#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Cousin Steve

My “cousin”, Steve Wiley, and his wife Debi, are off to Las Vegas for the rodeo finals today–they spent the night and just left to catch their plane. Steve is a rodeo fanatic, so it’s a sure thing he’ll have a great time. I get in on Friday night, and I’m sure looking forward to hearing about their adventures in the meantime. My brother, Jerry, gets in on the 9th.
Now, I put the word cousin in quotation marks above because Steve and I aren’t really blood relations. But we grew up together, a whole flock of us, riding horses on the Wiley ranch outside of Northport and we think of each other as related, period. The Laels and the Wileys go back four generations, counting the current one. It was Steve’s grandmother, Florence Wiley, who told me all those wonderful stories about the wild west–the day the Dalton brothers tried to rob the bank in Coffeyville, Kansas, the time Jesse James bedded down in the family barn. Gramma was an angel, with sparkling, warm brown eyes and a tender heart. No matter how many people showed up at the ranch table, she managed to feed them all supper. Since money wasn’t plentiful, I often wonder how she did that.
Gramma’s own parents had a very romantic story. Her father fought in the Civil War, Union side, and his best friend went with him. The friend died in battle, and made Gramma’s father promise to take care of his wife and child if he got home safe. Great-Grampa Heritage did get home, and he married the young widow, raised her child as his own, and together, they built a family. The old rifle he carried into battle is still in the family.
Hmmmm. There could be a story in that….

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