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Sierra's Homecoming [McKettrick Series] [Secure eReader]
eBook by Linda Lael Miller

eBook Category: Romance/Fantasy
eBook Description: When she moved to her family's ancestral ranch, single mom Sierra McKettrick was disconcerted by the Triple M's handsome caretaker, Travis Reid. But when her son claimed to see a mysterious boy in the house, and an heirloom teapot started popping up in unexpected places, Sierra wondered if the attraction between herself and Travis might be the least of her worries. In 1919, widowed Hannah McKettrick lived at the ranch with her son and her brother-in-law, Doss. Her confused feelings for Doss and her son's health problems occupied all her thoughts--until the family teapot started disappearing. Could Sierra and her ancestor, Hannah, be living parallel lives?

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Silhouette Special Edition
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2006


34 Reader Ratings:
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"Four Stars!" - Romantic Times -- Romantic Times


Chapter One

Present Day

"Stay in the car," Sierra McKettrick told her seven-year-old son, Liam.

He fixed her with an owlish gaze, peering through the lenses of his horn-rimmed glasses. "I want to see the graves, too," he told her, and put a mittened hand to the passenger-side door handle to make his point.

"Another time," she answered firmly. Part of her knew it was irrational to think a visit to the cemetery could provoke an asthma attack, but when it came to Liam's health, she was taking no chances.

A brief stare-down ensued, and Sierra prevailed, but barely.

"It's not fair," Liam said, yet he sounded resigned. He didn't normally give up so easily, but they'd just driven almost nonstop all the way from Florida to northern Arizona, and he was tired.

"Welcome to the real world," Sierra replied. She set the emergency brake, left the engine running with the heat on High, and got out of the ancient station wagon she'd bought on credit years before.

Standing ankle-deep in a patch of ragged snow, she took in her surroundings. Ordinary people were buried in churchyards and public cemeteries when they died, she reflected, feeling peevish. The McKettricks were a law unto themselves, living or dead. They weren't content with a mere plot, like other families. Oh, no. They had to have a place all their own, with a view.

And what a view it was.

Shoving her hands into the pockets of her cloth coat, which was nearly as decrepit as her car, Sierra turned to survey the Triple M Ranch, sprawling in every direction, well beyond the range of her vision. Red mesas and buttes, draped in a fine lacing of snow. Copses of majestic white oaks, growing at intervals along a wide and shining stream. Expanses of pastureland, and even the occasional cactus, a stranger to the high country, a misplaced wayfarer, there by mistake.

Like her.

A flash of resentment rose suddenly within Sierra, and a moment or two passed before she recognized the emotion for what it was: not her own opinion, but that of her late father, Hank Breslin.

When it came to the McKettricks, Sierra had no opinions that she could honestly claim, because she didn't know these people, except by reputation.

She'd taken their name for one reason and one reason only—because that was part of the deal. Liam needed health care, and she couldn't provide it. Eve McKettrick—Sierra's biological mother—had set up a medical trust fund for her grandson, but there were strings attached.

With the McKettricks, she heard her father say, as surely as if he were standing there beside her, there are always strings attached.

"Be quiet," Sierra said, out loud. She was grateful for Eve's help, and if she had to take the McKettrick name and live on the Triple M Ranch for a year to meet the conditions, so be it. It wasn't as if she had anyplace better to go.

Resolutely she approached the cemetery entrance, walked under the ornate metal archway forming the word "McKettrick" in graceful cursive.

A life-size bronze statue of a man on horseback, broad-shouldered and imposing, with a bandanna at his throat and a six-gun riding on his hip, took center stage.

Angus McKettrick, the patriarch. The founder of the Triple M, and the dynasty. Sierra knew little about him, but as she looked up into that hard, determined face, shaped by the rigors of life in the nineteenth century, she felt a kinship.

Ruthless old bastard, said the voice of Hank Breslin. That's where McKettricks get their arrogance. From him.

"Be quiet," Sierra repeated, thrusting her hands deeper into her coat pockets. She stood in silence for a long moment, listening to the rattle-throated hum of the station wagon's engine, the lonely cry of a nearby bird, the thrum of blood in her ears. A piney scent spiced the air.

Sierra turned, saw the marble angels marking the graves of Angus McKettrick's wives—Georgia, mother of Rafe, Kade and Jeb. Concepcion, mother of Kate.

Look for Holt and Lorelei, Eve had told her, the last time they'd spoken over the telephone. That's our part of the family.

Sierra caught sight of other bronze statues, smaller than Angus's but no less impressive in their detail. They were works of art, museum pieces, and if they hadn't been solidly anchored in cement, they probably would have been stolen. It said something about the McKettrick legend, she supposed, that there had been no vandalism in this lonely, wind-blown place.

Jeb McKettrick, the youngest of the brothers, was represented by a cowboy with his six-gun drawn; his wife, Chloe, by a slender woman in pioneer dress, shading her eyes with one hand and smiling. Their children, grandchildren, great- and a few great-great-grandchildren surrounded them, their costly headstones laid out in neat rows, like the streets of a western town.

Next was Kade McKettrick, easy in his skin, wearing a six-shooter, like his brother, but with an open book in his hand. His wife, Mandy, wore trousers, a loose-fitting shirt, boots and a hat, and held a shotgun. Like Chloe, she was smiling. Judging by the number of other graves around theirs, these two had also been prolific parents.

The statue of Rafe McKettrick revealed a big, powerfully built man with a stubborn set to his jaw. His bride, Emmeline, stood close against his side; their arms were linked and she rested her head against the outside of his upper arm.

Sierra smiled. Again, their progeny was plentiful.

The last statue brought up an unexpected surge of emotion in Sierra. Here, then, was Holt, half brother to Rafe, Kade and Jeb, and to Kate. In his long trail coat, he looked both handsome and tough. A pair of very detailed ammunition belts criss-crossed his chest, and the badge pinned to his wide lapel read, "Texas Ranger."

Copyright © 2006 by Linda Lael Miller.


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