The Rancher's Marriage Pact

Free The Rancher's Marriage Pact by Kristi Gold

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Authors: Kristi Gold
world. Maybe even a bigger and better ranch. Then you wouldn’t have to resort to this ruse.”
    â€œIt wouldn’t be the same,” he said. “To risk sounding like Jenny, the D Bar C is equivalent to losing the plantation that’s been in the family for generations.”
    â€œWouldn’t it still be in the family if Fort takes over? Have you even bothered to work out some agreement that wouldn’t force you to go to such extremes?”
    Anger flashed in his eyes. “Fort doesn’t talk to anyone but Worth. He’d have the power to do anything he pleases, including selling it off piece by piece. I wouldn’t put it past him to do that just for spite. He hates anything associated with the Calloways, including me. Especially me.”
    A family feud of grand proportions. “Because I grew up traveling the world, I’ve never experienced having a real home place. But I do understand why it would be difficult to give up a legacy.”
    â€œAnd even harder to give up the memories.”
    â€œOf your dad?”
    â€œOf my mother. I have very few as it is.”
    That revelation yanked hard on her heartstrings. At times her own mother could drive her insane with her penchant for being overprotective, yet Paris couldn’t imagine not having her mom in her life. “How old were you when she passed?”
    â€œNot quite five years old, but I still recall the little things. If I’m forced to leave here, I’m afraid the memories might fade completely.”
    Hearing the pain in his voice almost pushed Paris over the marriage edge. But she couldn’t let emotions rule common sense. She’d done that too often as it was. “You’ve given me a lot to consider,” she said as she handed him the laptop.
    â€œThen you’re not completely ruling it out?”
    â€œNo, but I have to think about it long and hard. And you’d have to promise we’d find some way to go the annulment route.”
    â€œBelieve me, my lawyer will find a loophole if that’s how we want to end the marriage. And I’d be willing to put all the terms in writing if that would make you feel better.”
    She’d feel better if she had more time to weigh the verdict. “When do you want my answer?”
    â€œI’m flying to Houston on Friday and I thought we could just do it there. It’ll be easier to blend in at that courthouse rather than do it around here. Word travels fast in small towns.”
    â€œI don’t know if I can make such a serious decision that soon.”
    â€œThat’s all the time I have since my birthday’s Saturday,” he said as he pushed off the desk. “When it comes right down to it, it makes sense to get it done the day before.”
    If only she could be so sure. “I’m going to go home and think it over,” she told him as she stood. “But if I were you, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. I’ll call you as soon as I’ve made up my mind.”
    After leaving him behind in the barn, Paris managed to return to Dallas’s house, gather her things and sneak out without being detected. She drove the ninety miles home in a haze, ticking off a mental list of pros and cons. She entered her barren apartment and thought about how she’d hoped to settle in a loft downtown, with a view of the River Walk. Yet her budget had only allowed her to rent a one-bedroom in a cookie-cutter complex outside the magic of the city.
    Her life had turned into an absolute mess, devoid of security and absent of even a shred of a sincere social life. She had a closet full of expensive shoes and nowhere to wear them, a large stack of unpaid bills, including one that if ignored could take away her freedom, and a solid sense of defeat. But she still had an option—accept Dallas’s proposal. What was the worst that could happen? Paris could think of one thing—she might lose her heart to a man who

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