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Authors: Gem Sivad

Tags: #Romance, #elloras cave publishing, #Western

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BOOK: The Journal of Lucy Quince
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It occurred to her as she rode between the two grim ranchers that somebody in Eclipse was probably suffering from heart tremors about now. She’d risen and returned from the dead and it appeared her resurrection was an inconvenience for everyone except her family. It was odd to think of the two children and the hard-faced Quince man that way, but impossible to think otherwise.

The day was hot and lather from three horses flecked her skirts as the brothers kept her centered between them. It began to get irritating. After Lucy gave Ham a warning look, he put some distance between his horse and her mare.

Ambrose didn’t show the same respect. Finally, after he’d jammed against her leg for the third time, Lucy shook her boot loose from the stirrup on his side and waited for daylight to show between the horses. Then she lined up and let fly, catching his knee with a solid thump from her heel.

He glared at her but she didn’t care. It had felt good, as if she’d delivered a blow for past injustices. She was satisfied she’d made her point when he kept his distance the rest of the ride. When they reached an open gate that fronted a well-used dirt path, Lucy passed under the Double-Q sign mounted above the ranch yard entrance stoically.
Here is where I’ll find the answers to who I am.

 

Ambrose dismounted and automatically turned to help Lucy from her horse. In former days she would have criticized him for ungentlemanly behavior had he not done so. Today she’d already stepped down and crossed the space separating her from the wagon.

Instead of heading for the house, she took hold of the harness and steadied the animal, waiting for Alex and Brody to climb out. No one thanked her and she didn’t look as though she expected it.

Brody hopped down and ran over to hug him hard, burying her face against his side for a moment. He lifted her high in his arms so she was eye level with him. “Guess the Quinces made it through another one together, Sugar Plum.” Then he caught sight of Lucy watching and set Brody to the ground.

“Take your mama to the house, Brody,” He turned to his son. “Alex, carry her satchel in for her.” Lucy remained outside the circle of conversation, listening as if she wasn’t being discussed.

“Where should I put her things?” Alex posed the question.

Brody answered vehemently, “She’s not sharing my room.”

Ambrose looked at his wife as the kids squabbled over where to put her. The heat of the day, his unexpected survival and the incredible reality of Lucy’s presence all contributed to a dizzy rush. His voice was gruffly hoarse, roughened by the squeeze of the rope earlier and the emotion that clogged his throat now. “Put her stuff where it belongs—in our room.”

Appearing disinterested in the discussion, Lucy studied the ranch yard as though she’d never seen the place before. But when Alex moved to take her satchel, she shook her head. “I need to rub down my mare and grain her.”

Ambrose wanted her in the house, suddenly anxious, as if she might disappear if he looked away. For all his control, he had to keep swallowing to wet his mouth before he could speak to her. “Go on in. I’ll see to the mare when I unhook the wagon.”

Rifle in hand, she silently followed their son into the house, taking time to look around at the weed-infested yard as she walked to the porch.

It did look a shade different from when she’d been here before. Her money had paid for the extras. The paint she’d insisted on covering the adobe block with was chipped and the once-red shutters were a rusty brown.

When they’d first married, he’d tried to explain that the Texas sun would steal the color and the wind and weather would sand away the paint, but Lucy had never been one to listen.

She’d come from back East and she had standards. If he’d heard that word once in his eight years of marriage he’d heard it a thousand times before she’d left.
Standards
.

There were more changes than a little paint. Her money had paid wages for the housekeeper and her money had bought the fancy cushions and covers on the furniture. Hell, her money had bought the furniture. He’d been land-poor and cattle-proud, and he still was.

When Lucy disappeared, Steve Pauley had been more than pleased to shut off the flow of cash from Lucy’s bank account. Without it, the house and kids had suffered. But they’d made it.
At least as soon as we get this herd to market the Double-Q will be solvent again.

 

 

 

 

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BOOK: The Journal of Lucy Quince
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