Along Came Trouble
By Sherryl Woods
Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Copyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved. ISBN: 1551669552
Robert "King" Spencer eyed the silent telephone beside his chair, willed it to ring, and muttered a curse when it didn't. He'd never thought he would live to see the day when he actually wanted to fend off a dozen callers reporting trouble with one of his kids, but that day had come. With Daisy and Bobby settled down, it was past time for Tucker, his oldest, to start raising a ruckus around town.
Of course, as sheriff, Tucker was more prone to squelching trouble than stirring it up, but even a saint had an off-day every now and then. It was way past time for some woman to come along and lead Tucker astray, but as far as King knew, Tucker hadn't even had a date in months now. Worse, King's elder son didn't seem to give two hoots that he had no social life to speak of.
As for trouble, there had never been so much as a whiff of scandal in that boy's life with the possible exception of the time Mary Elizabeth Swan, his childhood sweetheart, had taken up with an outsider and left Tucker pining away for her. Folks in Trinity Harbor had had a field day with that one, but they'd been sympathetic to Tucker, and eventually the talk had died down out of respect for his feelings.
King should have been proud that his elder son was an honorable man who people looked to as an example, but the truth was, he found it frustrating. A man had to stir things up once in a while or life just passed him by. King considered starting a few rumors of his own, just to get the ball rolling. If nothing else, that would bring Tucker flying out to Cedar Hill to deny them ... which would give King an opportunity to deliver a long-overdue lecture on marriage and family.
King was not a patient man. Okay, that was a massive understatement. He liked to be in control, liked to make things happen on his own timetable. He did not like having his plans foiled again and again by the streak of stubbornness that ran wide through his own children. Right now his plan included grandbabies, a whole dynasty of Spencers.
He had one flesh-and-blood grandson, for all the good it did him. J. C. Gates had been kept from Bobby and from King for years. Some of that had been King's own doing, so he could hardly complain now that the boy still hadn't warmed up to him. J.C. was as cautious and fractious as a spooked horse around his own daddy, never mind King. But Bobby was both patient and determined that the boy's attitude would change with time. King was counting on it.
In addition to J.C., there were four more little hellions King could claim, even if they didn't have Spencer blood running through their veins. Daisy's adopted son, Tommy, was turning into a fine boy, now that Daisy and Walker had taken a firm hand with him. And Bobby's stepdaughter, Darcy, was a pistol. She looked real cute, too, now that her dyed-green hair had grown out. King was as proud of his two ready-made grandkids as if they were his own flesh and blood. He felt the same way about Walker's two sons, even though they all saw precious little of them, since the boys lived down in North Carolina with their mama.
But even with all the commotion that brood had brought into his life, King wanted a new generation of full-fledged Spencers he could educate in tradition from the very beginning. He wanted a generation who'd grow up and see to things in Trinity Harbor, Virginia, the way King and his ancestors had from the beginning of time in this little town on the Potomac River. Spencers had a duty and an obligation to folks around here to keep things running smoothly.
Since Daisy and Bobby didn't seem to be in the slightest hurry to give him grandbabies, that left Tucker. Unfortunately, his son seemed to be aware of King's intentions. Tucker had been giving his father a wide berth for weeks now, making up excuses to avoid Sunday dinner at the farm and the pointed questions that King tended to serve along with the fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
Worse, King hadn't been able to corner him in town or at the sheriff's office over in Montross. Tucker was getting to be as slippery as some of those criminals he was always going on and on about.
Now, it was possible that Tucker was trying to crack a big case, but King doubted it. The kind of "big" cases that turned up around here tended to begin and end with a drunk-and-disorderly charge or a traffic citation. Oh, there had been that drug business a couple of years back, and an occasional shoplifting incident or shooting, but all in all, the county was fairly quiet and serene. Which should have left plenty of time for Tucker to pursue a woman, in King's opinion.
"I guess that means it's up to me," King said aloud. "Again."
He managed to pull off a resigned tone, but anyone looking would no doubt have seen the glint of anticipation in his eyes. There was nothing on earth that King liked better than a little well-intentioned meddling, especially when it came to romance. He glanced across the room at the silver-framed photos Daisy and Bobby had given him last Christmas. They both had fine-looking families, thanks to him.
Yes, indeed, a little lively romance was exactly what Tucker needed. And King was getting darn good at providing it, if he did say so himself. He'd get on it first thing in the morning.
Excerpted from Along Came Trouble by Sherryl Woods
Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.