Juan Antonio has a problem
Juan Antonio Fuentes wants to sell his father's mango plantation. But before he can leave Mexico and head back to the U.S., he has to bring in a good crop. And that calls for the best fruit inspector in the region. But when a beautiful woman sets foot on his land, his life and his heart are turned upside down.
Dealing with difficult men is all in a day's work for Carina Garza. But she's never met anyone like Antonio before. He's both strong and sweet, and soon she's falling head over heels for the handsome plantation owner. When he proposes marriage to her—with the condition she never work again—Carina is stunned. Can this modern woman earn both love and respect from her traditional man?
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Most mornings find Jean Kincaid knee deep in two or three devotionals covering various topics. She enjoys the early hours reading her Bible, praying, writing and reading. Jean, and husband, Dale,served seventeen years as missionaries to Novillero, Mexico. She now enjoys the title of pastor's wife in Donna, Texas, a much more sedate lifestyle. Jean loves to hear from her readers. You'll find her on Facebook, Google Plus and at www.jeankincaid.com. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Juan Antonio's whole demeanor tautened. He peered across the study, head cocked sideways, listening intently for the slight sound that had snagged his attention. His hearing hadn't deceived him. The small Cessna airplane steadily approached then circled overhead twice before heading south to the dirt landing strip. "Buzzing" the house, it signaled the arrival of a guest or cargo that must be collected by someone from the plantation, namely himself. No cargo today, just one long-awaited fruit inspector. Surely this man would be better than the last one. He would have to be; he couldn't be worse.
Juan stood up, pushed his hands deep into his pockets and pulled out the keys to the Suburban. He lightly tossed them from one hand to the other, placed his chair under the desk and exited the house.
The last agricultural inspector sent to Mexico from the United States had been a grossly overweight, redheaded, fair-skinned man with a goatee. He'd complained about all the walking required for the job, been hospitalized for intense sunburn and had caught his goatee in the rollers on the packaging machine. Quick thinking on the part of the line boss prevented the inspector from being decapitated. Ai caramba! Juan Antonio had been happy to see the backside of the man as he boarded the airplane on his way out of the country.
However, the lack of a fruit inspector on a mango plantation equaled lost time, wages, profit—and rotten fruit. Without a good harvest, he'd never sell this property for its true value, effectively ending his dream of starting his own ranch in Texas.
From habit, Juan Antonio checked the road both ways upon leaving the main drive to the hacienda. His land encompassed over fifteen hundred acres, and though he seldom met regular traffic, there was always the chance of tractors, cultivators and other heavy equipment zipping in and out the rows onto the gravel driveway that wound through his land down to the airstrip, a couple of miles away.
Tightening his grip on the steering wheel, he winged a few words heavenward. "Lord, You gotta' make this work out. My dreams and ambitions are dependent on this inspection. I just simply cannot take any more disappointments." That God wasn't listening vaguely crossed his mind. Just how long it'd been since he had last spoken with Him didn't bode well for speedy delivery help from above.
He parked the Chevy Suburban to the left of the plane and hurried to help unload the luggage. The inspector would be staying at the hacienda for the next six months and as he surveyed the three large suitcases already on the ground, hope ignited that the man came prepared to stay.
"Juan Antonio. How are you?"
Juan Antonio caught the pilot's hand, then clasped him in a loose hug.
"Bien, bien, Carlos. And you?"
Juan Antonio hefted one of the suitcases into the back of the Suburban, trading good-natured teasing with his friend, but abandoned the rest of the luggage as Carlos quickly returned to the plane.
"Hey, friend. Just a momento" Juan Antonio chided. "Can't you come to the house for a quick visit and a bite of food?"
"Not today. Maybe next week I will have more time."
Suspicious uncertainty nibbled the first bite out of Juan Antonio's expectations. Carlos never turned down a free meal. He watched Carlos open the door on the plane, glance quickly to the passenger's side then back at Juan Antonio with a shake of the head and a smirk.
