To Love a Texan [NOOK Book]

Overview

A Woman With A Will...

Miss Lillian Primm is beyond weary of polishing the manners of Boston's young ladies, so when she inherits half ownership of a "hotel" in Fort Floppett, Texas, she eagerly heads out West --

only to discover that The Texas Lily is no less than a house of ill repute!

A Man With A Plan...

Bradley O’Neal doesn't intend to change a thing about The Texas ...

See more details below
To Love a Texan

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Overview

A Woman With A Will...

Miss Lillian Primm is beyond weary of polishing the manners of Boston's young ladies, so when she inherits half ownership of a "hotel" in Fort Floppett, Texas, she eagerly heads out West --

only to discover that The Texas Lily is no less than a house of ill repute!

A Man With A Plan...

Bradley O’Neal doesn't intend to change a thing about The Texas Lily, least of all the lovely ladies who keep customers coming back for more. It won't be the first time he turns on the charm to get his way -- and discovering what lies behind Miss Primm's proper facade is a game too tempting to pass up...

A Match Made In The Wild West...

Now, as the straitlaced schoolmarm faces off against the shrewdest gambler in the Lonestar State, let the winner take all...

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781420101560
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 1/1/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 402,477
  • File size: 628 KB

Read an Excerpt

To Love a Texan


By Georgina Gentry

Kensington Publishing Corp.

Copyright © 2007 Lynne Murphy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8217-7990-7


Chapter One

The town of Fort Floppett, Texas, April, 1880

They were burying Lil McGinty today and it was the biggest funeral this east Texas town had ever seen. It would have been even bigger, Brad O'Neal thought, if the local men hadn't been so chicken-livered and scared of their wives that they were afraid to attend.

So here he stood in the graveyard with the whores and card dealers, Delilah, the black cook, a billy goat named Herman, most of the single men of the town, plus cowboys from all over the county. Reverend Lovejoy was conducting the funeral, although his congregation might have something to say to him next Sunday. It was one thing to talk about redeeming the lowly and quite another to preach a respectable service for the biggest madam in the Lone Star state.

It was a warm day. Brad sighed and shifted the goat's leash to his other hand so he could wave away a fly. He really missed Lil; she'd been a great old gal.

Reverend Lovejoy droned on and on, attempting to think of nice things to say about the sudden death of the owner of the most successful saloon and bordello in the county. Make that half owner. Because of Lil's generosity in letting him buy in, Brad now owned half of the Texas Lily.

The reverend motioned Lil's girls to come forward to sing. Unfortunately, none knew any hymns so they came out with an off-key chorus of "Hark, the HeraldAngels Sing." Since it was spring, it didn't seem too appropriate. Besides, Lil, while good-hearted and generous, was hardly an angel.

Reverend Lovejoy said a final prayer and Brad reached down to pat Herman, who was now chewing the edge of Brad's frock coat.

"Oh, Reverend," lawyer Dewey Cheatum spoke up, "I wanted to inform all Lil's employees that in her will, Miss Lil left you each a hundred dollars so you wouldn't have to work the day of her funeral."

The customers moaned but the girls squealed with delight. "Now ain't that thoughtful!"

The preacher flushed and cleared his throat.

Dewey Cheatum walked over and put his hand on the preacher's shoulder, lowering his voice. "And there's five hundred dollars for the church." He nodded his gray, unkempt head.

"I don't know if my congregation-"

"Oh, I'll see that it's anonymous." The elderly lawyer assured him. "You know Lil was always generous with her money, covering everything from scholarships to charities."

Lovejoy nodded in agreement.

Brad started to walk away, still leading the goat, but Dewey caught his arm. "I need to see you and Delilah in my office."

"Sure." Brad nodded and took off his hat, brushing back his black hair as he handed the leash to one of the whores. "Reckon you girls can walk back to the Lily," he nodded toward the big Victorian house on a little rise at the end of the street. "Delilah, let's go to Dewey's office."

