No sooner has Scarlett, a hairstylist from Atlanta, Georgia, shouted, "California, here I come!" than her clunker of a car breaks down. There are worse places to be stranded than Brody's Crossing, especially when hunky local James Brody is dying to show her how they celebrate the holidays in their quaint Texas town.
James can't believe this far-out redhead was planning on spending Christmas without her family. Especially when family means so much to him--it's why he moved back home. He knows there's no way he can keep a big-city girl in a place like this for long...but can he keep her here long enough to explore the feelings growing between them?
Maybe so, because even though Scarlett promised herself she'd be in Los Angeles by the New Year, she's becoming more Texan by the minute!
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December 03, 2007
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Excerpt from Texan for the Holidays by Victoria Chancellor
Saturday, December 1, 2007
"California, here I come," Scarlett shouted out the window of her aging Benz into the Texas prairie. No one was around to hear, but that was okay. Before long, lots of people would know Scarlett, hairstylist to the stars. She rolled up the window, feeling refreshed from the brisk, cool air.
She was making good time, despite the wrong turn she'd taken back in Dallas. And she'd missed Interstate 35W because she'd been surrounded by huge gravel-hauler trucks. Instead of backtracking, Scarlet had continued on. Eventually, Texas Highway 114 would intersect westbound Interstate 40, somewhere in Oklahoma.
Over an hour after missing the interstate, she passed a city sign that said Loving and noted the town had just a few small buildings. "I'm not loving Texas right now," she said out loud, and laughed at her joke. She turned up the radio and sang along with U2.
Her smile faded when she looked into the rearview mirror to check on an old truck she'd just passed. It was weaving under the weight of about a thousand chicken crates that looked as if they might fall over at any minute.
But the old truck wasn't the only vehicle with a problem. Black smoke billowed in fat inky spirals from her engine--that noisy diesel combustion thing. She knew just enough about cars to add oil, water and of course, fuel, intermittently. Black smoke could not be good. Not good at all...
She checked the gauges and discovered her engine was red-hot. And her oil gauge needle was not where it was supposed to be. When had that happened?
"Darn it," she murmured as she slowed the Benz and looked for a place to pull off. Up ahead, she spotted a wide, rocky patch of dry brown grass and prickly pear cactus. She'd let the car cool off, add some water and oil from the stash she never left home without, and get to the next service station.
She shut off the engine, then opened her door. The cold air coming out of the north nearly took her breath away. Just then the old truck chugged by. It slowed, and Scarlett felt a moment of panic. Was it safe to be alone out here? She hadn't been afraid traveling by herself all the way from Atlanta, and it was broad daylight.
"Need any help?" a raspy voice called to her. A man leaned out the window and Scarlett could see a leathery, stubbled cheek and some missing teeth.
"No, I'm okay." I hope. Maybe I should pray....
"If you need a ride, I can take you to Brody's Crossing."
"Thanks, but my car just needs a rest. I'm adding some oil and we'll be on our way soon."
"Could be blown."
What could be blown? She didn't even want to think about that statement! "Um..."
"Well, ride's up to you."
"I appreciate the offer, but I'm prepared for this type of situation." Not that this exact scenario had ever happened before.
"Good luck to you, little gal."
Scarlett stifled her surprise. Little gal? "Is there a service station in Brody's Crossing?" So far, she'd only seen modern convenience stores-slash-filling stations.
"McCaskie's. It's on the main street. Can't miss it."
"Well, thanks again."
"Sure 'nuff," he said, before spitting between his missing teeth. "'Course, Claude may not work on these fur-in cars." Then he put his truck in gear and slowly inched away, crates swaying and chickens squawking.
Fur-in? Oh, he meant foreign. How...quaint. She hoped McCaskie's wasn't as predisposed to American-made.
Scarlett let out a sigh. She was all alone with a broken down fur-in car. Oh, well. Worse things could happen.
At least she still had all her teeth.
McCaskie's service station was closed for the afternoon. And things had definitely gotten worse.