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Texas-Sized Trouble (Wrangler's Creek #4)
Author:Delores Fossen

Texas-Sized Trouble (Wrangler's Creek #4)

Delores Fossen



CHAPTER ONE

“YOU’VE GOT A curse on you, Lawson Granger,” the woman said the moment that Lawson stepped from his pickup. “A curse the size of elephant balls.”

That probably wasn’t something most men heard in their entire lifetimes, but most men didn’t live in Wrangler’s Creek, Texas, where the occurrence was slightly higher. Lawson had lost count, but he figured this was his third or fourth curse in the past year.

It was the first for the elephant balls’ part though.

“Good morning, Vita,” Lawson greeted her, tipping his Stetson. His upbringing forced him to be polite to his elders even if this particular elder fell into the batshit crazy category.

Vita Banchini.

The town’s resident fortune teller–weirdo who lived just up the road from the Granger Ranch, which Lawson helped run. Other towns had likely skipped the pleasure of having such a colorful character who sold love potions, chanted and foretold curses. Heck, most towns probably didn’t have anyone who used the word foretold, but it was a staple in Vita’s vocabulary.

“Did you put the curse on me, or was it somebody else’s doing?” he asked. He didn’t wait around for the answer though. Lawson hoisted his brand-spanking-new saddle from the truck seat and started for the barn.

“Not me. I don’t do curses unless someone’s wronged me or mine.” Vita followed him, of course, and she was wearing enough beads and bangles that she sounded like she was hauling Jacob Marley’s chains. “And by somebody else, are you talking about the woman whose heart you broke into a million little bitty pieces?”

There was no good answer to that since anything he said would give Vita unnecessary details about his ex, Darby Rester. So, Lawson just went with confirming it. “Yep, that’s who I’m talking about.”

“Hmmp,” Vita snarled.

For something that wasn’t even a real word, it had some stank attached to it. But then, the only person in town who’d thought it was a good idea for him to break up with Darby had been Lawson.

“Well, it wasn’t Darby,” Vita said. “It’s the fates who did this one. I know I get the signs wrong sometimes—”

“The last time you said I was going to need stitches on my right butt cheek. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.”

“You’re sure?”

He gave her a flat look. “I’m sure.”

She plowed her fingers through her tangled mess of sugar-white hair and scratched her head. “Well, I must have misread the signs. But I didn’t misread these. They were foretold to me in a dream.”

Vita had jumped pretty quickly into “foretold” territory, so in her mind this must have been a serious matter. A lot of things in her mind were probably off-kilter.

Lawson kept walking, nodding a morning greeting to a couple of the ranch hands who worked for him and his cousin Garrett. It was a good fifty yards from the main house where Lawson had parked to the tack room in the barn where he was heading, but he doubted the little walk in the muggy ninety-five-degree heat would stop Vita from following him.

It didn’t.

“The curse involves horns,” Vita continued, keeping up with him.

Lawson couldn’t even muster up a sound of surprise. They were on a large Texas cattle ranch where horns were plentiful. If that was the gist of the foretold stuff, then he’d been living under a curse since he’d started working here when he turned eighteen. But if so, it was good juju, too, because being a cowboy was the only thing he’d ever wanted to do.

“Lawson?” someone called out. Jake Walter, one of their top hands. He was on a corral fence and was about to get in with a new cutting horse they were training. “Garrett’s looking for you. He said it’s important.”

“It might have something to do with the curse,” Vita concluded.

Not in a million years. More likely it was about quarterly taxes or expenses. “Did Garrett tell you what it was about?” Lawson asked Jake.

The ranch hand shrugged. “Nope, but he said you should see him before you go to the guesthouse.”

Lawson frowned. He had a master key to all the buildings on the ranch, including the guesthouse. But since he didn’t normally have a reason to go in there, it was a strange comment. It went along with the strange woman who was still trailing along beside him.

“Anything else on this curse?” he asked Vita. Best to finish this conversation so she could leave.

“Concussion and babies,” she readily answered.

Lawson stopped, turned to her and frowned. “Are babies going to get concussions?” He reminded himself there was only a remote possibility of that, but it did trouble him because his cousin Sophie had twins who were toddling all over the place.

Vita huffed as if that was the dumbest question in the history of dumb questions. Lawson huffed as if her huff was the dumbest sound in the history of dumb sounds.

“They’re separate things,” she said. “Just like the horns. The final part of the curse is water.”

He started walking again. Since the ranch was near the creek and it’d been raining on and off for two days, water was a given. Still, it gave him a split second of concern. He was having a house built close to that very creek, and it was possible the land could flood. Of course, if that happened, it’d have nothing to do with a curse, but Vita would likely take credit for the fates foretelling it.

“Horns, concussions, babies and water,” Lawson repeated. “Sounds as if the fates had a little too much time on their hands when it came to me. Four things instead of just the butt stitches.”

She wagged her bony finger at him. “Don’t sass the fates, young man. And I only said concussion as in one, not multiple. But I am sorry to be the bearer of such bad news. If you need any soothing potions or such, just let me know.”

Lawson made a grunt of agreement, knowing there was nothing that could make him turn to Vita for that, but he did manage a polite goodbye and thank you before she scurried away toward her bicycle. It was her standard mode of transportation, and she’d “parked” it in the side yard.

He dropped off the saddle in the tack room so he could head to the house to find Garrett. Then he could go over the schedule and take care of some paperwork. Not his favorite part of the day, but later he’d be able to work in a ride to see how the new herd was doing. And check on the progress of his house. The sooner the construction was done, the sooner he could get out of his place in town and move closer to the ranch.