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The Return Home: A sweet western romance (The Cowboy Brotherhood of Clearwater County Book 1) by [Bonnie R. Paulson]

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The Return Home: A sweet western romance (The Cowboy Brotherhood of Clearwater County Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 111 ratings
Book 1 of 6: The Billionaire Cowboys of Clearwater County

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Length: 196 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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  • Book 1 of 6 in The Billionaire Cowboys of Clearwater County
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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Melody's life would have been darn different, if Stryder Flint had never left.
Everything was or wasn't according to how it should be. Wasn't that her dad's favorite saying? Maybe she'd gotten it wrong. She didn't really care at that point.
Melody Steel wiped her hands on the threadbare kitchen towel hanging from the oven handle. She stood in the center of the once grand kitchen with her hands on her hips and slowly pivoted, surveying her cleaning job.
She'd swept, mopped, dusted anything she could reach, cleaned inside the nearly-empty fridge, reorganized all the chipped dishes in the cabinets, and scrubbed the windows more than once. Sleep had eluded her while she waited for news.
Her nerves were getting to her. If she didn't stop wiping the counters or doing the dishes, she'd wear a hole in something.
Cutting through the tension, the landline phone rang, the peel sharp and demanding in the strong acoustics of the house.
Melody jumped, folding her arms and taking a deep breath. The second ring seemed to jolt her into action and she swooped onto the phone, grabbing up the receiver and cradling the mouth piece in her other hand. "Hello?" Why did she sound all breathy and weird? The phone never rang unless a telemarketer felt lucky. Her hands shook, even as she tried being brave.
"Ms. Steel, it's Doctor Gideon. It's time." His words were nothing out of the ordinary, yet his tone promised she needed to be ready. "Your dad has passed."
Nodding, even though he couldn't see, Melody swallowed and murmured, "I... I understand. I'll be right in." She hung up, staring at the cream phone she'd never been able to talk her dad into getting rid of.
A memory of just a year ago flashed through her mind's eye.
Standing at the phone, Melody waved her hand at the old rotary piece while holding the pink bill in the other. Her voice broke as she tried convincing her father again. "We can't pay the phone bill when we have the electricity bill, Dad. We can't. This is not a priority. Keeping our food from spoiling is. We could save a lot of money, if you'd just get rid of it. Please."
He stood there, his bloodshot eyes wide as she spoke. Stooped shoulders that had once been strong and straight hunched inward. His barrel chest had taken on a concave form and he'd clung to a bottle of Wild Turkey. Shaking his head, he'd pushed close to the phone, gripping the handset but not pulling it from the base. His lips quivered. "No. She might call. This is the only number she knows." Even as drunk as he was, his words didn't slur.
Melody stared at him, sadness curling in her chest. She leaned close, tucking the bill in the pocket of his overalls. "She's not coming back, Dad. Mom left. She's not coming back." Why couldn't he accept it? Melody accepted it, no matter how much it hurt.
Even as the collectors circled like vultures, he'd never gotten so far behind on the phone bill that they would disconnect it. The power, yes, but not the phone.
The pain of the memory seemed fresh as she hung up the call. Closing her eyes, Melody sank to her knees in the middle of the peeling linoleum floor of the kitchen. If it wasn't for the alcohol her daddy drank to curb the pain of his wife leaving him, Melody wouldn't be in danger of losing her home and everything important to her.
She bowed her head, her shoulders shaking as hot tears coursed down her cheeks. The doctor had said it's time. All she needed was a break, but she didn't need her dad to die. Clint Steel tried so hard to be a good dad after his wife had left, Melody didn't blame him for his coping skills.
If she wasn't so against drinking, she could only imagine what she would do faced with the future she had ahead of her. What was she supposed to do there on that old ranch all by herself?
Drown in debt, apparently.

***

A few days since the call about her dad, Melody didn't worry that she'd missed a call on the landline phone. She disconnected it as soon as she'd gotten home from saying goodbye to her father.
Afternoon sunlight streamed through the streaked glass of the front window, warming the hardwood floor. How did windows get dirty when no one was there to put their fingers on the glass?
Melody slid her black heels off, kicking them to the side as she stepped onto the warm rug and closed her eyes. Reaching up, she pinched the soft flesh of her neck. She was tense and didn't know if she'd ever feel rested again.
The funeral had been hard. Not only had her dad died a few days before, but the cost of the funeral had tacked itself to the mounting pile of debt and all she'd done while burying her father was itemize everything at the graveside service. The flowers had cost close to a hundred dollars. The casket a few thousand - and that was the base model! Melody had even had to accept a bill from the pastor who'd spoken over the body.
An obituary would be printed free of charge in a couple days, but Melody had gone with the basic information instead of creating anything worth cutting out and saving. Not many people had come to the funeral, but that wasn't because of anything other than Melody hadn't announced it in the paper. That cost money. Money she didn't have.
Plus, let's be honest, when people showed up, they expected refreshments of some sort. As it was, Melody could only offer dry ramen noodles and cold well water. That was no way to send off her dad.
To make matters worse, Mrs. Singhe had approached - the old biddy made it to every funeral and wedding in Two Rides as if it were her duty to attend. She'd shaken Melody's cold fingers - even though the day was warm with early afternoon summer heat - and she'd smiled with pinched creases framing her lips. "It's too bad about your daddy, Ms. Steel. I heard Stryder Flint has so much money, he could have thrown you a right proper funeral, if that hadn't been messed up." She'd eyed Melody without cracking a smile, her gaze skimming Melody up and down.
Pulling her fingers from Mrs. Singhe's grasp, Melody hadn't spoken or acknowledged that she'd spoken. She didn't have to be polite, not right then. She wasn't at work. Her customer service wasn't required as she stood beside the hole her father would be dropped into and covered with dirt.
How dare Mrs. Singhe mention Stryder Flint. As if the rags-to-riches cowboy had anything to do with Melody any longer. He'd left with her heart and hadn't looked back.
Of course, Stryder could have paid for a better funeral. With all his billions he could buy the town a couple times over. Everyone in Two Rides, Montana waited for the day he came back - not only to berate him for leaving the small town, but also to ask him for money.
The Steels weren't the only ones suffering from the devastated economy.
A knock on the front door startled Melody and brought her back to the present. Gritty dust coated her cheeks where the wind had whirled against her soaked skin. Why would anyone show up at her house so soon after the burial? Maybe the collectors resorted to showing up at her door instead of calling since she'd disconnected the phone. She wouldn't be surprised.
Although, she wouldn't be surprised at a lot of things.
Turning from the warm spot on the floor, Melody opened the door and raised her gaze. Her jaw stiffened and she lifted her chin. She was distinctly out of her element in her black mourning dress. She needed her jeans and t-shirt to feel more in control of the moment. Narrowing her eyes, she took a deep breath and waited for her visitor to speak.
Brock Stidwell. She clenched her teeth and closed the door halfway until she was able to block the bottom of the door with her foot so he couldn't push inside. The man had brutish down to a whole new science.

Product details

  • File Size : 1054 KB
  • Publication Date : April 6, 2018
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print Length : 196 pages
  • Publisher : Captiva Publishing, LLC (April 6, 2018)
  • Language: : English
  • ASIN : B07B6F3BQZ
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Screen Reader : Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
  • Simultaneous Device Usage : Unlimited
  • X-Ray : Not Enabled
  • Lending : Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 111 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
111 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on April 6, 2018
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Top reviews from other countries

Maureen Varty
5.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyed this read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 30, 2019
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Vanessa
3.0 out of 5 stars Hopefully
Reviewed in Australia on April 29, 2019
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