It’s excerpt day again, because I’ve got a book coming out this month as well as last! This month is The 12 Brides of
Christmas. A historical romantic Christmas novella collection. (that’s FIVE WORDS I used to describe this book. It HAS to be some kind of record!)
My contribution to the 12 Brides of Christmas is The Advent Bride
Why did all the pretty women want to yell at him?
Hank turned from watching Simon leave, then dropped his voice, not putting it past Simon to stay close-by and listen in.
“What’s the problem, Miss Douglas?” Looking at her was no hardship but he was a little surprised how those snapping green eyes jolted him. He’d felt the jolt before, every time he’d gotten close to her in fact. And that surprised him because since Greta had died, no woman, no matter how pretty, had drawn so much as a whisper of reaction, let alone a jolt.
He’d gotten used to the idea that his heart had died with his wife. Melanie made him question that, but of course, all she wanted to do yell at him for being a lousy father. He braced himself to take the criticism. He deserved it.
“Mr. O’Keeffe, your son is a very bright boy. It’s possible he’s the smartest youngster in this school.”
That wasn’t what he expected to hear. Had she kept him here to compliment Simon? Maybe she wanted to pass Simon into a higher class? He was a bright boy. Hank felt his chest swell with pride and he started to relaxed.
“But he is disrupting the whole school. We have to do something, between the two of us, to get him to behave.
Hank’s gut twisted. It was fear. He tried to make himself admit it. But that effort was overridden by a need to fight anyone who spoke ill of his boy.
“You’re saying you can’t keep order in school?” Simon was all he had and Hank knew he didn’t give the young’un enough attention, but a man had to feed his child and that meant work, long hours of work.
“I was doing fine until today.” Miss Douglas’ voice rose and she plunked her fists on her trim waist.
Hank looked at those pretty pink lips, pursed in annoyance. Hank’d never had much luck with women. He still had trouble believing Lisa had married him. She’d seemed to like him, too and it hadn’t even been hard.
Now, when he needed to handle a woman right, calm her town, sooth her ruffled feathers, all he could think of was snapping at her.
He clamped his mouth shut until he could speak calmly. “What do you want from me, Miss Douglas? You want me to threaten him? Tell him if he gets a thrashing at school he’ll get one at home?”
Hank didn’t thrash Simon. Maybe he should. Maybe sparing the rod was wrong, but the hurt in the boy since his ma died had made it impossible for Hank to deal him out more pain.
“I don’t thrash my students, Mr. O’Keeffe. I have never found it necessary and I don’t intend to start now. What I want is—”
The schoolhouse door slammed open. “Hank, come quick, a fight broke out in the saloon.”
Mr. Garland at the General Store stuck his face in the room, then vanished. Hank took one step.
A slap on his arm stopped him. Miss Douglas had a grip that’d shame a burr.
“I’m not done talking to you yet.” She’d stumbled along for a couple of feet but she held on doggedly.
“We’re done talking. I have to go. My Simon is a good boy, you just need to learn to manage him better.” He pried her little
claws out of his sleeve and managed to pull his coat open. “Let loose. You heard Ian. There’s a fight.”
“Why do you have to go just because there’s a fight at the saloon?”
“I have to stop it.”
His coat finally flapped all the way open and he impatiently shoved it back even farther so she could see his chest.
And see the star pinned right above his heart. “Because just today I started a job as the town sheriff. That was the only way I could find a house to live in, in town. Now, if you can’t handle one little boy, just say so and I’ll get him a job running errands at the General Store. Schoolin’s a waste of time anyway for a bright boy like my Simon. Most likely the reason you can’t handle him is, he’s smarter than you.” A tiny smile curved his lips. “I got a suspicion he’s smarter than me.”
Then he turned and ran after Ian.
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