What a Cowboy Wants (Sons of Chance Book 1) by Vicki Lewis Thompson


Prologue





THE LAST CHANCE RANCH

May 1, 1937



Chance men are lucky when it counts. Sitting at a smoky card table in the back room of a bar in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Archibald Chance muttered his father’s favorite saying as he tossed his last dollar into the pot. His buddy Seth had thrown in the deed to a worthless ranch called the Double Zero, because that was the only thing of value Seth had left.

At the end of the game, Archie possessed that run-down piece of property plus enough to buy gas to get there. Seth was busted and would have to live on the pittance his sister Eleanor made as a seamstress until he found work or drank himself to death.

Archie couldn’t let that happen to his friend. Besides, there was the matter of Eleanor. Archie had been sweet on her for months and he had a hunch she liked him a lot, too. He couldn’t abandon her, either.

He threw an arm around Seth’s drooping shoulders. “You and Eleanor come to the ranch and work for me. I can’t pay you, but you’ll have a roof over your head. We’ll make a go of that place.”

Seth looked doubtful. “It’ll be a leaky roof. The Double Zero’s in terrible shape. Nobody’s lived there for years.”

“We’ll fix it up. Come on, Seth. You’re out of work and my carpentry isn’t in demand these days. We might as well take a stab at ranching.”

“Ranching?” Seth laughed. “We got no cows.”

“Don’t worry about the details. The way I look at it, this is our last chance. Hey, that’s perfect! My name’s Chance, so we’ll rename it the Last Chance Ranch. What do you think?”

“I think you’re crazy, but what the hell? I’ll go, but I can’t speak for Eleanor.”

“She’ll go.” Archie decided his father’s favorite saying might be true, after all.

“How can you be so sure?”

“’Cause I’m asking her to marry me.”





Chapter One





Present Day



Nick Chance was pissed. There was no logical reason to fence this rocky section of the Last Chance Ranch. It would make a lousy pasture and was too far from the barn to work as a corral.

But big brother Jack had decreed that it should be fenced “just in case” they’d need it someday. There went Nick’s day off. Jack had discovered that Nick had no vet duties today, either at home or at any of the other ranches in the valley, so he’d handed Nick a post-hole digger.

Nick had been tempted to suggest where Jack might shove his post-hole digger, but going off on Jack wouldn’t solve anything. The guy was harder on himself than he was on anyone else. The rollover that had killed their dad last fall wasn’t Jack’s fault, but nobody could tell him different.

So Nicholas Chance, DVM, was driving one of the battered ranch trucks instead of his primo medical rig, and he was digging post holes that didn’t need digging. What the hell. He’d work on his tan. Climbing out of the truck, he took off his shirt and tossed it into the cab. Then he grabbed his worn leather gloves from the dashboard.

Before he lowered the tailgate and got serious about the project, he parked his butt on the fender and took a moment to appreciate the view of the Tetons. A raven gave him a fly-by and what Nick interpreted as a caw of approval.

He couldn’t stay mad in country like this. His gaze roamed over the soft gray-green of sage livened up with spring flowers, including two of his mom’s favorites – pink wild geraniums and sunflowers. Rain had fallen the night before, swelling the creek that he could hear gurgling, although it was hidden by evergreens.

He caught a whiff of loamy earth and wet pine needles. The June sun was warm, but not warm enough to melt the snow still clinging to the jagged peaks. Nick never tired of looking at them.

A favorite memory surfaced, as it often did when Nick gazed at the mountains. Jack, leaning against the corral, had informed ten-year-old Nick and nine-year-old Gabe that the mountains were named by a French guy and Tetons was the French word for tits. Nick and Gabe had fallen over laughing, but Jack, a worldly fourteen, had predicted that someday they’d find the subject of tits fascinating instead of screamingly funny.

Nick smiled. As usual, Jack had been right, although Nick considered himself more of a leg man than a breast man. Gabe, on the other hand, liked his women generously endowed. Jack generally did, too, although since last fall he seemed to have lost all interest in anything frivolous, which apparently included dating.