How can two people from different eras own the same ranch?
Penelope Jane Terry knows everything about ranching in spite of being a lone woman. She is determined to send to jail the rustlers who believe they can steal what is hers… until she is caught spying on their dirty works and must ride for her life. What Penny doesn’t count on is being hurtled over a 120 years into the future.
Jake Knight believes the attractive woman who stumbled into his home one rainy evening either has amnesia or is certifiably insane. Unless, that is, she is in league with whoever is trying to drive him out of business. Someone is trying to force him to sell his ranch by staging a string of damaging incidents. Jake’s been kept so busy making repairs that he can’t run his ranch. Even if he were stupid enough to wish to sell, the ranch is so firmly entailed that no one can break the conditions.
Jake gradually learns Penny is who she claims, no matter that time travel is supposed to be impossible. They’re locked into a clash that it seems only one of them can win. If an outsider weren’t trying to kill Jake as well as bankrupt him, perhaps he and Penny might be able to reach an agreement. But, there is that treasure…
Finally, the lights of home shone faintly in the distance. Nothing had ever looked so good. She couldn’t keep going much further. Damned if blisters hadn’t burned on her heels from walking so far in wet boots. She was near frozen in these wet clothes.
How could she be so cold now when the heat earlier had nearly suffocated her? Nevermind, she just wanted to be home, safe, and in her bed. There stood the fence next to the paddock. Almost home now, keep walking.
Don’t pass out, don’t fall. One foot in front of the other. You can do this. Stumbling from fatigue, she labored up the front steps onto the long wrap-around porch and bumped into a rocker. Who’d put that there? Just like her cook to move stuff around without telling her. How she’d love to sink into it and rest. First, she had to send for the sheriff and find out if Star came home.
At the door, she paused and listened for men talking—rustlers waiting to waylay her. She heard no sound. Lights shone so brightly, her cook must have waited up for her with every lamp in the house lighted. She eased opened the door, listened again, then walked in and leaned her rifle against the stair’s banister.
“Did Star come home?” She unbuckled her gun belt and hung it on the newel post—not something she’d do under ordinary circumstances.
Tugging off her gloves, she avoided a couple of cactus spines stuck in the fingers. How had they remained there without her feeling them? No matter, she sat down on the third stair tread to remove her boots.
She should have gone around to the back door, but she couldn’t walk another step. Weariness and sore muscles overwhelmed her and she wanted nothing more than to shuck out of her wet things and lie in her nice bed—if she could summon the energy to walk upstairs. Eyes closed, she leaned back against the stairs. She heard footsteps approaching and raised one foot.
“Had me a passel of trouble. Help me get these danged boots off, would you? Then I’ll tell you all about it.” A dog’s cold nose pressed against her cheek. She jumped and pushed her hair out of her eyes. A black and white dog stared at her. “Who are you?”
“His name’s Rascal.” An unfamiliar baritone said, “He’s mine.”
She looked up.
Whoa! The man who faced her was a stranger. In spite of her wariness, her mouth dropped open in awe. Instead of her arthritic middle-aged cook, this man was young and tall and definitely fit. And handsome. Unbelievably, mesmerizingly handsome.
He might be as comely as a fairy tale prince, but the regal disapproval on his face appeared anything but friendly.
Energized by fear, she jumped to her feet and grabbed her rifle. “Who the heck are you?”
He crossed his arms and ignored the Winchester pointed at his middle. His dark hair glistened in light that seemed too bright. Dark blue eyes had tiny creases at the corners, as if he laughed a lot.
He sure wasn’t laughing now.
“I might ask you the same question. And what are you doing tracking in mud and dripping water all over my foyer?”
“Your foyer? This is my house, and it’s been my house since my daddy and I built it six years ago. Don’t you think for one minute I’ll let you steal my ranch.”
The dog growled, the fur of his ruff bristling.
The man snapped his fingers. “Quiet, Rascal.”
Who was this man? He didn’t look the type but maybe he was one of the men stealing her cattle. Could he and his dog have been waiting for her? She gripped the rifle with all her strength. Why hadn’t her cook shown up to help her?
Oh, no, had they killed him?
He glared at her. “Lady, I don’t know who you are, but this is my house, get it? I grew up here. My daddy grew up here. My granddaddy grew up here.”
Penny’s knees trembled, but she fought fear to appear strong. “Don’t try and trick me. The Double T ranch was started by my granddaddy in 1836. No con man is going to steal it from the Terry family, and you can take that to the bank.”
“The Terry family hasn’t owned this since Penelope Terry died in 1896. The Knight family has owned it since then.” He threw up his hands. “Hell, why am I arguing with a crazy woman?”
“Crazy?” She was about to light into him when the first part of his statement hit her. “Hey, what do you mean, I died? I’m as alive as you, whoever you are.”
“What the hell are you talking about? I see you’re alive. I said Penelope Terry died. Are you hard of hearing as well as nuts?”
Increasing fear spiraled inside Penny, knotting her stomach. How could this man think her dead? What kind of trick was he working? Had she been conked out long enough that her cook sent men out to look for her and they decided she’d died?
Forcing herself to appear calm when she shook inside, Penny stood erect. “I’m Penelope Jane Terry and you can see I’m very much alive…”
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