Jake Ross's life changes in a day when he finds a baby on his doorstep! Then he's thrown into a spin by the quiet beauty who hires on to look after his unexpected delivery.
On the wild Texas frontier, everyone has something to hide--and Emma York is no exception. Jake can see that she has secrets, but the sexy rancher's sure he can take care of her...if he can only find out what she needs protection from!
When her past shows up in Whirlwind, guns blazing, Emma must learn a hard lesson. Can she trust Jake...and trust her own heart?
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July 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Whirlwind Baby by Debra Cowan
Jake Ross would rather eat barbed wire than have anything to do with a kid, but thanks to the supposed "dying woman" who'd left a baby at his door three days ago, he was interviewing applicants for a baby nurse and housekeeper.
On this hot August afternoon, everyone except his cousin, Georgia, had taken off faster than a six-legged jackrabbit. She and Jake were in the large front room of the ranch house. Georgia sat in one of the wide leather chairs at the end of thedeer-hide sofa as Jake spoke to a tall woman with a British accent. Miz Alma Halvorson was the first person to respondto the ads that he and his uncle had posted in Whirlwind after determining no one there could or would take the infant.
Jake let Georgia keep an eye on the little girl sleeping on the bearskin rug in front of the rock fireplace while he asked questions. Which was a chore because he could barely think past the hammering in his head. He'd spent Saturday afternoon in a bottle, just as he did every other Saturday and he was still feelin' the misery a day and a half later. The pounding in his head only throbbed harder every time he looked at that kid.
After church yesterday, he had asked around the small nearby town of Whirlwind about a family for Molly. Riley and Susannah Holt couldn't take her because they'd just had another baby. Riley's cousin, Jericho Blue, and his wife, Catherine, couldn't take in the little girl because they'd just learned they were expecting. And Jake hadn't been able to bring himself to ask Davis Lee and Josie Holt. They had just lost a baby and asking them to take Molly so soon after hadn't seemed right.
After speaking to several other families, he'd driven out to Fort Greer and spoken to Dr. Butler about possibilities. No luck there, either. He'd wired two doctors in Abileneand the marshal about families who might take the child, but no one could help right now. Nor had any of the doctors treated a dying woman who'd been of the age to have an infant.
Jake needed to find some help today. Because, if he didn't, he'd be stuck taking care of it and he just wouldn't. Couldn't. Of course, with only one good arm, Georgia couldn't, either. His uncle and brother might not mind caring for the child, but they did have a ranch to run.
"Whose baby is that?" the persimmon-faced candidate asked.
"I don't know." Jake looked down at the blond-haired infant, his heart squeezing. After fussing and crying most of the last three nights and on the trip into town yesterday, she had finally fallen asleep on the ride home. "I thought I told you I found her at the door last Friday night."
"No, I meant--" She cleared her throat as her gaze skipped away from his. "Does she belong to you? Is she your illegitimate--"
"No, she isn't," Jake said sharply, "and what difference does it make if she is?"
She was an innocent child. Jake might not want her, but he didn't think she deserved to be thrown away. No kid should be left at someone's door like last week's laundry.
He still couldn't believe someone could actually abandon a child. As if the baby picked up on his dark thoughts, she began to cry.
Jake gritted his teeth and walked over to pick her up, handling her just as awkwardly as he had since she'd arrived. She'd been left in one of their wash tubs along with a blanket,some flannels for changing her, a nightdress and two daydresses. A paper had been pinned to the gown she'd worn, with a letter written on the front and feeding instructions on the back.
After reading the thing at least twenty times, Jake didn't have to pull the paper out of his trouser pocket and look at it to recall the words.