Digitalis

Digitalis

4.7 30
by Ronie Kendig
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Step into the boots of an ex-Marine who exchanges one risky career for another and follows true love into the darkest of nights.

See more details below

Overview

Step into the boots of an ex-Marine who exchanges one risky career for another and follows true love into the darkest of nights.

Editorial Reviews

Radiant Lit
In Digitalis, the second book of the Nightshade series, Ronie Kendig has done it again. Passion, intrigue, and heart stopping action make this story impossible to put down.

Action, great character, romance, and faith weave together to make this story a must read.

— Lara Van Hulzen

GoodReads
Wow! I fell in love with the men of Nightshade in the first book of this series and I was really looking forward to reading about the hunky cowboy's, Colton Neely, story. This book did not disappoint at all. It was everything I thought it would be and more. Action, suspense, drama, romance. I loved, loved, loved it.

I'd highly recommend this book! I cannot wait for the other books in this series and to get to know the other members of Nightshade.

— Sara Bofferding

Bookworm Hollow
I have put Ronie Kendig’s books at the top of my must read list! I lost a good night’s sleep over this novel because I could not stop reading. Intense in places, I didn’t want to close my eyes and wait until morning to see what happened. Colton has some serious issues, and Ronie doesn’t shy away from it.

I can’t wait to read what she has in store for us with the third and fourth books!

— Norma Hutchinson

A Few of My Favorite Things

I would like to say just how much I enjoyed reading Digitalis. I was at the edge of my seat through the last third of the book. I loved both Colton and Piper, and it was exciting to see their relationship develop.

The twist at the end was especially good. I am looking forward to reading further books in the series.

— Michelle Chapman

Novel Journey
Reading a Ronie Kendig novel is like watching a movie—a nail-biting, intense action movie. The words seem to jump off the page and leave you breathless as Colton takes you from one heart-pounding scene to another. Novel Journey and I give it our highest recommendation.

— Ane Mulligan

Thoughts of a Sojourner
In this book, there is a lot of action and suspense just as the first, but even more, and there is also a lot more of the romantic element. Don't let that scare you away guys. This, just like the first book, will definitely capture male readers' interest. There is a lot of action, guns - all the stuff that the average man is interested in, yet women should and do enjoy these books also.

— Mark Buzard

CBA Retailers + Resources
Kendig portrays military engagements realistically, without egregious gore, and she leaves out the expletives. Digitalis is #2 in the "Discarded Heroes" series and is well written, easily read, and a captivating page-turner.

— John Bernstein

In Other Words
The pacing is fantastic. I didn’t skim a single page. As in the first book, Kendig hooks you into Colton’s and Piper’s world with such effectiveness that I never questioned the credibility of the events. Speaking of events, the plot kept me guessing unto the end, including the way the romance between Colton and Piper developed.

And of course, the book has lots of carnage.

I know this book is labeled as a romance book, but I’ve recommended it and the first book in the series, Nightshade, to my husband. It’s the perfect balance of man book and sigh-worthy romance. There aren’t enough man books out there and I’m glad to finally have a book I can share with him.

— Terri J. Haynes

Empowering Mommy
Ronie Kendig peals back the layers of her character’s in such an intriguing way that you not only watch the character growth but you also feel that character’s pain and growth. Trusting God is not always an easy thing and Ronie Kendig puts that into light with each of her books. What I also love is that Ronie Kendig sheds light on what real soldiers who see conflict and combat go through today when they come off the field and out of the military. The flashbacks that Colton experiences are similar in nature to those of real soldiers and their experiences. I love how she sheds light on this as well as helping to make the average reader aware of these very real situations.

I was very sad when I finished Digitalis (Discarded Heroes, Book 2) because I knew that I would now have to wait until July to reconnect with this elite group.
Rachael Coe

CBA Retailers
Each chapter reveals new secrets, leading to a crescendo of surprises. Family values, team loyalty, and relational fidelity are strong for both lead characters. Kendig portrays military engagements realistically, without egregious gore, and she leaves out the expletives. Digiatlis is #2 in the "Discarded Heroes" series and is well written, easily read, and a captivating page-turner.

