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Fast-talking promoter Cash McCalley will be set for life if he can set up a prizefight in Dallas, Texas-should be a cinch, considering how Texan men appreciate a good brawl. What Cash doesn't count on is Texan women, one trouble-stirring widow in particular. First, she took over half his hotel suite, and now she's leading the charge against his fight scheme! Still, Mrs. Purdy mightn't be half bad if she'd loosen that librarian's ...
Fast-talking promoter Cash McCalley will be set for life if he can set up a prizefight in Dallas, Texas-should be a cinch, considering how Texan men appreciate a good brawl. What Cash doesn't count on is Texan women, one trouble-stirring widow in particular. First, she took over half his hotel suite, and now she's leading the charge against his fight scheme! Still, Mrs. Purdy mightn't be half bad if she'd loosen that librarian's bun and listen to reason-and Cash wouldn't half mind seducing her into sweet surrender...
SHE'S A FIGHTER
Bonnie O'Neal Schwartz Purdy has met characters like Cash McCalley before-she even made the colossal mistake of marrying one. Now, as president of the Lone Star Ladies for Decency and Decorum, Bonnie is out to do some good in the world, and striking down Cash's plan to profit from senseless violence will be her first order of business. Cash may think he can charm her into submission, but the man has no idea with whom he's dealing...
NOW THE GLOVES ARE OFF...
Dallas has seen some fireworks in its time, but when the prim Mrs. P. goes up against a gambler who always wins with the ladies, it's time to take cover-and enjoy the show...
Mrs. Bonnie O'Neal Schwartz Purdy was in a very good mood that late afternoon as she walked up to the hotel desk to check in. Unfortunately, that was about to change.
"You have my room ready?" She pressed her small frame against the desk, too warm in her black dress as she made ready to sign the book.
"Ahh, Mrs. Purdy, we seldom see you in Dallas. How's the town of Shot Gun?" There was perspiration on the man's pasty face and she could hardly hear him over the crowds bustling through the hotel and into the dining room.
"Just fine," Bonnie nodded and smiled, weary after her long train trip. "It appears we'll have a large crowd for our convention."
"That's the problem, ma'am," the clerk took out a hankie and wiped his gleaming face. "There's so many ladies and so much confusion."
Bonnie blinked, sensing his discomfort. "Is there a problem? I asked for a suite."
"I, ah, can't find your reservation and the hotel is full."
"What? But I sent my reservation in weeks ago. Surely there's a reservation for the president of the Lone Star Ladies For Decency and Decorum."
He mopped his brow again. "Perhaps at another hotel-"
"No." She shook her head; tired and a little impatient. "That would be too inconvenient."
"I know, ma'am." He wiped his face again, very nervous this time.
She could probably get him fired, but maybe he had a family and needed the job. She sighed and lowered her voice. "Look, surely you have some rooms saved back? I'll not be choosey and I can do without a suite."
"I don't think ..." He wiped his face again, obviously well-aware Bonnie could get him fired. Abruptly a light seemed to break over his face as he studied his books. "You know, now that I think of it, I might be able to give you half a suite."
"Well, a gentleman keeps a suite here permanently, but he's out of town and possibly we could give you one of the two rooms."
Bonnie thought a moment. She'd like a reasonable solution and she didn't want to cause problems for this poor clerk. "There's a door between? Is this gentleman liable to return unexpectedly?"
"No, no," the man shook his head, reassuring her. "Besides, there's a sturdy lock on the door between and I'll see you get the only key."
Bonnie hesitated. She could raise a fuss and maybe get others tossed out of their rooms for her convenience, but she was always fair. "Are you sure that's all you've got?"
The clerk began profuse apologies again, offering her the keys.
She was a bit upset but there didn't seem to be any alternative. Most of the meetings of the state-wide ladies' club would be held in this hotel and she didn't relish trying to manage with a room across town. "Very well, it will do."
As she signed the register, the clerk rang for a bellhop. "Take Mrs. Purdy's things up to 203B."
The Mexican boy looked perplexed. "Si, but that's Senor Cash's-"
"It's Mrs. Purdy's room now," the desk clerk snapped.
The bellhop shrugged and started to say something else, but Bonnie caught the warning glare in the clerk's pale eyes. Well, none of that was her business. She turned away from the desk, paused. "Oh, by the way, I'd like room service every morning, breakfast and the newspaper." It was one of the few luxuries she allowed herself. Having grown up very poor, she would always be thrifty.
