Endless Trails

By: Bonnie R. Paulson

She had to leave...

He can’t stay...

If they need each other enough, can they find a way to end their pain?

On a mission across Montana to bring the family’s leader home, Ryland stops to help a stranded woman on the side of the road.

Amy is headed anywhere but back and she begs to go with Ryland on his search. She just wants to be free and he wants answers.

Can Ryland find what he’s looking for or is Amy the fate he’s meant to have in this sweet romance set in the wilds of Montana?





Chapter 1


Ryland

Racing after the leader of the family wasn’t a glorious job, but Ryland Johnson wasn’t backing down. He would wrangle his older cousin, Nate, right back home where he belonged or one of them was going to die.

Okay, not really and the humor probably wasn’t appropriate considering his cousin’s wife had passed away. That’s what started this whole mess, not that Emma dying was a mess, but it affected the whole family in more ways than just the visible loss.

Ryland leaned his elbow on the windowsill of his old pickup and he rested his chin on his palm. One-hand driving was a requirement on that long stretch of I-90 between Missoula and the junction toward Billings. The road seemed to go forever into nowhere and the skies and the prairies melded together way in the distance. A blend of blue and gold suggested they ended somewhere, but not any time soon.

His cousin, Nate, had run. Up and run right after his wife had died from a very aggressive cancer that had plagued her throughout her life. She’d given up and Nate hadn’t waited around to see how anyone else in the family was coping.

Keeping his eyes dry while thinking of Emma and Nate was impossible. Ryland placed his finger across his lip. He watched the skyline seemingly meander past, tripping along at a brisk eighty miles per hour. The landscape locked him in never-changing beautiful redundancy.

If this kept up, he’d go blind. Maybe not, but he had to think about something besides Emma and her death. Nate’s abandonment just ripped her loss harder through Ryland’s heart.

The phone in Ryland’s front pocket buzzed, jerking him from his thoughts. He willingly grabbed at the small vibrating body and flipped it open, slamming it to his ear. “Yeah.”

“Ry, I thought you weren’t leaving until after dinner?” Damon’s husky voice sounded too much like Nate’s and Ryland scowled.

“Yeah, I know, but I told you. I’m getting Nate and bringing him home. Can’t do that sitting on my butt, waiting for Rachiah or Stephany to tell me what they need done.” He let his wrist rest on the lower cracked vinyl curve of the steering wheel and stared at the hazy road ahead. His dig at his brother wasn’t as churlish as it sounded. He was happy Damon was happy with Rachiah, lots of happiness, just oozing happiness.

Ryland forced himself not to groan.

“Don’t be a brat. Hannah just got back from town and she said one of her friends mentioned running into Nate in Great Falls a couple of days ago. I think you’ll be safe heading that direction.” Damon sounded tired, but not as much as Jareth would be since he’d taken on leading the ranch-handing cousins, The Montana Trails.

Nate had led them effortlessly while everyone else just kind of did the best they could without falling apart.

“Okay, I’ll head that way. How’s Rachiah?” Ryland grinned. That Salish princess was going to give Damon a run for his money and Ryland didn’t think Damon would ever be happier. Plus Ryland liked Rachiah. He liked women with spunk and beauty who didn’t rely on their looks to get what they want.

Damon sighed, his frustration carrying over the line like hot air. “Fine, her brother is a bear. I’m thinking about proposing, but I’m not sure how her family will react since I’m white.”

“Yeah, well, they aren’t sure if she’s half-white or not either. They won’t get better than you, Damon. I don’t care how white you are or aren’t.” Ryland had grown up with the divide between the ranches and the reservations. That didn’t mean love didn’t bridge that separation on occasion.

He ignored the twinge of jealousy he had whenever he thought of Damon and Rachiah. He wasn’t stupid. Ryland could see what happened when you fell in love. You were torn apart when you lost the other half. No one needed that kind of pain or vulnerability.

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