Shelby Salwell tries not to stress over a few lost steers. Sure she can’t afford the financial hit, but she’d deal. Until her best friend convinces her to hire the Brotherhood Protectors to get to the bottom of the thefts. She just hopes whoever they send doesn’t find out about what she does when she isn’t waitressing, or the terrible events she’s tried so hard to forget. Some secrets need to remain hidden because some wounds may never heal.
Greer “Bull” Gorsch has wanted the sexy redheaded waitress at the café, so he takes the assignment to find out who is behind the cattle thefts at Shelby’s ranch. He doesn’t count on a fearful young boy to bring up memories he thought long buried or the reason why the young man is on her property. Suddenly he’s dealing with more than an ordinary cattle theft and in spite of his best intentions, he’s falling in love with his assignment
She drained the last of her lemonade and smiled when she saw the dust cloud coming toward her. Bull cantered Leroy back to the barn, or maybe Leroy had been the one to make the decision, judging by the grim set of Bull’s jaw. She admired his kissable lips for a moment, then swung her legs down to stand.
“Don’t move on my account. I got him,” Bull said, giving a strong cue for Leroy to slow. He did, almost on a dime, and Shelby winced as Bull bounced against the pommel of the saddle. “Damn stubborn mule,” he muttered. “I got the cameras set up. Let me take care of Idjit here, and then I’ll show you what we got.”
“Okay.” She watched as he dismounted and led Leroy to the barn. Jenny had said much the same thing about the horse, so while Bull certainly could handle him, he apparently felt the same way. She went into the house, refilled her glass, and sat down at the table with her laptop, making sure a fresh browser window was open.
Bull entered a few minutes later, a duffel bag slung over his shoulder, with an apology for his dirty boots.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve had worse in here than any dust you might track in. There’s a reason I redid the house in laminate as soon as I could.” She pointed him in the direction of the bathroom in case he wanted to freshen up.
When he emerged, his face and hands washed, his hair slicked back wet, she fought the image of the two of them in the shower “cleaning up” together. He sat down and pulled a laptop out of the bag. A few keystrokes later, and he brought up camera images from her pasture. She recognized the highway and the alley leading to her house. A few cattle grazed at the periphery of the images. “So here are the cameras. They’re solar-powered, and the signal they run on is strong enough to reach the house and probably anywhere on the property. It’s encrypted. No one will see them, and I doubt anyone will notice they’re there unless you point them out. I can put out the obligatory ‘this property is protected by camera surveillance’ signs if you want. Montana doesn’t have any set rules on the books, so it’s your call.” He went on to talk about the cameras and how to operate them, and on his laptop brought up the browser window where she could watch them. “Do you want me to set it up on your computer?”
Shelby shook her head. Better to be safe and keep everything under her control. “If you can give me the information, I think I can set it up.” She followed his commands, putting in the IP address and then the codes to access the cameras. As soon as the page came up she bookmarked it and figured she could find it again. That would reassure her at least that she could see her pasture at any time. “So you’re hoping we’ll see whoever is doing this and catch them?”
Bull nodded. “That would be the easy way.”
In his eyes, she saw it usually didn’t happen the easy way.
“Hey, don’t worry. We’ll catch whoever is doing this.” He reached across the table and cupped her chin. “I don’t want you to worry. You won’t even know I’m here. I’ll head out in the morning, or maybe even at night, and come in to sleep. I don’t need much sleep.”
“Neither do I,” she said.
“Then we’ll have to think of something to do.” He brushed his finger across her chin.