Prologue: Family Values
Connecting to Billionaire Cowboy, book two in the Richland series, focuses on Ashley’s cousin, Trish, and her family.
After graduating from Montana State University (MSU), Trish returned home in anticipation of starting the next journey of her life, marrying Dan, her college sweetheart and growing her party planning business. Spending months orchestrating their magical day, many people anticipated the event, the merging of two important rodeo families, the Richlands and the Ashtons.
Incorporating family traditions for an audience of three hundred, Trish worked endlessly knowing her wedding would also introduce influential clients to her growing business. With Dan’s mother at her side, no expense was spared as top-of-the-line products were shipped in from all over the world. With every detail verified and preparations made, nothing could ruin the big day.
A surprise, a positive pregnancy test, filled Trish’s heart with love but created doubt in Dan’s mind.
Whispers and speculations on social media rolled through town like wildfire when Dan declared he was not the baby’s father. Avoiding his bride in person, he wished Trish a happy life via social media, wanting to be perceived as taking the higher road. His unblemished demeanor was short-lived. Little did he know his girlfriend-on-the-side had posted pictures of their affair announcing an upcoming vacation, the one that Trish had planned for their honeymoon.
Trish’s shattered heart hung by a thread, but she forged forward knowing her baby was the most important person in her life.
Splashing gasoline on the social media wildfire, Trish’s cousin, Mary Anne, had endured similar gossip three years prior, when she chose to raise her child out of wedlock and refused to identify the father.
As you can imagine, the small town gossip mill spun, creating shame for one of the town’s most influential families. Unfortunately, when powerful families show cracks in their image, the wolves come out prepared for a blood bath.
As the family patriarch, Grandpa Richland shocked the town after Mary Anne’s baby incident, and gave her a coveted position on the rodeo board where she could prove herself and gain the respect of others. But the disrespect she endured was almost more than she could handle. When news spread about Dan leaving his fiance and unborn child, Grandpa Richland came back swinging. He was determined to let it be known that no one messed with a Richland.
Using his power and influence, he severed business contracts, preventing many local ranchers from selling their livestock at the family’s prestigious auction house.
But he was not done. Attempts to destroy, not one but two, of his grandchildren's reputations had to have additional consequences. Expanding the family auction business out of state forced locals to scramble for ways to retain their livelihood.
Awaiting her due date, Trish avoided the glares and rumors by focusing on her business.
Growing up under her grandma’s guidance, Trish learned how to organize events, from small birthday parties to extravagant fundraisers, and established a positive reputation in their small town. But, in retaliation for Grandpa Richland’s new business contracts, the client list in town began dwindling as rumors questioned Trish’s ability to provide top-shelf service as a single mom.
Refusing to let others dictate his family’s life, Grandpa Richland used his power once again and announced that the position for the town’s annual VIP rodeo dinner would be led by Trish. Her resume and experience made her more than qualified.
The elegant night draws in influential rodeo families from the tri-state area but has always failed to attract financial gain.
Appointed by her grandfather, many questioned how the decision was made, but when Trish's innovative ideas began to bring in profits, she reestablished an important and necessary reputation in town.
While planning the annual event, she met with rodeo representatives to discuss ways to expand the dining experience. To her surprise, she was reunited with a childhood friend, Trey.
From the moment they shared ideas, a romance sparked to life. Within a year, Rianne began calling Trey dad and the happy couple, Trish and Trey, shared their love in front of a small quaint gathering of family and friends.
Working side by side, the power couple built a reputable event planning business. Having both a mom and a dad who loved her, nothing could have changed Rianne’s happiness.
Raised by Trey, a former bull rider, and Trish, a former barrel racer, Rianne spent most of her free time at one of the Richland barns learning to care for animals and earning ribbons as a top breeder and junior barrel racer. Showing skills at levels compared to her older cousins, Rianne flourished.
Everything was going well in her life, until the summer before she started middle school. In less than a week, her smile turned into a train wreck with a mouth full of braces and an unknown woman appeared on their doorstep with a boy.
Trey’s former girlfriend demanded that he care for their unruly son while she was given a chance to start a new life with her soon-to-be-husband. The boy’s name and existence were both surprises to Trey, but the sad look on the boy’s face was all it took for Trish to welcome him into their family.
Rianne was excited to have a sibling, unaware of the consequences that would come from being Mathew’s sibling.
Living with his dad was Mathew’s only chance to escape from his mom. She repeatedly reminded him that his birth was a mistake. Trying to gain his dad’s approval, Mathew showcased above-average academic skills by testing out of middle school and proving his physical strength by working hard on the family’s ranch.
As the school year drew near, Trish worried her thirteen-year-old boy would struggle in high school. His size was similar to boys three to four years older than him, but she worried that his young age would make him naïve and make him a target.
She had not yet learned of Mathew’s street smarts or the target he would become.
With his new best friend Michael at his side, the young stallions swooned teachers, impressed coaches and began their reign, quickly earning reputations as leaders on campus.
Happy with his son’s transition at school, Trey realized his ex was probably mentally outwitted by Mathew in elementary school. Even Trey admitted he was attracted to his ex's s*x drive and not her ability to carry on with a conversation.
Stepping into the role of a supportive father, who played high school football, Trey helped prepare his son for the pigskin grind. It was a means to regulate Mathew’s endless energy, but Trey knew his son needed a distraction in the spring and summer, so he introduced him to his past, bull riding.
Mathew had the strength and competitive edge to be successful with a bull, but he was always overthinking his hand, ankle and knee placements. After years of breeding and riding bulls, Trey knew it was not the right connection for his son.
One day, watching his stepdaughter on her horse, Trey decided to look into team roping for his son. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect when Michael’s teammate moved out of state. Watching teams practice at a nearby rodeo, Mathew shocked his dad and grandpa when he made comments about how the heelers could make adjustments to better control the animal. Trey and his dad shared a look, being a heeler, the one to secure the animal's back legs, was in Mathew’s future.
While Mathew’s high school experience was positive with challenges that pushed him to higher levels on the field and on his horse, Rianne could not have imagined the turn of events for her after his arrival.
Teachers expected Rianne to be a genius like her stepbrother, only to be disappointed by her average smarts, no matter how hard she tried. She was polite and kind but did not share Mathew’s charming wit or leadership skills.
It didn’t take long for her teachers to express their disappointment in her.
The classroom was tough, to say the least, for Rianne, but nothing compared to her social life. Mathew made it clear that no one was to date his stepsister unless they wanted to deal with the consequences. At first, she looked up to him as a protector until she was dateless for homecoming dances and prom, then she realized his alpha behavior caused her to be treated like an incurable disease.
Being a social pariah at school, Rianne spent most of her time with her cousins. But that wasn't the case for her stepbrother. Many girls endured the walk of shame when Mathew and Michael rotated through females, earning the coveted locker room title of Womanizing Kings. And to Rianne’s dismay, a romp with a "King" was an honor that too many females were seeking.
Focused on her passion, barrel racing was the one area where she excelled beyond others, including her stepbrother. Earning recognition at a young age, she competed in adult rodeos, earning top rankings. Her age was the only thing keeping her from competing at a professional level.
But just like her unexpected childhood experiences, a car accident drastically changed her life, ending her competitive dreams.
However, the rodeo passion was still burning within her. With help from her family, she found a new passion, the creation of a social media blog.
Capitalizing on her childhood experiences, as well as those of her family, Rianne’s social media adventure quickly gained enough followers to fund her creative ideas while making a name for herself.