose
knew only the playboy side of the eldest Coldiron brother. The
drinker, the fighter, the troubled rich kid everyone gossiped
about, but Eleanor had, on many occasions
seen
a deeper, kinder
side of McCrea. The side that dried
tears,
soothed
fears,
and stole hearts. That was the McCrea she fell in love with.
The boy who had come to her rescue one rainy day when she was
eight. So she held tight to her belief, defending McCrea as he had
her. “Did Mildred tell you that?” she asked.

With her help, the old woman rose from her kneeling
position alongside the Zinnia bed. “I know how you feel about him
and rightly so. He’s a handsome boy, but Mildred said she heard he
started a fight over some floozy.”

It was on the tip of Eleanor’s tongue to tell her
grandma she was the floozy, and McCrea had chivalrously defended
her just like her granddad would have. Instead, she pointed to the
small white house across the road where the root of all gossip in
Santa Camino lived. “Mouthy Mildred Satterfield is a busybody.”

She picked up the bucket of
gardening tools and headed for the rusty green shed at the end of
the driveway. “I don’t believe anything she has to say about
McCrea
or anybody else for that matter. Was she there? No, she
wasn’t,” she pointed to her chest. “But I was. I was working that
night.” If her grandma only knew Willard Moore had instigated the
brawl which was now the talk of the town, “And it was just a fight.
I don’t see what the big deal is.”

Rose studied the cracked sidewalk as she took slow,
careful steps over to the porch. “Okay, don’t listen to me, God
knows your mother never did.”

Here we go again! Eleanor tried her
best to tune out her grandma’s voice. Agatha Rose Mackenna was the
sweetest, most loving woman in the state of Texas. She loved her
dearly, but if she heard her explain, in detail, one more time how
she had begged her mother not to get mixed up with the boy she
met
at
the bar, she might explode. Did her grandma
realize she was the product of that
mix-up
?

For the past eleven years, Eleanor
had called Santa Camino home, and the three Coldiron siblings and
their cousin Dean, her neighbors. They were as close to her as
her
grandma,
and felt more like her family than her biological
mother and half-sister in New Mexico. Louisa was her best
friend,
and Jess and Dean were like the brothers she was never
fortunate enough to have. Her relationship with McCrea, Louisa’s
older brother, was a tad more complicated.

McCrea was an untouchable dream she
had
loved,
and
fantasized
about since she was old
enough to notice boys. It had taken years for her to give into her
feelings for him, but her mother’s mistakes taught her never to let
her heart go unguarded. So she fought the battle within. Loving
him, but fearing what might happen if she ever gave in.

By the time she was back to the
porch, Rose had made her way back to McCrea. “Don’t get me wrong. I
like McCrea. He’s always a nice, well-mannered young man when he
drops by or I see him in town. Wade wouldn’t have it any
other
way,
but mark my words. That boy is a
heartbreaker
, and,” Rose sighed when her
rear made contact with the porch, “Not the marrying
kind.”

“God, Grandma. Marriage, again?” her groan was
closer to a growl. “You know I don’t want to get hitched.”

“I know,” Rose’s mouth pressed down at the corners.
“But I’m hoping that changes.”

“It won’t.”

“Don’t you dream of finding your one true love?” Her
aged eyes sparkled with romance and hope. “Don’t you want someone
to share your life with? Give you children?”

“No.” Her abrupt cutoff was more like a chomp. “You
know what I dream about.”

Rose nodded with a lethargic nod
that mimicked a
wino
. “I do.”

“My dream is to restore Redemption.” The ranch had
been in her family for five generations and had once been a top
notch breeding facility for horses. But without her granddad to
oversee the day to day workings, it became too much for Rose to
handle. The last of the breeding horses had been sold three years
ago, leaving only a few work horses the hands used and Romeo Baby,
a silver roan Quarter horse. Redemption’s profitable days were
over, and nowadays, they skimped by with selling what cattle they
had left.

The meadows were overgrown, the
stables and barns were
empty
and the fences were rotting away
with each passing year. “I want new stables filled with broodmares
and studs, and the only offspring I’m interested in are the
four-legged
kind
.”

That wasn’t completely true. She
wanted a man to share her life with, someone who loved her with the
same fierceness of Charlie’s love for Rose, and she wanted babies-
lots of babies. But she couldn’t quite fit either into her dream.
Babies were made with
love
and so far, McCrea was the only man
to evoke that emotion from her guarded heart. And as sure as she
was about being in love with McCrea, she was just as sure he wasn’t
interested in bottles, babies and settling down.