— John Bernstein

WORD up!

Ronie Kendig knows how to weave an intelligent and action-packed plot. She also knows how to season such a tale with the perfect amount of romance. This is a completely enjoyable novel that will keep you up well past bedtime turning the pages of this incredible tale!

— Stacey Dale

Goodreads
This unputdownable page-turner has just about the right amount of everything: action, romance, humor, and espionage. And I loved the stunning climax in Israel. I did grow a bit frustrated with Colton’s love interest Piper, but after she dried her tears and tried trusting Colton, I decided she might be worthy of him. As for me, I discovered that Digitalis is good for my heart. In other words, Colton Neeley is my new favorite hero. Of course, I haven’t read the other books in this series yet . . .

— Renee Ann Smith

I Deal in Hope
A story with tough men and love that isn't sentimental and sweet, but forged in pain and faith and forgiveness. Action adventure that leaves the reader little time to take a break.
Carolyn Scheidies
Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
Kendig does a great job keeping the action going. She also shows the struggle Colton has with his faith in God and his struggle with the mission and his task to kill terrorists.
Joan Nienhuis
Book Reviews by Lady Katy
Ronie Kendig never ceases to amaze me. "Rapid-Fire Fiction" describes her awesome books to a tee! Each time I pick up a book by her, I know I am in for a wild adventure. Within minutes, I’m completely sucked into the characters and their situations. By the time it comes to a heart pounding ending, I’m dying for more! Digitalis was A-MAZ-ING!! Totally. Her entire Discarded Hero series is completely awesome and one that will remain proudly on my favorites bookshelf for forever! After reading all three books in this series – Nightshade, Digitalis, and Wolfsbane – I still cannot say which one is my favorite. Each one has something that I totally loved about them. The Nightshade team is just an awesome, dedicated group of guys! Gotta love each one!

 

From start to finish, I loved this book. Totally! The Discarded Hero series, each and every book, is awesome! Ronie Kendig has become an author who, when I hear she’s coming out with a new book (even before I know what it’s about), I know I’m going to get it. I can always trust Ronie to write a book that will keep my adrenalin running, my mind reeling, and my heart thumping double time. Way ta’ go, Ronie!! I can't wait till the next book comes out, Firethorn!

— Katie McCurdy

A Few Of My Favorite Things
I would like to say just how much I enjoyed reading Digitalis. I was at the edge of my seat through the last third of the book. I loved both Colton and Piper, and it was exciting to see their relationship develop.

The twist at the end was especially good. I am looking forward to reading further books in the series.

— Michelle Chapman

Word Up!
Ronie Kendig knows how to weave an intelligent and action-packed plot. She also knows how to season such a tale with the perfect amount of romance. This is a completely enjoyable novel that will keep you up well past bedtime turning the pages of this incredible tale!
Stacey Dale
From the Publisher

An action-packed thrill ride from start to finish...if you liked CBS's long running hit series THE UNIT you're going to love Ronie Kendig's DIGITALIS. Enjoy the ride and the read. I only have one question...where do I sign up for Nightshade?

            Bob Hamer, veteran FBI undercover agent and the author of ENEMIES AMONG US

Digitalis is a story of skill and purpose woven with love and spine-tingling danger...that will live long past the last page. None of us fully realize the dedication of those who keep our world safe.

DiAnn Mills, Christy Award Winning author of Pursuit of Justice

Balancing a story of high action and deep emotions isn’t easy, but with Digitalis, author Ronie Kendig pulls it off with the casual grace of a truly talented storyteller. I don’t know what kept me on the edge of my seat more, the fast-paced military intrigue or the powerful tugs on my heart. Doesn’t matter: This is one pulse-pounding adventure you don’t want to miss.
--Robert Liparulo, author of Comes a Horseman, Germ, and the Dreamhouse Kings

Radiant Lit - Lara Van Hulzen

In Digitalis, the second book of the Nightshade series, Ronie Kendig has done it again. Passion, intrigue, and heart stopping action make this story impossible to put down.

Action, great character, romance, and faith weave together to make this story a must read.

