Tag Archives: coming soon

Weekend Excerpt – Heat Wave

Apr 15, 2017

Hey everybody! Well, the Magnolias & Moonshine project is well underway now, and pretty soon it’ll be my turn! My novella, Heat Wave, is also part of the Nerds of Paradise series, even though it takes place in Atlanta instead of Haskell, Wyoming. And since it’s the weekend, how about a peek?

There were few emotions in life that couldn’t be resolved by breaking out a crowbar and tearing up a floor. Angelica jammed the tool into the old, crumbling kitchen floor in Mrs. Brown’s house, focusing on the heat and pull of her muscles as she tore out the old to make way for the new.

If only it was as easy to do the same with life. Weeks ago, when she’d first gotten the letter from Paradise Space Flight letting her know Dennis would be coming to discuss the job they’d offered her, she’d shrugged it off. She knew Dennis worked for PSF. That was the whole reason she’d applied for the job in the first place. Although it was nothing personal. Not at all. Dennis had always had good taste. Any company he worked for had to be solid.

She jammed the crowbar into the boards again and tugged with all her might.

“Careful, Angie,” her friend and the project’s manager, Latoya called to her from the other side of the room. “You’re gonna go straight through the sub-floor to the basement if you keep at it like that.”

“Right.” Angelica nodded and straightened. She tossed the rotting boards into the pile of debris near the door, adjusted her work goggles, then bent to tear up the next board.

It was nothing personal. She hadn’t been intrigued by PSF because it could be a chance to right a thousand past wrongs. The possibility of living close to Dennis again was the furthest thing from her mind.

And if she kept telling herself that, maybe a unicorn would swoop out of the sky and whisk her off to fairyland.

She sighed and set the crowbar aside to pry up the stubborn board with two hands. She was a PhD now, an astrophysicist. The top aerospace industries in the country were courting her. She’d proved every nay-sayer in her life wrong, proved that a woman of color could excel in a field dominated by white men. So why did she feel like the same confused thirteen-year-old girl who cried herself to sleep at night over having to choose popular girls she didn’t like over a dorky boy she really liked?

“Whoa, whoa, hold on, girl.” Latoya straightened from the pile of new boards she was nailing into the floor. The fine sheen of perspiration on her bare arms and wetting the neck of her tank-top made her friend look good, tough, while Angelica was sure it only made her look nasty. “You sure you’re up to this today? You’re tossing that mess around like it insulted your mama.”

Angelica managed a tired smile as she rocked back to sit on the floor. “Yeah, I’m okay. I guess I’ve just got post-graduation let-down or something.”

It didn’t feel right lying to Latoya. Latoya was the only friend from the neighborhood who had stuck by her when she decided to break all the molds and study science instead of boys. She was the only one willing to hang out with a pop-turned-geek when the mean girls turned their noses up at her. And she was the only one that would have been missed if she’d ditched her too.

Latoya crossed her arms. With her hammer still in hand, goggles still in place, and her close-cut, natural hair glistening with sweat, Angelica felt like Latoya was some kind of avenging angel come to call her out on everything she’d ever done wrong.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with a certain old friend coming back to town, does it?”

Angelica looked away. It wasn’t enough to avoid the swoopy feeling in her gut. She picked up her crowbar and went back to work on the floor.

Latoya stayed where she was. “Leon told me all about it,” she said, returning to work at her end of the room.

Of course he would. Angelica should have figured he’d give her the full report of graduation.

“It doesn’t bother me,” she insisted. “In fact, I was really happy to see Dennis again.”

“Mmm hmm.” Latoya arched a brow as much as she could with the thick goggles on and started hammering.

“No, really, I am happy,” Angelica insisted.

“I don’t doubt that.” Latoya raised her voice to be heard over her hammering. “I’m just curious about how happy you are.”

“Very happy.” Angelica tried to shrug casually.

“Mmmm hmmm.” Latoya drew the two syllables out even longer this time.

Angelica shrugged. “What, was I supposed to be angry at him for coming back? Sad? You got some other emotion you’d rather I felt?”

“Girl, don’t get defensive with me.” Latoya rocked back on her heels and pointed her hammer at Angelica. “You forget, I was there that year after he left. I saw how listless you were. You, my friend, pined.”

“I did not pine.” Angelica sent her a frown. “I was sorry to have lost a friend is all.”

