Stef Ann Holm Forget Me Not

ISBN 13: 9781451614046

Forget Me Not

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9781451614046: Forget Me Not

A cattle drive is no place for a lady in bows and buttons...unless she’s in love with a rancher in denim and rawhide. Love sizzles in this Western romance from USA TODAY bestselling author Stef Ann Holm.

Newly independent city girl Josephine Whittaker succeeded in heading West, all on her own. But once she set foot in the crude cow town of Sienna, Wyoming, her first inclination was to board the next train back out—and she would have, if she hadn’t lost everything she owned. Suddenly, a job as a ranch cook seemed a good idea—at least it was better than making money as a dance-hall girl. It didn’t seem that important if she neglected to tell her new boss that she’d never so much as boiled an egg...

J.D. McCall knew from the get-go that a pretty lady in the chuck wagon with a bunch of cowboys meant trouble. But he faced mutiny among his ranch hands if he didn’t bring home a cook—and she said fried beef was her specialty. How could he know he’d never want to let her go? J.D.’s own mother had abandoned his father and the harsh frontier life to go back East. Loving Josephine was sure to break his heart...unless this lady proved she had grit, gumption, and what it took to be a cattle rancher’s wife—his wife.

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About the Author:

USA TODAY bestselling author Stef Ann Holm lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, extended family, and her squirrel-crazy Yorkshire, Cocoa Puff. Visit her website at StefAnnHolm.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Everything that Josephine Whittaker owned was packed in the valise at her feet. As she stood on the hard earth platform, watching the Union Pacific No. 35 gain speed out of the ramshackle station, she had the strongest urge to chase after the hissing engine and its cramped string of cars and declare she'd changed her mind. But the notion to flee was a thought too late.

She turned her gaze toward the rutted street empty of a single carriage, not daring to step outside the crudely constructed fence that separated her from the Wyoming Territory town of Sienna. The pungent smell of cow dung permeated the air, and she glanced at a bawling group of the large animals crammed together in a crowded wooden pen next to the depot. Rickety buckboards drove past with rough-hewn men at the reins. A wind-tattered flag hung limply from a pole in front of a saloon called Walkingbars. Though the sun was high and full, the scenery was dull and gray.

The city resembled nothing from the grandiose descriptions she'd read in the Beadle's dime novel. That famed Sienna had elegant red brick hotels -- some four stories tall -- and boasted numerous fine restaurants, even an opera, house touting an extravagant playbill. Arnica Street had been the rendezvous place for Pearl Larimer and Rawhide Abilene, the fated lovers in the Beadle's Issue No. 639, Rawhide's Wild Tales of Revenge in Sienna. The couple had stayed at the Line House Hotel and dined at the Bar Grub restaurant, both of which had been -- despite their less-than-affluent names -- heralded as the finest establishments between San Francisco and Chicago.

From the train station, Josephine could see neither the restaurant nor the hotel, much less a brick building. The structures that greeted her were built out of wood, and not a one over two stories tall. It would seem the book's author had taken some creative liberties.

Josephine worried the decorative collar button at her throat with gloved fingers. The daring prospect of living in the wide-open West she'd read about had given her the strength she'd needed to leave New York. Thus far, she hadn't been disappointed. The train ride -- though she'd suffered indignities -- had been worth the discomfort as soon as she'd gotten her first glimpse of the Wyoming Territory. As the train had clacked beyond the jagged mountains, the dazzling waterfalls, and the spectacular gorges, chugging headlong into the open terrain, a host of prairie dogs had stood in welcome. Meadowlarks sprang from the newly budding trees, and herds of white-faced cattle had run whenever the train sped by.

Sienna was to be the best of all. A town that lived up to its pretty-sounding name and fictitious allure. This was to have been where she would start over. Where she would secure her first employment position. Though she'd been raised in an affluent family and never had to work a day in her life, she'd made a list of all her attributes on the tablet in her calf pocket book. The checklist was ready and waiting for her to read to the glamorous owner of the Line House, who would be aptly impressed and hire her on the spot. Because Josephine Whittaker was willing to do as none of her female peers had ever done before her: travel to the West and seek her freedom.

