The Cowboy Billionaire
The Cowboy Billionaire
Hunter Garrison flashed his megawatt smile into the rearview mirror as he put the car in park and turned off the engine. He was living the American Dream. Well, maybe not exactly the American Dream. The money that should be his still wasn’t, but only because his father had put a crazy stipulation in his will that stated Hunter had to prove himself before he could get his money. Unfortunately, Hunter had no idea what that meant. As far as he was concerned, he proved himself everyday, but so far it hadn’t been whatever his father had been looking for. Still, he lacked little, and one day, the entire company would be his.
Climbing out of the car, he brushed his hands down his sleek Armani suit to extinguish any wrinkles. Though it had been pressed this morning, sometimes the trip to work was enough to create a small wrinkle or leave him with an unsightly piece of lint. He supposed with his money he could have someone drive him around, but he enjoyed being behind the wheel, feeling the leather of the steering wheel against his hands and the soft purr of the engine reverberating in his bones. Besides, if someone else drove him, he would miss seeing his name on the sign. “Spot Reserved for Hunter Garrison.” It had been a gift from the board when his father died. He would have preferred access to all the money, but having his own designated spot had its perks, especially on busy days.
Today was not one of those busy days. In fact, it was shaping up to be not only one of his better days but one of his most relaxing. He’d had no meeting scheduled until ten, so he’d rewarded himself with an extra hour of sleep. Then, his favorite Def Leppard song had been playing on his alarm clock to wake him up.
He’d bought one of those fancy AI alarm clocks for himself last Christmas. It had taken him a few hours to figure out how to set it up, but now he wondered how he had ever lived without it. After programming in his favorite songs, he simply had to tell the clock when to wake him the next morning. It then analyzed the tone of his voice and picked a suitable song for the morning. It never ceased to amaze Hunter how the song choice almost always fit his mood.
To top it all off, he’d hit no traffic lights on the way to work this morning which meant he had plenty of time to enjoy his coffee. These were the days he enjoyed the most. He always had one cup of coffee at home, just to wake him up, but it wasn’t as good as the stuff his assistant brought him. When he had time to sit and drink the good stuff peacefully at work, everything seemed to go better.
As he reached the door that led into the building, he gave himself one last glance to make sure his hair still held the effortlessly tousled look he strived for every morning. His dark brown hair was his favorite feature, and from the compliments he received on it, it was the ladies’ favorite feature on him as well. Satisfied that it hadn’t moved from its proper place, he pulled open the door and stepped into the lobby.
Hunter loved everything about this building - the sleek look, the many windows, the elegant color scheme - but the thing he loved the most was that it was his. At least in name. The board might still run the daily activities, but that was only temporary. One day, it would all be his. Until then, he enjoyed the looks of awe and jealous smiles that were flashed in his direction as he made his way up to the penthouse floor where his office resided and looked out at the beautiful city.
“Good morning, Mr. Garrison,” Brie, one of the receptionists, said as he passed her desk. She was a petite brunette with horn-rimmed glasses and a dusting of freckles. Pretty, but a little sweet for his taste. Today she wore a pink suit coat over a white blouse that reminded him of cotton candy. Though he was seeing someone on a fairly regular basis, he turned and flashed her a wink. He would never date Brie, but he loved to hear her sigh as he walked away.
“You really shouldn’t lead her on like that,” Davis, his friend said, as he fell into step beside him. Dressed in a black suit with a pale blue shirt, Davis could almost blend into the surroundings. Nothing about him stood out.
Hunter rolled his eyes and flicked a dismissive hand. “Relax, she knows I’m only flirting. It’s harmless fun, that’s all.” He punched the button for the elevator and smiled when it opened. No waiting on the elevator? It really was a good day.
Davis shook his head as he stepped inside. “Still, one day, I think that flirting is going to get you in trouble.”
Hunter liked Davis. They had been friends when they were younger, and his father had hired Davis around the time he began training Hunter. Their similarities definitely outweighed their differences, but this one difference often reared its ugly head. Hunter was outgoing and perhaps a little flirty, but Davis was more reserved. Stiff might be the word Hunter would use. Still, he wasn’t going to let Davis’s caution ruin his good day.
Hunter clapped a hand on the man’s shoulder as the doors closed and the elevator began to move. “What could happen, Davis? She knows about Brittany. It’s just a harmless crush like the one you had on Ms. Warren in eighth grade.”
Davis shook his head but said nothing more as the car came to a stop and the doors opened on their floor. Hunter took a deep breath and stepped into the expansive foyer. The elegant gold and cream colors continued through this floor, and walking it always made him feel even wealthier than he was.
He flashed Davis a goodbye wave as he continued toward his office. Val, his beautiful, curvy assistant stood outside his door wearing a tight skirt, a flowy blouse, and a large smile. Hunter was fairly certain she’d been hired more for her looks than her competence, but she had turned out to be a decent assistant and a killer coffee connoisseur.
