Heart of Texas, Volume 2: Caroline's Child/Dr. Texas

Heart of Texas, Volume 2: Caroline's Child/Dr. Texas

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by Debbie Macomber
     
 

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Welcome back to Promise, Texas, a ranching community deep in the Hill Country. It's a good place to live and raise a family—and a good place to visit. Yes, there's a secret or two hidden beneath Promise's everyday exterior, but what town doesn't have its secrets?

Caroline's Child

Who's the father of Caroline Daniels's child? Everyone in town wants

Overview

Welcome back to Promise, Texas, a ranching community deep in the Hill Country. It's a good place to live and raise a family—and a good place to visit. Yes, there's a secret or two hidden beneath Promise's everyday exterior, but what town doesn't have its secrets?

Caroline's Child

Who's the father of Caroline Daniels's child? Everyone in town wants to know, but no one's ever asked—or ever will. The people of Promise are protective of Caroline and five-year-old Maggie. They care. Especially rancher Grady Weston, who's beginning to realize he more than cares….

Dr. Texas

They call her Dr. Texas. She's Jane Dickinson, a newly graduated physician from California who's working at the Promise clinic—but just for a couple of years. They call him Mr. Grouch. Cal Patterson was left at the altar by his out-of-state fiancée, and he's not over it yet. Too bad Jane reminds him so much of the woman he's trying to forget!

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781410403827
Publisher:
Gale Group
Publication date:
02/06/2008
Series:
Heart of Texas Series
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
541
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Heart Of Texas Vol. 2

Caroline's Child\Dr. Texas
By Debbie Macomber

Mira

Copyright © 2007 Debbie Macomber
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780778324539

Clutching the mail in one hand, Grady Weston paced the narrow corridor inside the post office. He glanced distractedly at the row of mailboxes, gathering his courage before he approached Caroline Daniels, the postmistress.

His tongue felt as if it'd wrapped itself around his front teeth, and he was beginning to doubt he'd be able to utter a single sensible word. It shouldn't be so damned difficult to let a woman know he found her attractive!

"Grady?" Caroline's voice reached out to him.

He spun around, not seeing her. Great. Not only was he dreaming about her, now he was hearing her voice.

"Open your box," she instructed. He fumbled for the key and twisted open the small rectangular door,then peered in.Sure enough,Caroline was there.Not all of her, just her brown eyes, her pert little nose and lovely mouth.

If he'd possessed his brother's gift for flattery, Grady would have said something clever.Made some flowery remark.Unfortunately all he managed was a gruff unfriendly sounding"Hello." "Hi."

Caroline had beautiful eyes, dark and rich like freshly brewed coffee, which was about as poetic as Grady got. Large and limpid, they reminded him of a calf's, but he figured that might not be something awoman wanted to hear, even if he considered it a compliment. This was the problem, Grady decided. He didn't know how to talk to a woman. In fact, it'd been more than six years since he'd gone out on an actual date.

"Can I help you with anything?" she asked.

He wanted to invite her to lunch, and although that seemed a simple enough request, he couldn't make himself ask her. Probably because their relationship so far hadn't been too promising. Calling it a "relationship" wasn't really accurate, since they'd barely exchanged a civil word and had never so much as held hands. Mostly they snapped at each other, disagreed and argued—if they were speaking at all. True, they'd danced once; it'd been nice, but only when he could stop worrying about stepping on her toes.

Who was he kidding? Holding Caroline in his arms had been more than nice, it had been wonderful. In the month since, he hadn't been able to stop thinking about that one dance. Every night when he climbed into bed and closed his eyes,Caroline was there to greet him. He could still feel her softness against him, could almost smell the faint scent of her cologne. The dance had been ladies' choice, and that was enough to let him believe—hope—she might actually hold some regard for him,too.Despite their disagreements, he'd been the one she'd chosen to ask.

"You had lunch yet?" Grady asked, his voice brusque. He didn't mean to sound angry or unfriendly. The timbre of his voice and his abrupt way of speaking had caused him plenty of problems with Maggie, Caroline's five-year-old daughter. He'd been trying to get in the kid's good graces for months now, with only limited success. But he'd tried. He hoped Caroline and Maggie gave him credit for that.

Caroline's mouth broke into a wide grin. "Lunch? Not yet, and I'm starved."

Grady's spirits lifted considerably."Well, then, I was thinking, seeing as I haven't eaten myself…" The words stumbled all over themselves in his eagerness to get them out. "You want to join me?"

"Sure, but let me get this straight. Is this an invitation, as in a date?"

