by Vickie McDonough
Welcome to Lookout, Texas, y’all!
Just where is that, you ask?
Well, it resides only in my mind and on the pages of the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series. Lookout is a small town shaped like a capital E. Bluebonnet Lane is the spine and Apple, Main, and Oak are the arms of the letter. There’s a river that runs just west of Lookout with a ridge that over looks the town and river that is called Lookout Ridge. It’s said that Indians, soldiers, and even thieves have sat atop the ridge watching for enemies. The town’s children have attached a rope to a tree, and they swing out over the water in the hot summers, dropping into the cool waters below.
Luke Davis left Lookout 11 years ago, after his fiancée up and married the richest bachelor in town. Broken-hearted, he rode out and soon joined the army. He’s become a Christian and feels God leading him back to Lookout, so that he can forgive and forget and get on with his life. He takes the job as town marshal while he’s there, but the biggest surprise is that his ex-fiancée is now a widow with an ornery little girl who dresses and acts like a boy.
Luke’s only living family is two ornery cousins, Garrett and Mark Corbett. As youngsters, the trio got into all kinds of trouble. When they throw Luke a birthday party, they ask him if he’ll ever marry. Luke responds that he will if the right woman ever comes along.
A month later, three mail-order brides show up, each expecting to marry him—but Luke never ordered a bride. A contest ensues to see which bride will make him the best wife—not that he plans to marry anyone.
The Anonymous Bride is Luke’s story and the first book in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series. It releases April 1st and is currently available for pre-order at Amazon and Christianbook.com
We all know Luke can’t marry but one bride, so what happens to the others? Find out in:
Second Chance Brides, releasing October 1, 2010
Finally A Bride will be available April 1, 2011
Visit my website at: www.vickiemcdonough.com for more information.
Here’s the opening scene of The Anonymous Bride, just to whet your appetite:
Luke Davis reined his horse to a halt atop the ridge and gazed down at the town half a mile away. Lookout, Texas—the place where his dreams were birthed and had died. He wasn’t ready to return—to face the two people he’d tried so hard to forget. But sometimes God asked hard things of a man.
“I’d rather face a band of Sioux warriors, Lord, than to ride into that town again.” He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.
Alamo, his black gelding, snorted, as if sensing they’d reached the end of their long journey. Luke reined his horse down the path to the small river that ran south and west of town. A healthy dose of spring rains had filled the crater dug out by past floods where the river made a sharp turn. Local kids used it for a swimming hole, and a new rope had been added for them to swing on. Memories of afternoons spent there were some of Luke’s favorite, but those carefree days were over.
He glanced heavenward at the brilliant blue sky, halfway hoping God would give him leave to ride away. When no such reprieve came, he dismounted at the water’s edge and allowed his horse to drink while he rinsed three days’ worth of dust off his face.
Alamo suddenly jerked his head up and flicked his ears forward. The horse backed away from the bank and turned, looking off to the right. Luke scooped up a handful of water and sipped it, watching to see what had stirred up his horse. Tall cottonwoods lined the life-giving river, and thigh-high grasses and shrubs made good hiding places. He knew that for a fact. How many times as a boy had he and his two cousins hidden there, watching the older kids swimming and sometimes spooning?
“Must have been some critter, ’Mo.” He stood and patted his horse, finally ready to ride into Lookout and see up close how much the town had changed. How she’d changed.
Suddenly, three heads popped up from behind a nearby bush. “Hey, mister,” a skinny kid yelled, “that’s our swimming hole, not a horse trough.”
Rocks flew toward him, and he ducked, turning his back to the kids. Alamo squealed and sidestepped into Luke, sending him flying straight into the river. Hoots of laughter rose up behind him as cool water seeped down into his boots and soaked his clothing. His boots slipped on the moss-covered rocks as he scrambled for a foothold.
“Foolish kids.” He trudged out of the river, dripping from every inch of his clothing. His socks sloshed in his water-logged boots. Dropping to the bank, he yanked them off and dumped the water and wrung out his socks. With his boots back on, he checked Alamo, making sure the horse wasn’t injured, then he mounted, determined to find those kids and teach them a lesson. Playing childish pranks was one thing, and he’d done his share of them, but throwing rocks at an animal was something else altogether.
“Heyah!” Alamo lurched forward. Luke hunkered low against the horse’s neck until he cleared the tree line then he sat up, scanning the rolling hills. He didn’t see any movement at first, but when he topped the closest hill, he found the rowdy trio racing for the edge of town. Luke hunched down and let his horse out in a full canter, quickly closing the distance between him and the kids.
All three glanced back, no longer ornery but scared. He’d never harm a child, but instilling a little fear for the law couldn’t hurt anything.
The two tallest boys veered off to the left, out-pacing the smaller kid. The boy stumbled and fell, bounced up and shot for town. Luke aimed for that one as the older boys dashed behind the nearest house. The youngster pressed down his big floppy hat and pumped his short legs as fast as he could. The gap narrowed. Slowing Alamo, Luke leaned sideways and reached down, grabbing the youth by his overall straps. The child kicked his feet and flailed his arms, but Luke was stronger, quicker. He slung the kid across his lap.
“Let me go! I didn’t do nothin’.” The boy held his hat on with one hand and pushed against Luke’s leg with the other hand. “You’re gettin’ me wet.”
“Just lie still. And I wouldn’t be wet if you hadn’t thrown rocks at my horse.” Luke held a firm hand on the kid’s backside, but the boy still squirmed, trying to get free. “Don’t make me tie you up.”
Suddenly he stilled. “You wouldn’t.”
“Whoa, Mo.” Luke calmed his horse, fidgety from the child’s activity. Alamo had carried him through all kinds of weather, fights with Indians in the Dakotas, and chasing down train robbers, but one skinny kid had him all riled up.
“My ma ain’t gonna like you doin’ this to me, mister.”
Luke grunted, knowing the kid was probably right, but then his mama should have taught him not the throw rocks at strangers. The next man might shoot back.
Being wet with a cocky kid tossed across his lap certainly wasn’t the homecoming he’d had in mind.