Sugar Rae Lenox is famous...in Mule Hollow. For wanting her name in lights on a Hollywood marquee. For wanting to leave. And for thinking the local matchmakers are mighty mistaken! Why applaud the attraction between her and a too--handsome cowboy with boots of lead? Ross Denton lives on the outskirts of town on some dusty ranch. And the only place he wants to see his name is on a marriage certificate. So why isn't she singing and dancing away from that ranch? She can't possibly want a starring role in Ross's life as his bride...can she?
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June 30, 2008
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Excerpt from The Cowboy Takes A Bride by Debra Clopton
Ross Denton yanked his gloves off and glared at the tractor. Between beavers trying to turn good grazing pasture into a lake, and a new tractor that was out to win the lemon of the year award, his usually cheerful mood had taken a swift dive south. Striding to his truck, he headed toward town, determined to accomplish something productive with his day.
Once he hit the blacktop, the two short miles into Mule Hollow flew by, and within minutes he'd parked at the end of Main Street and was stalking toward Pete's Feed and Seed. If Pete could order in what Ross needed for his tractor, and get it overnighted, then maybe tomorrow would be a better day.
Instantly his attention was snagged down the sidewalk by a blonde in a black ruffled shirt, zebra-print pants and a pair of strappy sandals with heels as tall as fence posts! She was wrestling with a suitcase stuck in an ancient station wagon--not exactly a customary sight in a small Texas town such as Mule Hollow.
With his hand on the feed-store door, Ross paused and watched the woman fighting with the case. The ugly vehicle looked like the one his mother had driven when he was about ten. Faded green, with signature wood panels running along the sides, it had seen better days. But he wasn't looking at the car as much as the woman. She had her back to him, and as he watched she stuck one ridiculously high heel against the fender, clasped the handle of the suitcase and pulled.
"Whoa," Ross yelled, charging toward her when the bag popped free and she stumbled back. Too far away to save her from landing on the plank sidewalk, he cringed when she hit the rough wood with a thud. Ouch. That had to hurt.
The fact that the suitcase had landed on top of her, then rolled off, couldn't have felt good, either. She seemed to be crying when he got there. Hunched over, shoulders shaking, she sobbed into her hands.
He crouched beside her. "Ma'am, where does it hurt?" He placed his palm on her shoulder, not knowing how to console her, but knowing he had to try.
She took a shuddering breath and looked up at him with bright eyes the color of green olives and gold swirled together. He'd never seen hazel eyes with quite that intensity--or so full of laughter!
She was laughing. The sound finally registered as she gazed at him, grinning widely. She had the cutest dimples.
"Too funny." She waved her hand in front of her face and bit her lips, but giggles came out anyway.
"You're not hurt?" he asked, embarrassed that he was grinning with her. She could be hurting despite her laughter. People reacted strangely to pain sometimes.
She nodded. "I'm fine." Her features relaxed a bit as she took a slow breath. Her dimples didn't completely disappear, leaving her with a mischievous look. He wondered if that was a true reflection of what lay beneath that lively persona.
"Sugar, what in the world happened?"
Ross looked up to find Haley Wells, Mule Hollow's only real-estate agent, standing in the doorway of her office. "She took a tumble and now she can't seem to stop chuckling," he said.
"That's Sugar. When she gets tickled, she can't stop laughing sometimes," Haley declared. A phone inside the office started ringing. "Busy day! Help her, Ross, I've got to get that call. Boy, am I glad you're here to help me, Sugar!"
"Sure thing," Ross replied. He'd already planned to help her up. He was more than aware that he liked what he saw when he looked at her. Though he wasn't fond of the zebra-striped pants and the skyscraper heels, he did like those dimples. The woman's face was open and inviting, with a girl-next-door appeal that hooked him. And there was something extraordinary in the way her eyes captured the light.
"Thanks, cowboy." She took his offered hand with a firm grasp and smiled as she rose to her feet.
"Ross Denton, glad to be of service." Still holding her hand, Ross felt a kick of pure attraction that sent his pulse humming.
"Sugar Rae Lenox. I used to be Haley's assistant in L.A." She tugged her hand free and waved toward the building. "I'm here to help run her office for a short while."
He noted the "short while" with disappointment. "Nice to meet you, Sugar Rae. You must get asked this all the time, but are you named after Sugar Ray Leonard?"
She nodded. "It's a long story, though, and I have to get moved in here, so I won't bore you with it right now. Thanks for picking me up off the ground." She turned back to the vehicle and grabbed hold of another suitcase. The way she'd packed the back end of her station wagon rivaled the dam-building techniques of his pesky beavers.
"Here, let me get that for you." He reached out for the handle.
"No need, I can get this one. I packed it."
"Looks like you used a bulldozer."
"How did you guess?"
He eyed the conglomeration of suitcases, boxes and housewares stuffed inside the car. "Just lucky. But really, I'll help you unload that. Here.