Read an Excerpt
By Elaine Barbieri
Copyright © 2004
All right reserved.
Honor walked briskly down Lowell's sunny, early morning
street. She glanced around her at the gradually escalating
traffic of the day. She saw two horsemen riding into view at
the far end of the rutted main thoroughfare; glimpsed a milk
wagon turning the corner of the street; saw a woman sweeping
the walk in front of a storefront; watched a concerned husband
help his heavily pregnant wife down from a buggy at the board
walk. She frowned at the inevitable idlers gathered on the
corner who appeared much the worse for a night on the town,
then allowed her gaze to linger on the three children who had
emerged from a doorway with schoolbooks in hand. A smile
tugged at her lips as a determined, mongrel dog followed at
their heels, ignoring adamant commands to "go home."
It was all so normal ... such a tranquil way to start a day that
Honor sensed would be anything but serene for her.
Honor breathed deeply, her sense of disquiet growing. She had
not slept well, despite the comfort of Sophie Trevor's
boarding house bed. Nor had she had any appetite despite the
appeal of the ample breakfast Sophie had set out for her
guests. She had thwarted all attempts to be drawn into
conversation by a bearded wrangler named Wyatt Stone who had
introduced himself to her at the breakfast table,and had
purposely left before the other guests appeared. She was a
woman with a mission that allowed no distractions.
Her mother's pitiful regrets, written to the undeserving man
she had so desperately loved, droned again through Honor's
mind as they had during the sleepless night past.
It was my fault, I know that now. My silent love for you must
have been visible in my eyes in those moments of grief after
William died. You just wanted to comfort me. It was I who
allowed the situation to slip out of control. I want you to
know that I understand why you showed no interest in me
afterwards, why you went your way as if you had forgotten I
I hope you'll forgive me for my transgression, and for my
hasty departure from Lowell without saying goodbye to either
you or Emma. The truth is, I could not look my dear friend in
the eye while knowing my own shame and the guilt I had
fostered on you. Nor did I want my weakness to endanger your
beautiful life with Emma and the children.
I know how much Emma loves you, my dearest Buck, and how much
you love her. But, selfishly, I hope you will always keep
buried somewhere deep in your heart the knowledge that I will
always love you, too.
Words steeped in torment ... words of undying love.
There had been no mentioned of Honor in her mother's letters.
Nor had there been a hint of recrimination for the handsome,
heartless man who was her father-the man who had not even
considered the possibility of Honor's existence.
Her resolution renewed during the sleepless night past, Honor
had decided she would waste no time in confronting Buck Star.
She would obtain directions to the Texas Star at the
mercantile store, rent a horse at the livery stable, and face
her "father" at last.
As for Cal Star, the "brother" she had never known ...
Her sense of loss somehow acute, Honor forced that thought
from her mind and concentrated on the mission ahead of her.
She had lost weight since her mother died. The simple split
skirt, white shirtwaist, and riding hat she presently wore
would best suit her purpose when she rode out to the Texas
Star, but it hung loosely on her slender proportions. It had
not missed her notice, either, that her extended journey and
the past night's sleeplessness had also paled her skin and
ringed her eyes with dark circles. She pushed back a wayward
strand of tawny hair and raised her chin, knowing she did not
look her best, and was annoyed that she even cared.
The two horsemen Honor has previously seen entering town
diverted her from her thoughts as they dismounted at the
mercantile store's hitching rail. The first rider was an old
fellow who looked to have seen better days. It occurred to
her that the second, younger fellow appeared to have seen
better days as well, but it wasn't their appearances that
captured her attention. It was their expressions. Something
As if in response to her thoughts, Doc Maggie, the middle-aged
woman she had seen with Cal Star the previous day, emerged
from the storefront a few steps away.
As Honor drew closer, she heard Doc say, "You're sure?"
"There's no doubt about it. Her leg's broken." The old man
continued, "I would've come out yesterday, but she wouldn't
hear of it. My wife took her side, of course." Honor saw the
flash of annoyance the old man sought to hide before
continuing, "They both were sure she could take care of
herself-but this morning was another story."
"That sounds like their way of thinking, all right." That
negative comment voiced, Doc belatedly acknowledged the
silent, younger man for the first time by saying, "Who's this
you've got with you? I don't think I've seen him before."
The old man responded impatiently, "He's my new ranch hand."
"New ranch hand?"
"That's what I said."
Not intimidated by the old fellow's tone, Doc responded, "He
has a name, I assume."
"I don't figure this is the time for introductions."
"Oh? Well, I don't abide rudeness, Buck Star."
Honor's thoughts stopped cold.
It couldn't be!
Honor released a gasping breath, then stepped back into the
shadows of the store overhang. No ... Buck Star was muscular,
vibrantly masculine, with dark hair and "startlingly blue
eyes." Even taking into account the years in between, this
man couldn't be he!
Honor took another short step in retreat. This man's hair was
gray and sparse, his features almost indistinguishable within
the network of harsh lines and gaunt hollows that marked his
face. His skin had a sickly pallor and he was so thin as to
be almost wizened, causing his clothes to hang limply on his
emaciated frame. The only similarity this man bore to her
mother's references to Buck Star lay in his blue eyes, which
had somehow faded to a colorless hue without losing the
"startling" impact of their stare.
Unable to catch her breath, Honor leaned against the
storefront as Buck Star motioned to the fellow standing
silently beside him and replied to the doctor, "All right,
have it your way. His name's Jace Rule. I brought him with
me to set up his boundaries for charging supplies to the Texas
Star account at the store. He'll stay behind to take care of
some things for me while I ride back to the ranch with you."
Still indignant, Doc Maggie replied, "I don't need you to ride
back with me, Buck."
"Yes, you do."
"I can take care of myself."
"Not the way things stand at the Texas Star right now, you
Doc stilled and studied Buck's expression. "Things are that
Doc frowned, then turned to say, "Nice to meet you, Jace Rule.
Everybody calls me Doc Maggie. Sorry I don't have time to
talk." She smiled briefly at the polite tip of Rule's hat,
then started back toward her office.
Excerpted from TEXAS GLORY
by Elaine Barbieri
Copyright © 2004 by Elaine Barbieri .
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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