“Good morning, Mr. Garrison. Got it just the way you like it.” The words flowed like honey from her ruby red lips, but Hunter was more interested in the coffee.
“Thanks, Val. After the ten o’clock, what’s on the docket for today?”
“You have a two o’clock to wrap up the property in Houston.”
Hunter nodded. Not a full schedule but the first meeting had the probability of running long which meant he would have little downtime. Sometimes that was good though. It made the day go quicker, and he had a date planned with Brittany tonight.
As if she were psychic, Hunter’s cell buzzed in his pocket. “I’ve got to take this,” he said to Val as he saw Brittany’s number flash across the screen. “Thanks for the coffee.”
“Hey, baby,” he said as he punched the button and held the phone to his ear. With the heel of his Scarosso shoe, he tapped his office door closed. “You still good for tonight?”
“Yes, but I bought a new dress the other day, and I don’t have a purse to go with it. I’m at Gucci right now, and they have a perfect one. Can I put it on the card?”
“Sure.” He’d been meaning to get her a little something nice for their three month anniversary anyway. Hunter wasn’t sure Brittany was the woman he wanted to marry, but she kept the boredom away for now. “Consider it my anniversary gift to you.”
He held the phone a few inches away as she squealed on the other end. “Thanks, Hunter. You’re the best. See you at seven?”
“You bet, babe. Have fun shopping.”
“I will.” The phone clicked in his ear before he had a chance to say anything more, but that was okay. He enjoyed making her happy, and he had the money to spend. Why not let her enjoy it some?
He lifted his coffee cup to his mouth and let the warm liquid glide down his throat. Yes, Val’s coffee always hit the spot.
The intercom on his phone beeped, and he glanced at his watch as he set the cup down on his desk. He still had a few minutes before his meeting, so why was Val paging him? Had his appointment arrived early?
He tapped the button and waited for the small click that let him know he was connected. “Yes, Val?”
“Sorry to bother you, sir.” There was a hesitation in her voice that he hadn’t heard just moments ago, and it caused him to sit a little straighter in his black leather chair. “But Mr. Goldman would like to see you.”
Goldman? What could he possibly want? Mr. Goldman was the head of the board and had been his father’s right-hand man, but he almost never held meetings. Instead, he played putt golf in his office and delegated the rest of the duties.
Though Hunter rarely got nervous, he felt his stomach twist slightly. Goldman was the only one who could give Hunter orders though he seldom did. “Did he say why?”
“Okay, I’ll be right there.” Hunter clicked off the intercom, took one more sip of his coffee, and lamented the fact it would probably be cold before he could return to it. However, taking it into a meeting with Mr. Goldman wasn’t an option either.
“Val, if my appointment arrives, will you ask them to wait?” he asked when he reached Val’s desk.
She issued a swift nod. “Of course.”
As Hunter continued toward Goldman’s office, his anxiety grew. The last time he’d met with Goldman had been just after his father died. When Goldman had told him the company wouldn’t truly be his until he met his father’s stipulation. Goldman was the only one who knew what the stipulation was, but he’d refused to even give Hunter a hint. What could the man possibly want?
Goldman’s secretary glanced up as he pushed open the door. She was fierce and nearly as old as Goldman. In fact, she had been with the company for as long as Hunter could remember. Today, her white hair was pulled back in a severe bun which did nothing to alleviate the wrinkles on her face.
“Ah, Mr. Garrison, you made it. Mr. Goldman is waiting for you.”
She gestured to the closed office door with a swift flick of her wrist but no calming smile. He wasn’t sure the woman even remembered how to smile. True as it might be, that thought did nothing to tame the anxiety that now seemed to be clawing out of his stomach and up his throat. Though his collar was not tight - he hated ties and only wore them at meetings - he pulled at it to give his neck more air. As he pushed open the office door, he wracked his mind for anything he could have done wrong. He had secured good deals and brought in even more money to the firm. Plus, Val double checked everything he sent off to make sure it was spotless. She hadn’t failed him yet.
“You wanted to see me, sir?”
“Shut the door behind you,” Goldman said, without looking up from his desk.
Memories of visits to the principal’s office in elementary school flooded Hunter’s mind. He had always been a good kid until the year his mother left. Then, he’d become very familiar with the bland office that sat just beyond the cafeteria.
Hunter shut the door, and the soft click finally garnered Goldman’s full attention. He set down his pen, pushed up his small wire-framed glasses, and then folded his hands together on the table. “Mr. Garrison, it has come to my attention that you have a way with the women.”
The anxiety in his stomach eased, and he shrugged, an easy-going smile gracing his face. “I guess some people could see it that way. I certainly enjoy striking up conversations and seeing them smile.”
