Wednesday Special Spotlight
Maggie Abernathy, best friend Judy, and Judy’s two young sons travel cross country to visit John McIntyre and daughter Chloe at their Montana ranch. Maggie’s convinced herself that she’s only making the trip to fulfill her promise to visit Chloe, but once there she can’t help but fall in love with the horses, the land, the ranch, and the Montana ways of life. With Chloe’s loving antics, Winston’s gift, and a handful of wranglers showing her the ropes, will Maggie have the heart to say goodbye?
Maggie’s Montana Praise:
“Guaranteed to touch your heart. . .Maggie’s Montana is a must read for women’s fiction lovers. Linda Bradley’s writing sings in this beautifully crafted, warm and funny story about the bonds of love and friendship.” –Kim Boykin, author of The Wisdom of Hair and Palmetto Moon
“Linda Bradley’s distinct voice draws you in as her misfit cast of characters wrap around your heart and take you home.” –Roni Hall, author of Montana Wild
Excerpt: Chapter 2
(Maggie and best friend, Judy and Judy’s two boys have just arrived at the 617 Ranch to see eight year-old Chloe McIntyre, her father, John and grandfather, Winston.)
Judy sat beside me on the porch.
“I can’t believe how beautiful Montana is. So worth the drive.” Judy rolled up the sleeves of her T-shirt. “Don’t need a farmer’s tan.”
Smirking at my goofy friend, I sat in awe of the land’s grandeur. This was God’s country. Lazy mares grazed near the pond. A river flowed along the property line in the distance. The babbling creek near the house swept my thoughts away. Leaning back in my chair, I took a deep breath. “Thanks for coming with me,” I said. “I love your boys.”
“Thanks for letting me tag along. This is an incredible opportunity for the kids. Besides, I want to see how things pan out with you and John.”
Judy’s smirk was incorrigible as I stared at her from under my lashes. “You’re supposed to be my friend.”
“I am.” She put up her hands like she was surrendering. “I’m just saying. You two go together like peanut butter and jelly. Everyone can see it except you two.”
Exhaling, I raised my eyebrow at her. John’s dad walked toward us. Chloe was right. Winston Ludlow McIntyre had the perfect name for this kind of living. His moustache twitched as our gazes met, his love for his ranch flickered in his eyes. He clapped his leather gloves together as he approached. He was all cowboy, tall, broad, and stealth. “Hi there.” I gave a little wave, my eyes peering past him at the kids who were tossing pebbles into the creek. Walter’s curly black mop-top held my attention.
“Glad you made it.” Winston gave a nod. “Nice to see you again,” he said to Judy.
“Likewise,” she responded. “Thank you for letting us stay with you. You have an incredible place here.”
The corner of his mouth lifted. “Wasn’t always like this. Wish John’s mother was here to see the place now.”
Winston’s expression reminded me of a story John had told about his mom one night while we nursed beers in the moonlight before he and Chloe left for the ranch. Her love for the land and the animals ran just as deep as his father’s. A chill ran down my spine. “I’m sure she’s proud.”
“Did John show you ladies around?” Winston asked.
“Yes,” Judy answered. “We met Chloe’s lame bird, Frankie and I believe we were introduced to a pony named Huckleberry.”
Winston chuckled as he stepped onto the porch. The fringe of his chaps swayed with his stride. “She’s pretty attached to that bird. She’s going to wake up some morning and it’s gonna be gone.”
“You think it’ll fly away?” I asked.
“Either that or it’ll be dinner for some critter that finds its way into the barn.”
I grimaced. “Didn’t think about that.”
Walter skipped over to the porch. “Howdy partner,” Winston said, giving him a tap on the shoulder. Walter waved as he looked up into Winston’s eyes, then he fluffed the fringe on Winston’s chaps. “You sure are big. Thanks for letting me come to your ranch. It’s cool.” He shaded his eyes from the sun and smiled a thin, irresistible grin before climbing into his momma’s lap.
“We don’t get many visitors. Just glad you could make it.”
Walter gave Winston a thumbs-up. Judy wrapped her arms around her son and held him close. Bradley’d been a momma’s boy growing up, too. It seemed like yesterday that I’d held him like Judy held Walter. Walter closed his eyes and whispered, “Do you think I’m a baby?”
“No.” Judy stroked his hair.
“Will you tell Harry I’m not a baby? Please?” Walter rested his hand on Judy’s arm, their dark summer skin tan and smooth.
“Yes, darling. I will.” Walter smiled and nodded off.
“He’s pooped,” Judy said. “Me, too.”
“We could have flown,” I said, taking a deep breath.
Judy chimed in. “And miss out on seeing the country. No way.”
The airline ticket that Winston slid into my mail slot last spring sat on my dresser, back home. A twinge of guilt nudged me. Now that we’d driven, what was I going to do with his generous gift? By the expression on his face, he didn’t seem to mind that I hadn’t cashed it in.
“It’s important for kids to see the country, their country.” Winston settled into the rocking chair next to mine. It creaked as he rocked back and forth. “Chloe’s been giving her daddy a fuss about not wanting to move, but she sure does fit here.” Winston focused on his granddaughter in the distance as he rubbed his whiskery chin.
I studied Winston’s profile, thinking he was a man contemplating a future with an eight-year-old on his heels. “She sure does look like she’s having fun.” I glanced over to Judy. Her eyes closed as she rocked Walter. It’d been a long haul. The corner of my lip curled up as Chloe held one of the barn cats, its legs flopped, its ears back, and their noses touching. She sauntered across the lawn and up the stairs to the porch.
Amazon Link to Montana Bound Series: http://amzn.to/2dfXPTK
Linda Bradley Website: http://www.lindabradleyauthor.com/