Cowboy On Call

Read the Excerpt

(This edited scene comes after Olivia’s young son has gone horseback riding at the ranch for the first time since he suffered a bad fall)

Sawyer handed Nick his cherry Popsicle, then put on a cartoon for him in the family room. Now he and Olivia were alone together, and her nerves tightened.

Sawyer led her to the front porch. “He’s a good kid, Olivia.”

“Yes, he is. I love him so much it hurts. I’m trying not to worry about him—but believe me, I was far better controlled at the hospital after Nick fell than I was the night of the flood here three years ago.”

“Bad memories.” He braced his arms on the porch railing next to Olivia. “Which must include me. I made a mistake long ago. Seems I keep making them,” he said. “I’ve told you I’m sorry. I know that’s not enough, but it’s all I have.”

She met his eyes. “As you said once, there was nothing else you could have done.” 

She could feel his warmth, so close their arms were nearly touching. From the cottonwoods by the creek, a chorus of summer locusts began to sing.

The air all around seemed charged. Reminding herself that she didn’t want any closeness with him, Olivia took a step back from the rail. Sawyer had too many shadows hidden deep inside. He wouldn’t stay here long, and she didn’t want another serious relationship with a man, at least not now. And with Sawyer, never. She’d tried marriage once, and love was not for her. 

Olivia turned toward the screen door. “I’ll get Nick,” she said. “We should go. Thank you again for being so kind to him today.” She forced a smile over her shoulder. “He’ll probably be talking about this for the next week.”

Sawyer had left his place at the railing. Olivia had her hand on the door. He walked toward her, his deep blue eyes serious, and put his hands on her shoulders. “Olivia. We were friends once, weren’t we?”

“Good friends,” she agreed, his fingers warm through the fabric of her blouse, as if he were touching her skin. She focused instead on a rush of childhood memory: riding horses and playing hide-and-seek in the barns, roaming the range and pretending they were cowboys all day long. 

He asked, “Do you think we could be…friends again?”

Her heartbeat fluttered. “That sounds like a dare, and dangerous.”

“Life’s a danger,” he said and, before she could think to stop him, drew her into his arms.


His gaze was intent and he didn’t take the warning. Sawyer lowered his head, angling it just so to press his lips, soft as a whisper, to the corner of her mouth. And for a second, she wanted to lean closer, to turn her head and find him, turn that tentative movement into more with the slight, warm pressure of her mouth on his.

Then Olivia came to her senses. She pulled free, wrenched open the screen door, and hurried inside, her heart hammering in her chest. She tried not to hear his parting words.

“Sometimes you have to take a chance.”