“Friend? Is that what you call it?”

Angelica’s face flooded with heat. “Yes. Dennis and I were friends.”

Latoya shook her head. “You led that poor boy around by the nose and you know it.”

“I was just a kid, Tee. I didn’t know what I was doing.” Angelica’s face burned even hotter.

“Even kids know when they’re being nasty.” Latoya went back to hammering. “What always surprised me was why he kept sniffing around after you, year after year.”

“Because we shared common interests,” Angelica said, straining as she pried up another board. “He was the only one who would do experiments with me.”

“Oh, experiments? Is that what the kids are calling it these days?” Latoya laughed.

Angelica huffed out a breath. “See, that’s exactly my point. All the princessy girls ever wanted to do was paint their nails and straighten their hair and make eyes at the boys. Dennis actually talked about things, did things. Interesting things.”

“Like making out in the science lab after chemistry club?”

Angelica tossed a rotting board aside, smirking at her friend and trying to play it cool. “Once.” Or maybe twice. And it had been nice. At least, it had been nice until Jane Peterson had caught them in a clinch and spread the rumor all through the school that Angelica was a nerd slut. Damn, she’d hated high school.

 

Poor Angelica has a lot more coming her way!

Heat Wave is now available for preorder at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Weekend Excerpt – His Magical Bride/Talia: The Magical Bride

Mar 12, 2017

Well, I may have been a little lazy these past few days (everyone deserves some lazy now and then), but I’ve been busy behind the scenes! I have the first draft of His Magical Bride (steamy)/Talia: The Magical Bride (sweet), Book 10 of The Brides of Paradise Ranch out at the editors right now. It’ll be out in just one week! Woo hoo! Here’s a bit to whet you’re appetite…

Their whole crew started along Elizabeth Street toward the church. As soon as Trey was ten feet past the hotel, he felt as though he’d been hit by a wave of panic. It was really happening. He was really about to go and get himself hitched.

“Uh, Miss Lambert.” He stopped, reaching as gently as he could for Miss Lambert’s elbow to stop her as well.

She did stop. So did all of her friends. Trey was near to making a run for it, until she told her friends, “You go on ahead.”

The ladies nodded and hummed and gave them both knowing looks. At least they continued on without a fuss. Trey waited until they were a good, long distance away before taking a breath.

“You can call me Talia,” Miss Lambert said. “Since we’re about to be married and all.”

“Yeah, about that.” Trey rubbed a hand over the lower half of his face. Talia’s gentle smile faded. “See, the thing is, if I’m being honest, I’m kinda having, well, second thoughts about this whole marriage thing.”

Talia suddenly looked as tired as a young woman who’d ridden miles in the back of a peddler’s wagon would look. “I see.” She lowered her eyes.

Trey’s chest started to ache in a peculiar way that he wasn’t used to. “I’m not saying that I won’t marry you,” he rushed to tell her.

“You’re not?” She looked up at him with so much hope in her eyes that a lump formed in Trey’s throat.

“No, ma’am. I made a promise. And I know what kind of life it was you left behind.” He knew he was echoing everything Virginia had said to him at the train station, but the woman had spoken the truth. “I will most certainly marry you, it’s just…” He let his sentence trail away and let out a helpless breath through his nose. “It’s just that I’m thinking I might not be ready for all the things that come along with a real marriage.”

“Oh?” She blinked fast, her brow knitting in confusion.

“You know, things like children and intimacy and…and children.”

Talia’s face brightened inexplicably. “Oh, I see.” She was back to smiling again, although Trey had no idea why, considering everything he’d just said. “You want to have a marriage in name only to start with. Until we get to know each other better.”

Was that what he’d asked for? “Uh, yeah,” he answered.

Talia’s smile grew so big that she laughed lightly before saying, “I’m perfectly fine with that arrangement. It’s a sensible one. I always did wonder how a woman could jump into every aspect of marriage so suddenly when her whole world has changed.”

She’d taken all that from what he said? “I’m glad we see eye to eye on this.”

“We do. And thank you, Trey.” She reached out, and it was several seconds before Trey realized she wanted him to hold her hand.

Still feeling a half-step behind, he took her hand, and together they headed on to where the others were just approaching the church.

Trey had stood by George during his wedding, and he’d attended the weddings of more than a few of his friends in the last few years, but he had no idea how fast a marriage ceremony could feel when you were the one standing at the front of the church with a woman.

