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Where Willows Grow (Heart of the Prairie Book #10)
Her heart aches for his return... but is the distance between them measured by more than miles? Anna Mae isn't sure her husband is being completely honest about his job with the Works Progress Administration. They're building a castle? In Kansas? Harley promised he'd be at the worksite only long enough to earn enough cash to keep their farm. But the money hasn't arrived, and Anna Mae fears Harley may be gone for good. Harley Phipps has never been a man in need of luxuries, but he wants to do right by his wife and two little girls. He was about to lose all he'd worked for if he didn't do something--there was no way he could pass up the government job, even if it meant leaving his family for a while. Anna Mae was awful mad when he sold the mules, packed his bag, and headed out. If only she'd send him a short note to let him know she and the girls are all right...
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Bethany House Publishers
March 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Where Willows Grow (Heart of the Prairie Book #10) by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Spencer, Kansas--Late April, 1936
Dear God in heaven, please let me be wrong.
Anna Mae Phipps hung her head over the sink basin as another bout of nausea tried to turn her belly inside out. She heaved, but nothing came up. Wasn't anything in there to come up--she hadn't even had breakfast yet. It wasn't a good sign, getting the heaves first thing in the morning. Especially three days running.
With a shaking hand, she grasped the corner of her apron, raised it to her lips, and wiped away bits of spittle. She straightened just as Harley rounded the corner from the bedroom. He snapped his suspenders into place and sent her a worried look.
"You okay, Annie? You're white as a ghost."
Please, God, we just can't have another one right now.
"I'm okay." She pressed her hands to her belly. "The heat is a bit too much this morning." She had hoped it was only the unseasonable heat that had caused her missed cycles. But now, the heaves ...
Harley nodded. Grabbing two biscuits left over from last night's supper, he crossed to the back door. "Gonna go out an' get the mules hitched. Headin' to town. Need anything?"
Need anything? She nearly laughed out loud. There were so many things they needed! Dorothy's shoes pinched so badly the little girl cried every time her mama got them out. The lye soap she used on their laundry gave baby Marjorie a rash. A soothing cream from the doctor would help, or maybe just a box of Dreft to use instead of that horrid lye soap. But Anna Mae knew it was pointless to give Harley a list. How would he buy the things she named? Fifteen cents a bushel for corn couldn't possibly meet the needs of a family of four. Or five.
She shook her head. "I suppose not. Except maybe a bag of beans. I've got a meaty hock in the cellar. I'll cook up a mess of ham and beans for Sunday's dinner." A meal like that could stretch to cover supper Sunday and lunch on Monday, too.
Harley stuck one whole biscuit in his mouth. "Jus' beans?" He spoke around the lump in his cheek. "Don't nothin' else sound good?"
Anna Mae clutched her stomach. No, nothing else sounded good. But if Dorothy were in the room, she would have some suggestions: white sugar, a peppermint stick, some bologna. How that child liked bologna on white bread. Anna Mae felt her stomach tilt.
"No, I can't think of anything. Just ... just take care of your own errands and bring me those beans, okay?"
She held her breath as he scowled at her, his lips parted as if ready to speak. Don't ask, Harley. Don't ask what's wrong again or I'm liable to tell you.
"Annie, if you could have one thing from town--something you really, really wanted--what would it be?"
She straightened her shoulders, her brows shooting upward. Harley wasn't one to play whimsical games. Not since the banks collapsed and the drought struck, making it almost impossible to eke a living out of the land. She wasn't sure why he was asking, but she had an answer. "I'd get a fine new hat to wear to church on Sundays. A straw one, with little wax cherries or some silk flowers on it."
A grin tugged at Harley's whiskered cheeks. "Cherries on a hat? Only place I want to see cherries is in a pie."
Anna Mae frowned and looked down at the scuffed linoleum floor. If he was going to poke fun at her answer, she wished he hadn't asked in the first place.
"Bet you'd be the purtiest gal there, wearing a hat like that."
Her heart caught in her throat.
"'Course, I always thought you was plenty purty, hat or no."
Had he paid her a compliment? How long had it been since Harley had paid her a compliment? She slapped her chapped hands to her face. "Oh, Harley ..."
His grin broadened. Snatching his battered hat from the peg beside the door, he plopped it over his shaggy brown hair before heading outside.
Anna Mae crossed to the open doorway and watched him stride toward the barn. Even in those worn-out clothes, there was no disguising the handsome man beneath. Wide shoulders tapered to narrow hips. Strong legs carried him across the dusty ground. Firm arms swung with determination, as if he were heading to a meeting of diplomats instead of their weather-beaten barn to hitch up mules to an old wagon.