GoodReads - Sara Bofferding

Wow! I fell in love with the men of Nightshade in the first book of this series and I was really looking forward to reading about the hunky cowboy's, Colton Neely, story. This book did not disappoint at all. It was everything I thought it would be and more. Action, suspense, drama, romance. I loved, loved, loved it.

I'd highly recommend this book! I cannot wait for the other books in this series and to get to know the other members of Nightshade.

A Few of My Favorite Things - Michelle Chapman

I would like to say just how much I enjoyed reading Digitalis. I was at the edge of my seat through the last third of the book. I loved both Colton and Piper, and it was exciting to see their relationship develop.

The twist at the end was especially good. I am looking forward to reading further books in the series.

Bookworm Hollow - Norma Hutchinson

I have put Ronie Kendig’s books at the top of my must read list! I lost a good night’s sleep over this novel because I could not stop reading. Intense in places, I didn’t want to close my eyes and wait until morning to see what happened. Colton has some serious issues, and Ronie doesn’t shy away from it.

I can’t wait to read what she has in store for us with the third and fourth books!

Novel Journey - Ane Mulligan

Reading a Ronie Kendig novel is like watching a movie—a nail-biting, intense action movie. The words seem to jump off the page and leave you breathless as Colton takes you from one heart-pounding scene to another. Novel Journey and I give it our highest recommendation.
Thoughts of a Sojourner - Mark Buzard

In this book, there is a lot of action and suspense just as the first, but even more, and there is also a lot more of the romantic element. Don't let that scare you away guys. This, just like the first book, will definitely capture male readers' interest. There is a lot of action, guns - all the stuff that the average man is interested in, yet women should and do enjoy these books also.
CBA Retailers + Resources - John Bernstein

Each chapter reveals new secrets, leading to a crescendo of surprises. Family values, team loyalty, and relational fidelity are strong for both lead characters. Kendig portrays military engagements realistically, without egregious gore, and she leaves out the expletives. Digiatlis is #2 in the "Discarded Heroes" series and is well written, easily read, and a captivating page-turner.
In Other Words - Terri J. Haynes

The pacing is fantastic. I didn’t skim a single page. As in the first book, Kendig hooks you into Colton’s and Piper’s world with such effectiveness that I never questioned the credibility of the events. Speaking of events, the plot kept me guessing unto the end, including the way the romance between Colton and Piper developed.

And of course, the book has lots of carnage.

I know this book is labeled as a romance book, but I’ve recommended it and the first book in the series, Nightshade, to my husband. It’s the perfect balance of man book and sigh-worthy romance. There aren’t enough man books out there and I’m glad to finally have a book I can share with him.

Empowering Mommy - Rachael Coe

Ronie Kendig peals back the layers of her character’s in such an intriguing way that you not only watch the character growth but you also feel that character’s pain and growth. Trusting God is not always an easy thing and Ronie Kendig puts that into light with each of her books. What I also love is that Ronie Kendig sheds light on what real soldiers who see conflict and combat go through today when they come off the field and out of the military. The flashbacks that Colton experiences are similar in nature to those of real soldiers and their experiences. I love how she sheds light on this as well as helping to make the average reader aware of these very real situations.

I was very sad when I finished Digitalis (Discarded Heroes, Book 2) because I knew that I would now have to wait until July to reconnect with this elite group.

Book Reviews from an Avid Reader - Joan Nienhuis

Kendig does a great job keeping the action going. She also shows the struggle Colton has with his faith in God and his struggle with the mission and his task to kill terrorists.
WORD up! - Stacey Dale

Ronie Kendig knows how to weave an intelligent and action-packed plot. She also knows how to season such a tale with the perfect amount of romance. This is a completely enjoyable novel that will keep you up well past bedtime turning the pages of this incredible tale!

Goodreads - Renee Ann Smith

This unputdownable page-turner has just about the right amount of everything: action, romance, humor, and espionage. And I loved the stunning climax in Israel. I did grow a bit frustrated with Colton’s love interest Piper, but after she dried her tears and tried trusting Colton, I decided she might be worthy of him. As for me, I discovered that Digitalis is good for my heart. In other words, Colton Neeley is my new favorite hero. Of course, I haven’t read the other books in this series yet . . .

