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The air on a windy july day in Austin, Texas, had a way of weighing down against a man's skin, heavy as a river made of sand. Wolf Hayward felt the thin layer of grit around his eyes crease as he squinted into the sun.
"Tuesday," he mumbled, pulling his handcuffed prisoner off a horse. If possible the man was dirtier than he. "I think it's Tuesday, Francis, but I can't be sure."
The prisoner shook like a long-haired dog, creating his own personal dust cloud. "Call me Francis again, Captain, and I'll have to escape just to kill you. Ain't no one but my mother ever called me that, and I let her live 'cause she could cook. Can't say the same for you, Hayward."
"I haven't heard you complain about the grub all week." Wolf checked the wrist chains one last time before they started down the street and into civilization. Francis Digger might be congenial enough right now, but Wolf had seen the man turn to killer in the blink of an eye. Francis and his brother had been in Texas since before the war. For years, they'd stuck to robbing their own kind. But with the state's new growth, they'd taken to bothering respectable folks. Their last stagecoach robbery left two passengers dead and the driver without the use of one arm.
"It weren't that your cooking's so bad." Francis followed behind Wolf, the chains allowing him little freedom. "It was just monotonous. Beans and sourdough twice a day for a week kind of makes a man long for a little variety. Ever' night I fell asleep knowing what Ididn't finish for supper, I'd face at breakfast."
"Well, they'll give you whatever you want to eat before they hang you." Wolf watched the street. If Francis's brother planned to free him, there were only a few minutes left. In a hundred feet, the cold-blooded killer would be safely locked away in jail, and there were enough Texas Rangers in Austin to make sure that's where he stayed.
The buckskin-clad prisoner swore as he raised his nose like a wild animal smelling trouble. "Tuesday, you say. Hell, it don't matter to me, but you oughta know the day you're going to die, Captain Hayward."
Wolf chuckled. "I got you this far, didn't I? In a few steps you'll be in jail, and I'll be having my first drink in a month. If your brother planned to save you, he would have done it long before now."
Wolf pulled the prisoner along the covered walk. Signs advertising each business hung so low Wolf had to bend his huge frame slightly as they moved toward the jail. He glanced into the new mercantile as they passed. Austin was growing so fast, he couldn't keep up with the stores. At the end of the war, cattle grazed in the streets; now stores popped up fast as weeds once had.
Two ladies strolled by. They stared at him, from his hairy face to his knee-high leather moccasins, and giggled as they quickly moved along. Wolf realized he no longer fit in. He hadn't reached thirty, but he felt like an old man. He now looked more like a drifter than an officer of the law. Four years ago when he landed here in Texas, this had been the place for him. Wild, and rough. A state where a man's history didn't matter as much as his strength and skill with a gun.
But now there were new businesses and respectable ladies. Austin had more permanent buildings than he could count. Curtains even framed the drugstore they moved past.
He glanced in the window at the line of bottles circling a mortar and pestle. For a moment he stared at the sun glistening off the display. Then, like a vision from an old nightmare, Wolf saw the reflection of Francis's brother, Carrell Digger, in the window. The older Digger was crouched in the shadows between two buildings across the street.
As the wavy vision raised a rifle, Wolf reacted with lightning movements. With a mighty heave, he swung Francis by his handcuffs into the glass storefront and twisted to face Carrell with his Colt already springing to action.
Gunfire shattered the air. The women and Francis screamed. Glass fell like crystal rain into the sunlight. The ambusher crumpled, his second shot striking metal just above Wolf's head.
Wolf had no time to exhale with relief or see if Francis was all right. A shingle flew from above and struck him hard across the forehead.
As the huge lawman folded to his knees, the remaining chain holding the pharmacy sign snapped. The sign hit the walk only seconds before he did.
The last thing Wolf Hayward saw before his world went black was Molly Donivan's name carved on the sign with the word alchemist below it.
Molly Donivan, the one name he'd spent a war and what seemed like half his life trying to forget.
Memories danced in the blackness of his consciousness, drowning out the hard thud of his head against the walk.
First only as shadows, then clearer in his mind's eye, came a vision from the past.
"Pardon me, miss," he whispered to an angel dressed in Union blue. Hundreds moved around them at the crowded Philadelphia train station. New recruits anxious to go to war, returning heroes, families whispering tearful good-byes and crying heartfelt greetings.
She met his stare with shy green eyes.
He couldn't tell her he'd watched her all morning as she moved among the arriving wounded. He'd never be able to explain how each time she touched a soldier in comfort, he'd felt a longing grow within him. Or how the sight of her warmed his heart as though he'd known he'd always find her.