Out here, she was no longer an extension of the gilded home that belonged to her husband. She wouldn't have to be under the gaze of watchful servants or have to acknowledge the perpetually renewed stack of cards and invitations on the hall table.

When she'd married, she'd been forced to bury her aspirations of spontaneity and daring beneath her husband's sudden single-mindedness. Being Hugh's wife had sucked her confidence and any hope of fledgling independence away from her. She'd lived that grim truth for six years as a model of ladylike repression. But that was before she'd drawn a different conclusion from her wedding vows. Thou shalt not be unfaithful -- to thyself. She realized she had to leave if she wanted to keep her dignity. So with the well-worn and reread copy of the Beadle's novel in her handbag, with its artist's rendition of a western city sketched across its cover, she'd decided on Sienna.

Giving the watering-hole town a grimace, Josephine picked up her wicker valise, and decided to begin here in San Francisco instead.

She made an aboutface and walked into the depot house. The door didn't readily open, and she gave it a slight shove with her elbow. The interior was poorly illuminated by a small rectangular window covered with a rotten roller shade. Furnishings were rudimentary. A single corner desk with pigeonholes and only one bench for passengers to sit. She recognized the man who rose to his feet, hooked a pair of spectacles behind his ears, and squinted at her.

"How may I help you, ma'am?"

"You aided me from the train the just came in, but it seems I've gotten off at the wrong stop. I'd like to purchase another ticket. To San Francisco. What is the departure schedule?"

"Thursdays."

Today was Thursday. Thank goodness she wouldn't have to spend the night here. She set her valise on the bench. "How much is the ticket?"

"Eight dollars."

Josephine nodded but didn't open her purse. She wasn't so ignorant as to keep all her cash in her handbag. She'd read enough of the Beadle's stories to know that ladies' purses and men's wallets were what robbers absconded with during a train holdup. She was thankful she hadn't encountered any. But just the same, she was glad she'd hidden the majority of her money in her silk underdrawers, safely tucked at the bottom of her valise. All she carried in the way of money in her handbag were some small coins so that she could purchase those open-to-suspicion meals served at the whistlestops.

With her fingers on the luggage clasp, she asked, "What time does the train depart?"

"Two fifty-three," he replied.

Josephine straightened and lifted the lid to her valise at the same time as she faced off with the depot manager. "Two fifty-three? Why, I just disembarked from the two fifty-three train."

"Yes, ma'am. The Number Thirty-five is the connection to San Francisco. It only passes through here once a week."

Josephine lowered her gaze, letting out a shaky breath of disappointment, only to have it solidify in her throat as she stared into the opened valise. This wasn't her luggage!

There had to be a mistake. She wasn't seeing clearly. Closing her eyes for a few seconds to clear her vision, she reopened them and stared hard at the clothing. The garments still didn't belong to her. In disbelief, she rummaged through the layers of drab cotton ladies' clothes, searching for silk underdrawers that had more than five hundred dollars hidden in them. She could find only muslin pantalets, with plain eyelet trim on the hems. A full-blown panic sprang to life in her breast; her heartbeat quickened its rhythm.

"Is there a problem, ma'am?"

Josephine snapped her chin up. "You have to stop the train. My valise has been stolen!"

"McCall, you've got some nerve shoving demands down my throat," Sheriff Charlie Tuttle challenged while tilting on the back legs of his chair after hoisting one booted foot onto the top of his paper-scattered desk.

