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His Brother's Wife
By Lenora Worth
Steeple HillCopyright © 2005 Lenora Worth
All right reserved.
Lily Winslow sank down in the soft loam at her feet and started digging into the rich, black Texas soil. The old, tarnished garden spade lifted the moist earth away, sending it flying out in a gentle, cascading arc around her knees.
She'd plant more bulbs -- maybe some hyacinths, or another bed of gladioli to go with that spot of irises she'd planted earlier in the spring. She wanted color, lots of color in her garden -- enough to last all summer.
And then --
She stopped, dropping the spade to the ground as she sank back on her knees and lifted her head up to the sky.
"And then what?" she asked, the summer wind lifting off nearby Caddo Lake to soothe her heated brow. "And then what, Lord? Where do I go from here?"
They'd buried her husband a week ago, and now the loneliness was creeping in around her as silently and swiftly as the water lilies that would soon cover most of the narrow glistening lake sprawled out in front of her.
Looking out over her home, Lily wondered for the hundredth time what she was to do with herself now that Daniel was gone. She'd lived in this small Texas town all of her life, had married a man ten years older than herself, and had watched that man suffer with a disease that couldn't be stopped. Now she had nothing left.
Nothing to fight for, nothing to hope for, nothing to pray for. Not even a child to cherish and raise. Daniel was gone, and her life was just like the place she loved, the small town nestled here on this beautiful body of water.
Uncertain. "Yep, that's me, all right," she said out loud, her words scaring a fat, brown turtle lounging on a nearby log. The turtle, clearly annoyed about being awakened from his midmorning nap, glanced up with lazy eyes, then slid with a soft splash into the inky blackness of the lake waters.
"Uncertain Lily, in Uncertain, Texas." Lily pushed curling strands of dark brown hair back, tucking the wisps underneath the old baseball cap she always wore when she was working in her garden. Across the bayou, a small blue heron lifted out toward the sky, its slow, graceful flight reminding Lily that some things, thankfully, never changed.
"I've still got my home," she told herself as she started digging again, a new determination bringing her out of her temporary lapse into self-pity.'so far anyway."
From close behind her, a deep, masculine voice that held just a twang of a Texas drawl called out into the wind. "And you've still got me, Lily."
Caught by surprise, her heart beating a swift cadence, Lily twisted in the mud, then stood to wipe the knees of her old, faded jeans. "Mason, you almost gave me a heart attack. You sounded so much like -- "
"Daniel?" Mason Winslow stepped forward to help his sister-in-law up, a bittersweet smile cresting his face as he took in the sight of her.
Lily belonged outdoors, with the earth. She was a small thing, as gentle and delicate as the yellow lady slippers, or wild orchids as the locals called them, that grew abundantly around Caddo Lake. Her long dark hair shined with a natural light, highlighted from sunshine and gentle breezes. Her skin was like bronzed satin, and when she lifted her dark, almost black eyes to his face, he could see the trace of her ancestors in her. Lily had descended from the Caddo tribe that had once roamed this land.
She was beautiful, not so much physically, as spiritually. Lily had a rare inner beauty that emerged from a quiet strength and gritty determination to do what was right -- always. And his older brother, Daniel, had won her hand in marriage while Mason had been out trying to conquer the world.
He'd conquered the world all right, but sometimes he had to wonder if his brother had won the real prize. Now that brother was dead and buried at the too-young age of thirty-nine -- just five years older than Mason himself.
Now Mason had come to take care of the woman his brother had left in his charge. And already he'd frightened her. He could see the fear and uncertainty in the dark pools of her eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said, his hand gentle on hers as he guided her out of the freshly turned soil of yet another flower bed. "I didn't mean to startle you."
"It's okay -- I'm okay. What are you doing here?" To hide her surprise and discomfort, she glanced over his tailor-made silk suit and shiny black loafers. Avoiding his blue-black eyes -- they reminded her too much of Daniel -- she instead concentrated on the furrow in his forehead. "I mean, I didn't expect you back so soon after the funeral."
Mason led her to a nearby cedar picnic table, where a tall glass of lemonade sat sweating in the midmorning heat.
"May I?" he said, taking the glass in his hand.
"Of course," Lily replied. She'd only taken a couple of sips of the cool drink herself, but she certainly didn't mind sharing with Mason. After all, she'd known him all of her life. After he'd taken a hefty drink of the freshly squeezed lemonade, she asked again, "Now, what are you doing here?"
Mason put the glass down, then gave her that direct look that probably caused junior executives back at Winslow Industries in Dallas to quake in their boots. "It's about the will, Lily. I got a message from Jim Stratmore yesterday. He says you haven't been returning his calls." His voice softened with his next words. "Look, I understand how uncomfortable and painful this is for you, but we need to get it over with."
Excerpted from His Brother's Wife by Lenora Worth Copyright © 2005 by Lenora Worth.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Good read!! Enjoyed it very much!!
This is the first book by this author that I have read. I found it very entertaining. I recommended it to anyone who likes a good wholesome read.