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Authors: Liz Lee

Tags: #Romance

Texas Gold

BOOK: Texas Gold
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Contents

Texas Gold by Liz Lee

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Texas Gold by Liz Lee

©Liz Lee 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter One

No amount of money could buy the elation Mallory Baber felt as she strode up the steps to the school administration building.

She’d delivered the Holy Grail to Serendipity, Texas. A state softball championship. And nothing was going to ruin this day.

Not the strappy red high heeled sandals that matched her toenails but hurt like heck. Not the hundred degree Hades-like wind blowing dirt in her eyes and sending tiny droplets of sweat cascading down her back. Not even the occasional wayward thought that it took winning state to capture her father’s attention.

Blessed icy air blasted over her damp forehead as she opened the door.

She waved when she saw her sister-in-law in the hall outside the meeting room and wished she could take the stairs two at a time. She would have if it weren’t for the shoes. Instead she casually made her way forward, a prickle of unease trailing down her back along with the sweat at the worried look on Celinda’s face.

Crap.

“If I’m not going to like what you’ve got to say, could you hold it until later?”

“I don’t think this will wait.” Celinda motioned to the ladies room.

Not good. Bathroom conversations tended to be the worst. They meant the men in her life weren’t allowed to know. Not her brothers, not her daddy.

Great.

As Mallory watched Celinda checking under stall doors, she wished she could take off her shoes. Somehow she didn’t think high heels were going to help this situation. “If you’re intent on ruining the best day of my life, you might as well spit it out.”

Celinda turned on the water and hit the electric dryer. She didn’t even bother to look upset. “There was a closed door meeting today.”

“Closed doors certainly don’t warrant all this.” Mallory flung her hand out and ignored the beginnings of a headache. “They hold closed door meetings to decide everything from color schemes to class options.”

“Not like this one.” Celinda leaned forward and lowered her voice to a whisper. “This meeting was with that new developer and Mayor Jenkins. They’re going to try to get rid of J.D.”

Relief flooded through Mallory. Celinda was wrong. She had to be. No way would the school board think of firing her daddy. He’d delivered eight state football championships to this town. He was more than an athletic director. He was an institution. Hell, he was almost a god.

“They can’t get rid of Daddy. You’re mistaken.” Mallory was certain of it. Almost.

Celinda shrugged. “All I know is what I heard. And what I heard was J.D. is out and new blood is in.”
 

Celinda stopped, fluffed her hair in the mirror, dug a hot pink lip-gloss out of her purse and swiped it over her lips. “I only heard a minute of it because I was just delivering coffee and Mayor Jenkins knew I was listening. Plus, I think the school board members all knew they were throwing in with the enemy even sitting at the same table with that developer and his partner. But I know they’re going after J.D. first. They want someone young. Someone who can ‘relate to the kids’ is what they said.”

Darn. Darn. Double darn. Mallory bit her lip and tried to regain some of the elation from moments before. But panic replaced it. Panic and fear that she might be too late to fix this.

She forced herself to think, to plan, to decide.

Within seconds she acted.

“Well, that might be the way it’s done elsewhere. But in Serendipity, Baber is synonymous with success. They’re not getting rid of Daddy.” She turned off the water and moved to the door as the dryer ground to a halt. “We’ll just have to make sure of it. Now come on, the board’s recognizing my girls, and if you’re right, we’ve got a little work to do.”

With Celinda trailing behind, Mallory practically marched to the boardroom. The smell of fresh popcorn mixed with certainty that she would fix this somehow.

The feeling of success now replaced with one of determination and anger, she looked in the room and focused on her girls. They were why she was here, why the bank president had popped the popcorn in her honor, why the whole town knew her as the other winning Coach Baber.

And they were integral to her plan to save her daddy’s job.

Her father stood on the podium next to the superintendent and president of the school board. Neither of whom met her eyes when she walked inside.

Dirty skunks. How could they stand there pretending?
 

Did J.D. already know about the meeting?
 

She made her way through the crowded room as her father stepped down and lumbered toward her. When his big arms closed around her in the hug reserved for when she won, she reached up and kissed his cheek.

The photographer’s flash caught her eye at the same time her daddy spoke. “Well, you did it, pretty girl.”

A smile lit up her face and she prayed the photographer caught every minute of this. She wouldn’t let a businessman with an agenda and a group of jealous men ruin her father. “You taught me everything I know.”

And he had. Play fair, but play tough. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal. For Babers that meant one thing. Winning.
 

When they reached the front of the room, her father left her with the team that had helped her reach that goal.
 

Mallory threw her arms up as the girls crowded around for yet another hug. A week had passed, but the thrill of victory still permeated the air.
 

And she’d be damned if she’d roll over and let her daddy be replaced because some hot shot from the city decided it was time.

She searched the room and zeroed in on her biggest opponent. There he sat in his millionaire glory, right on the front row next to her empty seat.