J.D. McCall paced with agitation in front of the lawman, absently rubbing his fingertips across his unshaven jaw. Pausing to point, he cautioned, "You should be damn glad it's only words I'm shoving down your throat, Tuttle." Absently, he gazed at his raised hand. Its swollen back had two long, deep scratches from busting through bush in search of a cow. Another cut ran the length of his thumb -- a heifer had kicked him when he was milking her out after her calf had died. His palm was marked with deep holes from slivers that he'd picked up trying to remove the bars from the door to the cinderblock shed when he'd been in a hurry to let in an angry cow. J.D. didn't bother to assess his right which was throbbing as if he'd punched a block of rock.

He could use a hot bath, a good meal, and several hours of uninterrupted sleep. But that wasn't to be during calving. His life was organized entirely around the instincts and needs of his cows. Though the majority of cows calved just fine by themselves, on any given day a couple of dozen needed attention. J.D. enlisted the help of every available man he had to keep losses at a minimum. But he was short a pair, no thanks to Tuttle.

"Peavy told me you bagged two of my hands last night," J.D. said, impatient to be on his way. "I want them out."

"I arrested them with just cause." Tattle gave J D. a hard-set frown. "Did Peavy tell you that Rio bought himself a new rope, and in order to stretch it he was roping posts and making his horse pull it to get the kinks out? Whether or not it was intentional, the kid lassoed a big-wig cattle buyer up from Texas who was none too happy to find himself sitting on his cheeks in the street right there in front of Walkingbars. I had to throw Rio in the cell for assault and battery."

Hell, Tuttle," J.D. scoffed. "You didn't have to keep him overnight. I needed Rio first thing this morning to feed and water the horses. That's what I pay him for."

J.D. moved to the door with a barred window that separated the sheriffs front office from the jail cells. Testing the knob, he found it wouldn't turn. "Unlock the damn door."

"Not just yet."

Tuttle seemed dead set on sparring with him, and J.D wasn't in the mood. His hands ached to grip anything, mostly Tuttle's throat. J.D. cued into the fact that the sheriff was holding out for something. This wasn't the first time he and Tuttle had gone rounds over the incarceration of one of J.D.'s cowboys. "What's it going to cost me?"

The sheriff shrugged without mentioning a dollar amount. "That itinerant cook you hired...Mr. Pete Denby." Tuttle steepled his fingertips together, his tone growing fastidious. "He's a mean hombre when he's drunk. He spurred his horse up and down Arnica, popping his pistol while swilling lager. Shattered the front window of the merc and just about scared Zev out of his hide. When I caught up with that cook, he jumped off that piebald of his and took a swing at me." Tuttle, punctuated evenly. "I will not be held accountable for the lump on the side of his head. My fist had a mind of its own."

"What's it going to cost me?" J.D. repeated. "With this drought, I've got to be moving cattle in less than a week. I need Denby and Rio."

Flawed as the two men were, J.D. couldn't afford to be without them. His longtime cook, Luis, was killed in an accident with a bull some weeks ago. It. had taken that long to get a relief man for the kitchen. Initially, no one answered J.D.'s post on the mercantiles wallboard, as all the good chuck-wagon cooks had been hired out as far back as February. When Pete Denby showed up at the ranch yesterday and claimed he was the best cook that ever threw dishwater under a chuck wagon, J.D. couldn't see any way in disputing that without giving Denby a try. So he'd taken him on, mindless of the reservations he had. Everybody in the outfit had been eating creamed corn on toast and bad Arbuckle's belly wash compliments of Boots, and J.D. had been looking forward to a thick fried steak last night for supper. Only Denby never showed.

As if Denby wasn't his only problem, there was Rio Cibolo, his eighteen-year-old, full-of-guts-and-glory wrangler. Rio was hell-bent on infamy with his rope. The kid could catch anything that moved, and more often than not he practiced on live subjects. J.D. doubted the rope throw was unintentional. Rio liked to get people's dander up and joke about it.

After reaching inside his vest pocket for his wallet, J.D. tossed a bill onto Tuttle's desk. "That ought to cover things."