"No." His response was instinctive, given without thought. He'd been denying his feelings for her so long that his answer had come automatically. He feared, too, that she might misread his intentions. He was attracted to Caroline and he wanted to know her better, but beyond that—he wasn't sure. Hell, what he knew about love and marriage wouldn't fill a one-inch column of the Promise Gazette.

Some of the happiness faded from her smile. "Understood. Give me a few minutes and I'll meet you out front." She moved out of his range of vision.

Grady closed the box, but left his hand on the key. How could anyone with the skills to run a thriving cattle ranch in the Texas hill country be such a fool when it came to women?

He rapped on the post-office box hard enough to hurt his knuckles."Caroline!" Then he realized he had to open the box. He did that, then stared through it and shouted for her a second time. "Caroline!"

Her face appeared, eyes snapping with impatience. "What's the rush?" she demanded. "I said it'd take me a few minutes."

The edges of the postbox cut into his forehead and chin and knocked his Stetson askew. "This is a date, all right?"

She stared back at him from the other side, and either she was overwhelmed by his offer to buy her lunch or surprised into speechlessness.

"All right?" he repeated. "This is a date."

She continued to look at him. "I shouldn't have asked," she finally said.

"I'm glad you did." And he was. He could think of no better way to set things straight. He hadn't invited her to lunch because he needed someone to pass the time with; if that was what he'd wanted, he could have asked his sister, Savannah, or her husband or Cal Patterson—or any number of people. No, he'd asked Caroline because he wanted to be with her. For once he longed to talk to her without interference or advice from his matchmaking sister. It didn't help to have Maggie there hiding her face in her mother's lap every time he walked into the room, either. This afternoon it'd be just the two of them. Caroline and him.

Grady respectfully removed his hat when she joined him in the lobby.

"This is a pleasant surprise," Caroline said.

"I was in town, anyway." He didn't mention that he'd rearranged his entire day for this opportunity. It was hard enough admitting that to himself, let alone Caroline.

"Where would you like to eat?" he asked. The town had three good restaurants: the café in the bowling alley; the Chili Pepper, a Texas barbecue place; and a Mexican restaurant run by the Chavez family.

"How about Mexican Lindo?" Caroline suggested.

It was the one he would have chosen himself. "Great."

Since the restaurant was on Fourth Avenue, only two blocks from the post office, they walked there, chatting as they went. Or rather, Caroline chatted and he responded with grunts and murmurs.

Grady had long ago realized he lacked the ability to make small talk. Unlike his younger brother, Richard, who could charm his way into—or out of—anything. Grady tried not to feel inadequate, but he was distinctly relieved when they got to the restaurant.

In a few minutes they were seated at a table, served water and a bowl of tortilla chips along with a dish of extra-hot salsa. He reached for a chip, scooped up as much salsa as it would hold and popped it in his mouth. He ate another and then another before he noticed that Caroline hadn't touched a single chip.

He raised his eyes to hers and stopped chewing,his mouth full. Caroline apparently read the question in his eyes."I don't eat corn chips," she explained. "I fill up on them and then I don't have room for anything else."

He swallowed and nodded. "Oh."

A moment of silence passed, and Grady wondered if her comment was a subtle hint that she was watching her weight. From what he understood, weight was a major preoccupation with women. Maybe she was waiting for him to tell her she shouldn't worry about it; maybe he was supposed to say she looked great. She did. She was slender and well proportioned, and she wore her dark brown hair straight and loose, falling to her shoulders. In his opinion she looked about as perfect as a woman could get. Someday he'd tell her that, but not just yet. Besides, he didn't want her to think he was only interested in deal about her, especially the way she was raising Maggie on her own. She understood the meaning of the words responsibility and sacrifice, just like he did.

She was staring at him as if she expected a comment, and Grady realized he needed to say something. "You could be fat and I'd still have asked you to lunch."

Her smooth brow crumpled in a puzzled frown. "I meant that as a compliment," he sputtered and decided then and there it was better to keep his trap shut. Thankfully the waitress came to take their order. Grady decided on chicken enchiladas; Caroline echoed his choice.

"This is really very nice," she said and reached for the tall glass of iced tea.

"I wanted us to have some time alone," he told her.

"Any particular reason?"

