He Didn't Know He Had A Wife... Or A Daughter
Dallas Henderson had gone missing six years ago. At last his wife, Gracie, had her answers--an accident...amnesia. Still, she had their child to protect. Would rekindled love be enough to heal her doubts? Did she have enough faith to start over?
Dallas knew he belonged with this woman and his precious child. And he knew God had led him safely home. He vowed to put things right. Because a cowboy always keeps his promises. Especially to those he loves.
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March 31, 2008
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Excerpt from A Cowboy's Honor by Lois Richer
Hope was a wasted effort, thought Gracie Henderson as she walked through the park at the Dallas Arboretum. There on a hillock she found the spot she remembered dearly, where she'd first met her cowboy. Now, staring at the exact spot where he'd entered her life, she noticed a man hunched down in the grass. Birds gathered around him, swooping down from the sky. They landed on toothpick legs, then moved toward him in tiny stops and starts.
Intrigued, Gracie paused to watch.
The man's face was turned away from her, but something about the way he sat, something in his frozen stillness would not let her look away.
He pulled off a morsel of whatever was in his hand with exaggerated slowness. Without so much as a muscle twitch he held it out, word-lessly coaxing the birds nearer until they lit upon his hand and pecked the food from his fingers. Entranced children flocked near the bird man, trying to emulate his success with the feathered animals as their bemused families watched.
Gracie blinked, checked her watch. Not a lot of time to spare. Since the wrought-iron bench she sought out was unoccupied, she sat down, but left her lunch bag unopened. In this particular place, in the warm rays of the May sun, her aching soul felt soothing relief.
Gracie had been back in Texas only a week, but that was long enough to dull her memories of the cooler North Dakota spring she'd left behind. It was almost long enough for Dallas's southern heat to evaporate the chill encasing her heart.
For the next six months they would be safe.
She pressed her back against the warm metal and soaked in the lake view, breathed the heady scents of blooming alyssum and freshly mowed grass, listened to the breeze rustle the lush leaves of a nearby cottonwood. All of it combined sent her thoughts headlong into the past, into emotions she'd struggled to bury.
She'd been so happy that day, so trusting.
Reality splashed down like a cold shower, reminding her that her blissful joy had lasted eight short days. At least she'd learned from that. Now she took precautions, made sure before she leaped.
With effort Gracie pushed away the hurt and opened her lunch bag. From the corner of her eye she noticed the man rise. He ambled across the grass, pausing to sniff at a bed of flowers, then pluck a tumbled leaf from the grass.
Gracie bit into her chicken salad sandwich and closed her eyes, allowing herself a moment to savor her lunch. Simple joys. She'd learned not to take them for granted.
"It's a beautiful place, isn't it?"
Gracie blinked, stared at the owner of that butter-smooth voice.
Her heart stopped.
He looked so real standing in front of her, watching her with a quizzical stare. Nothing at all like the man in her dreams. Her cowboy.
"Dallas?" she squeaked. Gracie's heart beat in a painful rhythm, and she grasped the edge of the bench for support.
"It's a pretty city, but I didn't know it would be so hot." He swiped a hand across his forehead, smiled. A familiar dimple peeked out from the corner of his mouth. "And this is only spring."
How she'd missed those bittersweet eyes. "You've chosen the prettiest spot. Do you mind if I share it?"
Gracie shook her head. Her limbs trembled with excitement until terror, cold as Arctic ice, grabbed hold, plunging her from delight to dread in two seconds flat. Something was wrong.
She didn't know what to ask first.
Dallas didn't try to break the silence between them. In fact, he seemed to relish it. A faint smile curved his lips as a bird flitted closer to beg for food.
It was a mirage, a dream. It had to be. Only Gracie couldn't wake up.
So many times, through long sleepless nights and terror-filled days, she'd longed to share her burden, to talk to him, to lean against his shoulder and know she wasn't alone, that she didn't have to be afraid anymore.
After the first year alone, filled with questions that were never answered, she'd shoved him out of her mind and never permitted herself to imagine him coming back.
Now here he was.
"Where have you been, Dallas?" Rage replaced curiosity. "Did you even consider how worried I was? Surely you could have called, written--something?"
Terror filled his face. He was afraid? Of her?
He jumped up from the grass. "I didn't mean to bother you, ma'am. I'm sorry I..."
Brown eyes brimmed with shadows she didn't understand. But his fear was obvious. A riot of emotions flashed in his eyes, a wariness she'd never expected. As if she were a stranger.
Gracie stood up in turn, touched his arm. "Don't you think you owe me some kind of explanation, Dallas?"
He fidgeted as if he found her touch painful. Then he grew still and his eyes met hers for the first time.
She might have missed his question if she hadn't been standing inches away.
"Of course I know you." Anger chased frustration. "What are you playing at, Dallas?"
His Adam's apple bobbed as he struggled to swallow. "So my name is Dallas."