“Do you, Trey Alexander Knighton take this woman, Talia Lambert, to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

Trey almost answered, “Huh?” when George asked the question, a teasing twinkle in his eyes, but he managed to squeeze out, “I do,” without looking like too much of a numbskull.

“And do you, Talia Lambert, take this man, Trey Alexander Knighton, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love, honor, and obey, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”

“I do,” Talia answered with more certainty than Trey would ever be able to manage. She smiled up at him too with a look that said she was confident she’d done the right thing. How did she manage that?

“Then by the power invested in me by God and the Territory of Wyoming, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

 

Book Excerpt – Chaos Theory

Feb 12, 2017

It’s Sunday, I’m about to head off to Mannheim for a book reading (I’ll let you know all about it tomorrow!) so I figured this was a good time for another excerpt from Chaos Theory. And I hate to say it, but at this point, between me having a cold all last week and my assistant dealing with some stuff, it Chaos Theory probably won’t be released until maybe the very beginning of March. Alas, these things happen! But here’s a bit to see you through….

“Is this on?” he said into a microphone. “Not that I really need it if it isn’t.”

Everyone laughed. Chairs were turned so people could see Howie, and for a moment, the delicious meal was abandoned.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Howie began. “I’d like to welcome you to PSF today to join us for this grand repast. Let’s have a round of applause for the excellent chefs of Haskell Catering.”

Applause filled the room. The head chef, a woman named Rebecca Standish, who Melody had known since childhood, nodded and smiled in appreciation.

“But, of course, you’re all here to find out what our spring mixer is all about,” Howie went on.

A buzz of excitement filled the large room. Melody grinned at Will. His mouth remained in a neutral line, but she could see the spark of interest in his eyes. Interest in more than one thing.

“Okay, okay,” Howie continued. “I know that it’s the worst-kept secret in town, but what you all don’t know is that we’re going to have a contest within a contest.”

That caught everyone’s attention, even nudging Melody’s focus away from Will and up to Howie.

“Our spring event is in association with Shoshone National Park and the National Park Services,” Howie went on. “And yes, we’re going to be having an orienteering competition.”

A ruble of enthusiasm filled the room. Howie smiled at it, but raised his hands for silence.

“So for those of you who don’t know—and at this point, I expect that’s about three of you—” Several people throughout the room laughed. “—orienteering is a survival game where people are blindfolded and dropped into the middle of the wilderness. Using only a compass and map, they’re challenged to find their way out, or find their way to a specific point.”

He paused so people could let that sink in. Melody found that her heart was thumping in excitement, half at the prospect of the challenge and half because the corners of Will’s mouth were inching up into what might actually be a smile.

“We’re going to be doing things a little differently,” Howie went on. “Since this is a mixer, rather than dropping you into the wilderness alone, we’re going to be pairing you up in teams, one person from town paired up with one person from Paradise Space Flight.”

It took Melody all of half a second to burn with the desire to have Will as her partner. He was exactly the man she wanted to get lost in the wilderness with.

“Furthermore,” Howie continued, “instead of just dropping you with a compass and map, in addition to those two things, we’ll be giving each team member a backpack full of preselected supplies. Some of them will be crucial tools for wilderness survival, and some will be….” He made a curious sound and tilted his head to the side. “Let’s just say they’ll be interesting.”

“Oh my gosh,” Rita whispered, making eye contact with Melody and Calliope. “Does Howie know about your game?”

Casey burst into snorting giggles. “Can you imagine the kind of stuff that would be in those backpacks if he does?”

“Now, in all honesty, the competition is meant for singles,” Howie went on, which only made the girls at Melody’s table giggle harder, as if he was confirming Rita’s suspicion. Will sent a frown Melody’s way, but she only winked at him. That caused Will to snap his eyes back to Howie. “We can make provision for any couples that want to take part, though. And you might find the competition within the competition to be just as enjoyable.”

Melody instantly stopped sniggering like a high school girl and sat straighter.

“As I mentioned,” Howie said, “this competition will take place at Shoshone National Forest. Well, Paradise Space Flight will be partnering them for an even grander enterprise as well. As you know, funding for the National Parks Service has been harder to come by lately, and our national parks have come under a certain level of attack. But Paradise Space Flight is dedicated to preserving and celebrating out natural heritage. Shoshone National Forest has been incredibly gracious to give us unprecedented access to their land. We, in turn, will be doing them a great service as well.”

