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Remembering the Cowboy - Signed Paperback

Remembering the Cowboy - Signed Paperback

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They have unfinished business. She just can’t remember what it is.

Blackwater Ranch series book 1.

Main Tropes

  • Second Chance Romance
  • Friends to More
  • Amnesia Romance


They have unfinished business. She just can’t remember what it is.

Camille Vanderbilt is headed back home to Wyoming with one goal: Find her old best friend and give him a piece of her mind for ghosting her six years ago. She won’t let anyone stand in her way...until a deer runs into the road and causes her to wreck and forget almost everything.

Noah Harding lives a simple life as a firefighter and rancher until Camille crashes back into his life. When a call at the fire station sends him to save his old best friend’s life, he thinks he might get a second chance until her influential stepdad gives a reminder that his old threats still stand.

When Camille runs into Noah in town, she knows he’s important to her, but her memories are still fuzzy.

Noah is hesitant to get close to her when it means having to sacrifice everything to be with her.

She thinks it’s a new beginning, but he knows it shouldn’t have ever ended.

When the threats are carried out, who will be left hurting at Blackwater Ranch?

Remembering the Cowboy is the first book in the Christian Blackwater Ranch series.

Read Chapter One

Camille Vanderbilt was back in Wyoming on a mission: find Noah Harding.

She tapped her heel against the floorboard of her Camry as she drove. The closer she got to Blackwater, the closer she got to the place that would always be her home. She’d stayed away far too long this time, and she wasn’t leaving again without talking to the man who used to be her best friend.

Camille arched her back. The drive from Portland was long, but she’d take a road trip over flying any day. Those landing strips were way too short for her taste. Safer to keep her feet on the ground.

Speaking of where her feet belonged, a snow-covered field dominated the landscape to her left, and she knew it would be a sprawling sea of green in summer. The forest to her right was a maze of brown trunks and branches shrouded in white.

A summer visit was definitely in order. She itched to feel the grass beneath her feet. The snow would be crunchy and frigid right now, but that was home. To love Wyoming, you had to endure the frigid winters to get to the perfect summers.

Camille always got antsy on the drive home. Eager to be back in the valley she loved, she’d gotten up and ready before dawn. The sun coming up over the Grand Tetons was a sight everyone should see at least once in their life. When she found herself on the western side of the iconic range, she took the chance to soak up the beautiful sight.

Her favorite tumbler, the one with the purple owl that read, “I don’t give a hoot,” kept her supplied with coffee. Rolling the window down half an inch, she breathed in the brisk air that filled her senses with the pine and mountains of home. The wind picked up her long chocolate-brown hair and twirled it into knots, but she didn’t care. There wasn’t a place on God’s green earth that was better than Blackwater. She might live in the city now, but she was a country girl at heart.

A loud ring filled her car, startling her just as a robotic booming voice said, “Incoming call from Jenny Morris.”

Camille jammed the button on her steering wheel to accept the call and stop the yelling. She needed to figure out how to adjust the volume on her Bluetooth. Apparently, turning the volume dial wasn’t the answer. That would be too easy.

“Hey, Jen. Guess where I am,” Camille answered with her usual pep.

“You’d better be close. I can’t wait to see you!” Jenny was Camille’s cousin, but they’d always been friends above all. They’d even been roommates in college.

“I’m only a few miles out. I have some things to take care of before I meet you and Mom at The Basket Case for lunch.” This wasn’t the first time Camille had tried to track down Noah Harding, and she wasn’t giving up this time.

Jenny huffed. “Let me guess. It has something to do with Noah.”

Camille’s voice rose in volume and pitch. “Well, he couldn’t have just disappeared, Jen!” Although, Camille sometimes thought he had. It’d been six years since she’d seen him, and she’d been back in Blackwater for holidays a dozen times since then with no sight or smell of him.

“He’s here. He just doesn’t want to be found.”

That answer didn’t satisfy Camille Vanderbilt. “Ready or not, here I come,” she taunted.

