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Also by Tee Smith

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Elegantly Denim

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Elegant Deception

Elegant Betrayal


The Last Goodbye

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Carrillo's Cowboy (Coming Soon)

Carrillo’s Cowboy

Tee Smith

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidences are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means , electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any other information storage retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer quoting brief passages for review purposes only.

© Tee Smith 2020

Cover design by Cover me

Edited by Leticia Sidon

Created with Vellum

Chapter One

“Just leave that over there,” Callie barked. Her voice hoarse. She rubbed her hand over the back of her neck. She could do with a stiff drink and perhaps a nice warm bath. “How many more boxes do you have?”

“Another six,” the delivery man shrugged in response.

Callie let out a long sigh. She had loved working in corporate events management, but running a show on her own was starting to take its toll.

“That’s it. Sign here,” the man donning the fluorescent shirt and dirty green hat shoved a note attached to a clipboard under her hand.

“Thanks,” she mumbled as she scribbled her name- Callie Carrillo. She had started using her maiden name again just recently. It felt odd after using the name Green for so long, but since finalising her divorce, it gave her some distance from the man she had been married to for far too many years. She would still need to see him, co-parent their children, Austin and Grace, but as far as she was concerned, other than pick-up and drop-off, she hoped never to have to speak with him again. The writing had been on the wall. When she had returned home to Carrillo Estate three years before, Adam had barely batted an eyelash.

If her dear dad hadn’t taken ill, she might still be living the high-life of an investment banker’s wife. What had she been thinking all those years? Getting back to the country, running the family business, had been the best move she’d made. It was funny how life threw things at you that you didn’t know you needed.

“Hey, Mum,” Grace’s voice broke through her silent reverie.

She had lost track of time and forgot she had to pick the kids up from the bus. She hadn’t heard them come in. Usually, the bus would drop them at the farm gate, and they would ride their quad bikes the two-kilometres back to the homestead. That morning, she had locked their vehicles and told them they could only have them again when they stopped fighting. In her frustration, she had told them they could walk from the gate, when in fact, she had intended to drive out to pick them up. Her gaze flashed to the clock above her desk, then back to her twelve-year-old daughter.

“Why are you here so early?”

“We hitched a ride with the man at the gate,” Grace shrugged.

“What man?” Her heart sunk. “What have I told you, kids? You can’t just go around hitching rides.” They had been city kids until she’d moved them back home. Stranger danger was a real thing.

Grace drew her shoulders up before dropping them again. “I don’t know. He was looking for you, so we told him we would show him the way.”

“And where’s this man now?” she asked with a raised brow.

“Out there,” Grace thumbed over her shoulder as she made her way to the small fridge in the corner of her mother’s office.

“Not until you clean your room, young lady.” Callie snatched the cold drink from her daughter’s hand. “Where’s your brother?”

Grace shrugged again. “Not my problem.”

Callie shook her head. She had always heard teenagers threw attitude at their parents; she hadn’t expected it to start quite so early.

“Excuse me,” came a deep voice on the back of a cleared throat. “Are you Callie Green?”

“She calls herself Carrillo now . . . as in, Carrillo Estate,” Grace piped up again. “She was Green until she divorced my dad; now she wants to be called, Ms. Carrillo,” Grace announced Callie’s name with a plum in her throat, sounding every bit the posh investment banker’s daughter.

“Ms. Carrillo,” the man repeated, stepping further into the small office space and holding out his hand for her to shake.

Callie eyed the man suspiciously. He was tall, at least a few inches above her five-foot-six frame. About her age, with short scruffy blond hair, a strong, clean-shaven jaw, blue eyes, and a broad smile. So, what if he was good-looking? He still couldn’t go around picking children up. Who did he think he was?

“This is the man I told you about.” Grace smiled up at him adoringly, and he patted her shoulder.

Callie instinctually reached for her daughter and pulled her closer to herself. “Go find Austin, get yourselves a snack, then start on your homework.” Not that she needed to worry, Austin wouldn’t miss out. Most likely, he would be raiding the fridge already.

“How can I help you?” she asked, eventually turning back to the man standing just to the left of her door frame.

“My name is Cody Tanner, Ma’am. The folks in town told me you might be looking for a worker, and well,” he removed his hat and clutched it with both hands. “I’m looking for work and lodgings.”

“Who told you?” her eyes narrowed as she took him in.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t get his name. The old codger at the general store.”

“Old Jim?” she asked, then continued without waiting for him to answer. “Where are you from, Cody Tanner?”

“I’m from around,” he shrugged. “Schooled in Sydney. Haven’t stayed anywhere else long. Other than that, did a stint in the states, rode a few horses.”

“Wow! We’re a long way

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