The Runaway Rancher

Read the Excerpt

In this scene, Gabe and Sophie, who are working on her new cowgirl image, have gone riding.
But after dismounting then getting stepped on by her horse, Sophie fainted…

A few minutes later she blinked in vague awareness of her surroundings. Gabe was
bending over her. He smoothed a trembling hand over Sophie’s hair. Even his voice shook. “Just
rest, then we’ll get you home when you’re able to ride.”

“I guess I’m still a rookie,” she said, though Gabe must have seen the tears in her eyes,
part pain, part humiliation.

“Ah, but you’re my rookie.”

Was she delirious? His words didn’t mean anything. She’d frightened Gabe, that was all.
Then, as his weak smile faded, she had to change her opinion. His face came closer, his mouth
moved toward hers, and like an answer to her yearlong prayers, Gabe kissed her.

The pain in her foot temporarily eclipsed, Sophie flung her arms around his neck and
held on tight. She felt as if she’d been waiting for this all her life. “Gabe.” But he was already
pulling back.

“What was I thinking. You’re hurt—and I take advantage of you?” He surged to his feet,
then held out a hand to help Sophie up just when she’d been floating on a cloud.

Right then, even on her bad foot, she could have run a marathon across the plains of
Sweetheart Ranch. She could have trusted him. Completely. But Gabe obviously regretted the

They rode home in silence, Sophie riding double behind him because her horse had run
off. Resting her head against his warm back, she hoped her tears didn’t soak through his shirt.
And let him know just how much she cared.