Jenny sighed. “I’m sure he has his reasons. We both know he wouldn’t be avoiding you if there wasn’t a really good reason. That man always thought you hung the moon.”

Camille frowned. She hated frowning. It felt wrong. “If he did, he wouldn’t be playing hide-and-seek with me.”

Oh, she’d find Noah this time. She could feel it. Someone had to have an idea about where her best friend was hiding out.

Ex-best friend, she reminded herself. Noah wasn’t her friend anymore.

Jenny’s voice now held a tone of worry. “I hope you find him. You know I do. I just hope you find what you’re looking for and not something worse.”

“What does that mean?” Camille asked. “Stop being cryptic.”

“I’m not. I just care about you. I don’t know why he cut things off, but whatever it is, I don’t think it can be good.”

Camille had spent too much time wondering the same thing. She’d once felt certain that nothing could keep Noah from her. Since things changed six years ago, she hadn’t stopped wondering what his reason could be. He’d stopped answering her phone calls and texts without warning.

“I’ll see you later. Don’t worry about me. I’m made of more spice than sugar.”

Jenny’s upbeat tone was back. “I love you, Millie.”

“Love you too.”

Camille disconnected the call and sucked in a deep breath. She could be tough. Whatever she found out about Noah, she could handle it.

She didn’t know if she’d thump him in the forehead or kiss him when she found him, but she wasn’t leaving this time until she had a heart-to-heart with the one who broke hers.

How dare he ghost her! They’d been best friends since middle school, and when things had finally turned into something more with him, he’d bailed! Sure, she’d been moving off to college, but she’d thought they were stronger than distance. They’d only talked about it a million times.

She relived that awful day over and over in her mind. How could she ever forget it? How could she get past it?

How could he have broken up with her? No, he hadn’t even given her that much closure. This was exactly what she’d hoped to avoid by staying “friends” instead of giving in to the “more” they both wanted to be all throughout high school. She hadn’t wanted to lose him—her best friend.

Now look what happened. She’d lived a blissful existence for a single week during the summer after high school graduation just to watch it crash and burn.

Camille had promised her younger self she wouldn’t be one of those vapid women who couldn’t think of anything except a man, but no one had warned her about Noah Harding and unrequited love.

Sure, she’d dated men in college and after, but it was hard not to compare when she’d known a love like the one she and Noah had shared.

Yep, she decided to thump him really hard between the eyes when she found him. Maybe she’d even kick him in the shin for good measure. She loved him with all her heart, but she’d been mad at him for years, and her anger needed an outlet.

Waylon Jennings crooned the slow words of “Amanda” on the golden oldies station Camille listened to every time she visited home. If fate should have made Amanda a gentleman’s wife, Camille wanted to put in her bid for a rancher’s wife. The song was like a memory. It was all she had left—memories.

She wasn’t even sure Noah was still working on his family ranch. He’d always wanted to be a firefighter. During her last visit home, she’d stopped by the ranch and tried to coax some information from his mama, but she was tight-lipped, keeping the subject always on Camille.

She wouldn’t be deterred this time. She was going to march right up to Anita Harding’s doorstep, and she wasn’t leaving until she had some answers. Camille might even get an oatmeal raisin cookie if she was lucky.

She had to have hope. Maybe the Lord was making her wait for a reason. She’d have to trust it was a good one.

She passed a small, white church and wondered if she’d see him at the service. Did he even go to the same church anymore? There weren’t that many options for community worship on this side of town.

Her parents had attended somewhere else closer to the town of Cody, but she’d always gone to services with Noah. Camille and Noah had been inseparable once. Now, everything just reminded her of him—a song they’d danced to, his favorite shade of nail polish she wore, horses grazing in a field.

And Colorado. Always Colorado.

They’d made a quirky pair back then. He drew the lines and she crossed them. Of course, everyone in town had assumed the opposite. Noah was tall, dark, and handsome with broad shoulders that assured him a few suspicious side glances from the townsfolk.

