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Savannah Stephens returns to her hometown in Wyoming with a six-year-old daughter in tow and discovers that one of her former admirers, Clay, still carries a torch for her.
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Born in Virginia and raised in New England, bestselling author Kathleen Eagle set aside a gratifying seventeen-year teaching career on a North Dakota Indian reservation to become a full-time novelist. The Lakota Sioux heritage of her husband--and thus of their three children--has inspired many of her stories. Among her other honors, she has received a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times, the Midwest Fiction Writer of the Year Award, and Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA Award. Library Journal named The Night Remembers one of the five best romances of the year. With more than thirty books in print, Kathleen takes great pleasure in reading letters from readers who tell her that her books have tugged at their heartstrings, entertained, inspired, and even enlightened them. You may write to her c/o Midwest Fiction Writers, P.O. Box 47888, Plymouth, MN 55447Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Queen Bees of Sunbonnet, Wyoming, were all abuzz. Savannah Stephens was back, in the flesh this time.
How long had it been since the last time they'd pulled Savannah, dressed only in satin bra and lace panties, out of their mailboxes? She'd been quite the regular fixture on the cover of that mail-order catalog for quite a while. Of course, everyone knew all about how those pictures got touched up. But they had to admit, Savannah had the basic equipment. And it was all natural. She was born and raised right there in Sunbonnet. She was all-natural. That dewy-eyed smile had been just the right counterpoint for the flawless body of a woman who didn't have to think twice about walking around in broad daylight wearing nothing but pretty under-wear.
Then suddenly she'd vanished. Air-brushed clean away, as though somebody had thrown a coat over her and dragged her back into the house. Had it been three years ago, maybe five?
The drones had noticed right away when it happened, but they hadn't said much. Once Savannah was gone, the men had gotten their catalog back. If anybody was to order anything, it was probably going to be a man. He'd send for something black and lacy for his own lady, something she would put on for him, just so he could take it off. The next morning she would tuck it away in a drawer, and he'd never see it again. Then it was back to the mailbox again. Sure, the men missed seeing Savannah, but there was still plenty of diversion on the cover of Lady Elizabeth's Dreamwear Catalog.
Still, the women pondered aloud on occasion. What ever became of Savannah Stephens?
Some had heard she'd found greener pastures, but there were all sorts of tales about the nature of green. A movie mogul with a pocketful of green had her stashed in a cottage beside the green sea. Or she'd starved herself like they all did to stay slim, taken to eating nothing but lettuce and drinking green tea, and she'd just wasted away. Some said she'd made so much green herself, she'd been able to retire and get fat. Heck, she always was pretty sassy.
The ebb and flow of such comments depended on the weather and what else was in the news, but they never sloshed through the door of the Sunbonnet Mercantile, owned and operated by Billie Larsen, the only relative Savannah had left in Sunbonnet. Or anywhere else, as far as anyone knew. The old general store was a gallery of pictures of Savannah dressed in pretty suits and glamorous evening clothes. The catalogs were stashed underneath the counter. Billie was proud of those, too, but she didn't tack them on the wall.
Whenever anyone asked, Billie said that her niece was taking some time off from her modeling career. The response hadn't changed in five years. Conventional wisdom calculated that it had probably been five years since Billie had heard from her once famous niece, and the conventionally wise were not surprised to hear she'd finally come home with her tall tucked between her legs. It just proved that New York City was no place for a nice girl from Wyoming. It was bitch eat bitch in places like New York and L.A., or so the females of Sunbonnet had heard. And so they were fond of saying.
The males of Sunbonnet still weren't saying much. They couldn't imagine pastures any greener than the pages of Lady Elizabeth's Dreamwear Catalog. The thought of that tail and those legs coming home to Sunbormet seemed too damn good to be true. They'd have to see to believe, and so far, the sightings had been few.
But she was surely back.
Even if every person Clay Keogh tipped his hat to hadn't mentioned it hard on the heels of saying how quickly the weather had changed this week, he would have known she was close by. Suddenly the clean, dry Wyoming air carried her scent again.
He'd parked his pickup in the shade of the loafing shed behind the Sunbonnet Mercantile, which was the oldest building in town. He was careful not to glance at the upstairs windows as he unloaded the tools of his trade. He had as good a buzz on as any bee, and he hadn't even had a drink in weeks. His face flamed in the shade of his cap as he took a quick inventory of the handles in his toolbox. He could have sworn he had Tabasco sauce coursing through his veins, a notion that made him chuckle. Dearly did he love anything spicy, but cayenne in his blood? Not likely. Wyoming dirt made him red-blooded, pure and plain.
Was she upstairs in her aunt Billie's spare room, fixing a face that never needed any fixing? Or was she downstairs, helping out behind the counter, the way she used to when they were kids? He hadn't noticed any cowboys lining up to buy a pack of gum they might never open or a postage stamp for a letter they'd surely never write. If he hurried, maybe he could be first.
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