Marry me.Hope Harrell didn't know what to expect when she confronted the town's rugged sheriff with a marriage proposal--but she knew he was her only hope. After the death of her ex-fianc�, Hope knew she wouldn't be able to hide the growing swell of her belly much longer. If she wanted to protect her child from money-hungry relatives, she needed to act fast. She needed a daddy for her baby, and who better than Lyon Teague?Lyon had weathered many storms, but nothing had prepared him for Hope's proposition. He wasn't of the same pedigree as the Texas socialite, but he couldn't turn away a damsel in distress...especially when that damsel was the woman he'd secretly loved for years--a woman he could only dream of making his own....
The memorial service and funeral for William Jefferson Nichols II drew everyone who had ever met him or was interested in his highly publicized though short-lived pro-ball career-or was connected to the Harrells either socially, through business, or politics. With a crowd that size, the memorial service was forced to move to the high school gymnasium. Lyon had his entire department working and still had to ask for assistance from the Fannin County sheriff''s department and the Texas state police.Making things all the more challenging was the weather. Another drenching rain system was producing strong winds and adding to flood conditions. Culverts were overflowing from swelling streams and ditches making their countryside a maze of water and mud to navigate through-a challenge for locals, and a near nightmare for visiting out-of-towners in designer wear. So far, however, no deadly lightning had added to the situation, but after successfully navigating through town to the cemetery, Lyon knew better than to think they were out of the woods yet.From his vantage point on the terrace, one block above the gravesite, he scanned the crowd below. He stood dressed in his summer uniform, the yellow rain jacket all but a fixture this week. His arms were crossed over his chest, so his right arm could serve as a rest for his bandaged left one. The tight fit of the jacket sleeve pressed on the bandages and added to the headache that had stuck with him since the night of the accident. But he couldn''t complain and he had resisted the pain prescriptions written to him at the hospital. Things could have turned out much worse, and he wanted to remember that.Only a fraction of those who''d been to the memorial service had continued over to the cemetery, but that was still too many to fit under the double tent tied to extra stakes due to the forty mph wind gusts. All four lanes surrounding the site where Will was about to join his parents, grandparents, and an aunt, created a vehicular fortress reminiscent of western movie scenes when wagon trains circled to protect the settlers from Indians. Having been born to a mother who was full Cherokee, Lyon saw the humor in that-especially since a number of these "wagons" were limousines, BMWs, Mercedes, and so forth. Lyonhadn''t seen so much wealth centered in one place since Ellis had held a fundraiser for the current Texas governor.He was doing his best to stay out of sight as much as possible and had been since the night of the accident when Rochelle Sims had burst into Emergency at Cedar Grove General and thrown her keys at him, slicing open his lower lip, which had earned him three stitches. Her subsequent tirade spread around town as quickly as the news about the wreck. As is always the case with gossip, there were a number of people willing to believe her accusations that he hadn''t done enough to save Will, and by the funeral, a conspiracy theory had gained root-especially with Clyde and Mercy Nichols, Will''s uncle and aunt, the closest remaining family he''d had left. There were several reasons for Clyde to show how devastated they were about Will-all of them having to do with financial profit-and so he was vowing to have Lyon''s badge.That didn''t mean Lyon didn''t feel some responsibility for what happened. No one could be harder on him than he was himself. If only he had made it outside of the grill in time to see it was Will behind the wheel and stopped him. While he hadn''t felt a pulse when he''d reached for his old schoolmate and was fairly certain Will had broken his neck in the crash, the idea of him burning to death added to his sleeplessness. Making that all the worse was thinking how close beautiful Hope had come to dying, too. No, he wasn''t going to make himself a target today for additional venting. Nevertheless, staying away hadn''t been an option.As he continued to scan the crowd, Lyon''s gaze finally locked on Hope slowly working her way through a group of latecomers, thanking them for coming.
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May 01, 2010
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