On the other hand, Camille was a Vanderbilt and could do no wrong. She supposed people overlooked her antics, since her father and his ancestors built half the town.

He wasn’t her biological father. Her dad died just a few weeks after her eighth birthday, and by the time

Camille was ten years old, her mom had married Nathan Vanderbilt, who had adopted her soon after. Camille had been happy at the time. Her stepdad accepted her wholeheartedly and considered her one of the elite Vanderbilts. Her innocent heart hadn’t understood the full weight of the name. Camille often wondered if Nathan would have been so welcoming of her if she’d refused to take his last name.

Camille was only ten miles from home when another call rang through the car’s Bluetooth. Good grief, it was loud. It was as if her mother had a tracker on her.

She rolled the window up and answered. “Hey, Mom. Did you hear me coming?”

Bonnie Vanderbilt had a heart of gold, but she’d always called Camille her greatest treasure. “Just checking on you. I assumed you’d get an early start on your drive.”

Camille had driven halfway home yesterday and stopped in Idaho for the night. “I left before dawn. I’ll be there in a few hours. I have some things I need to do in town first.”

“How’s the drive? Are you being cautious?”

Camille fought to contain her grin. Being away from Noah hadn’t been all bad these years. She’d learned to drive at least. There’d been no reason to learn when Noah drove her everywhere she wanted to go in his old pickup truck. She might have started her car a handful of times in those years.

She hadn’t gotten her license until she was eighteen when Nathan had laid down the law. He assured her she’d need to drive when she moved away to Oregon for law school. During college, her cousin and roommate, Jenny, helped her navigate the rules of the road.

“This isn’t my first rodeo, Mom. I drive home at least once a year.”

“Okay, sweetie. Are you sure everything is going to be okay at work if you take this much time off?”

Of course, her parents would always worry about her job above all else. Nathan had secured her position at Parker and Lions long before she’d attained her law license. Appearances were everything to the Vanderbilts.

“They’ll survive.”

Camille really didn’t care how the firm held up in her absence. She was tired of corporate sticks barking orders at her as if she were nothing more than the dirt beneath their wingtip shoes.

If she’d followed her heart and gone into family law, then she would care. Those were real people who needed help. Not the corporate lackeys she worked for. Camille wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, but her current job left her feeling sick and hollow.

“Well, if you’re sure it’s all right. We don’t want you upsetting the higher-ups.”

“I know, Mom.” The reply was curt but not disrespectful.

“Jenny said she’d meet us at the restaurant at eleven. After lunch, we can walk to some of the boutique shops in town.”

Tomorrow was Jenny’s birthday and the main reason for Camille’s trip home. Christmas was next weekend, and the timing had prompted her to extend her stay in Wyoming for a full two weeks. She hadn’t been home for more than a weekend in years. Not since before she started the soul-sucking job at Parker and Lions.

“Sounds perfect. I miss y’all like crazy.”

Camille’s mother’s voice was sweet as always. “I know you do, dear. I’m so glad you had Jenny with you during college out on the coast. I worried about you…”

Her mother’s sentence trailed off. They both knew her concern arose from Camille’s lack of friends. Camille had attached herself to two people throughout middle school and high school—Noah and Jenny. They were all she ever needed, but Camille’s mother could never understand her aversion to networking.

“I held up fine.” Camille’s words held her usual pep and assurance, but they felt hollow as they left her lips. She didn’t have one friend she could name in Portland since Jenny left, and she’d been living there for years.

“I know, sweetie. Just get on home, and we’ll—”

A bulking form dove from the tree line to Camille’s right, and her chest constricted just as the deer crashed into the passenger side of her car, sending glass flying. Camille tensed from the impact and her foot slid from the accelerator as her shoulders lifted to her ears. She grabbed for the wheel, but the car was moving erratically, and she couldn’t tell which way was straight.

Before she could right her vehicle, an oncoming truck crashed into her car on the passenger side and Camille’s world went black.

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