March 2006

Call Me Cowboy

Family in an instant

T. J. "Cowboy" Whittaker wasn't looking to be anyone's hero, but when vulnerable Priscilla Richards turned her tear-filled blue eyes on him and asked, "Can you help me uncover the secrets in my past?"...well, how could the sexy P.I. say no?

His job was simple: escort the sheltered city girl to Texas to meet the mom she'd never known, then hightail it out of there as fast as his boots could carry him. Temptation wasn't on the agenda — especially with a prim New Yorker who most definitely was not his type. But Prissy made him hotter than Dallas in July...and made him want things he'd given up on long ago....


Cotton Creek, Texas

The stairway creaked, and Priscilla opened her eyes. It was dark, and someone big was carrying her.


"Shhh, baby girl. It's okay. I have you."

Only the Snoopy night light lit their way.

"Where are we going?"

He shushed her. "Go back to sleep, honey."

Priscilla rested her head on her daddy's chest, nuzzling her cheek against the soft flannel of his shirt, feeling the steady beat of his heart, the familiar buckle in his step as he limped toward the front door.

She yawned. "I'm really tired, Daddy."

"I know, baby."

Priscilla didn't want to get up. She wanted to go back to her bed, with its Pound Puppies sheets and bedspread.

As they stepped outside and Daddy carefully closed the front door, the night air cooled her face and her bare toes.

A hoot owl called from the trees, and a doggy barked in someone else's yard.

"It's cold, Daddy. And it's dark."

"Everything is going to be just fine, honey. You wait and see." Daddy carried her for a while, down the driveway and to the street, where he'd parked his truck.

The engine was running, and the heater made it all warm and cozy.

"I have a pillow and blanket for you," he told her. "Why don't you try and go back to sleep. We have a long drive ahead."

"Where are we going?" she asked as she crawled across the seat.

"To a happy place," he told her as he climbed into the pickup and closed the door.

Priscilla looked over her shoulder and out the back window. She could hardly see the house, until a light went on in the upstairs window.

"Where's Mama?" she asked. "Why isn't she going with us?"

"Go back to sleep, honey. We'll call her in the morning and you can talk to her."

They drove all that night and the next day, but they never did stop and call Mama.

And they didn't talk about her anymore either.

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