“Yes, well, I am hoping that changes.” Rose shook
her head. “I want to see you walk down the aisle before I meet my
Maker.”

She made a snorting sound. “I doubt any of the men
in Santa Camino would conform to my idea of raising a family
without marriage, at least not the ones who are worth a damn.”

“Eleanor!”

“And any man who is brave enough to bid for my heart
will have to do so without sliding a ring on my finger!”

“But─ but marriage is a sacred
partnership
─.”

“It’s a trap! And hell will freeze solid before I
vow myself into matrimonial bondage.”

“You make marriage seem so wretched.” Rose grimaced
and raked silver wisps of hair from her damp face. “And it’s not.
Not at all.”

“Our family is cursed when it comes to marriage,”
she said, watching Rose’s mouth drop open.

“How can you say that?”

“Because it’s true.” Maybe she was stretching the
truth for the sake of her argument, but she had had the misfortune
of witnessing her mother’s failed one.

“Your granddad and I were married for fifty-five
years!” Rose slapped the porch with her palm. “And I would do it
all over again in a heartbeat.”

Oh, to love like Charlie and Aggie Rose! Her inner
romance delighted, while her practical heart chided, “Some people
aren’t made for marriage.”

“True enough I suppose, but some are.”

“Mom wasn’t.” She sat down next to
Rose and let the bitterness of her childhood claw its way to the
surface. “What if I’m the same way? What if I marry the wrong guy?
What if I marry someone like Rex?” The only father Eleanor had ever
known was Rex Montgomery, the man her mother
married
before she
was born. He resented Eleanor because she wasn’t his, and refused
to give her anything that wasn’t a necessity, including his
name.

“Oh, Eleanor, you won’t.” Rose
patted her leg. “Just let your heart guide you. Don’t live in the
past or the future, but
rather in
the moment. That’s what love
is all about.”

The uncertainty of Rose’s logic ate at her, and she
wanted to argue that wasn’t what love was about. It was about
counting on someone to be there when you needed them. Giving and
showing affection without coercion or manipulation. Love was about
sacrifice and commitment, but arguing would upset her grandma. So
she chose another route to prove her point. “I asked mom about my
biological dad.”

The light in Rose’s eyes dimmed. She suspected the
old woman knew more about the man than she would ever admit. “And
what did she say?”

“That she loved him.” A bitter
smile edged her lips. “The heart is known for its
faulty
guidance, Grandma. Mom is proof of that, and as for living in
the moment.” She pushed back her windblown hair. “We both can see
where that got her. Pregnant and alone.”

Rose closed her eyes briefly, bearing the pain of
her daughter’s miserable life. “You are not Frances.”

“No, I’m not.” Pride made her agree even as her
doubt took root and grew.

Rose gathered Eleanor’s hands in
hers and held them tight. “If my Charlie
were
here, he would
tell you marriage is a wonderful thing.”

According to Rose, the sun rose and set in her
granddad and Eleanor knew her argument would never be won. “Can’t
we just agree marriage is one subject we will never agree on?”

“McCrea is the spitting image of
his granddad,” Rose said, ignoring the
truce
. “Wade was wild
like that you know,
hot-headed
, unruly and a real ladies’
man.”

No, she didn’t
know,
and she was
completely happy thinking of old man Wade as just that, an old man.
She didn’t want to hear about how wild he and her granddad used to
be. Or how handsome they looked or a hundred other things that just
creeped her out. Some things
were
better left
untold.

“But then he met Sophia.” Rose peered over her
glasses, and her face softened with the glow of years passed.
“Doe-eyed, soft-spoken Sophia had her work cut out for her, but she
stuck with him. And she loved the wildness right out of Wade
Coldiron.”

That wasn’t hard to imagine. The tiny, silver-haired
woman they lost three years ago was capable of loving the wildness
out of the devil himself, and Eleanor missed her with a magnitude
she couldn’t express.

“Thank God your granddad wasn’t like that. Charlie
was a heartbreaker in his own way, but he wasn’t a whore.”

The word brought Eleanor back to
focus. Grandma Rose just
said
whore. She didn’t know whether to
laugh or gag, and Rose continued as if the word meant nothing at
all. “God, I was so in love with that man. I’ll never forget the
day he brought me to Redemption and carried me over the
threshold.”

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