He reached into his podium and held up a camera. “Each couple in the competition will be given a state of the art, professional quality digital camera. As you make your way through the wilderness, you will be responsible for taking photographs and videos of the natural splendor that Shoshone National Forest has to offer.”

A ripple of excitement and approval passed through the room. Melody exchanged a look with her sister that said photographing nature was right up their alley.

“So in addition to the prize for the couple to make it out of the forest and to the rendezvous point first, a second prize will be given to the couple who takes the best photographs, as judged by a panel of experts from PSF and the National Parks Service. Those winning photographs will be featured in a promotional video that PSF will be sponsoring to bring awareness to the glory of nature and hopefully to encourage donations.”

Weekend Excerpt – Veterinarian’s Vixen

Jul 02, 2016

We’re so close! Less than a week until the release of book eight in the Culpepper Cowboy series, Veterinarian’s Vixen! Can’t wait to find out what happens when Culpepper’s hunky large animal vet comes face to face with a certain spunky reporter he’s sure wants nothing to do with him? Well, here’s a sneak peek….

VeterinariansVixen_small

It was a ridiculous cliché not to be able to stop thinking about a woman. Doc ground his teeth and mentally punched himself for not being able to shake any and all thoughts of Nancy as he walked his horse, Booyah, around the paddock at the Culpepper ranch.

“I think he’s in fine form for a race,” Angus commented as he leaned against the fence on the outside of the paddock.

Doc didn’t hear the comment. His mind was still running in circles. How could Nancy date an ass like Stu? He treated her terribly, for one. And even though Doc wasn’t a choir boy or anything, he’d been shocked by the language Stu used around the ladies.

“Why don’t you relax and let him run a bit?” Angus called as Doc reached the far end of the paddock.

Not to be arrogant or anything, Doc’s thoughts continued, but he was a whole lot easier to look at than Stu. What could Nancy possibly see in a short, squat, pin-head like that? She was the same height as him, and she only came up to Doc’s shoulder. Nancy wasn’t the sort to let appearances guide her choice in men—at least he didn’t think so—but it wasn’t just Stu’s looks. It was the whole package. Why was she—

“What’s got your head in the clouds so far that you can’t hear when a man’s calling you noodles-for-brains?” Angus hollered.

Doc snapped out of his thoughts, wheeling Boo around. “What?”

Angus burst into laughter, shaking his head. “There’s only one thing that could have a man so wrapped ’round the axle like that.”

Doc’s frown darkened. He tapped Boo with his heels and trotted over to the fence where Angus stood. “Don’t you start.”

“Me?” Still laughing, Angus clapped a hand to his chest in a gesture of innocence. “You’re the one who’s so distracted by thoughts of a pretty reporter that you couldn’t hear me trying to talk to you.”

Doc huffed, pulling Boo to a stop beside the fence. “She has a boyfriend. End of story.”

“Hardly.” Angus reached over the fence to pat Boo’s flank. “And I don’t think he actually is her boyfriend.”

“She came out here with him for the race,” Doc reasoned. “And he was…familiar with her at the bakery yesterday.”

“So?”

Angus’s flippant attitude was starting to irritate Doc. At least, he was going to blame his irritation on Angus’s attitude. Anything else made him even more irritated.

“Look, are you going to give me a few tips to help me win this race on the Fourth or not?” he snapped.

Angus shrugged. “You’re the horse expert, mate.”

Boo was restless—probably picking up on Doc’s own restlessness—so he walked him in a small circle. “I’m a veterinary medicine expert, not a racing expert.”

“But you’ve raced before,” Angus said.

“Sure, but nothing formal. Sly and my other brother, Arch, and my sister, Elvie, and I used to race on our family’s ranch all the time.”

“But not competitively?”

“Not really.” Doc smoothed a hand over Boo’s neck to calm his impatient spirits. “A few county fairs and the like. I enjoyed racing, but there wasn’t time once I started vet school.”

“And you really want to win this race now?” Angus arched a brow.

Doc thought back to the arrogance of Stu’s challenge. There was no way he was going to let a weasel like that walk off with any trophies or ribbons.

“Yes,” he answered Angus, more certain than he’d ever been of anything in years.