The plane engine spat and sputtered then sprang to life as Juan Antonio rounded the back of the plane to greet the new man.
"Oh, Lord." He groaned. "Say it's not so. Oh, please, say it's not so."
"Who are you?" he ground out. His hands fastened tightly around arms that couldn't possibly belong to a man. In one swift movement he pulled the scrawny youth to his feet. Green eyes peered owlishly at him through wisps of hair that escaped from a precariously hanging clasp. The youth extended his right hand.
"Carina Garza, the fruit inspector."
A roar started in his ears; a haze slowly covered his eyes. This could not be happening. A mistake, a horrible mistake had been made. With the palm of his hand, he smacked the side of the plane, a signal to Carlos to rectify this cruel joke.
"Get back on that plane," he growled through gritted teeth. "No woman is going to tell me how to run my plantation."
He had to get out of here before he did something stupid. Turning, he hurried to his vehicle, unaware that in his anger he'd given the pilot the "all clear for takeoff" signal, and that as he spurred the Suburban along the track to the hacienda, the plane lifted off the runway in the opposite direction, leaving the woman standing in the middle of nowhere.
Weak as branch water. One of her mother's many metaphors echoed in Carina's mind, accurately describing how she felt. Sucker punched. Breath knocked out of her. Weak in the knees. All right, already. Stop it with the cliches. Keep this up and you'll be blubbering in the dirt like a big baby. Get up. Show some spirit.
"Well, come on legs, get me up." Carina stood, a slow burning anger igniting in her stomach. "Of all the rude, crass, stubborn, mule-headed, burro, machismo..."
Her negative adjectives at a sudden end, she gazed dismally down the dirt track where the Suburban had disappeared. Would that path take her to the hacienda? Well, she'd run out of options available to her. The other end of the runway stopped just short of a ravine that leveled onto the beach of Novillero.
Using the handle of her pullalong suitcase, she stacked her luggage together and pulled the heavy load behind her down the track.
"The jerk! How could he just drive off and leave me?" Carina grabbed for the smaller suitcase before it finished its sudden slide to the ground. Realizing it wasn't going to stay put, she slung the strap over her shoulder, grabbed the handle of the wheeled suitcase and started off again.
"I should have taken that self-defense course the school offered," she muttered. "How I'd love to pull a stunt like that little Chinese man in the movies. Eeeeee-yiiiiii, and a quick jab to the solar plexus. Then, when he doubled over, I could whack him on the back of the head. He'd be on his knees begging for mercy." Satisfaction gleamed in her eyes. "'No woman's gonna tell me how to run my plantation!'" she mocked. Boy, did he ever remind her of somebody. At the moment it eluded her as to who it was.
A fly buzzed around her head and she swatted at it. Sweat beaded on her forehead and trickled down her face and neck. The sun sat mercilessly overhead, its rays burning the exposed skin on her arms. She stopped, opened the smaller suitcase and rummaged inside. Slipping on a long-sleeved shirt, she then sought for something to shield her face from the sun's rays. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures, she thought. She took another long-sleeved shirt from her clothing, stood up straight, placed her agricultural manual on her head with the shirt over it and tied the sleeves under her chin. Unable to move her head in any direction lest the contraption fall, she bent at the knees, eyes straight ahead. She groped around till she found the handle of her luggage, carefully straightened and marched off. A low chuckle escaped. She recalled how her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Badillo, lined the class up for the bathroom break and singsonged, "Eyes forward." She and her classmates marched, much as she did now, with heads straight and eyes looking forward. God must have a sense of humor if He'd started preparing her for this moment seventeen years ago.
She glanced at her watch. "Oh, great. Siesta time. Not a soul's gonna be stirring for two hours or more." Hearing the whine in her voice, she gritted her teeth and trudged on.
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Book Description Love Inspired. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0373486677 . Bookseller Inventory # Z0373486677ZN
Book Description Love Inspired, 2013. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110373486677