"You don't know me...." He stumbled over words. "There's no time, and I don't know if you'll believe me." He loved the way she faced him so directly. The intelligence in her gaze shook him to the core. He rushed ahead. "But my name is Benjamin and I know I've been looking for you all my life."
A train whistle sounded, rippling the air with impatience. Smoke swirled around them. He felt suddenly uncomfortable in his blue uniform with the shiny lieutenant's bars on the collar. Strangers rushed in streams on either side.
"I have to board. This is my train." He smiled down at her, memorizing her face. "But I must have your name before I go. I'll carry it with me until this war is over. Then I'll find you. I swear, I'll find you." He knew he sounded desperate, but he didn't care. She wasn't someone he could see once and forget.
"Molly," she whispered, then shouted above the crowd. "Molly Donivan."
A soldier running to board pushed him closer to her. "Molly," he whispered only an inch from her cheek. "Do you believe in love at first sight?"
Young, innocent eyes studied his face. "I'm starting to," she answered as her fingers lightly brushed across his heart.
Before he could stop himself, he kissed her boldly, wildly, in front of hundreds of people. Heaven exploded in his mind as she moved into his embrace, and he realized she was kissing him back.
She was tall, willow thin, and made for his arms.
The whistle sounded again. Urgent now. Steam poured from the train as the mighty iron horse began to move. There was no time. He had to go. But for a second he wasn't sure he could release her.
She slowly stepped back without a word, her eyes sparkling with tears. There was no need, no time for words. Somehow in a moment they both knew what they'd found ... what they were about to lose.
He ran frantically, catching the last steps of the now moving train. "Wait for me, Molly Donivan," he yelled above all the noise. "For I'll love you until my heart beats no more."
She touched her fingers to her lips as tears bubbled onto her cheeks.
He patted the side of the train as though it were a horse that had waited for him and now had to run. Just before he lost sight of her, a general stepped to her side. It took him a moment to place the older man. General Donivan! One of a handful of Union doctors he'd been watching. She had to be the general's daughter!
The realization slammed against his heart with the impact of a fully powered locomotive.
She was a general's daughter, and he ... he was a Southern spy deep behind enemy lines, dressed in Union blue. For a moment, he'd forgotten the war and his mission.
Wolf fought the memory from eight years ago as voices intruded into his brain. He could have gone back and found her somehow—if it had only been time and space that stood between them. But a war separated them. He'd known as she disappeared from his sight he could never return to her. Not to Molly Donivan. Not to a general's daughter.
Shouts grew louder, pulling Wolf back fully to the present.
"Move him out of the way while I see to the man in chains," a woman proclaimed.
Wolf opened his eyes slowly as a skirt brushed the side of his face. A tall lady in black stood above him, issuing orders to everyone.
"We'll see to the prisoner, ma'am!" someone shouted. "You see what you can do for our captain."
The skirt tickled his face again. "This mountain of mud and hair is a Texas Ranger?" the woman asked.
Josh Weston leaned down. "Yes, ma'am, Captain Wolf Hayward. One of the best, but unfortunately he don't clean up much prettier." Josh laughed and stepped over Wolf. "I doubt a board hitting him over the head could do much damage, but you might want to see to it before he bleeds all over your porch."
Before Wolf could stand and put the young ranger in his place, the woman knelt beside him.
Intelligent green eyes locked with his.
"Molly," he whispered, matching a memory with reality.
"That's right," she answered. "I'm Molly Donivan. Dr. Molly Donivan. If you'll lie still, I'll see what I can do about that cut."
Her fingers brushed his forehead, pushing hair away from the wound.
Wolf closed his eyes and reached for her as he'd tried to reach for a memory for eight years.
Molly screamed as she tumbled atop him. He held fast until her punches hurt enough to register that maybe she didn't want his hug. Groaning like an animal, he released her.
She wiggled to a sitting position atop him. "Stop that!" she ordered as she shoved his arm to the walk beside his head.
He made no effort to move.
"Be still and behave yourself, or I'll hit you with the board across the other side of your head, Captain."
He stared into her angry green eyes and fought down a laugh. His Molly had matured into one headstrong woman, full of fight and fire.
"Nice job." Josh Weston squatted beside them, his clean-shaven face dimpling with his wide smile. "You always sit on your patients, Doc?"
Molly quickly scooted off Wolf. "When they don't cooperate."
Wolf didn't miss the way she lifted her chin. She was not a woman given to apology or explanation.
Josh tipped his hat respectfully. "Well, you'd better climb back on the captain, 'cause I've never known him to cooperate. He's worse than a wild mustang about being doctored. Last year when a doc over in El Paso had to dig a bullet out of his leg, it took four of us to hold him down."