 

That’s right, there’s a race going on…a race for Nancy’s heart! Be sure to look for Veterinarian’s Vixen this Friday, July 8th! It’ll be exclusive to Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited for the first three months, then available across a variety of platforms, including iBooks, Nook, and Kobo.

Weekend Excerpt – His Bewildering Bride

Jan 23, 2016

The third book in The Brides of Paradise Ranch series is almost here! His Bewildering Bride (spicy version) aka Wendy: The Bewildering Bride (sweet version) was delayed as I wrestled with some vicious cold germs earlier in January, but it should be released by next weekend! But here you go, you can get a sneak peek now….

HisBewilderingBride_Wendy_2covers

With a smile on her face, feigning confidence, telling herself she was ready to meet her new life head-on, Wendy took a step forward—

—and was immediately cut off as a man in a dusty suit stepped into the aisle in front of her. His movements were deliberate, and he paid Wendy no regard whatsoever as he turned to reach for his bag. His bulky form blocked her without apology.

“Excuse me, sir.” Wendy fought to keep her impatience in check. “May I walk around you?”

The man took one look at her over his shoulder, curled his lip in a sneer, and barked, “You’ll wait your turn, you uppity darkie.”

Indignation snapped like a whip down Wendy’s spine. She held her back straight and kept her chin up. “Common courtesy would dictate that a gentleman stand aside to let a lady pass.”

The man snorted and yanked his bag from the rack above his seat. “I don’t see any ladies, only a pretentious—”

Wendy’s jaw dropped at the word he called her. The heat of anger flushed her face, but the man had already moved on, charging down the aisle to the train’s door. Wendy waited until the man had stepped down from the car to move. Fury made her dizzy, and disappointment turned her stomach. She’d had such high hopes that things in Haskell, Wyoming would be different.

Ahead, a man with a bushy moustache sent her a sympathetic look as she approached the door. “Sorry, miss,” he mumbled. “We’re not all like that in Haskell.”

“Oh?” Wendy cursed the waver in her voice.

“Nope.” The man held out his hand. “Herb Waters is the name. I own the livery in town. Well, for now. My sister in Denver…” He stopped abruptly and laughed at himself. “My sister tells me I talk too much. I’ll let you get on with things.”

Mr. Waters gestured for Wendy to walk ahead of him down the aisle. If there was one kind man in Haskell, there could be others. Wendy paused before the train car’s door, closed her eyes, and took in a breath. Her mother’s words—said so many times before she passed away—settled over her. “There are good people in this world and bad people. What they look like has nothing to do with it, it’s how they treat their fellow men that means everything.”

She opened her eyes and forced a smile. One rude man was not going to ruin the happiness that waited for her on the platform right outside the train. If her hands were free, she would have smoothed any stray hairs away from her face, checked to be sure her stylish, plumed hat was in place, and adjusted her skirts. As it was, she could only clear her throat and step down onto the train platform.

Uncertainty hit her as soon as her heels clicked on the boards. Haskell was small, but the platform was busy. Mr. Waters zipped out from behind her and rushed off on his own business. Porters and a man in a stationmaster’s uniform worked unloading baggage from the last car on the train. Wagons were parked around the platform, and the passengers that had already disembarked were hugging and greeting friends or family. The rude man who had insulted her was being fawned over by four young ladies in dresses that were fashionable, yet somehow inappropriate for the dusty street. Wendy winced at the sight. Those young ladies would have be ideal customers if she was in a position to continue sewing. Then again, if the man—who, judging by age and the girls’ reactions to him, must have been their father—held the opinion of her that Wendy assumed he did, there was a fair chance they wouldn’t patronize her anyhow.

There were other people scattered about the platform, waiting for passengers or perhaps cargo, but not one of them looked like he could be Cody Montrose. There was a small circle chatting and staring expectantly at the train that consisted of an older woman, a fine gentleman just past his prime, and two young men dressed for work. They squinted at the train’s windows as if looking for something. Wendy wished them well in their search, but kept scanning the platform and the street right below it for her fiancé.

Relief flooded her when she saw him—or at least the only man in sight that looked like he could be for her. He strolled deliberately across the street in front of the platform—a fine, chocolate-skinned man in a suit that must have been purchased from San Francisco. He was clean-shaven and had somehow managed to avoid getting dust on his shoes. As he walked, he took out a gold pocket-watch to check the time. From a distance, Wendy could see how fine the piece was.