"I take one scrambled egg, ham, biscuits and a small pot of coffee." She looked toward the noisy dining room as she took her keys, handed them to the bellhop. "I think I'll have some supper and then go up. Big day tomorrow." She reached into her reticule for a tip. "I'll be in the dining room if any of my district leaders need to find me. You can return my keys there."
The Mexican boy grinned at the size of the tip, touched his cap before turning toward the stairs. "We're much happy to have all these hundreds of ladies in town, Senora."
She nodded and smiled. "We're looking forward to a good convention." She turned, lifted the hem of her black skirt and strode toward the busy dining room.
Once there, she decided since she'd had a big steak dinner on the train, perhaps she would have only some iced tea and a small salad. The dining room was crowded and bustling and the waiter guided her to a small table near a window and handed her a menu with a flourish.
Cash McCalley strode through the front door of the Cattlemen's Hotel, smoking a cigarillo and grinning as he approached the desk. The place seemed to be full of females and not the kind he liked-these all looked strait-laced and respectable. Not that he couldn't charm some of them out of that, but Fifi might be in town soon and she really knew how to please a man. To the desk clerk, he said, "Howdy, Earl, my usual suite, please."
The man paled and rubbed his mouth. "Uh, Mr. McCalley. We thought you were out of town-"
"I was, but as you can see, I'm here," Cash grinned. "Been back East; just made a big deal."
"Good for you, sir. Perhaps now, you might, er, catch up your past bill?" Earl's voice was timid.
Cash gave him his most engaging grin. "By thunder, Earl, you know I'm good for it. Now when this deal works out, I'll be able to catch up all my old debts."
Earl chewed his pale lip. "Uh, I think the manager-"
"What would you think about a world championship boxin' match right here in little old Dallas?"
Cash rubbed his hands together with enthusiasm and winked. "I just have to tell someone. It'll be in the papers tomorrow mornin'. Hear this: I've just arranged a fight between Champion Gentleman Jim Corbett and an up-and-comin' fighter, Fightin' Bob Fitzsimmons."
"I thought John L. Sullivan was the champ?" the clerk asked.
"Nope, got beat some time back by Corbett. Why, men will flock to Dallas to see this fight and as the promoter, I stand to make a pile of money."
"So then you'll pay your bill?"
"Of course, now gimme my keys." Cash was suddenly a bit annoyed. All the money he'd saved over the years, he'd lost in the Crash of '93, but things were looking up for him now. He hummed a bit of "Camptown Races" as he signed the register and accepted the key, started to turn away, then paused. "You only gave me the key to 203A."
Earl pulled out his hankie and wiped his pale face. "Uh, you see, sir, there's a big ladies' convention in town-"
"Don't I know it?" Cash snorted. "Train was full of them, righteous lookin' old biddies."
"Well, sir, I had to give one of them the adjoining room to yours."
"What!" Cash whirled around, trying to control his Scots-Irish temper. "But that's my permanent suite-"
"Well, she was most insistent, sir, and your bill is long overdue and you were out of town-"
"I told you I'd pay it as soon as this big deal comes off, and as you can see, Earl, I'm back in town."
"I-I wasn't sure if you'd really need the other room-"
"Don't I usually have a lady or two with me?" Cash snapped.
The clerk mopped his face again. "Cash, you know if it was up to me, I'd have saved it, but with your past due bill and this being an important woman-"
"By thunder, you're insultin' me. Cash McCalley always pays his bills. I'm just a little short now, that's all. Miss Fifi LaFemme may be arrivin' in town."
Earl leaned forward, very interested. "Isn't she the one that does that cancan dance?"
Cash nodded and grinned. In his mind, the long-legged Fifi kicked her heels high and showed her lace garters. "That she is. I was thinkin' it might be convenient for us to have adjoinin' rooms."
"I am so sorry, Mr. McCalley."
"Oh, forget it," Cash muttered. "Maybe the old hens will only be in town a couple of days." He held out a coin to the Mexican bellhop. "Take my bags up. I'll be in the bar if anyone needs me and then I'll be in the dinin' room." He turned and humming, strode toward the bar. He was in too good a mood about his coming success to let a mix-up like this ruin his day.
After two good stiff drinks of bourbon, he felt even better and headed for the dining room. Standing in the doorway, his mood began to sour. To the headwaiter, he said, "By thunder, Joe, who are all these women? They chatter like hens and flutter about. Can you get me a good table away from the noise?"