Goldman lifted an eyebrow as if he either didn’t believe Hunter or didn’t understand his nonchalance. “I see. Well, I have an assignment for you.”
Hunter’s smile faltered. An assignment? What did that mean? “What kind of assignment?” He sat a little straighter in his chair.
Mr. Goldman’s face remained emotionless. “We wish to acquire some land in Soda Spurs.”
“Soda Spurs? What do we want land there for? Where even is it?” Hunter had heard the name, but he couldn’t place it on a map.
Goldman steepled his hands and tapped his fingertips together. “Your father always wanted to open a dude ranch resort in Texas.”
A dude ranch? Hunter wasn’t even sure what that entailed, but the request sounded like his late father. Though they had been close when Hunter’s mom first left, his father had soon thrown himself into work and the desire to earn money. The relationship between them had suffered, and as he grew older, his father had become even more eccentric, buying up properties that made no sense and waxing about lofty endeavors like a dude ranch when no one in the company had any knowledge of how to run one. Hunter, on the other hand, preferred to acquire businesses that would increase their profit or land they could build luxury resorts on. “I don’t know what we would do with a dude ranch, but why don’t we just purchase the land? We’re bound to have the money.”
Mr. Goldman sat back and stared at Hunter. Time seemed to stretch out and Hunter felt like an item at an auction bid with the way Goldman studied him. Finally, the man spoke. “We have the money, but there is a woman who refuses to sell. Since you appear to get along well with the ladies, I thought perhaps you could convince her.”
Hunter leaned back in his chair and blinked as he tried to process the information. “So, you want me to waltz into town and what? Talk the company up? Flirt with the woman? What?”
Goldman’s head tilted down in a slight nod. “Whatever it takes. You have suggested you can be convincing, now prove it.”
Hunter nodded, excited at the thought of a challenge. “What do we know about this woman?”
Goldman turned to his computer and tapped a few buttons. “Her name is Daisy Keller. It appears the farm has been in the Keller family for years, so there must be some sentimental reason she doesn’t want to sell.”
Hunter groaned inwardly. Sentimental reasons were the hardest to overcome. “Okay, where exactly is Soda Spurs?”
A slight smile spread across Goldman’s face. “It’s a few hours from here. So, you think you can do it?”
“Of course I can. Just don’t make me manage the dude ranch. I don’t like small towns, and I have no desire to be there any longer than necessary.”
Goldman nodded. “You leave this afternoon.”
This afternoon? Hunter bit the inside of his lip. He had a date with Brittany tonight, and she would not be happy if he canceled.
“Is that a problem?” Godman asked as if sensing Hunter’s hesitation.
“I had a date planned, but I’m sure I can make it up to her.”
“Just tell her this was your father’s last wish.”
A small snort escaped Hunter’s lips. “Somehow, I doubt she’ll care much about that.” Brittany hadn’t seemed to care about his father at all, only the money that Hunter stood to inherit.
“Well, then buy her a gift when you return. There’s an increase in your monthly draw for a job well done.”
Hunter didn’t need an increase. Everything he wanted was at his fingertips, but there was no reason to turn down extra money. Besides, he had been fighting a feeling of boredom recently. He loved his life, but it was a little monotonous. This might be just the thing he’d been looking for even though hanging out in a small town sounded about as appealing as caulking a bathroom. Not that he’d ever done that either, but it sounded boring.
“I’ll make it happen, sir. You can count on me.”
After another nod from Goldman, Hunter returned to his office.
“Is everything okay?” Val asked, worry etched into her facial features.
“It is, but I’m going to be away for a few days.” He didn’t think he would need much more time than that. Dealing with women was his specialty. “Think you can handle things around here?”
She quirked an eyebrow at him but assured him that she could. With that settled, Hunter entered his office and gathered his things. He needed to pack and let Brittany know he would have to reschedule their date for the night. She wouldn’t be pleased, but perhaps the purse she’d purchased today would be enough to soothe her over until he got back.
Can a small town's charm melt a billionaire's heart?
Hunter Garrison loves his life. He has a car he enjoys, a job he likes, and a huge apartment, but something is missing in his life. When he is tasked with traveling to a small town in order to get a woman to sell her land, annoyance is his first reaction. However, Daisy and her family show him a side of life he hasn't experienced in a long time.
Daisy Keller has one focus - to keep her ranch afloat, but money is running short. A company has offered to buy her land, but she doesn't want to sell. When Hunter shows up on her doorstep, she isn't sure she can trust him, but with his offer to compensate her just for learning what she does, can she afford to turn him away?
What happens if she finds out he isn't who he says he is?
Fans of Susan May Warren, Melissa McClone, and Colleen Coble will love this inspirational romance from best-selling author Lorana Hoopes. Grab your copy today!
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