The gorgeous hunk of cowboy flesh had a name--Hank Monroe--and just about every woman in Whitehorse dreamed of being his match. So why would the newcomer want to date plain ol' Arlene Evans? His arrival was enough to flip her world upside down--leaving no time at all to get her hair done--but could he also set it right? When Arlene's pregnant daughter disappears, Hank's got the connections to close the case. But with his own past catching up--heck, nobody's perfect!--Arlene will do anything to get to the bottom of one tall, masculine, Montana mystery. Their lives are on the line, but nothing in this rough and tumble world can tear Hank and Arlene apart.
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May 12, 2008
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Excerpt from Second Chance Cowboy by B.J. Daniels
Charlotte Evans was already late for her doctor's appointment when she looked up and saw a silver SUV blocking the narrow road into town.
The hood of the SUV was up. No sign of the driver.
"Great," Charlotte muttered as she braked to a stop. She should have taken the main road. But, as was her habit, she preferred taking the shortcut into town even though it was more rugged. Normally it was faster. Less chance of getting behind a tractor or a doddering old farmer in a beat-up pickup or cowboys moving a herd of cattle.
She considered turning around. But the barrow pits on both sides of the road were deep and muddy from last night's rain, the road too narrow and steep here above the creek--and, in her condition, an insane idea. There were enough crazy people in her family as it was.
She waited for a moment, motor running. It was one of those hot July days, the Montana sky wide and blue, only a few clouds dotting the horizon. She had her window down, since her old car didn't have air-conditioning. The hot summer air was making her sweat. She hated to sweat.
Still no sign of the driver. She beeped her horn.
A hand waved a hello from under the hood.
"Terrific," Charlotte said under her breath and shut off her engine. How long was this going to take?
It was hard enough living so far from town, let alone getting herself behind the wheel eight months pregnant.
She really didn't need this. To make matters worse, on the way to Whitehorse she'd started having contractions.
It would be just her luck to have this baby beside the road. Somehow that might be fitting, she thought. She just hoped the driver of the SUV knew how to deliver a baby.
Opening her car door, she maneuvered her ungainly belly from behind the steering wheel and got out. She told herself she would never have gotten pregnant if she'd known even half of the things that were going to happen to her body. If only.
Slamming her car door, she waddled toward the SUV, cursing under her breath.
A head appeared as the driver leaned out from the front of the car. "Sorry, didn't hear you drive up," the female driver called. "Had my head stuck under the hood." The head disappeared again.
Charlotte wondered how things could get worse. She just hoped this woman knew what she was doing under there.
At least if the driver had been a man, there might be a chance he could get the car moved out of the way so she could get to town.
She stopped for a moment as another contraction took her breath away. She remembered her doctor saying something about false labor. She hoped that was what this was. Maybe she should have read even one of the books her mother kept buying her about labor and delivery, Lamaze, breast feeding and child rearing.
The last book really was a kick, since her mother had done such a bang-up job with her three, Charlotte thought uncharitably. Actually, being pregnant had made her wonder how her mother had gone through it three times much less raised three kids alone.
As Charlotte waddled the rest of the way up to the front of the SUV, she saw that the woman was teetering on the bumper as she leaned under the hood to work on the engine--wearing a pair of latex gloves, of all things.
"It just quit running," the woman said, looking up. She was at least fifteen years older than Charlotte, with brown hair and eyes and a look of privilege about her. Charlotte would have hated her on sight except that the woman had a smudge of grease on her cheek and she was almost as pregnant as Charlotte herself.
The woman smiled. "Know anything about cars?"
She'd taken an auto mechanics course last year in high school, but she hadn't paid any attention. She shook her head with a silent groan. Apparently this could get worse. "Did you call AAA or one of the local garages in town?"
"No cell phone coverage out here."
"I really need to get to my doctor's appointment," Charlotte said. "If we could just move your car over a little, I think I can squeeze mine past. I can drive you into town and you can get someone to come back out with you to work on it."
"I think I've got it fixed. Would you mind getting in and trying to start it while I jiggle this cable?"
Charlotte sighed. Just the thought of trying to climb into the huge SUV--She bent over a little, grimacing as she was hit with another contraction.
The woman was giving her a worried look. "Tell me you aren't in labor."
Charlotte held up her hand and breathed through the contraction. It felt so good when it stopped. "False labor." She hoped.
"How far along are you?" the woman asked, studying her.
"Eight months." The lie came so naturally. "You?"
"Seven. So how close are your contractions?"
Charlotte shrugged. "Not that close."
"Your first baby?"
Charlotte nodded and felt the woman looking at her ring finger. "I'm separated from the father." That was actually kind of true. "I'm older than I look." Another lie.