The Rancher's Baby Surprise

By: Kat Brookes

A cowboy to her rescue...

Creating a family through Bent Creek Blessings

Since losing his childhood sweetheart, cowboy Garrett Wade has avoided emotional entanglements. But when he comes across pregnant Hannah Sanders stuck in a flash flood—and in labor—it’s Garrett to the rescue. He becomes fiercely protective of the single mom and her son. Inviting her to stay at his family ranch seems natural, but can Garrett release the heartache of his past?

“Hold out your arms and I’ll hand him over to you,” Hannah said with a reassuring smile.

Garrett did as she said, feeling an overwhelming sense of awe as she settled the babe into his outstretched arms. So, this was what becoming someone’s father would have felt like.

“Now bring him to your chest,” Hannah coached softly.

As he settled the towel-swaddled infant against his chest, Garrett felt his heart swell.

“I’d like to name him after you,” Hannah said, her eyes drifting shut.

Garrett’s gaze snapped up, her words taking him by surprise.

“That is, if it’s all right with you,” she mumbled sleepily.

“I’d be honored,” he said. Truth was, he couldn’t have been more honored. It wasn’t as if he’d ever have children of his own to pass his name down to.

“Garrett Austin,” Hannah said with a sigh. Her soft, even breathing told him she had finally fallen into an exhausted slumber.

Garrett looked down at the precious bundle he held in his arms and smiled. “Welcome to the world, Garrett Austin Myers.”

Chapter One

Hannah Sanders eased her foot off the gas pedal as she struggled to make out the winding country road ahead. The overcast day had turned as black as night when she’d driven into the storm. Even her car’s high beams struggled to push through the wall of rain before her. Deepening puddles along the barely visible road pulled at her tires, causing Hannah to tighten her grip on the steering wheel even more.

“Dear Lord,” she prayed, resisting the urge to run a hand over her rounded abdomen, knowing she needed to keep both hands firmly wrapped about the steering wheel, “please don’t let anything happen to this baby.” Her sister’s baby.

The wipers, set on high, pushed water to and fro on the windshield, but the deluge outside rendered them nearly useless. Why hadn’t she turned around when she’d seen the approaching storm? As if in answer to her question, the cramping in her lower back returned, this time wrapping around to her swollen abdomen. She hadn’t turned around because, according to her GPS, Bent Creek, Wyoming was the closest town in any direction to seek shelter from the storm she was driving through.

Hannah clenched her teeth as the cramping sensation, one she still hoped was nothing more than false labor pains, settled low in her abdomen. Tears pooled in her eyes. “This can’t be real labor,” she uttered in denial as she fought to push away the sense of panic threatening to overcome her. It was too soon. The baby, the tiny little blessing her older sister and her husband had entrusted her with, wasn’t due to arrive for five more weeks. A child that, following the multicar pileup that had taken her sister’s and brother-in-law’s lives three months earlier, would be Hannah’s to raise. To love.

And love this baby she would. With all her heart. He was all she had left of Heather, her only sibling. She told herself to stay calm. That stress wasn’t good for the baby, and what she was experiencing was nothing more than false labor pains. But what if they weren’t? She couldn’t give birth to Heather and Brian’s son on the side of some rain-soaked road alone. There could be complications? What if—

A crack of thunder erupted in the looming clouds above just as Hannah started across an old wooden single-lane bridge, yanking her from her fearful thoughts. The Honda Civic shuddered almost violently below her. Then, before she could fully process that the rumble she’d both heard and felt wasn’t thunder, the bridge gave way beneath her car.

A panicked cry escaped her lips. She jammed her foot on the brake, not that it made any difference as the nose of her Civic dipped downward. The creek’s rampant flow immediately crested over the front end of the hood on the driver’s side, mixing with the deluge of rain still coming down around her. Hannah’s stomach dropped, and it had nothing to do with the life growing inside her. It was an instantaneous fear of what might very well be her last few moments on this earth. Was this how her sister had felt in the milliseconds before the deadly crash that took her life?

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