Grady rested his spine against the back of his chair and boldly met her look. "I like you, Caroline." He didn't know any way to be other than direct. This had gotten him into difficulties over the years. Earlier that spring he'd taken a dislike to Laredo Smith and hadn't been shy about letting his sister and everyone else know his feelings. But he'd been wrong in his assessment of the man's character. Smith's truck had broken down and Savannah had brought him home to the ranch. Over Grady's objections she'd hired him herself, and before long they'd fallen in love. It came as a shock to watch his sane sensible sister give her heart to a perfect stranger. Still, Grady wasn't proud of the way he'd behaved. By the time Laredo decided it'd be better for everyone concerned if he moved on, Grady had wanted him to stay. He'd gone so far as to offer the man a partnership in the ranch in an effort to change his mind. Not that it'd done any driven him away, but it had also brought him back.

Savannah and Laredo had married in short order and were now involved in designing plans for their own home, plus raising quarter horses. Savannah, with her husband's active support, continued to grow the antique roses that were making her a name across the state.

In the weeks since becoming his brother-in-law, Laredo had proved himself a damn good friend and Grady's right-hand man.

"I like you, too," Caroline said, but she lowered her gaze as she spoke, breaking eye contact. This seemed to be something an admission for them both. "You do?" Grady felt light-headed with joy. It was all he could do not to leap in the air and click his heels.

"We've known each other a lot of years."

"I've known you most of my life," he agreed, but as he said the words, he realized he didn't really know Caroline. Not the way he wanted, not the way he hoped he would one day. It wasn't just that he had no idea who'd fathered Maggie; apparently no one else in town did, either. He wondered what had attracted her to this man, why she hadn't married him. Or why he'd left her to deal with the pregnancy and birth alone. It all remained a mystery. Another thing Grady didn't understand about Caroline was the changes in her since her daughter's

In time Grady believed she'd trust him enough to answer his questions, and he prayed he'd say and do the right thing when Their lunches arrived and they ate, stopping to chat now and then. The conversation didn't pall, but again he had to credit Caroline with the skill to keep it going. Half an hour later, as he escorted her back to the post office, Grady was walking on air.

"I'll give you a call tomorrow," he said, watching her for some sign of encouragement."If you want," he added, needing her reassurance.

"Sure."

Her response was neither encouraging nor discouraging.

"I'd like to talk to Maggie again, if she'll let me."

"You might try this afternoon, since she's spending the day with Savannah."

This was news to Grady, but he'd been busy that morning and had left the house early. He hadn't spoken to Savannah other than a few words over breakfast, and even if he'd known Maggie was staying with his sister, he wouldn't have had time to chat with the girl that morning.

"I'll make a point of saying hello," he said. His heart lifted when it suddenly struck him that he'd be seeing Caroline again later in the day, when she came to pick up Maggie.

They parted. Whistling, Grady sauntered across the asphalt parking lot toward his truck. He felt damn good. The afternoon had gone better than he'd hoped.

He was about to open the cab door when Max Jordan stopped him.

"Grady, have you got a moment?" The older man, owner of the local Western-wear store, quickened his pace.

"Howdy, Max." Grady grinned from ear to ear and didn't let the somber expression on Max's face get him down."What can I do for you?"

Max shuffled his feet a couple of times, looking uncomfortable. "You know I hate to mention this a second time, but Richard still hasn't paid me for the clothes he bought three months ago."

The happy excitement Grady had experienced only moments earlier died a quick death. "It was my understanding Richard mailed you a check."

"He told me the same thing, but it's been more than two weeks now and nothing's come. I don't feel I should have to wait any longer."

"I don't think you should, either. I'll speak to him myself," Grady promised.

"I hate to drag you into this," Max muttered, and it was clear from his shaky voice how much the subject distressed him.

"Don't worry about it, Max. I understand."

The older man nodded and turned away. Grady climbed into his truck and clenched the steering wheel with both hands as the anger flooded through him. Leave it to his brother to lie and cheat and steal!

What infuriated Grady was that he had no one to blame but himself. He'd allowed Richard to continue living on the Yellow Rose. Allowed him to tarnish the family name. Allowed himself to believe, to hope, that the years away had changed his brother.

All his illusions had been shattered. They were destroyed like so much else Richard had touched. He'd done his damnedest to ruin Grady, and he'd come close. But Richard had succeeded in ruining his own life—his potential to be a different person, a worthwhile human being.

Charming and personable, a born leader, Richard could have accomplished great things. Instead, he'd used his charisma and personality to swindle others, never understanding that the person he'd cheated most had been himself.

Six years earlier Richard had forged Grady's signature and absconded with the cash their parents had left—cash that would have paid the inheritance taxes on the ranch and covered the burial expenses. Grady and Savannah had found themselves penniless following the tragedy that had claimed their parents' lives. It'd taken six long, backbreaking, frustration-filled years to crawl out of debt. Grady had sacrificed those years to hold on to the ranch while Richard had squandered the money. When it had run out, he'd returned home with his tail between his legs, looking for a place to stay until he received a severance check from his last job—or so he'd said.