“Excuse me,” she called to him, walking quickly to the edge of the platform.

The regal man stopped, searching around him with a confused frown to see who had spoken.

Wendy put on her brightest smile, heart swelling with satisfaction at her future husband. “Excuse me, I’m right here.”

The man turned to her, his expression softening to politeness. “Yes. You are.”

Wendy blinked. Her heart began to shudder in her chest. The man didn’t seem to have an idea who she was. “I’m your bride,” she explained. “From Nashville. Wendy Weatherford.”

The man continued to stare at her. He shrugged and shook his head. “I didn’t send for any brides. I did send for the latest editions of The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. I don’t suppose you have those with you?” His grin was charming, amusing even, but it carried no recognition.

Behind her, she thought she heard someone say, “Wendy Weatherford?”

But before she could react, she was already asking the finely-dressed gentleman, “Aren’t you Cody Montrose?”

The man in front of her burst into laughter so quickly that prickles formed across Wendy’s face, and her hands and feet went numb.

“I’ve been called any number of names in my time, but Cody Montrose has never been one of them.” He continued to chuckle, coming closer to her to offer his hand. “The name’s Solomon Templesmith,” he introduced himself. “And you are?”

She had barely recovered her composure, let alone gathered herself enough to give him an answer, when a man’s voice behind her said, “You’re Wendy Weatherford?”

Dread twisted in Wendy’s gut as she turned to find the older man and woman and the two young working men approaching. It was impossible to tell which one of them had spoken, but it hardly seemed to matter. They all wore variations of the same bewildered stare.

“Yes.” She turned fully toward them, trying to smile but failing in her shock. “I am Wendy Weatherford. And you are?”

All four of them stood stock still, eyes wide.

At last, the woman sighed and said, “I think Mrs. Breashears left out one tiny detail in the description she sent.” More silence, then the woman shook her head and gestured as if she were brushing a fly away from her face. “I’m Mrs. Josephine Evans,” she explained, hand outstretched to take hers.

Wendy half lifted her hand to shake Mrs. Evans’s before realizing both hands were full.

“Here.” The older of of the two younger men hopped forward, his expression serious, though not unkind. “I’ll take those.”

His eyes met hers for a moment as she handed her carpetbag and sewing kit over. A spark of attraction swirled through Wendy’s already fluttering stomach. He had gentle, hazel eyes, and right then they seemed to brim with compassion for her situation. She swayed toward him for a heartbeat, as if he was the lifeline being thrown to her. The older woman still had her hand raised, though, and as soon as her bags were with the kind-eyed man, Wendy took it. She smiled as serenely as she could.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Evans,” she said. Inch by inch, she recovered her composure and held herself with as much grace as she could in the situation.

Mrs. Evans peeked at her companions, then cleared her throat. “This is Mr. Charlie Garrett.” She introduced the older man.

“Miss Weatherford.” Mr. Garrett bowed as he shook her hand.

“This is Mr. Travis Montrose.” Mrs. Evans gestured to the man who now held Wendy’s things. Her face pinched, her shoulders twitched, and she turned to the other young man. “And this is Mr. Cody Montrose.”

Wendy smiled and faced her fiancé, back straight, hand outstretched in greeting. “Mr. Montrose.”

Cody Montrose stared back at her. His were the only set of eyes that were still rounded in shock and, Wendy was loathe to admit, horror. He’d gone pale, except for bright splotches of red on his cheeks and his mouth hung open. He didn’t take her offered hand.

“Nuh-uh,” he said at last, shaking his head. “I can’t marry her.”

Tension sizzled in the air around them. Wendy’s chest and throat squeezed.

“But,” Mrs. Evans started, hands fidgeting in front of her. “But you sent for her.”

“I didn’t send for her,” Cody said. He gestured to Wendy, sweeping her with a look from head to toe.

Wendy felt as exposed as if he’d shouted for everyone in Haskell to come take a look at her. “I’m sorry if I’m not what you were expecting.” She could only manage a whisper. “You are not what I expected either.”

She twisted to see if Mr. Solomon Templesmith was still witnessing the scene, but that gentleman had moved on and was now talking to Herb Waters, like the two of them were good friends. A shiver of panic curled through Wendy. She was on her own in the middle of nowhere, about to be abandoned.

 

Oh no! Poor Wendy! What’s going to happen to her? Find out very soon!