The wrinkled old cook nodded and wiped her eyes. "Mr. Brad, it just don't seem real that she's gone."

Lil was gone all right. Brad thought with a sigh, gone when she came over that rail of the open balcony last Saturday night-fiery red hair and bright purple skirts billowing-and landed on a billiard table, breaking one of its legs off. "Yep, she was one in a million." He took Delilah by the arm and helped her into his fancy buggy, looking back at the small graveyard at the edge of town. They'd covered the grave with Texas bluebonnets because the common orange day-lilies Lil loved so much weren't in bloom yet.

In the lawyer's office on Main Street, the two settled into chairs before the dusty, cluttered desk. Brad leaned back with a sigh and lit a cigar. He was feeling older than his thirty-six years today, probably because they were burying Lil. He had really cared about her, although she'd probably been almost old enough to be his mother. Before she'd taken him in and given him a fresh start three years ago, he'd been just another drifting gambler like his younger brother, Blackie.

Dewey cleared his throat and shuffled papers as he settled behind his desk. "Lil McGinty was one woman in a thousand. Too bad we know so little about her or where she came from." He looked at Delilah. "I hear tell you've been with her at least twenty-five years."

"She rescued me from a slave auction in Atlanta," the old woman wiped her eyes. "Wasn't nothin' I wouldn't do for Miss Lil."

Brad looked at her. "So you probably know more about her than anyone."

She gave him a steely look. "Not much. Some things maybe she didn't want nobody to know."

Brad shrugged. What did the past matter? He wondered if Delilah had taken the diamond pin he'd given Lil for her birthday only the day before her death. Or maybe it had been pinned to Lil's dress when they buried her and he hadn't noticed. Well, it made no difference now.

The old man shuffled his papers. "Here's the will-you two are mentioned."

"Us?" Both said in surprise.

Dewey ran his hand through his straggly gray hair, nodded, and began to read: "I, Lil McGinty, being of sound mind, do make this my last will and testament. I bequeath the employees of the Texas Lily one hundred dollars each so they can party instead of work the night of my funeral."

Brad laughed. "That sounds like Lil, all right."

The lawyer said, "She left the church five hundred and a little to other charities. Here's for you, Delilah: "... For my good and faithful cook and friend, I leave five thousand dollars-"

"Five thousand dollars!" Delilah's mouth fell open.

"Yep," Dewey nodded. "You're a rich woman, Delilah. The money's in my safe. You can retire and not work another day in your life."

"Humph!" the old woman said, wrinkling her nose, "and just what would I do with my time then? If Mr. Brad don't mind, I'd just like to save that money and keep workin' at the Lily."

"Sure." Brad grinned and puffed his cigar. "I don't know how I could run the place without you."

The old woman stood up and brushed her rumpled black dress. "Then if'fen you're through with me, I wants to inspect Miss Lil's grave and make sure the flowers are just right, then I got to get a roast in the oven. Folks got to eat, funeral or no."

Brad stood up and opened the door for the old woman. "You take my buggy, Delilah. I'll walk back after I'm finished here."

She nodded and left, then Brad took his chair again.

Dewey Cheatum reached into his desk for a bottle of bourbon and two glasses. "We lost a great woman with Lil McGinty. Let's drink to her." He poured the drinks.

"She was the savin' of me all right," Brad agreed and took his glass, clinked it with Dewey's. "I'm gonna miss her. She built the Texas Lily into the best gamblin' hall and bordello in all east Texas."

"You had something to do with its success," Dewey reminded him, "as good as you play poker. Anyway she left you something as well." He looked at Brad over his own glass of bourbon.

"I expected that someday but not yet. After all, I don't reckon she's got a relative in this world. At least, she never mentioned it. I don't even know if she was ever married or where she was from. She never talked about her past, but then, I didn't know her as well as Delilah did."

"Let her past die with her." Dewey frowned and lit his pipe. "Uh, Brad, she left you two things."