I Deal in Hope - Carolyn Scheidies

A story with tough men and love that isn't sentimental and sweet, but forged in pain and faith and forgiveness. Action adventure that leaves the reader little time to take a break.

Book Reviews by Lady Katy - Katie McCurdy

Ronie Kendig never ceases to amaze me. "Rapid-Fire Fiction" describes her awesome books to a tee! Each time I pick up a book by her, I know I am in for a wild adventure. Within minutes, I’m completely sucked into the characters and their situations. By the time it comes to a heart pounding ending, I’m dying for more! Digitalis was A-MAZ-ING!! Totally. Her entire Discarded Hero series is completely awesome and one that will remain proudly on my favorites bookshelf for forever! After reading all three books in this series – Nightshade, Digitalis, and Wolfsbane – I still cannot say which one is my favorite. Each one has something that I totally loved about them. The Nightshade team is just an awesome, dedicated group of guys! Gotta love each one!
 

From start to finish, I loved this book. Totally! The Discarded Hero series, each and every book, is awesome! Ronie Kendig has become an author who, when I hear she’s coming out with a new book (even before I know what it’s about), I know I’m going to get it. I can always trust Ronie to write a book that will keep my adrenalin running, my mind reeling, and my heart thumping double time. Way ta’ go, Ronie!! I can't wait till the next book comes out, Firethorn!

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781607422464
Publisher:
Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
01/01/2011
Series:
Discarded Heroes , #2
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
132,956
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Digitalis

Discarded Heroes #2


By Ronie Kendig

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Ronie Kendig
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60742-246-4


CHAPTER 1

Fifteen months later.


One shot. One kill.

The sniper's motto streaked through Colton Neeley's mind as he lay with his arm folded under the stock of his Remington 700. Dampness soaked into his sleeve, evidence of the swampy terrain. He eased his hand toward the trigger well. A bead of sweat rolled down his temple and slid past his eye pressed to the scope.

"Tangos en route and twenty yards," whispered his spotter, Marshall "the Kid" Vaughn, from his four o'clock position.

"Roger that." Synchronization between him and the Kid helped Colton focus on the mission. Peering past the crosshairs, he watched their team leader, three-quarters of a mile away, signaling a heads-up to the others.

Colton gently nudged his weapon, sighting the guerillas trekking north of the team. If all went well—which the elite team of former spec ops soldiers would ensure it did—they'd be on a C-130 back to the States and out of this mosquito-infested jungle by morning. He'd already spent thirty-six hours longer than he wanted in the vegetation. It'd rained for the first twenty, leaving him drenched and cold. But crawling in early gave them the advantage of locating their objectives and the guerrilla group holding them hostage.

Once again, he verified the position of the team. Nothing would ruin a mission like friendly fire taking out one of their own. At his two, he sighted Frogman hunkered down next to a boulder. Greased up, Max Jacobs had the perpetual scowl that marked him as the man in charge—and a grump. Nobody minded. The former Navy SEAL had come through a lot.

Behind him slunk Canyon "Midas" Metcalfe, probably the sanest of the group, even if he had once been a Green Beret. And they forgave him for that.

"Heads up, Frogman," the Kid whispered into his coms, alerting the team. "Six headed your way for a party."

Checking his nine gave Colton a close-up of Griffin "Legend" Riddell, his Marine Special Operations Team buddy, as he took up point. Even from this distance, their movements felt silent, deadly. During the thirteen months Nightshade had been operational, it had built a phenomenal record, but nobody took that for granted. Each mission could be their last.

"Target," called his spotter. "Sector B, TRP-1, right fifty, add fifty."

Colton harnessed his energy and mind on the mission. He had an excellent shot-kill ratio, and he wanted to keep it that way. Mishaps exponentially increased the chances of being spotted and sniped back. In other words, dead.

"Roger," he replied as shadows morphed into solid shapes of Cuban rebels and their exhausted captives. His objective was the leader. "Sector B, TRP-1, right fifty, add fifty." The repetitive dialogue gave him an added measure of comfort.

