It’s here! Your wait is over! Book Eight of the Culpepper Cowboys, Veterinarian’s Vixen, is here! Come join me on this fun romp of misunderstandings and mayhem. There may even be a port-a-potty involved. 😉 Ready to get started? Here’s a bit of Chapter One…
On paper, Doc O’Donnell’s world was just about perfect. His large animal veterinary business in Culpepper, Wyoming was booming. Led by his good friends, the Culpepper brothers and top-notch trainer, Ryan Bassett, he was gaining a stellar reputation as the region’s foremost expert in equine medicine and rehabilitation. His services were in demand through Wyoming and all the way down to Colorado and out to Utah, even Idaho. Better still, his big brother, Sly O’Donnell, had recently moved into town—for reasons Doc didn’t entirely understand. The two of them drove out to the Culpepper ranch together, catching up on old times. It was great to have his big bro by his side once more, and there were hints that their younger brother, Arch, might come out for the Fourth of July in a couple of weeks.
But as happy as that made him, there was still a gaping hole in Doc’s life…right about where his heart was. A hole that a certain spunky reporter had left him with a few months ago when she left town and disappeared from his life.
“So my plan is for the Culpepper Stakes to become the area’s most prestigious horse race,” Sly rambled, looking out the passenger-side window as vast stretches of sunbaked ranchland rolled by. It was only mid-June, but already things were heating up. “The Fourth of July is a perfect time to have it each year, and we can coordinate the race with other events in town. Imagine the potential for tourists that could be created.”
“Tourists?” Doc asked, knowing it was what Sly wanted him to say so that he could talk more. In reality, his thoughts were elsewhere, imagining a pretty pair of brown eyes. Was it this hot where she was? Did she miss him as much as he missed her?
“Absolutely. Culpepper is lagging way behind economically.” Sly continued his speech, in his element. “Ranching and wind farming can only take a place so far. I would love to do for Culpepper what I did for Ulrich, California.”
Doc sent him a wary sidelong glance, then went back to watching the road as he drove. “What did you do for Ulrich?”
The grin Sly gave him was half the reason he’d been given his nickname. “I took a backwards, sleepy mountain town, brought in a few boutique businesses, invested in camping facilities, and made it one of the finest family outdoor adventure resorts in Northern California.”
“So you want to make Culpepper into a resort destination?” Doc doubted the residents would go for that. He wondered what a certain Miss Nancy Tilson would think.
Sly shrugged. “Not necessarily, but we can do something with the town.”
“Sure. Why not? The O’Donnell family has always gotten more done when we work together.”
“I’ll be sure to tell Arch and Elvie you said that,” Doc laughed. He slowed down to make the turn onto the Culpepper ranch.
Sly sat up, staring at Culpepper Confectionary Creations, the bakery that had recently been started by Grace Wells, Patience Bassett, and Felicity Quinlan, the sister and cousins of the Culpepper wives. “That’s an awful lot of cars parked in front of a bakery that’s all the way out here and not in the center of town,” he said.
Doc snuck a peek, then kept driving. “That’s nothing. You should see them around morning coffee time.”
“Really?” Sly turned to him and Doc nodded. Sly whistled. “See, this is exactly the kind of enterprise I intend to build up. Culpepper needs more small businesses like that, businesses that can be destinations in themselves. We can make something of this town.”
Doc thought about arguing that Culpepper already was something to the people who lived there, but he wasn’t in the mood to get into that debate. Sly always won debates. Always. Besides, thinking about the Culpepper family only made that hole in his chest yawn wider. They all seemed to be getting married, lickety-split. In fact, the Culpepper boys had started a trend. Nobody seemed to want to wait to get married anymore. On-the-spot weddings were becoming a fad that was spreading. In fact, if Nancy was here right now, he suspected he’d drop to one knee without a second thought.
“You should start a wedding chapel, like Vegas,” Doc suggested bumping along the drive that led out to the stable. “I’m sure Brother Anthony would love dressing up as Elvis to marry people.”
Sly laughed. “I can see it now.”
That was the other thing that had surprised Doc since Sly showed up in town. His big brother had started attending church. Although as often as not, Brother Anthony’s services were more like going to the circus than a solemn worship ceremony. Still, it didn’t fit with everything Doc knew about his brother.
Doc pulled his truck into a parking spot beside the stable.
Sly rubbed his chin. “You know, I don’t think there’s any waiting period in Wyoming. We actually could build a wedding chapel in Culpepper. Or maybe an entire wedding complex with different themed spaces for different kinds of wedding.” He chuckled. “I can see it now. The medieval chapel, the outer space chapel, the equestrian chapel, the fairy-tale chapel, the superhero chapel, the sexy chapel. Now that would be a draw!”
Doc cut the engine and shook his head. “Talk to Karlan Culpepper about passing ordinances so you can build you wedding wonderland.”
He opened the door and slipped out. Sly got out on his side, and as he walked around the front of the truck, his expression was lit up with ideas. He spread his arms wide and said, “Wedding Wonderland! I can see it now.”
Doc snorted and walked on to the stable. “Mom dropped you on your head when you were a baby, didn’t she?”
Sly caught up and thumped him on the back. “Yeah. Right into a pile of money.”