Quincy Rebel lives by a strict code of honor. Family first. Which means Jenny Rose Walker, his younger brother's ex-girlfriend, will never know how deeply and devotedly he loves her. The woman of his dreams is off-limits until his brother gets engaged to someone else.
Jenny is ready to sever all ties with the ranching clan who has been like a second family to her. Even if it means giving up working with her best friend, Quincy, who she helps train paint horses. Quincy the tall, masculine Rebel who's always been there for her. Is she developing feelings for him? Or are they headed for a rebound romance that will leave them both brokenhearted?
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Quincy: the second sonthe peacemaker
The cowboy who couldn't ride away
Always being the nice guy must have finally brought out the bad boy in Quincy Rebel. There was no other way to explain how he could have fallen in love with Jenny Rose Walker, his brother's girlfriend.
It broke the brothers' code, as told to the Rebel boys by their father: never betray your brother with a woman. There will be many women in your lives, but a brother will be a brother forever. Strong words. Their father's words. As the peacemaker in the family, Quincy would not do anything to cause a rift with his brothers or to dishonor his father's memory. This was his heartache. His pain. His secret.
Riding into the barn on his paint stud Red Hawk, he felt sure he could continue to hide his feelings. He dismounted and ran a hand around the back of his neck to unstick his sweaty collar from his skin. The sultry August heat had lingered into the first week of September. Before he'd left at the start of the day, he'd opened both double doors of the barn, and a gentle breeze stirred the heat like a slow-moving fan. The scents of dust and alfalfa filled his lungs.
Quincy bred paint horses and had his own barn and corrals away from the main ranch. He'd picked out the spot near the neighboring Walker property because of the huge live oak trees that had grown there for over a hundred years. He'd always loved paint horses, ever since watching reruns of Bonanza with his grandfather. The character Little Joe rode a paint.
One day, Rebel Ranch would be divided into seven parcels and Quincy had already staked the land he wanted. His mother and brothers had agreed. So after long days working on the ranch, he then took care of his horses. He had a registered stud and five mares, but one day he hoped to have a larger operation. For now it was just a hobby.
At the sound of hooves pounding against the dry, hard ground, he swung around to see Jenny ride in bareback on the black-and-white paint horse he'd given her for her birthday. She loved the paints, and helped him all the time. They'd become close friends, but it had turned into much more for him.
Jenny slid off the horse in one easy, fluid movement. With long dark hair and riveting dark eyes, inherited from her mother, who was part Italian, she was every man's dream of the girl next door: beautiful, smart and funny. And blessed with a friendly disposition that endeared her to everyone, especially Quincy.
"Is it true?" Her eyes sparkled with high energy.
He mentally snapped to attention. "You'll have to be more specific." He knew exactly what she was talking about, but he was stalling for time.
"Is Paxton engaged?"
And there it was. Jenny and Paxton, Quincy's younger brother, had been an item since high school. Their on-and-off relationship had been the talk of Horseshoe for over a decade. Jenny wanted a home and family. Paxton favored the rodeo circuit and any pretty thing he could find. Quincy had never understood why Jenny put up with Paxton's many affairs. It was none of his business, though. Other than the fact that he'd been in love with her for years.
Quincy just wished she had asked someone else besides him. It wasn't his place to tell her about the new woman in his brother's life. But again, he and Jenny had grown close over the years and she considered him a friend, as he did her. His feelings were his own.
His hand tightened on the horse's reins. "That's what I hear." Hawk sidestepped, snorting. Quincy needed to unsaddle his horse.
"When did this happen?"
"I don't know. Mom just told us Paxton had called and said he was engaged."
"I don't know, Jenny. You'll have to talk to Paxton about that. I'm not the person you should be asking."
"Don't you think I've tried? I've called and texted him and he doesn't respond. Why would he do this?" The pain in her voice twisted Quincy's insides. He'd never understood how she could keep clinging to a relationship that was so one-sided.
"Haven't you been broken up about two months now?" He hated to be blunt, and there was nothing as blunt as the truth.