"Dumb and bald soldier, M16 in right hand, cigarette in left."

Leave it to the Kid to give a snarky description. But he was right. The leader had taken the hostages into a jungle easy to maneuver and hide in, but also one easy to track. "Dumb and bald soldier, M16 in right hand, cigarette in left." Colton took a minute to assess the man behind the crosshairs. "Target identified." He measured the marks on the vertical bar. "I have two mils crotch to head."

"Roger, two mils crotch to head." Leaves on their ghillie suits and the low-hanging branches rustled as the Kid made his calculations. Air crackled beneath the gentle urging of the wind. "Dial five hundred on the gun."

Colton adjusted the optics. "Roger, five hundred on the gun. Indexed."

"Wind right to left, six miles an hour, hold one-quarter mil right."

"Roger, wind right to left six miles an hour, hold one-quarter mil right."

"Take the shot."

Quiet confidence roared through Colton as he eased the trigger back. The tiny sonic boom signaled the firing and sent the bullet spiraling toward its target. "Broke one- fourth mil right." While Colton immediately followed through and chambered another round, the Kid would eye the vapor trail of the bullet to check for precision.

"Center hit," the Kid confirmed. "Stand by."

"Roger, center hit, stand by." Waiting, he kept his scope on the guerillas—minus one. Frogman and Legend disabled the remaining bad guys without a hitch.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

"Taking fire. Taking fire!" Frogman shouted, diving over the hostages to protect them.

"Find him," Colton growled to the Kid. Blurs blended into the foliage as Colton swept his scope over the jungle. Tension ratcheted with each second—each second that meant the enemy sniper could reacquire and kill.

Father, guide my eyes.

A subtle difference in color, shade, and texture caught his eye. The left side of his mouth tweaked upward. Amateur. A tank would've been more stealthy. "Shooter spotted, blue 2."

Within seconds, the Kid provided the range to target. Colton set up the shot and lured the trigger back. Three hundred yards away, the branches swayed. A solid mass slumped into view. "Tango down," Colton voiced into the mic.

"Moving out. Rendezvous in sixty," Frogman ordered.

As he hiked down the steep hill, Colton kept his rifle slung over his shoulder. Leaves and mud squished underfoot as the Kid brought up the rear. There'd be no talk between now and the rendezvous. They were alone and in a hostile environment. No need to wave to the bad guys on their way out.

That gave him an hour to pray the images from his mind. While lying behind the Remington and firing off a round, he compartmentalized. Strategically boxed up what he had to do. Yet even now, guilt harangued him. He reminded himself the guys he took out were wicked men. Many around the globe had problems with Colton's area of expertise, but he knew God had given him this talent for a reason. And thanks to that talent, Nightshade had been able to intervene in hot spots no nation or government would touch.

Like today's objectives. A politician on a secret mission flies over the Cuban jungles and gets shot down. Taken hostage. Held for political maneuvering. Getting him back, along with the wealth of knowledge in his thick skull, was a priority for the U.S. government. Yet if they were caught, Nightshade would be disavowed. Their lives would be forfeit—all of them.

That wasn't going to happen if he had any say in it. He lifted the miniature dog tag embossed with Mickey's picture and kissed it. I'll be home soon, darlin'. Although he hated being away from his daughter for any amount of time, his parents filled the gap. Eventually Mickey would be in school and his absences wouldn't be felt as severely. At least, he hoped so.

His mother's rant filtered through his head, and he leapt over a large, fallen trunk. "If you'd get married and settle down, you wouldn't have to worry about leaving McKenna."

If only that were true. He'd have more to worry about if he let that happen. A woman he loved and a daughter? No, it wasn't worth the risk. He'd already failed one woman—his sister. The memory assailed him—the detonation, the fire, the screams ... finding her broken body under a table and part of the counter from the Israeli café.

No, he'd hurt too many people over the years. He wasn't about to leave the door open to failure and more bad dreams by taking a wife. Besides, what woman in her right mind would take a guy like him?

