Should She Run Him Off--Or Ask Him To Stay?
Schoolteacher Johanna Macpherson has vowed that the children of Heather's Hollow will leave her school knowing the value of their Scotch-Irish heritage, but now one of those untrustworthy flatlanders is nosing around the village's mountain roads, on the trail of the legendary bootlegger Lightning Jack, and meddling in her objective.
Sullivan Mooreland is pure city slicker. Ambitious and unnervingly sexy, the Seattle reporter, with his flashy red Corvette, is a sure sign of trouble to come. If Lightning Jack, her clan's most notorious moonshine maker, is exposed, everything Jo loves about the hollow will change.
For the sake of the children and their future, she has to stop the handsome interloper from writing a story that will put their way of life in danger. But if she runs Sullivan off, what about her own--womanly--future?
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October 08, 2007
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Excerpt from For the Children by Marin Thomas
The last thing Johanna Macpherson expected to encounter on the winding Kentucky mountain road was a gussied-up flat-lander.
Leaning forward, she pressed her bosom to the steering wheel and slowed the pickup for a better look-see at the stranger running like a skinned cat from her neighbor's pack of coonhounds. Suit tails flapping in the wind and tie ringing his neck, the "cat" was losing ground fast. Served the man right if the pack treed him.
She'd been taught from a young age not to trust flatlanders--anyone not born on the mountain. She'd never understood the clan's suspicion of strangers--until she'd attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington and discovered that people weren't always what they appeared to be.
Some lessons had to be learned the hard way.
As she pulled the pickup even with the stranger, she noticed his face was redder than a prize-winning tomato and his cheeks puffed like a steam locomotive. The poor idiot was plumb tuckered. After retrieving the shotgun from under the bench seat, she pointed the barrel out the passenger window, then blasted the truck horn.
The stranger glanced at her. His eyes widened until only the whites were visible and then he dived into the mess of baby cattails growing in the ditch. Good grief. Did he expect her to shoot him? Jo aimed the gun skyward and fired. The hounds scattered--except Beauregard. She steered the truck to the side of the road.
Weapon in hand, she traipsed back to where the stranger had taken cover. If it was possible to lick a human to death, then Beauregard had accomplished the feat. All one hundred pounds of beagle-foxhound mix rested on the man's chest, while his long, pink tongue laved the stranger from neck to hairline. The flatlander played possum--attempted to, anyway--but the fool forgot to hold his breath.
Amused, Jo propped the shotgun on her hip and tugged the brim of her floppy felt hat lower to shield her eyes from the midafternoon sun. The man's face was lean and angular, in contrast to his large mouth. Thick brows, several shades darker than his tussled wheat-colored hair, slashed across his forehead. Not a handsome face, but an interesting one, nonetheless. Jo stuck her fingers in her mouth and whistled. Beau's ears perked and he sprang from his perch, eliciting a loud oomph! from the possum.
"Go!" She pointed to the woods, and Beau bounded up the hill. Leveling the rifle at the trespasser's heart, she asked, "How long you planning to lie there like a carcass?"
One eye--brown in color--cracked open. "Depends." "On what?" "On whether there's any shot left in that gun." "I got shot left, mister." "You going to use it on me?" "Depends." "On..." "What business you have in our hollow." "Your hollow?" Grunting, the interloper rolled to his knees and hauled himself to his feet. Tall, he towered over Jo's five feet six inches.
Not until he cleared his throat did she realize she'd been caught checking him out. Well, phooey. She hadn't come in contact with a man this... Okay, he was sort of attractive. Never mind. "This side of the mountain is private property."
Eyes narrowed on the gun, he inquired, "You any good with that thing?"
Jo aimed at the woods, took a bead on her target, then fired. A pinecone exploded from the branch of a tree.
The flatlander swallowed hard. "My car ran out of gas. I was returning to town--" he motioned behind her "--until the dogs showed up out of nowhere. Then I switched directions." He pointed over his shoulder. "My car's parked around the bend."
"I've got a gas can in the truck. Meet you there." Without affording him an opportunity to respond, she hopped into the pickup and sped off. She glanced in the rear-view mirror and grinned at the trespasser's whopper-jawed gape.
Did he expect her to give a stranger a lift? As soon as she rounded the curve in the road, she spotted the car. A red Corvette. Typical hoity-toity flatlander vehicle--useless. She parked behind the sports car, hopped out of the truck and grabbed the gas can. Ten seconds later she swore under her breath. The blasted gas-tank door was locked. So much for her plan to be gone by the time the owner caught up.
She considered leaving the fuel and driving off, but there was something wily about the stranger that kept her feet planted. At least, that was what she told herself rather than admit she wouldn't mind another gander at the man who'd made her heart go thumpity-bump.
A few minutes passed and he came into view, his face scrunched. Squashing her lips together to keep from smiling at his annoyed expression, she stuck her arm through the truck window and placed her hand on the shotgun--a person couldn't be too careful these days.
"Thanks for the lift," he spat, then removed his keys from his pants pocket, directed the fob at the car and bleeped open the gas door. Ignoring her, he set to filling the tank.