She slid her hands into the back pockets of her jeans, stretching her blouse taut across her full breasts. He looked away.
"Yes. But he always calls and we get back together."
"I guess he met someone else." He stroked Hawk, calming him, and searched for a way to end the conversation.
"A buckle bunny who fawns all over him." Her pain echoed in her voice.
He had no words to soothe her wounded pride. "I don't know. All I know is what my mother told us."
Her glistening eyes stared at him and this time he couldn't look away. "I heard there's an engagement party here on Saturday night."
Nothing in Horseshoe, Texas, stayed a secret for long. This was faster than usual, though. "That's what I've been told."
She turned toward her horse. "If Paxton doesn't answer my calls by then, I'll be coming to the party."
"It's by invitation only," he reminded her.
"Miss Kate won't care if I come."
His gut tightened like a cinch on a saddle and his nerves kept applying the pressure. He didn't want to hurt her, but she left him no choice.
"Mom would rather it be a fun evening. Please don't embarrass yourself by showing up. It would only cause tension."
"Embarrass myself?" With a twist of her head, she tossed her long, tangled hair back in anger. "Everyone in Horseshoe is talking and what they're saying is she waited all these years and he's marrying someone else. That's embarrassment, Quincy. And I can take the tension."
"Don't do it, Jenny. It will only hurt you."
"As if I'm not hurt now? He's going to tell me to my face that he's fallen in love with someone else."
"He's engaged. I think that pretty well says it all."
She fixed her heated gaze on him. "You think it's okay what he's done to me?"
"You broke up with him," he told her. "You always break up with him because it bothers you that he sees other women while he's on the circuit."
"I thought he would change," she murmured, almost to herself.
"Let it go, Jenny. It's time for you to move on."
"How do I do that, Quincy? I spent half my life waiting for him to grow up and want the same things that I do. I guess."
He wanted to take her in his arms and hug her, because he knew things were only going to get worse. She'd lost Paxton and she didn't want to face that, but in reality, she'd lost him a long time ago. She just hadn't realized it until now.
"Hawk is getting restless. I have to unsaddle him," he said instead.
"When will Paxton be home?"
He shook his head. "Jenny, I honestly don't know."
"The party's tomorrow night so he has to come in sometime soon."
"You're not going to let this go, are you?"
"Not on your life." She vaulted onto the horse. "At the very least, Paxton owes me an explanation."
He caught the reins of her horse before she could gallop away. "Don't come to the party, Jenny. If you care anything about the Rebel family, you'll stay away and not make a scene."
"I thought you were my friend."
"I am. That's why I'm trying to protect you and keep you from getting hurt any further."
"I can take care of myself."
He loved many things about Jenny, but her stubbornness wasn't one of them. "Mom said Paxton and his fiancée are going to stay at the ranch for a while so she can get to know the family. Maybe it would be best if you didn't come around during that time."
Her face crumpled. "You're asking me not to come to the ranch anymore?"
He drew a deep breath. "Yes. I appreciate your help with the paint horses "
"Since Paxton rejected me, the whole family now has rejected me. I love working with the horses and you're taking that away from me, too."
There was a limit to how much Quincy could endure and this was just about the last straw. He had to end this conversation one way or the other. "Jenny"
"Stuff it!" she shouted and jerked the reins, charging out of the barn for the Walker property, stirring up the heat and dust.
Clyde Walker, Jenny's dad, owned about a hundred acres that cut into Rebel Ranch. John Rebel had tried to buy it for years, as had Quincy's mom, but Clyde was hanging on to his property.
Jenny lived so close, and she was like one of the family and was at the ranch a lot. Sometimes to see Paxton and other times just to ride the paint horses. Lately, Quincy had spent more time with her than Paxton. Looking back, he could see that wasn't a good idea. But it was a little late to change now.
She'd be angry and hurt for a while and then he would apologize for hurting her feelings. At this time, though, he didn't have any other choice. Maybe it was for the best. He had no future with Jenny. She belonged to his brother.
"She was pretty mad," Jude said from the doorway.