"You can have the kid, but the cook stays." Tuttle lowered his heel, took the money, and deposited it into a cash box. "Drunk and disorderly, public intoxication, defacing property. That's a loaded offense, and I'm not all that convinced Denby's not wanted elsewhere."

J.D.'s fingers balled into aching fists. "I paid Pete Denby his wages for a month just to hold him!"

"That's your hard luck, McCall. Denby stays for five days until I get a reply from a Cheyenne judge."

Sheriff Tuttle got up, slipped his hand into his trouser pocket, and came up with a small ring of keys. Before he could open the door leading to the cells, the street entrance was filled with a woman who, without any preliminaries, uttered frantically, "I've been robbed!"

J.D. was about to jump all over Tuttle's back when his focus veered toward the feminine voice. The lady looked so out of place framed inside the raw-wood doorjamb, wearing her eastern window-dressing clothes, that J.D. couldn't help staring. It wasn't every day a woman laced up like that came into Sienna. From head to toe, she was decked out in pleats, sashes, laces, flounces, and straw flowers. The colors were spring-like, soft shades of rose and a blue likened to the early-blooming forget-me-nots that grew alongside Buffalo Creek.

She wasn't classically beautiful but her face was pretty enough to keep his gaze lingering. Thick, cinnamon-colored hair was braided behind her ears, the coils twisted and pinned, upward beneath a sassy-looking hat sporting dyed plumes. The shape of her mouth was wide, and her cheeks were structured high with a light dusting of cosmetic color. Her eyes were an amber hue, just like the shimmer of bourbon splashed into a sunlit tumbler. She had a pampered figure, the kind that said she wouldn't last five minutes out-of-doors doing anything more than taking a leisurely stroll.

Tuttle said, the keys jingling in his fingers. "Where?"

"On the train." Her voice held a faint tremor, as though she were in serious trouble.

"The Number Thirty-five? Why didn't old man Vernier come tell me?" The keys were put back in Tuttle's pocket, and he grabbed a rifle from the rack. "How many gunmen were there, ma'am?"

"None."

Tuttle froze. "But you said you were robbed."

"I was."

"How so?"

She answered quickly and with a note of alarm. "I've gone over the course of events from here back to Laramie, and I think I know what happened. After we left the last tank tower, we came upon a herd of buffalo. The train stopped suddenly so that those gentlemen wishing to shoot could do so. But with the screeching halt, floor luggage slid beneath everyone's seat. In the confusion, someone handed me what I thought to be my valise, only it turns out that it wasn't."

"Then you weren't exactly robbed."

"My valise had five hundred dollars in it. This valise does not." She motioned to the wicker case in her grasp. "For all intents and purposes, I was robbed," she insisted. "You have to telegraph the next depot and tell them to search the train for my luggage. A terrible error has been made."

"Ma'am, for the next seventy-five miles the rail stations are nothing but cow pastures without a telegraph office to be had. Could be whoever gets off at one of them has your case. There's no way for me to track down each individual. Folks are too spread out in this country."

A strangled cry broke from her throat. "But my five hundred dollars!"

"The best I can do is wire the first town over, which is Tipton," Tuttle said while replacing the rifle, "and see if we can get this cleared up."

"What am I going to do in the meantime? I have no more than fifty cents to my name...no clothes...no...nothing." She rapidly blinked, clearly on the verge of spilling tears.

J.D. folded his arms across his chest and shifted his weight. Crying women had their hearts in th...

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. A cattle drive is no place for a lady in bows and buttons.unless she s in love with a rancher in denim and rawhide. Love sizzles in this Western romance from USA TODAY bestselling author Stef Ann Holm.Newly independent city girl Josephine Whittaker succeeded in heading West, all on her own. But once she set foot in the crude cow town of Sienna, Wyoming, her first inclination was to board the next train back out-and she would have, if she hadn t lost everything she owned. Suddenly, a job as a ranch cook seemed a good idea-at least it was better than making money as a dance-hall girl. It didn t seem that important if she neglected to tell her new boss that she d never so much as boiled an egg. J.D. McCall knew from the get-go that a pretty lady in the chuck wagon with a bunch of cowboys meant trouble. But he faced mutiny among his ranch hands if he didn t bring home a cook-and she said fried beef was her specialty. How could he know he d never want to let her go? J.D. s own mother had abandoned his father and the harsh frontier life to go back East. Loving Josephine was sure to break his heart.unless this lady proved she had grit, gumption, and what it took to be a cattle rancher s wife-his wife. Bookseller Inventory # APC9781451614046