Deep down Grady had wanted to believe in Richard. His sister had begged him to let their younger brother stay. But she didn't need to beg very hard or very long for him to relent. Unfortunately it had become apparent that a liar and a cheat didn't change overnight—or in six years. Grady's brother was the same now as the day he'd stolen from his family.

Despite the air conditioner, the heat inside the truck cab sucked away Grady's energy. It should have come as no surprise to discover that Richard had lied to him again. This time would be the last, Grady vowed.

Oh, yes, this episode was the proverbial last straw.



Continues...


Excerpted from Heart Of Texas Vol. 2 by Debbie Macomber Copyright © 2007 by Debbie Macomber. Excerpted by permission.
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.

Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber, with more than 100 million copies of her books sold worldwide, is one of today's most popular authors. The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Debbie is a regular resident on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times (70 times and counting), USA TODAY (currently 67 times) and Publishers Weekly (47 times). Visit her at www.DebbieMacomber.com.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Port Orchard, Washington
Date of Birth:
October 22, 1948
Place of Birth:
Yakima, Washington
Education:
Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college
Website:
http://www.debbiemacomber.com

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Heart of Texas 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
sept1496 More than 1 year ago
Love this series. However I really whish that Vol 1 was on the nook. Makes no sence to have the whole series exept vol 1 on the nook
mustlovetoread More than 1 year ago
Debbie Macomber- her name says it all. This book, Nell's Cowboy, has it all. The town is called Promise. The two main characters have a past they would rather forget. There is a ghost town, an unsolved mystery, a forgotten chest in the attic and true love. This is the 2nd book in a series. I would advise reading the books in order so you know what is going on. The first is Dr Texas and the 3rd book is Lone Star Baby. When you read the books in order you know who the characters are and can keep up with what is going on with them. Is it better to get to know someone without knowing what they do for a living? Have you been afraid but don't know why? Do you believe something but can't remember what happened? That is what this story is about. Bitter end was a town that was in existence before Promise. The only problem is, no one knows why the town came to an end. Writer Travis Gant is going to find out. Nell Bishop is opening a dude ranch and Travis is her first customer. He is staying at Nell's place to research the town. He is from the city and her family has been in Promise since the beginning. Come visit Promise and see how they confront their past, solve a mystery and best of all, see who they fall in love with!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KR10FL More than 1 year ago
Very well written. Easy to read. Very interesting characters that carry throughout the volumes. Clean romance. I have enjoyed all of Debbie Macomber's books.
mosesSM More than 1 year ago
I can re-read books that are hard to find in print and I don't have to carry a book.
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Better the second time around in e book. That is Richard is some creep Deborah conjured up. Now i have room to save all my books for another time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funny and romantic
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I was not able to find the first two stories from the Promise series for my Nook but decided to try this anyway. I am so happy I did. I could still follow along with the characters and lives in Promise. I could not put this down. I also started (and finished) Volume 3 of the series and I am now starting the final book from this series. I highly recommend.
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AnnBKeller More than 1 year ago
The hallmark of every great author is his or her ability to draw the reader into the story, to have the reader identify with the characters so well that it almost feels like these events really happened. Debbie Macomber is such a writer. In Nell's Cowboy, an author from back East inadvertently lands on Nell Bishop's doorstep. Although Nell grudgingly provides Travis with a room on her Texas dude ranch, she and her two children get more than they bargained for. The fatherless children are starved for attention from a male role model and even Nell herself realizes something important has been missing from her own life since her husband's death. Can a New York city slicker find a home in the wilds of Texas and can Nell open her heart to a special kind of love? Lone Star Baby finds Amy Thornton arriving in town alone, pregnant and desperate. Reverend Ward McMillen takes Amy under his wing, not only finding a home and a job for the lovely woman, but a whole lot more, as well. Wade has been so concerned about being a minister that he'd almost forgotten what it was like to be a man - that is, until Amy came to town. This heart-warming tale makes the reader smile as Amy and Wade realize the depth of their feelings for each other and the Promise of their future together. Both of these stories feature so many elements of reality that the tales seem to spring from life. I've been to a few ghost towns out West myself and the images of Bitter End seemed surprisingly familiar. Promise, Texas is also a haven to those with the love and soul to treasure life in all of its many facets.
RAMoore More than 1 year ago
What can I say,.. Another good book. Macomber is a wonderful writer.