Quincy turned toward his brother. "Yeah. Paxton didn't tell her he's getting married."
"Why did you discourage her from coming to the party?"
"How do you think she's going to feel when she sees him with another woman? I'm just trying to save her some pain."
"Jenny and Paxton are adults and it's their relationship. Let them sort it out."
"Says the man who never interferes and minds his own business."
"You bet. Ready to get those broken bales of hay off the field?"
"Yeah, sure. I was just unsaddling Red Hawk."
Zane, Jude's son, ran into the barn. "Hey, Uncle Quincy, I'm going to drive the tractor."
"You got it. I'll be right with y'all."
Zane had just turned twelve and he was a clone of his father in looksin personality, not so much. Jude and Paige, Jude's girlfriend, had gotten pregnant in high school, similar to his older brother, Falcon, and his wife, Leah. Paige was incredibly smart and had received a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley. She was torn about what to do. In the end, her future was more important than the child she carried. They'd decided to give the baby up for adoption. But Jude hadn't been able to live with that decision. He'd gone back to the clinic and got his son and raised him. Jude hadn't seen Paige since, nor did she know about Zane.
Quincy knew that weighed heavily on his brother's mind. Jude was the quiet, responsible one in the family. He stayed mostly to himself, never caused trouble and was a straight-up kind of guy. He was the one everyone could depend on and trust. He carried a scar on his forehead where Ezra McCray had shot him the day John Rebel had killed Ezra. That, too, weighed on his mind.
It didn't take them long to get the broken bales of hay off the field. Zane drove, and Jude and Quincy threw them onto a trailer in heaps. Quincy would use the hay to feed his paints. They already had three barns full of square bales and many round bales stored away. Since it was the beginning of September, hay-baling season was almost over.
Zane drove the tractor into Quincy's barn, and Quincy and Jude jumped from the trailer to unload.
"Sorry, Quincy." Jude removed his hat to shake hay from his hair. "We have to meet Zane's teacher in less than an hour."
"I got it," he told his brother. He welcomed the work, anything to get his mind off Jenny.
Just as he started to stack the hay, Elias and Jericho walked in.
Quincy straightened. "Is all hay off the ground?"
"Yes, sir." Elias saluted. Of the seven brothers, Elias had a devil-may-care attitude that came with a dose of spit-in-your-eye.
Jericho grabbed a pitchfork. "I'll help you stack."
Jericho had saved his brother Egan's life in prison and for that Kate Rebel had offered him a job. He was Egan's friend, but now he was a friend of the family.
They didn't know much about Jericho, nor did they need to. He had more than proved himself to the family.
He stood about six-four and was an imposing character with dark features, long hair tied into a ponytail at his neck and a scar slashed across the side of his face. No one knew his nationality, but Egan said he was part white, black, Mexican and Indian. He'd grown up on the streets of Houston, involved in gangs and drugs. Today Quincy would trust the man with his life and the lives of his brothers. He had completely turned his life around.
Elias grabbed a pitchfork, too. "Can you believe ol' Pax's getting married? A bull must have dumped him on his head. Why get married when he has the pick of every pretty buckle bunny on the circuit?"
Quincy worked without answering. He didn't want to have this discussion.
"And Jenny? I wonder if he's told Jenny."
"That's none of our business."
Elias leaned on the pitchfork. "There's going to be fireworks, I tell you. Jenny Walker is not going to take this without a fight and I have a front-row seat. Oh, yeah. I see a catfight in Pax's future."
Again, Quincy didn't respond. They finished unloading the hay and Quincy started to jump onto the tractor to take it back to the equipment shed, but Jericho stopped him.
"I got it, Quincy. Mr. Abe is probably waiting on his supper."
As Rico drove the tractor and trailer from the barn, Quincy brushed hay from his clothes. It stung down the back of his shirt and clung in sweat-slick places. He needed a shower.
"I'll see you at the house," he said to Elias.
He and Elias lived with their Grandpa Abe, who was getting up in years and at times appeared to be a little senile. They refused to let him use the stove anymore because he'd set the house on fire twice. These days Grandpa was happy to let Quincy or Elias do all the cooking. Eden, Falcon's daughter, helped out when she could.