The young ranger patted Wolf's shoulder as he gave Molly an apologetic look. "Just rest easy, Captain Hayward. We got the Digger boys on their way to jail. Neither one is hurt bad enough to miss the hanging tomorrow."
Wolf nodded and raised up, forgetting that Molly thought her grip held his arm down.
He watched her stiffen with anger. "If you're able"—she tried to gain control once more—"I can treat you in my store easier." Despite what Josh had just told her, there was no fear in her stare.
Standing, Wolf followed her inside as the last of the rangers headed toward the jail. Watching her move, he tried to believe she was really before him. If this was his Molly, she'd changed, he thought. The willow-thin body he remembered had matured into a woman with gentle curves. But the eyes were the same. The voice only slightly lower.
It couldn't be her, he reasoned as he moved through the small store. The same name, the same hair, the same eyes didn't matter. If she was his Molly, she'd remember him.
Wolf glanced past the counter to a wall covered in mirrored shelves filled with all sizes of bottles. A hundred reflections looked back at him.
Hell, he thought, I don't even recognize myself. He'd gained fifty pounds, at least, from the slender man of years ago. His face had been clean-shaven, his hair short. A hundred battles had scarred not only his body, but his soul. No wonder she didn't know him. Even his speech had slipped back into his natural Southern drawl, losing the practiced Northern tone he'd worked so hard on.
She pointed him toward a stool as she disappeared behind a curtain at the back. "I'll get water. You stay put," she ordered.
Wolf let the blood drip down his face and onto his shirt. He didn't own a scrap of material clean enough to wipe an open wound.
His eyes followed her when she returned. Questions came to mind, but he held his tongue. The war might be over, but nothing had changed. If she even remembered that day at the train station, she still wouldn't want to see him. He'd heard her father died a hero for the North, fighting disease and operating conditions in field hospitals until a stray bullet from a nearby battle found him.
She rolled up her sleeves. "Hold still. I have to wash enough dirt off you to see the wound before I can treat it."
Wolf frowned. "Are you a real doctor?"
She winked as if thinking of lying. "As real as you're going to get in this town. I can promise you I went to med school as long as any practitioner in Austin. My studies were mostly in pharmacy. Much to my father's disappointment, I prefer to work making prescriptions rather than with patients."
"Like the snake-oil doctors with the wagons going from town to town?" He watched her reaction, almost hoping to make her angry again so he could see those green eyes sparkle.
To his surprise, she nodded calmly. "That's me." She leaned forward and began cleaning the wound. "I did go to college for two years and my father was a doctor, but today, basically I mix potions."
"Over at Fort Mojave in Arizona, the Apache killed six medicine men last year for failing to cure the fever infecting the tribe."
"I assure you, Captain, you'll live. I'm in no fear of my life."
She was so close he could smell her, an intoxicating blend of medicines and perfume and woman. He was afraid to breathe for fear he'd lose himself in the smell of her. "You married?" The question was out before he thought to stop it.
"No," she answered as she worked.
"Widowed?" He glanced the length of her sober dress. Black was the color many women her age wore. But his Molly belonged in blue.
She paused. "Not that it's any of your business, Captain, but the man I loved died in the war."
Wolf didn't know if he was happy or sad to hear that she'd loved someone. Happy, maybe, that she'd gone on with her life and not pined away for him. Sad that she'd known loss.
"Want to go to dinner with me?"
She continued to wipe blood from his forehead. "No," she answered simply.
"If I take a bath and clean up?" he tried again. In his life he could never remember asking a woman to step out with him, but he figured the direct way had to work.
"No, thank you," she answered as she dabbed ointment on his cut.
Wolf shrugged. "Then I guess marrying me is out, Doc?"
A smile brushed her lips. "This is going to hurt, Captain. Try not to jerk."
Wolf's stare never left her face as fire brushed across his torn skin. She leaned close, blowing softly along the cut.
He fought the urge to reach for her. "Thanks," he whispered. "What do I owe you?" He didn't want to think that she'd treated him for money, but after all, it was what she did for a living.
"A new window." She replaced the cap on her bottle of medicine. "I don't charge for the doctoring."
"A window and dinner. I insist on evening the score. I'll not be beholden."
"All right. If you can clean up before sundown, I'll share a meal with you. But understand clearly, Captain, we're not walking out with one another, only having dinner. I'm far too old and have no time in my life for such foolishness as courting."
Wolf replaced his mud-caked hat. "I understand." He knew she couldn't be much past her mid-twenties. "I'm obliged you've agreed to share a meal with me. Until sundown."
"Until sundown, Captain." She turned without another word and disappeared behind the curtain at the back of the store.
