Falling for the Billionaire Rancher (Steamy Small Town Romances #9) by Marian Tee

Prologue





Doug Powell was living the life. He had a wife he adored, two children whose smiles brightened his days, and a job that he wouldn't trade for anything in the world. As a former soldier, Doug's main desire after being honorably discharged was to be as far away as possible from the horror and violence of war, and one certainly couldn't get any further than the remote mountaintop town of Hartland, Wyoming.

Everything was peaceful and simple here. Breakfast at Redwood Cafe or McDonald's, maybe borrow a horse from the local stables for an outdoor date with his wife, and there was always the weekend fair to look forward to or a thirty-minute drive to Laramie so he could treat his kids to the latest Marvel flick.

As for his job...there wasn't much to do, really. Doug was one of the dozen or so police officers who reported directly to the town's police chief, and in the two years he had been working in Hartland, the most "action" he had seen was having to warn residents about a possible avalanche. That was basically it. On paper.

Off-record, however...

Like everyone else making up the town's permanent workforce, Doug had one very important "secret" duty, and it was to protect Hartland's biggest secret at all costs. While the whole world might see Hartland as nothing but an inconsequential speck on the map, the town's residents actually consisted of billionaires, sheikhs, and heiresses in disguise.

Doug's own boss was part of this rarefied group, never mind if the ex-soldier had yet to see Aidan Blackwood act the part. The guy worked hard as the rest of them, and Doug had yet to see the younger man act entitled. Not a once, and come to think of it, he couldn't even remember a single instance that Blackwood had asked any of the staff to make him a cup of coffee.

Honestly, if Doug's daughter happened to be eighteen rather than eight, he would've happily started matchmaking and prayed to the heavens that his little girl would become his boss's bride.

Point was, Hartland's police chief was the real deal, no matter what way one looked at it. Blackwood had the smarts and the money, and the man was even ludicrously attractive to boot. But because most girls these days were after money and fame...

Doug turned his attention back to his boss, who at this moment looked spectacularly handsome...all on his lonesome. Tonight was a rather special night in Hartland, and Doug, along with all the other cops, were stationed discreetly around the small church where the town's young librarian was marrying the local florist.

Most people would probably think the amount of incognito security on-site was overkill, but those same people likely didn't know the florist was another Blackwood, and thus a billionaire in his own right as well.

Ethan was the youngest of three brothers, and his bride Anah had only been sixteen when she first fell in love with him. More importantly, Anah had no idea Ethan was a billionaire at the start, and the same could also be said when Thornton Blackwood's now-wife Blake had started working for him as his assistant.

The odds of Aidan finding himself a woman who would be just as good-hearted as his sisters-in-law were unfavorable at best, and Doug had a feeling it was because of this his boss was looking rather brooding of late. It was more luck than anything else that Ethan and Thornton had found their brides, but what were the chances of the very same lightning striking thrice for the remaining Blackwood bachelor?

Doug was not the type to pray, but he ended up doing just that as he heard the priest inside the small church ask everyone to bow their heads and offer up their prayers and intentions. It was thanks to the Blackwood family that Doug now had a happy and comfortable life, and he could only hope that one day, Aidan Blackwood would have his turn to experience domestic bliss.

Doug prayed that the younger man would soon find his match, which he imagined was likely to be some country lass who wouldn't mind Hartland's slow pace of living. Or maybe some kind of shy, bookish introvert and thus likely to find the town's quiet days an inspiration to write poetry or something.

My boss is in his thirties, Doug reasoned to God, so he probably wouldn't be choosy at this point. Aidan Blackwood would only likely draw the line on marrying a horrible, gold-digging bitch. Or anyone inexcusably stupid. And lazy. And vain, like those girls that did all sorts of crazy things on that website called...Tic Tac Toe, was it?

A girl with a taste for simpler living, Doug decided. That should be the perfect match for his boss, and with God's grace, Aidan Blackwood should be getting hitched within the year.