If they ever made gorgeous men illegal, Brenton Alexander would rank as a felony crime.
 

His designer suit fit perfectly. His professionally cut black hair accentuated the green of his eyes. Eyes she’d had to face once too often since he’d moved to town with his daughter, Nina, star first baseman, wonder kid sophomore.

As team parents went, Brenton ranked right up there with the best. He never missed a game, never yelled at Nina when she messed up. Volunteered to work concession stands. Bought the team equipment and paid for programs.

Unfortunately, he’d come to town with one goal in mind. Growth. Expansion. Turning his millions into billions.

And so far, he’d succeeded beyond belief.
 

Ever since his developments had begun swallowing up her family’s land, she’d known he was an enemy. Now that he’d decided to destroy her father, he’d moved to the top of the list. One way or another, Mr. Alexander was going to have to learn the rules. In this part of the country, football reigned supreme. And her daddy was king in this kingdom.
 

And this kingdom wasn’t some metroplex suburb wanna be. They didn’t need malls. They didn’t need franchise restaurants. They didn’t need fast food in the school cafeteria.
 

Taking her seat, Mallory prepared to win the biggest game of her life. Brenton Alexander might have money, but he didn’t have heart. He’d learn fast enough he’d picked the wrong family to do battle with.

They hadn’t made coaches like Mallory Baber when he’d been in high school. Brenton knew if they had, he’d have caught more games.

As she took her seat beside him, he watched her legs cross, her skirt creep up to show her knees. Perfection marred by a small scar his daughter told him came from knee surgery years earlier.

Her red hair curled in wisps around her face. Her blue eyes clear in their dislike. “Coach Baber.” He nodded his head in greeting, enjoying the way her eyebrow lifted.

“Mr. Alexander.”

Sure, he knew well enough why she disliked him. Lots of people were afraid of change. But he’d made his money on change, and he was willing to bet this town would be the better for it before he left.

Just as he was willing to accept that Mallory Baber’s dislike made her all the more appealing.

“Great season.”

“The best.”

“Record setting.” He could match her short answers any day.
 

“That it was.”

Her red sandal tapped in time to some internal beat, her calf muscles flexing seductively, her toe ring flashing in flirty silent cadence. Nothing like the woman he saw on the softball field. And yet still the very same.

“Maybe the new girls gave you the advantage you needed.” Nina was the only new player this year, but by this time next season that would definitely change.

Her foot stopped moving, and he wondered what crazy thoughts were running through her mind. “Maybe.”

He would have said more, tried to goad her into a conversation, but someone called the meeting to order. When she was introduced, she walked to the podium. Around him, the team called for a speech, her father offered his hand to help her, and as he watched the way her skirt slid as she stepped up, he knew he was seeing poetry in motion.

When she leaned into the microphone, he practically held his breath. Her smooth, sensuous voice reminded him of the bass saxophone.

“Girls, you did good.”

Her words started a flurry of cheers. Those same words had been the mantra of the team all season. He couldn’t count the number of times his daughter had come home from practice chanting them.

Once the whistles, hand clapping and all around shouts of “good job, Coach” subsided, she turned to her father and grinned. The big man grinned right back, perfectly pleased his daughter’d delivered the ultimate goods in a town where games ruled.
 

“As a little girl, I grew up with faith in the success of a team that believed it could do anything. I watched my daddy bring home eight state championships. Five from unranked teams. And I figured once I got the chance, we’d bring the girls into that winning tradition, too. Well, here we are.”

Her words were met with more cheers, but when her eyes found his, hers held only challenge.
 

So she knew about today’s meeting.

It wasn’t all that surprising. But he’d figured on more time.

Why it suddenly mattered, he didn’t know.

Whether she liked it or not, this town had outgrown the man at the Athletic Director’s helm.

But that didn’t mean they had to be enemies.

Until Nina graduated, he’d be a major player in this community. Mallory Baber was an important part of this town. An important person in his daughter’s life. And he’d do whatever it took to somehow convince her he wasn’t the devil she thought him to be.

As she walked to her seat, that glint of challenge he’d seen in her eyes fed his desire.

Once she was seated, he leaned toward her, catching the barest hint of soap and something sweet. “Good speech.”

The girls moved forward one at a time to receive their awards. Her answer barely sounded above the applause. “Thank you.”

“How about dinner?” Certain she’d refuse, he couldn’t resist trying.

“Sorry. I’m busy.”

She didn’t even glance in his direction.

“We could make it a business proposition.”

Her hands stilled for a moment. “What business would that be?”

Well, well, well. He certainly had her attention now.

He watched as Nina accepted her certificate, thought his next words through carefully, rolled them around in his mind looking for alternatives.

Nina turned toward him, lifted the certificate in the air and blew him a kiss before shaking her hands in the air and flashing the victory sign toward her coach.
 

BOOK: Texas Gold
8.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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