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.A cattle drive is no place for a lady in bows and buttons.unless she s in love with a rancher in denim and rawhide. Love sizzles in this Western romance from USA TODAY bestselling author Stef Ann Holm.Newly independent city girl Josephine Whittaker succeeded in heading West, all on her own. But once she set foot in the crude cow town of Sienna, Wyoming, her first inclination was to board the next train back out-and she would have, if she hadn t lost everything she owned. Suddenly, a job as a ranch cook seemed a good idea-at least it was better than making money as a dance-hall girl. It didn t seem that important if she neglected to tell her new boss that she d never so much as boiled an egg. J.D. McCall knew from the get-go that a pretty lady in the chuck wagon with a bunch of cowboys meant trouble. But he faced mutiny among his ranch hands if he didn t bring home a cook-and she said fried beef was her specialty. How could he know he d never want to let her go? J.D. s own mother had abandoned his father and the harsh frontier life to go back East. Loving Josephine was sure to break his heart.unless this lady proved she had grit, gumption, and what it took to be a cattle rancher s wife-his wife. Bookseller Inventory # APC9781451614046

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Book Description Gallery Books. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 368 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.0in. x 1.3in.A CATTLE DRIVE IS NO PLACE FOR A LADY IN BOWS AND BUTTONS. . . Newly independent city girl Josephine Whittaker succeeded in heading West, all on her own. But once she set foot in the crude cow town of Sienna, Wyoming, her first inclination was to board the next train back out -- and she would have, if she hadnt lost everything she owned. Suddenly, a job as a ranch cook seemed a good idea -- at least it was better than making money as a dance-hall girl. It didnt seem that important if she neglected to tell her new boss that shed never so much as boiled an egg. . . . UNLESS SHES IN LOVE WITH A RANCHER IN DENIM AND RAWHIDE. J. D. McCall knew from the get-go that a pretty lady in the chuck wagon with a bunch of cowboys meant trouble. But he faced mutiny among his ranch hands if he didnt bring home a cook -- and she said fried beef was her specialty. How could he know hed never want to let her go J. D. s own mother had abandoned his father and the harsh frontier life to go back East. Loving Josephine was sure to break his heart. . . unless this lady proved she had grit, gumption, and what it took to be a cattle ranchers wife -- his wife. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9781451614046

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. A cattle drive is no place for a lady in bows and buttons.unless she s in love with a rancher in denim and rawhide. Love sizzles in this Western romance from USA TODAY bestselling author Stef Ann Holm.Newly independent city girl Josephine Whittaker succeeded in heading West, all on her own. But once she set foot in the crude cow town of Sienna, Wyoming, her first inclination was to board the next train back out-and she would have, if she hadn t lost everything she owned. Suddenly, a job as a ranch cook seemed a good idea-at least it was better than making money as a dance-hall girl. It didn t seem that important if she neglected to tell her new boss that she d never so much as boiled an egg. J.D. McCall knew from the get-go that a pretty lady in the chuck wagon with a bunch of cowboys meant trouble. But he faced mutiny among his ranch hands if he didn t bring home a cook-and she said fried beef was her specialty. How could he know he d never want to let her go? J.D. s own mother had abandoned his father and the harsh frontier life to go back East. Loving Josephine was sure to break his heart.unless this lady proved she had grit, gumption, and what it took to be a cattle rancher s wife-his wife. Bookseller Inventory # LIE9781451614046

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