The tall waiter smiled. "Glad to see you back in town, Cash." Then he looked about at the crowds. "Pretty busy. You'll have to wait or share a table."
"What? I don't want to share a table." Cash grumbled, "Unless you can find a pretty miss to sit with, and just lookin' around, these are the most strait-laced, homely bunch of old biddies I've seen in a coon's age."
"It's the Lone Star Ladies For Decency and Decorum," Joe whispered, "their annual convention."
Cash groaned aloud. "More days of all this noise and confusion? I'm hungry enough to eat a sheep." He paused and thought. Well, no, no Texan was ever that hungry.
"If you'd share a table, Cash, I think I can seat you right away."
Cash took a deep breath. The scents from the kitchen made his mouth water. "I'm tryin' to decide if I'm that hungry." He thought about it. "Hell, yes, I am."
The waiter gestured. "I see a lady eating alone over there near the window. I can ask if she'd mind sharing."
Cash took a critical look at the woman the waiter indicated and did not like what he saw. The diminutive lady was maybe in her late twenties or early thirties and wore a rather dowdy black dress and hat. A widow, Cash thought, and a rather plain and poor one at that.
"Cash, would you like me to ask her if she would share her table?"
Cash groaned aloud. He was hungry as a wolf, but sharing a table with that prim brunette put him off. Oh, hell, he could stand anything for a few minutes. "Go ahead."
The waiter went to the table and leaned down, speaking to the woman. She frowned and looked toward Cash with evident distaste. Clearly, she did not like the idea any better than he did. Damn, he was hungry. He tipped his Stetson to her and then doffed it, smiled his most engaging smile. She seemed to hesitate. She did have big blue eyes, but a thin, disapproving mouth and her hair, under her black hat, was pulled back in such a severe bun that it must hurt her face. He smiled again and tried to look charming. She said something to the waiter and frowned again. Evidently, she didn't find Cash too appealing. That hurt his pride; he'd never met a woman who didn't find him utterly fascinating.
The waiter returned. "Mrs. Purdy is a little hesitant, but I told her you were a perfect gentleman."
"She's worried I might be a masher?" His voice rose in indignation. "By thunder, that plain, prim little-"
"Cash, lower your voice," the waiter gestured. "She might hear you and change her mind."
"Oh, hell, lead on." Cash took a deep breath and followed the waiter across the crowded dining room.
Bonnie watched the pair threading their way through the crowd toward her. Already she regretted having made the offer. This tall, broad-shouldered Texan was just the kind of man she had always avoided. He was a little too handsome and dressed too flashy in a scarlet vest and a silk necktie with a diamond stickpin. No doubt, he was probably a gambler like her second husband.
He reached her and gave a deep bow with a flourish of his Stetson. "My lady, thank you so much for your generosity. I don't often meet such a charming woman-"
"Oh, just sit down. I am not the kind of woman who is taken in by fancy compliments." She pointed to the seat across from her. From here, she could smell the fine cologne. She tried not to look at him because there was something dangerous about those gray eyes that surveyed her under a shock of curly dark hair.
"Oh, but a lovely lady like you should be complimented." He took his seat and reached for his napkin with a flourish. "Allow me to introduce myself, kind lady. I am Cash McCalley."
His voice was a deep baritone with a West Texas accent.
"Cash is not a name, sir."
"Well, actually, my Christian name is Jack. And you are?"
"Mrs. Purdy." She snapped and began to eat her salad faster, eager to get away from this obvious rascal.
Cash sighed and turned to the waiter. "The biggest steak you have and potatoes and biscuits. You know how I like my steak."
"Yes, sir, Cash." The waiter scribbled on his pad and left.
The chatter of women swirled around them as Cash turned his attention to the lady. "Lovely day, ain't it?" She merely nodded and reached for a cracker.
Poor thing, she couldn't have too much money or she wouldn't be wearing such a dowdy dress and eating a small salad. He felt a little sympathy but he dare not offer to buy her dinner; a respectable lady would never allow a stranger to do that.
"I've just returned from an excitin' trip back East," he said to break the silence. "And you?"
"I'm a librarian," she said, not looking up, "and I'm in town for a convention."