It took Wolf several breaths to make himself move away. "Until sundown, Molly," he whispered as he walked outside.
Copyright © 2001 Gloria Dale Skinner. All rights reserved.
Buy the premise---Buy the
Wolf and Molly meet for the first time on a train station in the middle
of the civil war. In 5 minutes they are madly in love. He leaves on
the train and for the next 8 years they still have thoughts only for
each other------------even though they've never seen or heard from each
other again. That part was a little thin. If they had spent some
time together--a month --or a week --even a day. But 5 minutes???
But this is Jodi Thomas and so even her background characters are good.
So if you've read the other McClain books and want to see how Wolf makes
out get it from the library. Its not available on nook and I wouldn't
pay over $12 for it second hand. To Wed in Texas was a much better
book and really gets you into the Wolf characters. Still its a good read.
Posted June 19, 2012
Please put this book into the NOOK format!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All of the other books in this series are awesome as her other series books!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 4, 2012
I agree with starmist68 - Please put in NOOK format!!!!! I won't start reading a series with books left out of the NOOK format again.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 28, 2011
ok after reading the first 3 in nook format why isnt the 4th in nook format????? but the 5th is thats just frustrating... could you please put the 4th series of this story line in nook format please?!?!?!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
During the Civil War, their eyes meet and remain locked though the train station is crowded. Benjamin admits that he now believes in love at first sight. Molly Donovan is a true believer too. He vows to find her after the war and seals his pledge with a kiss. However, afterwards reality returns with a vengeance and he realizes she is a Union general¿s daughter and he is actually Wolf Hayward, confederate spy. <P>Eight years later in Austin, Texas Ranger Wolf is hurt by a falling sign. Dr. Molly Donovan tends to his injuries. He immediately recognizes the woman who has haunted his dreams, but she fails to know he is the soldier that stole her heart. Wolf cannot help but court Molly, who is fascinated by his attention, but struggles to keep her promise to remain loyal to Benjamin. As they fall in love, Wolf worries how Molly reacts to the fact that he and Benjamin is the same person. <P> Jodie ¿Texas¿ Thomas provides her audience with a powerful Lone Star romance that brings to life the decade after the Civil War. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action, and loaded with tender passion that will entice readers to search out the author¿s previous novels. The lead characters are a delightful duo whose motivations ring true. Ms. Thomas has written another exciting tale that sub-genre fans will relish for a long time to come. <P>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 16, 2001
Among the wounded and dying soldiers in a Philadelphia train station, two lonely people fall in love at first sight. Unknown to her, he is a confederate spy while she is the daughter of a Yankee doctor during the Civil War. With a passionate kiss good-bye and words of love Benjamin 'Wolf' Hayward never kept his promise to find Molly Donivan at the wars end. Now Wolf is a Texas Ranger bring a prisoner into Austin Texas eight years later, when out of the corner of his eye he sees a glimmer of a gun. Pushing his prisoner into a glass window of a store he glances up just in time to see the name on the sign falling towards his head, Molly Donivan, alchemist, then his world goes black. Wolf wakes up to find his Molly leaning over him caring for his injured head but she doesn't recognize the longhair, bearded, muscular man as her Benjamin. Molly having given her heart away once doesn't believe she can love again, so Wolf asks her to be his friend. When his prisoner's young niece, Callie Ann, arrived on the next stage the judge decides that since Wolf had brought her uncles to justice he could have custody of the little girl. This rough tough ranger has no idea what to do with a five year old girl, so he turns to Molly for help. She invites Callie Ann to stay with her in return Molly ask Wolf a favor, the protection of his name in a marriage in name only. It seems someone is trying to force Molly out of town. Wolf and Molly gather together a rag tag group of friends and family, including other Texas Rangers, a young runaway girl, the town drunkard turned hero, two old maid aunts of Molly's and even Callie Ann's invisible uncle Orson. When Molly's store is burned to the ground they all pull together for strength and comfort while Wolf hunts for the person responsible. Molly struggles with her growing feelings for Wolf and her dream of Benjamin as Wolf waits patiently for her to return his love and affection. TWILIGHT IN TEXAS is the much-awaited story of Nichole Hayward McLain's brother Wolf. He appeared in Ms. Thomas first book of her McLain trilogy and reappears in the other following books. Wolf is a mountain of a man with a giant's gentle heart that only a very special woman like Molly could capture. When the lovable little 'princess' is added to the mixture they make a delightful family. Readers will enjoy the brief visit with the McLain brothers again to catch up with their families but if you haven't read the other three don't worry this is a stand-alone book. Ms. Thomas brings Texas alive with the fast paced, exciting tale of lovers reunited.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 12, 2009
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Posted March 19, 2013
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