Wilder Sistersby Jo-Ann Mapson
Set in Floralee, New Mexico, The Wilder Sisters introduces two sisters who fall in love with men when they least expect itand most need it. Rose, at forty, the older, more practical one, lost her husband two years earlier when he was killed by a drunk driver, leaving her in New Mexico with two ungrateful twenty-something kids, a bored dog, and a horse with a bad back.… See more details below
Set in Floralee, New Mexico, The Wilder Sisters introduces two sisters who fall in love with men when they least expect itand most need it. Rose, at forty, the older, more practical one, lost her husband two years earlier when he was killed by a drunk driver, leaving her in New Mexico with two ungrateful twenty-something kids, a bored dog, and a horse with a bad back. Employed as a bookkeeper to a local veterinarian, Rose and her boss, Dr. Austin Donavan, share a love of animals and an intimate yet platonic friendship, each staving off the urge to initiate a romantic relationship. Lily, the beautiful, younger, more daring sister, lives in a tiny condo in Southern California with her cherished dog, Buddy Guy. A woman who has put her career before everything else, she has had more than her share of selfish lovers but has yet to have a taste of love. Lily flees to El Rancho Costa Plente, their parents' ranch in Floralee, for some emotional detox, leaving all responsibility behind in California. At the same time Rose, weary of caring for Austin and aching from the departure of her two nearly grown children, sets out for the ranch to take a much-needed vacation. A time-out from their problems would seem to be the perfect cure for what ails the Wilder sisters. But the two haven't spoken in five long years, and spending time together is the last thing they'd planned. Nor had either anticipated being so actively pursued by lovestruck men - Rose by her boss, and Lily by an old boyfriend who has grown even sexier over the years.
- Cengage Gale
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.20(w) x 9.23(h) x 1.20(d)
Read an Excerpt
An Echo from a Former Life
I used to love my children," Rose Wilder Flynn said as she held the mare's bound tail aside so the vet, his gloved and greased arm sunk up to the shoulder inside the horse, could palpate the horns of the uterus for signs of pregnancy."Sesame Street Band-Aids, scout meet-ings, classroom cupcakes with the little colored jimmies.Once upon a time, Austin, I did the whole nine yards for them."
Austin Donavan, DVM, rotated his arm inside, Miss Winky, Rose's five-year-old quarter horse."I believe you.It's easy enough to love them when they're small."
"I should have had a passel of kids instead of stopping at two.Yes, with three or more offspring, my odds would definitely improve."
"Because at any given time one of them is bound to need a loan, a ride somewhere, or a babysitter."
Austin smiled."I suppose." A faraway look came over the vet's face as he pressed forward and down, gently palpating and massaging. Miss Winky, who had earned her nickname for advertising her business end when she was in season, tolerated the inspection with dignity, probably because her upper lip was caught in the bind of a humane twitch.The device, which looked like a nutcracker pinching Winky's upper lip, in reality was releasing endorphins so she wasn't in any pain.Rose scratched the mare's neck with her free hand while murmuring words of encouragement.It was not exactly the kind of treatment Rose her-self received when she saw the gynecologist, but why not calm the horse down if it made Austin's job easier?
He turned his face toward her.The vet was clean-shaven and unsmiling, and though it appeared hewas looking directly at Rose, she knew he was concentrating on the mare.They stood no more than two inches apart, their boot tips touching.Over the healthy scents of alfalfa and nervous horse, Rose could detect the soap Austin had used that morning to wash his face.Nothing fancy, but compared to his usual stink of alcohol, soap smelled like cologne.Then he smiled, and Rose's heart fluttered for a single beat.Oh, let it be! Winky hadn't caught on the first attempt at breeding, back in March.They'd tried again late in May, July, and August.Pregnancy in maiden mares could be detected as soon as thirty days after breeding, if the exam was performed by an experienced vet.Rose crossed her fingers."Is she?"
"Knocked up like a cheerleader," he said."I can feel it along the bottom of the left uterine horn, about the size of an orange." He withdrew his arm and rolled off the lubricated sleeve, throwing it into the back of his pickup."Barring unforeseen circumstances, you'll have yourself a foal next summer, Rose.Going to trailer her up to your dad's?"
"Yes.Soon." Maybe, if she got her way, this very weekend.
"I'll set up a vaccine schedule, and you give it to Shep or your father.Meanwhile, start her on supplements.I'll fetch you some samples from my truck."
Rose unwound the string from the twitch, put it away in the barn, then using a garden hose, washed the mare's butt dean of the slippery lubricant.She turned Winky out into the small arena that took up most of her backyard.Cut loose, the nervous horse squealed once, kicked at the fence, then resumed her usual behavior, which involved standing at the rail, gossiping to Max, the elderly bay gelding who technically belonged to Rose's absent daughter, Amanda.Dr. Donavan set the patient file on the seat of his truck and flipped through the boxes of medical supplies.Rose had seen him give them away to patients who couldn't afford proper veterinary care.His thick brown hair was cropped dose, almost down to a burr.It looked as if he'd given himself the haircut with the same kind of shears Rose used to dip her horses.Over his ears some gray was beginning to creep in.They had known each other almost all their lives, and had been friends for the last ten Rose remembered a time when Austin's hair was long enough to touch his collar.At the time she'd been too young for him to notice, but she'd always had in mind that there'd come a day she'd run her fingers through that hair.Now it was gone, and the moment for that had passed, too.
"Lately I've been thinking about children," Austin said."Now that I'm into my fifties, sort of wish I'd had a couple."
The question that immediately came to mind was, What stopped you? Every resident of Floralee, New Mexico, believed the reason Austin Donavan had remained childless was his wife's--well, Leah was his ex-wife now--vanity.She was extraordinarily pretty--cover-girl material, people often remarked.Rose would never come right out and ask, but she suspected that some kind of infertility issue was going on there and had been a contributing factor to the Donavan divorce.She wished she'd thought twice before complaining about her own kids.Trying to make light of her words, she said, "Oh, come spend a week here.The collect calls will convince you otherwise.Everyone seems to think I have a built-in mother compass when it comes to my children's whereabouts, and at the end of the month, I get to pay for telling them I haven't a clue."Austin laughed, and Rose relaxed.She rolled up the hose, hung it over a nail protruding from a side of the barn where the horses couldn't get to it, and walked out of the arena and into the small yard, where a clothesline was strung between two trees.She bent over a wicker laundry basket half full of dry clothes and began folding.Indoors there was a washer-dryer in working order, but somehow hanging laundry out to dry made the last little bit of summer linger in her clothes.She hated to see it end.
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