Her half of the Texas Lily, Brad thought. Hell, he'd rather have Lil back. He'd never thought she'd die in such an unexpected accident.

"No, actually she left you three things." Dewey studied the papers before him, fragrant smoke swirling about his gray head. "One is the goat. You're to look after her beloved pet, Herman."

Brad grinned. "That smelly old billy goat will probably outlive me. All he's good for is to chew up all the day-lilies growin' out front of the house."

"And she left you one thousand dollars in gold. It's in my safe; you know she didn't have much faith in banks."

"I know. There was always a rumor around town that she hid her profits in the walls of that big house."

Dewey shrugged and smoked his pipe. "I reckon that's just a local tale. Or maybe she did; but she didn't tell me. Also, she left you that big fancy iron birdbath out in front of the Lily, you know the one in the center flowerbed."

Brad nodded. He didn't care about the birdbath, although he knew Lil had set a great deal of store by it. She'd bought it in one of her rare trips to Beaumont and put it out among the orange daylilies in the middle of the front lawn. Even now, he could close his eyes and see her in that big hat she wore to protect her freckled skin against the Texas sun. She liked to be out at dawn or sometimes dusk, gardening and planting flowers out front while the goat munched grass peacefully beside her. His mind went over what Dewey had just said. "Uh, Dewey, you said three things."

Dewey fiddled with his pipe. "That's three, ain't it?"

Brad began to get a sinking feeling in his gut. "What about the Texas Lily?"

Lawyer Cheatum took a deep gulp of his drink. "That's the hardest to explain."

"Try."

Dewey shrugged and read aloud from the papers in front of him. "I leave my half of the Texas Lily to my niece, Lillian Primm, a teacher at Miss Pickett's Female Academy in Boston, along with five thousand dollars."

"What?" Brad half rose from his chair and tossed his cigar into the spittoon. "What?"

"Now, take it easy, Brad, there's more. "... since I'm certain Lillian will not be interested in this property, indeed, I'd just as soon she never knew more than she already does about me, I suggest Brad O'Neal, my partner, offer my niece ten thousand dollars for her half out of what I've left him, thus making him sole owner." Brad felt as if he'd been hit in the stomach. "Well, I'll be damned. A niece, and a respectable schoolteacher at that. Hell, I didn't know she had any family at all."

Dewey shrugged and wiped his mouth. "I reckon there's a lot we didn't know about Lil, even though she lived here for more than ten years."

"I don't know whether to be insulted or not that she didn't leave the Lily to me. If she left me one thousand dollars, how am I supposed to come up with ten thousand for the niece? The goat and the bird bath ain't worth ten bucks."

Dewey shrugged. "Reckon she thought you'd have the difference in the bank."

Brad frowned. "It'll be tough, but I can do it by borrowin' against my land. Why do you reckon Lil didn't just deed me the Lily and tell me to send the niece the ten thousand?"

"Maybe she knew you too well, Brad," the old man grinned, "and wanted to make sure the gal really got the money."

"I ain't that slick, even though maybe I used to be," Brad admitted, "but I been usin' my share of the profits to buy up land between here and Beaumont. Thinkin' of raisin' cattle in my old age."

Dewey nodded. "So it's simple. I'll write this niece a letter and tell her the deal, only I'll spare her knowing what the Lily really is."

Brad had a sudden, chilling thought. "Suppose the gal won't take it and tries to hold me up for more money? You know them damned Yankees."

"An old maid schoolteacher from Boston?" Dewey snorted. "Why, she'll jump at the chance to sell a property she's never seen. I'll write an official letter for you. I reckon by late May, you'll own the Texas Lily outright without ever having to meet this lady."

Brad heaved a sigh of relief and drained his glass, stood up, and set the tumbler on the edge of the desk. "Reckon I got upset for nothin'. Yep, you do that. Let me know when you hear from her." He opened the door and stood looking out, mumbling under his breath. He was more than a little annoyed with Lil, not trusting him to do the right thing by her niece. Not that she didn't know him pretty well. "A thousand dollars, a damned goat, and a bird bath. If that don't beat all."