"Oh, really? How interestin'." Of course it wasn't interesting at all. Mrs. Purdy looked like a librarian, very prim and proper, although, when she looked up, she did have startling blue eyes. He'd never been in a library, nor was he even sure what a librarian did, although now that he thought of it, he might have seduced one or two. The strained silence returned and he was more than grateful when the waiter brought his food.
The steak was so large, it lapped over the china plate. Cash took a deep breath of the scent and cut into it. It looked juicy and delicious. He put a bite in his mouth and chewed slowly, closing his eyes. Ah, just right. When he opened them, the lady was frowning at him.
"That meat is so raw, with a little bit of help, that steer could recover."
"By thunder, just the way I like it." He frowned at her then realized she was staring at his plate. He glanced at her small salad. Probably the poor thing couldn't afford a steak but he could not offer her a piece of his. That would be too intimate and insulting.
"Mr. McCalley," she lowered her voice and now it had a nice, musical tone to it, "I don't think you can eat all that. May I trouble you for the scraps?"
"What?" Her request caught him off-guard.
Her delicate face turned deep pink. "I-I don't want you to think me forward, but I'm feeding a stray cat."
Uh huh. So she was hungry. "Certainly, dear lady. Would you like some potatoes, too?"
She looked puzzled. "I'm not sure cats eat potatoes."
He didn't want to embarrass the poor little thing. No doubt she would eat the meat up in her room later. "Well, I'll have the waiter box up potatoes and bread, too, just in case cats like them." Actually, he had planned to save the scraps for the old cat he'd been feeding down at the train depot, but there'd probably be enough for the lady and John L. too.
For the first time, she smiled at him and she was more attractive than he had first thought. "Thank you, Mr. McCalley, you are indeed kind." She had a Texas accent, he thought.
"Purdy," he mused as he ate, "I used to know a Purdy; Clint Purdy."
"Probably not the same one." Bonnie kept her eyes on her plate, not wanting the stranger to see her face. Clint Purdy. She was embarrassed at the memory. How could she have been fooled so badly?
"I didn't think that was a common name," Cash persisted, watching her as he ate. "Clint, old 'Ace High' Purdy."
Cash had a gambler's keen eye at reading people and he saw the way she started and her face reddened and tears came to her eyes. So she'd been taken in by that handsome scoundrel. Strange, she didn't seem like the kind to attract a rascal like Purdy. Most gamblers liked flashy, wild women. Cash thought of Fifi LaFemme and sighed. Hell, even if Fifi did return to town, she wouldn't be sharing his suite.
"Gracious, I-I really need to go now." The lady checked the small watch pinned on her bodice.
"Certainly." Cash signaled the waiter and said to him, "Take the scraps and divide them up in two little bundles."
Cash frowned. He was too much of a Texan to embarrass the prim lady. "Mrs. Purdy and I are both feedin' strays."
Bonnie eyed him suspiciously. He didn't look like the type to feed stray anything, except maybe saloon girls. Oh, this varmint was the kind who would attract saloon girls, all right. "You're a gambler, Mr. McCalley?" she asked before she thought.
"Well, more of a promoter." He leaned back in his chair and reached for a cigar in his silk vest, seemed to realize he was with a lady, and put it back.
Excerpted from To Wed A Texan by GEORGINA GENTRY Copyright © 2008 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.
Posted December 9, 2008
In 1895 Dallas, Jack 'Cash' McCalley is hosting a prizefight. Widow Mrs. Bonnie O'Neal Schwartz Purdy, president of the Lone Star Ladies for Decency and Decorum, is hosting a convention. They meet over who will occupy his suite at the Cattleman¿s Hotel. When she learns of his plan to bring a fight to town, Bonnie becomes upset as she opposes such brutality. She arranges for her group and several preachers to protest the violent confrontation in which she has the law on her side as Texas has banned boxing the women and the religious leaders demand the city leaders enforce the law and stop the fight from occurring.---------- Not one to buck such a trend, Cash decides to relocate the fight, but somehow each site he picks, Bonnie is there although he is not sure how she knows. He decides retreating for another day has failed so he goes on the offensive. He plans on seducing his opponent, not realizing the gender fight he has begun.----------- In the prologue Georgina Gentry explains this superb historical gender war is based on a true occurrence in which a Texas promoter tried to bring the Fitzsimmons-Corbett heavyweight championship bout to the Lone Star State. The unlimited rounds mixed gender championship is between Cash and the Widow-president is an amusing terrific Gay Nineties romance populated by real people who were part of the original media circus.------------- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 17, 2011
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