Charming the Cowboy (Grape Seed Falls Romance Book 3)(10)

By: Liz Isaacson


Heather whooped, immediately followed by a loud groan. “Yeah, okay. Ribs don’t like laughing.” She shifted, obviously trying to find a more comfortable position. Settling, she volleyed her gaze between Dwayne and Levi. “Can you guys just…give me a minute?”

Levi’s phone sounded, and he focused on it. “Take all the time you need.” The text was nothing, just an acknowledgement from Sawyer. “I have to get over to my orchards.” He took the few steps to Heather’s bedside, the urge to touch her crazy and strong. He’d never felt it before, because this was Heather.

“My offer stands,” he said. “Call me later? Let me know? I can have the guest bedroom ready for you in no time flat.” In fact, he’d call his housekeeper and get it ready today, no matter what.

He didn’t wait for her to confirm. He nodded at Dwayne and got the heck out of that hospital room before he did something he couldn’t take back.

With Jessica in the house, making up the guest bed and airing out the room Levi had never used, he went out to the goat enclosure. From her position against the barn, Genie heaved herself to her feet and waddled over to him, her pregnant belly swaying with every step.

“How are you?” he asked the animal.

As if they could actually have a conversation, the white goat bleated at him. Her eyes looked clear, and Levi reached over the fence to stroke the tuft of hair on top of her head. “You’re looking better.” Maybe the medicine the vet had prescribed had done the trick this time. Or maybe his care and attention, his daily baths, and his hourly conversations had cured Genie.

Sundance poked his head out of the top half of the gate keeping him secured inside the barn. He was a huge black and white goat, and Levi had to keep him separated from the nannies, who liked to sun themselves outside. Sundance got his time outside too, but he had to take it alone and usually in the cooler mornings.

The buck yelled at him, but Levi ignored him. “Is he always like that? So demanding and rude.” He grinned at Genie and glanced around. “Where’s Whipp?”

Another nanny goat, Whiplash was past her time to bear kids, and she could usually be found asleep in the sun very nearby Genie. But this side of the enclosure was where the sun shone, and he didn’t see her.

He left Genie standing at the fence and headed toward the corner, his concern spiking. But the little brown goat was right against the barn, in the shadows, snoozing. “Whipp,” he called, and the nanny startled. She lifted her head as if to say, “What do you want?” before bleating softly and letting her head fall back to the ground.

Levi jumped over the fence and approached Whiplash with caution. “You okay?” he asked. “It’s not like you to be in the shade when it’s so sunny right over here.” Whiplash was old; maybe she was about to die. Levi’s heart constricted. He’d gotten her as his first goat when he’d returned to Hill Country. Her death would not be welcome for him.

Whipp didn’t move as Levi bent over her and put his hand on her head. Then her chest, right above where her arm connected to her body. Her heart seemed as strong as ever. Maybe she was just tired. And what did Levi know about goats anyway?

Nothing. He simply knew he liked talking to them, and seeing their crazy eyes, and listening to them chatter to each other when he came out to treat them with carrots and kale. They’d eat their alfalfa just fine, but Whipp was especially a sucker for something greener and fresher.

He determined she needed more expertise than he could give and dialed the vet on his way back to the fence. Sundance screamed and screamed behind him, and Levi headed into the peach trees that bordered his farm to get some peace and quiet.

“Brighton,” he said when the vet herself answered. “Slow day?”

“Lunch time,” she said. “Kim’s out getting sandwiches.”

Levi’s own stomach roared with hunger and he wished the veterinary secretary would bring him a sandwich too. “So Whiplash is acting weird. When can you come out?”

“Define ‘weird’.” She always made him do that, because Levi didn’t know how else to explain the odd behavior his goats had been exhibiting lately.