A rustle somewhere north elicited his training. He dropped to a knee behind a tree, his rifle at the ready. He peered down the scope, searching for the source of the noise. All at once, he registered the Kid taking up position behind him and the shifting of branches thirty yards northeast. To maintain a calm heart rate, Colton drew in a slow, deep breath—

A dull bird call trembled through the humid air.

He eased his face away from the butt. Relaxed—the Nightshade signal. Colton responded with a similar bird call and stood.

A half-dozen forms emerged from the trees. He grinned at the cocky, dark-haired man moving toward him with an M4 cradled in the crook of his arm. With the green and brown paint, Frogman's smirk seemed more pronounced.

"Nice job up there, Cowboy."

"These guys are amateurs—I think they pegged this gig on luck." Colton patted Frogman on the shoulder, then reached for the hand of his MARSOC buddy, Legend Riddell. The burly man grinned, his pearly whites brilliant against his dark skin.

Legend said, "Once again, perfect shot. Remind me not to flinch when you're taking aim."

"You could stand to lose an inch or two," Colton teased, then looked to their leader. "Sitrep?"

Frogman handed him the GPS. "About a klick northeast of rendezvous. Objectives are intact."

"Twenty minutes," Colton said as he returned the device and looked at the rescuees.

The politician slumped on a fallen tree, sweat ringing a shirt once starched to perfection. A grimacing woman struggled to sit on the log next to him, make-up smeared and white-blond hair askew.

Colton secured his rifle, then shifted to Frogman. "With the extra shooter I took down, I suggest we keep moving."

"Roger that. On your feet, people," Max ordered with a tight, controlled whisper.

As they hiked over the uneven terrain, the clouds let loose again. The grassy areas became slicker than the ground after Dolly calved last year. Colton pulled up the rear of the marching column, having to stop each time the woman slipped and tripped. He eased into position to help her. No sooner had he stepped behind her than her foot caught between two rocks, wrenching her ankle.

She cried out, but Colton clamped a hand over her mouth. Her wide eyes snapped to his.

"Quiet," he hissed, his eyes darting out over the hillside.

Midas let down his medic's pack and knelt in front of her. With her ankle between his hands, he probed and prodded, making her wince and whimper. "No break. Torn ligament, most likely. She can still get around."

"Good. Everyone move," Max snapped in a low, but effective tone.

The politician grunted. "You're not seriously going to make her walk—"

Max drew himself up straight. "We're only five minutes out, and a delay could mean death."

Colton watched as the woman absorbed Frogman's point with a slow nod, then worked herself upright. Propped on her toe, she faked a smile. Metcalfe supported her arm as she hobbled behind Frogman, weaving around trees and boulders. Her injury made the slow journey slower, more arduous. More dangerous. His senses were pinging. As if the rebels breathed down his neck this very second. Finally, crouched at the hem of the hill, they waited for the chopper.

Sitting ducks. He couldn't help the thought and tried to wipe it away with the thick sheen of sweat on his face and neck. The familiar thwump of distant rotors stirred his heart. Another few minutes and he'd be on his way back home to his daughter. To his ranch. As he smiled and kept watch on the swaying limbs and leaves, he felt a pressure on his arm.

Eyes lined by hardness and wrinkles glared back at him. Salt-and-pepper hair clung to the politician's face. "If you tell anyone about us ... about this ..."

The good ol' boy thought he had a secret Colton would be interested in. He grinned and winked. "Don't worry, partner. We don't exist either."

"How do you deal with it?" the woman asked, her voice shaky and hoarse. "Killing people, slaving through a jungle, hiding like criminals ..."

"Criminals? Nah, never thought of it like that." Besides, who dealt with war? "You shove it down and pray hard."

"Chopper!" The Kid grabbed his pack.

Aboard the Black Hawk, Colton let the steady, deafening drone of the rotors lull him to sleep. Three days without a decent amount of rack time left his muscles aching and eyes burning. Images took on ghostly forms in his dreams, snapping him out of the slumber. He sat up straighter, rubbed his eyes, and swallowed against the metallic taste in his mouth. Colton bent, his arms propped on his knees, and prayed. Prayed for God to protect his heart and mind. He'd never pray to forget. Forgetting meant repeating mistakes.

