Everyone in Cougar Point, Montana, knew the bowling alley had the best breakfast in town. For a buck ninety-five they served up eggs, sausage, hash browns and toast, plus all the coffee a body could drink. Russ Palmer was hungrier than a bear in springtime, but food wasn't the only thing on his mind.He wanted company, of the female variety. "Mornin', Russ," Mary Andrews, the lone waitress, called out when he walked into the restaurant. Her greeting was followed by a chorus from several other ranchers. Russ removed his black Stetson and hooked it on the peg by the door. Although it was only a few days into September, the air was decidedly cool and he'd worn his blanket-lined denim jacket. Sliding into the booth with a couple of friends, Russ picked up the tail end of what Bill Shepherd was saying. "Pretty as a picture." Russ's interest was instantly piqued. "Who?""The new schoolteacher, Taylor Manning," Harry Donovan answered eagerly. At twenty-three Harry still had the peach-faced immaturity of youth and fine, blond hair he couldn't seem to control. A schoolteacher. Russ's curiosity level fell several notches. "Taylor's a funny name for a woman," he muttered, reaching for the menu, which was tucked between the sugar container and the salt and pepper shakers. "The missus and I met her yesterday," Bill went on to say. "She rented old man Halloran's place on the edge of town." Russ nodded as he scanned the menu. He ordered the "special" every Saturday morning, but he liked to see what was offered in case something else struck his fancy." She moved here from Seattle," Harry informed Russ enthusiastically." Then she's a city girl," Russ said, and a hint of sarcasm slipped into his voice. The kid had it bad. Personally Russ didn't hold out much hope of the new teacher sticking it out past Christmas. Seattle was known for its mild climate. At best Taylor Manning could deal with four or five days of drizzle, but he'd bet his ranch and five hundred head of cattle that she had no idea what a Montana winter could be like. "Whether she's a city slicker or not, I couldn't rightly say," Harry said with no lack of fervor, "but I can tell you one thing. She's real pretty. I swear she's got the bluest eyes I've ever seen and dark, silky hair that falls to about here." He gestured with his hand to a point well below his shoulder blades. "A man could see himself running his fingers through hair that soft," he said dreamily. Pink tinged Harry's cheeks as he stopped abruptly and cast a self-conscious look at his two friends. Russ laughed outright. "Hell, Harry, she hasn't even been in town a week and already you're sweet on her." "I can't help myself." Harry grabbed his mug so fast he nearly spilled his coffee. "Wait until you meet her yourself, then you'll know what I mean." "I'm not going to be mooning over any school-marm," Russ told the two men. He hadn't gotten to the age of thirty-four safely unmarried only to be taken in by the charms of a citified schoolteacher. Especially one Harry Donovan would fantasize about. Bill and Harry exchanged glances, then Harry snickered loudly, apparently amused by Russ's attitude. "You just wait till you see her yourself," he said again. "What do you mean I can't use my American Express card here?" Taylor Manning demanded of the clerk at the small store. "I could use this card in Kodiak, Alaska!" "I'm really sorry," the older woman said, "but as far as I know, no one in town takes American Express. "Shaking her head, Taylor pulled her Visa card from her wallet and set it on the counter. "I'll use this one instead." She pushed her chocolate-brown hair over her shoulder and looked around. This situation was becoming embarrassing. Taylor had used her meager savings to rent the house. She'd gone shopping for some kitchen things she was going to need, thinking she could use her credit card and pay for them when it was more convenient. She was grateful thereMacomber, Debbie is the author of 'The Manning Sisters', published 2008 under ISBN 9780778323501 and ISBN 0778323501.