Dakota Hearts Book 7
His Dakota Heart
How do you say goodbye to a love when it had no ending? Gray McKinnon has spent two years struggling with moving on when the woman he loved suffered an accident that left her in a coma and no hope of recovery. Everyone urged Gray to move on. He's had plenty of offers to help him mend his broken heart on and off the rodeo circuit. But moving on is easier said than done when your heart belongs to someone else. At least, he thinks so until he sees Nina Hendrix again.
Nina couldn't help falling in love with her big sister's cowboy any more than she could bring her sister, Jen, back from her coma. She's kept her distance from Gray out of respect for her sister. But when her family decides to move Jen to another medical facility a few states away, she can't help but reach out to Gray, even though she has no illusions that he could love her the way she loves him. She won't let herself be just another woman passing through his life, helping him forget. But one night in his arms makes her realize there is no future for them if every time he looks at her he sees the one woman he can never have.
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That’s all Gray McKinnon needed. He wasn’t so broken down at thirty-two that he couldn’t hold his seat on the back of a bucking bull for eight seconds, despite the whispers that he was as ancient as the dirt beneath him. He’d cut his eyeteeth at rodeos, like most of the McKinnons.
Gray positioned himself on the back of the dusty bull named Frozen Tundra. He wasn’t as rank as some of the other bulls being drawn today. Even if he kept his seat, the bull’s score may not be high enough to give him placement today. But it didn’t matter. He wasn’t here to prove anything to anyone.
When he was sure his rigging strapped to the bull was secure, he nodded that he was ready and the chute opened. He expected power beneath him and Frozen Tundra didn’t disappoint. The bull tucked its head and showed him just how unhappy he was to have Gray on his back. The next Gray knew his hand broke free of the leather strap and he was airborne a few seconds. Then his body connected hard with the dirt. He didn’t even have time to be disappointed, or to react to the pain that shot through his body. He saw the rodeo clown headed toward him to distract Frozen Tundra and Gray knew he had to get out of the path of the charging bull. Still feeling the adrenaline rush, Gray scrambled to his feet as quick as he could and ran to the sideline. Only when he was climbing the rail did he feel pain shoot up his wrist.
Fifteen minutes later Gray sat in the tented medic area with an ice pack on his wrist, staring at an empty gurney as the sound of rodeo erupted in the nearby arena.
“You’ll have to keep that ice on you for another ten minutes or so. Probably should have an X-ray, too,” the medic said. “You work at the rig?”
Gray nodded. He’d been working in the family oil business since he could hold his own out in the field. His father had insisted all of his children at least learn about the business before going off on their own. Each McKinnon took their turn as they came of age. Luke was the first. He’d worked at MW Oil before heading off to college. They’d all teased him that he’d purposely gone to law school to avoid having to come home and continue working under their father and uncle’s tutelage. But he hadn’t been home since. His brother Ian had been next, but then had left for a career in military soon after. His sister Grace had been exempt from working on the rig, but still worked in the offices. Julian was the youngest and the most stir crazy of all the McKinnons. That left Gray.
“I’m working out in the field but I’m not doing anything with my hand that will prevent me from working.”
The medic, a man in his mid-fifties that looked as if he’d spent too much time in the sun, shook his head. “Rules are rules. You have an injury. You need to get some film of it before you can be cleared to go back on the job. I can’t force you to do it, of course. But you put the company at risk without it. If anyone at the oil company finds out you were injured, you’re going to catch hell Monday morning.”
Gray chuckled wryly. “It won’t even take that long.”
The medic looked at him, his wiry gray and black brows pulling together into a frown.
“I’m having Sunday dinner with the boss.”
Dawning showed in the man’s expression. “Then you best get yourself an X-ray before you sit down at the dinner table. I’ll be back in a few minutes to take that ice pack and then wrap your wrist.”
Alone in the medic tent again, Gray listened to the roar of the crowd as another rider finished their ride. He’d planned on doing his ride and then watching the other riders to get his head back into the sport. As he flexed his fingers and felt the ache in his wrist, he decided maybe coming back to the rodeo was a bad idea in more ways than just a sore wrist.