"Oh, one more thing," Dewey called after him as Brad started out the door, "I almost forgot; Miss Lil said there was a box of stuff that's up on her closet shelf. She said Delilah would know what to do. Will you tell Delilah?"

"Sure, sure." Brad was only half listening as he closed the door and started down the wooden sidewalk. One thousand dollars, a goat, and a damned birdbath. Yes, by borrowing, he could afford to pay the old maid niece ten thousand dollars. The Texas Lily was profitable and he could soon be a rich man once he owned it outright, but he felt insulted and slighted. He'd thought Lil had had more affection for him than that. Oh, well, he was a helluva lot better off now than the poor white trash way he'd grown up. That thought cheered him as he started walking toward the big white Victorian house on the hill at the end of Main Street.

Miss Pickett's Female Academy, Boston, Massachusetts

Miss Lillian Primm sat in her small, sparse room and reread the lawyer's letter as she poured herself a cup of tea. She felt little at the news of the death of her mother's younger sister and only relative, except that now Lillian was truly alone in the world. But then Lillian had met her namesake only one time as a child and barely remembered it. There seemed to be tension between her strict widowed mother and Aunt Lil, so she never asked about her.

Yesterday she had received notice from the Boston bank that the monthly stipends that had been arriving for ten years would now be ending. Her titled father's estate was exhausted, no doubt. Well, it had been a Godsend in helping Lillian and her sickly mother survive. Since her mother's death, Lillian had been helping pay impoverished girls' tuition by living frugally. Now this morning, this letter had come from Texas.

Did she dare add sugar to her tea? It was not a luxury Lillian allowed herself often, nor jam for her toast. A teacher barely got by on her meager salary, and she spent every extra penny helping poor students as she had been helped with a scholarship. Yet with this letter, she could afford to splurge. The three students she was aiding at the moment would graduate next month, ending that expense. Now five thousand dollars was hers and another ten thousand when she signed over her share of the hotel. She would be a woman of considerable means.

Brushing a wisp of red hair back into her tight bun, Lillian went to the window and looked out at the girls crossing the campus. She had hoped for a husband and children of her own, but it looked like that was not to be. In the years after she graduated, when she might have met a nice young man, Lillian had been busy nursing her sick mother so there was no time for socializing.

Besides, as Mother had so often pointed out, Lillian was tall and thin and very plain to look at, with undignified freckles across her nose. At thirty-two, she had long since stopped hoping, although one student's father had once hinted that he could be very generous for a little warmth, wink, wink. She had stopped him in his tracks with a frosty glare. Mother and her aunt had both been redheads, too, but both so much prettier than Lillian. Perhaps she took after her highborn father, whose ship had been lost at sea before she was born.

Outside, spring was still weeks away in this northern state. She wondered what Texas was like. Warm, most certainly, a vast place of cows and cowboys and savages, according to the books she read-certainly more interesting and challenging than spending year after year teaching rich spoiled girls grammar and etiquette. A cool wind rattled the building and she shivered in her plain dark dress. So now she owned half a hotel in Texas. Or she could take the money and stay in Boston. Should she be daring? Lillian had never done anything daring in her whole life. Mother would have frowned on anything that wasn't highly respectable. Her sickly mother had been dead now five years. She hadn't written Aunt Lil when her mother died; she'd had no idea how to reach the woman.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from To Love a Texan by Georgina Gentry Copyright © 2007 by Lynne Murphy. 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.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2007

    A fun, emotional rollercoaster ride!

    Just finished this book and enjoyed it very much. Brad and Miss Primm are two people at opposite ends of society's spectrum. Miss Primm certainly lives up to her name as she takes on the headstrong Texas gambler, insisting on maintaining proper conduct at all times. There are some phrases that become redundant but the story is well told with lively characters besides the main ones! LOVED the goat!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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