After safely delivering the politician and crew to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, the team boarded the private plane back to Virginia. At the converted warehouse base, Colton stood at his locker, holding two shirts. Stripes or just blue ...?

"Time for another trip to Hastings?" Max laughed as he clapped him on the back. "What're you going to buy from her this time? Lingerie?"

"Go home to that wife and kid of yours, and leave me alone." He shoved his friend out of the way.

"Hey!"

Peeling out of his grimy duds, he let his mind drift to the woman at Hastings as he headed to the showers. Though he gave Max a hard time, the guy was right. Colton intended to stop by on his way home, just as he had every time for the past eight months.

So what if he couldn't bring himself to ask her out? That wasn't a bad thing, considering his past.

* * *

"My daddy is lost."

The squeaky little voice drew Piper Blum away from arranging the line of cosmetics. She shifted to the opening between the two counters. Beneath a coral-colored floppy hat peered the brightest blue eyes.

Piper smiled and leaned toward the girl. "Your daddy is lost?" She tried to hide a laugh when the girl propped her hands on her hips.

"Mm-hm. I told him I was going to look at the toys." Her lower lip pouted as she pointed to a display of Gund stuffed animals. Fear trembled through her chin. "But then he just left." Her voice cracked as she tossed up her hands. Puddles formed in the cobalt eyes.

Crouching, Piper rubbed the girl's arms. "Don't worry. We'll find him, sweetie." She led her around to the white leather bars tool and helped her up. "What's your name?" Folding the hat rim back, she brushed the white-blond bangs from the girl's face.

"Mickey."

"Okay, Mickey, why don't you sit here, and I'll call your daddy."

"You can't." She huffed with another quiver of her lip. "He forgot his phone at the house, and we live out in the country, so it's too far to drive." She wrinkled her nose. "He's not having a very good day."

The laugh bubbled up over Piper's resistance. "Well, what about your mother?"

"I don't have one."

The matter-of-fact statement stunned Piper into silence—and drew out her own pain at that comment. She smoothed her hands over the pale pink Maxximum Girl jacket. "Why don't I try to call your daddy through the speakers here in the store?" She lifted the phone from the cradle. "What's his name?"

"Cowboy."

Phone in hand, Piper paused and looked at the little cherub. The coral cowgirl boots matched the hat. Jeans. A cute white eyelet top. The name for her father shouldn't have surprised Piper. But she couldn't exactly use that over the intercom. "Does he have another name?"

"Poppa calls him Colton."

Okay, that was better. Not much, but she could work with it. She pressed the number code for the intercom and shifted, facing the long aisle that reached for the escalator. A man darted toward the sliding staircase, his movements rushed and frantic.

"McKenna?" he called as he spun and scanned several directions.

It didn't take a genius to know this was Mickey's father. The black Stetson gave it away. Cowboy. Yeah, he had the jeans and boots, too.

Piper replaced the phone and moved into the open. "Sir?"

He spun, his eyes practically hidden by the tip of his hat. "Have you seen—" His gaze lit on the girl on the stool. "McKenna!" He rushed down the aisle, his strides determined and powerful. "Thank God!"

Piper inched away, propping against the counter as the man swept his daughter into his arms. His hat flew off. Disbelief sent her composure spinning in a dozen different directions. This was the same man she'd seen in the store over the past several months. She couldn't help but notice him because her typical customers were elderly ladies and young mothers with strollers. Not strong, muscular cowboys who bought towels.

But watching him embrace his daughter ... She choked down the lump rising in her throat. The moment felt painfully familiar. And yet so distant.

He set his daughter on the floor and knelt. "Where'd you go?"

"I told you," his daughter said. "I went to look at the animals. But you left." Her face then brightened as she pointed to Piper with a big smile. "I did like you told me, Daddy. I told this lady you were lost. And she found you!"

How this man ever disciplined his adorable daughter, she'd never know. All Piper wanted to do was laugh.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Digitalis by Ronie Kendig. Copyright © 2011 Ronie Kendig. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >