Cowgirl Makes Three / Her Secret Rival. Myrna Mackenzie

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Cowgirl Makes Three / Her Secret Rival - Myrna Mackenzie

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      Cowgirl Makes Three


      Myrna Mackenzie

      Her Secret Rival


      Abby Gaines

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      MILLS & BOON

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      Cowgirl Makes Three


Myrna Mackenzie

      MYRNA MACKENZIE grew up not having a clue what she wanted to be—she hadn’t been born a princess, the one job she thought she might like because of the steady flow of pretty dresses and crowns—but she knew that she loved stories and happy endings, so falling into life as a romance writer was pretty much inevitable. An award-winning author with over thirty-five novels written, Myrna was born in a small town in Dunklin County, Missouri, grew up just outside Chicago, and now divides her time between two lakes in Chicago and Wisconsin—both very different and both very beautiful. She adores the internet (which still seems magical after all these years), loves coffee, hiking, attempting gardening (without much success), cooking and knitting. Readers (and other potential gardeners, cooks, knitters, writers, etc.) can visit Myrna online at www.myrnamackenzie. com, or write to her at PO Box 225, La Grange, IL 60525, USA.

      To the ladies of The Daisy Morris Nutrition and Activity Center in Campbell, Missouri, my home town.

      This one’s for you!

      Dear Reader,

      A runway model and a cowboy? How is that going to work? I thought, when Ivy Seacrest and Noah Ballenger walked into my imagination.


       Tall, thin and ethereal, almost fragile-looking. A strong Montana wind would surely blow her over.

       Her face has launched a thousand products.

       She knows about make-up and hair, and she likes cute little scarves and belts that don’t belong anywhere near a ranch.


       A man born to roam the land.

       He’s big and rugged and not always careful about what he says.

       He knows about horses and hay and how to rope a steer, and he doesn’t get into town too often…by choice.

      These two are going to be trouble, I thought. How am I ever going to get them to hook up or even get along for more than five minutes?

      Then things got worse. Ivy, I found out, couldn’t look at Noah’s child without having her heart rip in two. Noah couldn’t stand the fact that anyone would shy away from his baby. What was more, Ivy, it seemed, had a sassy mouth on her, and Noah wasn’t used to that! Really, these two gave me fits…right up until the day they stopped…and made my heart melt.

      Welcome to the runway…and the ranch. It’s going to get warm in here—in the best way possible. I hope you enjoy the show.

      Best wishes,

       Myrna Mackenzie


      IVY SEACREST STRUGGLED to keep her chin high and her backbone straight. She forced herself to stare directly at Melanie Pressman. “Are you sure you don’t have any openings at the diner? I’m not afraid of hard work.”

      Melanie’s smile was small and condescending. “Afraid not. I’d like to do something for an old…friend, but I just don’t have a thing.”

      Right. Ivy and Melanie had never been friends. They’d never been anything, even when Ivy had been living here in Tallula, Montana, ten years ago.

      Given the situation, Ivy knew the smart thing to do was hold on to the few shreds of pride she still retained after these past few days of begging for a job and just walk away. Melanie wasn’t going to help her any more than anyone else had. But her situation was desperate enough that Ivy had to try one more time. Looking around to see what menial position she could volunteer for, she opened her mouth.

      The bell over the door jingled as Melanie’s portly husband, Bob, entered the diner. He smiled. “Hey, Ivy. I heard you were back in town. You staying for a while?”

      Ivy nodded even though she wasn’t planning on staying any longer than she had to. She turned back to face Melanie, but even the small smile was missing from the woman’s face now. Ivy could practically feel the cold blowing off the woman. It had been that way with almost every married woman in town. As if they thought she had come here expressly to lead their husbands down the path of sin.

      “I could clean,” she told Melanie, knowing that even that was futile now. Melanie had the look of a woman out to protect her territory.

      “I told you no,” Melanie said. “I don’t have any jobs open at all. Nobody here in town does.”

      Which came as no surprise. This had been Ivy’s last chance, and she wouldn’t even have tried it, knowing how slim her odds were, if she hadn’t needed the money so badly.

      She turned to leave.

      “Nobody in town, I guess,” Bob said, “but I heard that Noah Ballenger was looking to hire a ranch hand.”

      Even though Ivy’s back was turned, she heard Melanie’s hiss behind her. “Ivy’s a fashion model. Don’t you know that? She doesn’t hang out with ranchers and people like us anymore. She doesn’t do ranch chores. Things have changed.”

      They certainly had, Ivy thought as she stalked toward the door. Her world had come tumbling down. She’d lost everything that mattered. The pain and the memories threatened to make her stumble, but somehow she stayed on her feet.

      “I’ll try that. Thank you, Bob,” she managed to say.

      “Stupid man. Noah’s not going to hire her, and he’s not going to thank you, Bob,” Melanie said as Ivy left the diner.

      Ivy knew that both of those statements were probably true.

      Too bad I can’t afford to care, she thought as she headed down the road that led to Noah Ballenger’s ranch.

      Chapter One

      NOAH BALLENGER SQUEEZED the telephone receiver so hard it felt as if it might break in his hand. “What do you mean Ivy Seacrest is on her way over here to apply for a job as a ranch hand? Because you told her I was hiring? Well…untell her. You should know that I can’t hire her. She doesn’t belong here, and I don’t have anything that a woman like her could actually do. I don’t care that she was raised in Tallula. She was a princess when she lived here and she’s been an international model for ten years. Whatever she

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