There were four houses on the property. Their mother, Jude and Zane lived in the big two-story log house at the front. Falcon's wife had returned after many years, and they now lived in the old family home where Quincy, Elias and Egan used to live. Falcon and Leah had wanted their own house, so the brothers had happily relocated to Grandpa's. Egan had gotten married and moved out. Now Quincy and Elias were left to deal with the old man.
Grandpa's place wasn't far from the old house, and then there was the bunkhouse where Paxton, Phoenix and Jericho lived. They had a commune right there in Texas. The thought brought a smile to his face and he wasn't in a smiling mood.
So many women in the world and he had to fall in love with the one woman he couldn't have. The only way to get over it was to stay away from Jenny. And he planned to do just that.
Good story. Quincy has been in love with Jenny for years, but she is his brother's on again off again girlfriend, so she is off limits to him, so he loves in silence. Then Paxton gets engaged to someone else and Quincy is ready to see if there's something there for him. Jenny and Paxton have been dating since high school, so she is devastated when she learns that Paxton has found someone else. It hurts too much to even continue working with Quincy and his horses. This was an interesting love triangle. Quincy has loved Jenny for years, but has limited himself to friendship. He's been there for Jenny whenever she's been on the outs with Paxton. Jenny has clung to her relationship with Paxton, even when he hurts her by being with other women. And Paxton comes back to Jenny whenever his latest fling doesn't work out. I loved Quincy. He's always looking out for the people he cares about. He's frustrated by the way Paxton treats Jenny, but he won't break the "bro-code" and go after his brother's girl. He's furious when he hears about Paxton's engagement and discovers that he hadn't had the decency to tell Jenny in person. He's also hopeful that with Paxton out of the way, Jenny will see how much he cares for her. I loved seeing how he was always there when she needed him. I really didn't like Paxton. He's very immature and selfish. He doesn't see anything wrong with chasing other women while he's out rodeoing. He always manages to charm Jenny into taking him back, and then turns around and does it again. He's also too much of a coward to do the right thing and tell Jenny about his engagement himself. Even his engagement seems to be for all the wrong reasons. The only thing he does right, when he finally does talk to her face to face, is to explain to Jenny that what they had had for the last several years wasn't a relationship but a friendship. I was a bit conflicted about Jenny. I couldn't understand why she kept taking Paxton back over and over again, when someone as wonderful as Quincy was right there. I liked her a little more as she woke up to the truth about her feelings for Paxton and why she had stuck with him for so long. I loved seeing how Jenny finally started to realize that Quincy was more than a friend. But after deluding herself for so long about her feelings for Paxton, she was afraid that she was just using Quincy to feel better. There was a strain on their growing relationship though, because Quincy wasn't really sure that she was over Paxton. He was worried because of the way that Paxton still called her and was afraid that Jenny would go back to him. Both of them had some work to do in gaining the confidence in themselves that would allow them to believe in the love they shared. I loved the way they came together at the end.
The story has a very charming old west feeling and tone in it. The good, 'old-fashioned' family values are respected and honoured, the Rebels take care of each other, and always are there for each other, no matter what. Jenny Rose has been devoting her heart for years to Paxton, even though, by all signs, the relationship ended years ago. Now life is giving her a chance to build something real, something solid, something based on true love, with Quincy, if the old feelings and relationship patterns just will let go, and let her move on. Quincy can't believe, that finally he has a chance with Jenny Rose, the girl he has loved for so long. But life happens, things doesn't go as hoped, and family comes always first. While the three tries to solve the matters of their hearts, the life at the ranch goes on, animals need taken care of, fencing, and accidents, people get sick, pregnant, life goes on. A lot of that life is pictured in the pages, as the small community continues to work on their ranch. The story has a genial, pleasant, and jovial tone, even though life isn't always gentle, and life and death situations are faced. But the tale left a mile on my face, and overall a feel-good vibes, lovely to see a family pull together to make things right ~ Four Spoons