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From USA TODAY bestselling author Stef Ann Holm, Book One in the Brides for All Seasons series: “Harmony is a laugh-out-loud read. Stef Ann Holm has created the most warm-hearted, heart-stirring romance of the season” (Romantic Times).
When prim deportment teacher Edwina Huntington finds herself co-owner of a warehouse with rugged sportsman Tom Wolcott, togetherness in Harmony, Montana, is anything but. And as soon as they discover that they clash more than their choices of paint color—lemon yellow and slaughter red—sparks fly in every shade. Edwina wants to educate women on the ceremonies of society, as preparation for marriage—though she’s resigned to spinsterhood. Tom hasn’t thought much about matrimony one way or the other—his world of big guns and big grizzlies has kept him plenty occupied—until now.
Equally fierce-willed, Edwina and Tom square off for a showdown. But they’re both helpless in the face of the powerful attraction that explodes between them, and soon the battle of the sexes rages in a new direction...true love.
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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.:
As Tom Wolcott rode his piebald into Harmony, a party of six exhausted but satisfied men fell in behind him on plodding horses. Their duckcloth hunting suits, spanking new a week ago, now bore smatterings of mud, dung, and blood. But they'd gotten their great outdoors thrill in Montana, having bagged between them two elks, a cougar, and a half-dozen hares.
Cutting across Main Street toward Hess's Livery, Tom spied Shay Dufresne lounging in the sunlit double-wide doorway. Seeing his old friend and new partner, Tom sat taller in the saddle and his mood lightened. They'd known each other since boyhood, having grown up in the same Texas town. After turning eighteen, they'd traveled the western countryside together. They separated for a while, each trying their hand at different ventures, but now Tom had convinced Shay to come to Montana from Idaho. This would be the last time he had to take a group of greenhorn Easterners on a hunting trip. From now on, Shay would be in charge of the expeditions while Tom got his arms-and-tackle store off the ground.
"Hey, partner," Tom said in a greeting, reigning in and dismounting. He,held onto the bridle leathers with one gloved hand while gripping his friend's hand in the other. "When'd you get in?"
"Three days ago." Shay gave him a warm smile, laugh lines etching creases at the corners of his eyes. His face was a bit angular, his nose a little too pointed; but he had a gaze that bespoke loyalty and trust.
Tom spoke around the cigarette in his mouth. "Max put you up?"
"As best he could." Shay withdrew his hand. "With all the crates and boxes you have stacked to the rafters, there's barely a free inch left to put up a cot."
Aside from stabling over two dozen riding and packhorses with Max Hess, Tom had been using the livery as his warehouse and temporary business quarters.
"It'll all be moved out tomorrow." Over his piebald's rump, Tom called to the grin-happy city slickers. "Gentlemen, move those horses into the stables and Max will see, to them. Unhitch your gear and trophies. There's a butcher on Hackberry Way who'll dress the meat, and if you want those horns mounted, I'm the man to see."
"By jinks, I want the whole head and neck on a lacquered wall plaque," came a jovial reply from the Bostonian banker.
"I can do that." Just as Tom tethered his horse on the branch of the only tree in front of the, livery, a droopy looking bloodhound came trotting up. The dog shook off and shot his owner with Evergreen Creek water "Dammit, Barkly, you could have done that elsewhere."
Barkly sat on his haunches; wet, loose skin hung in folds about his head and neck. His nose lifted toward Tom, and he made a grunting noise through his black nostrils.
"Don't tell me anything I don't know," Tom said off-handedly to the canine. "Shay, you think you can help them undo those diamond hitches? They're liable to take their knives to the ropes if they can't work the knots loose." With a flick of his wrist, Tom tossed his smoke on the ground and crushed the butt with the instep of his boot. "I need to make myself feel human again."
Tired and dirty, Tom longed to shed the navy lace-up-at-the-throat sweater that hugged his shoulders. Dust-coated Levi's and chaps encased his legs. His knee-high boots bore the nicks of twigs and pine needles. The stub-bib phase of a beard had lapsed into grubby; and he smelled like campfire smoke, game, and wet dog. He wanted nothing more than to soak in a hot sudsy tub, 'then slip into a fresh set of clothes.
"Making yourself human will have to wait. A lawyer came by twice while you were gone. Last Tuesday he talked with Max, then yesterday I spoke with him." Shay slipped his hand into his pocket, produced a calling card, and read, "Alastair Stykem. You know him?"
"I've never met him, but I know he's got an office on Birch Avenue."
"He's real anxious to talk to you."
Handing Tom the card, Shay shrugged. "Hell if I know. I told him you were expected back today. He pressed me for a time, so I gave him one. You've got a two o'clock appointment at his office."
Tom swore beneath his breath. "What time is it?"
Shay took a watch out of his vest pocket. "Two-ten."
Gazing at Tom, he said, "I figured you'd be in by noon."
"We got that cougar just before lunch, and we had to pack it."
"You'd better get on over there. I'll handle things here."
Tom put a thumb to his hat brim and pushed back then rubbed the grit off his brow. "Stykem didn't tell you what this was all about?"
"No. He just said he needed to talk to you. And that it was important."
Undoing the buckle of his gun belt, Tom looped the leather strap holstering his revolver over the saddle horn; he slung his chaps across the seat.
To the dog, Tom instructed, "Wait," then to Shay he said, "Whatever this is, it'd better not take long."
Leaving the livery behind, Tom walked down Main for a block, giving cursory glances to the post office, Storman's Feed and Fuel, and Buskala's Boarding House. He had become accustomed to the business buildings being brick rather than the wood that was the norm where he and Shay hailed from. Nearly all were two stories and had canvas awnings of various shapes and heights that overhung the high board sidewalks. The corner supported the Blue Flame Saloon. A turn on Birch Avenue and he passed the barbershop, the druggist's, Treber's Men's Clothing store, and the Brooks House Hotel.
He'd rather have been going in the opposite direction so that he could take a look at the warehouse on Old Oak Road. A vacant lot away from the blacksmith's, but at least not across the railroad tracks by the lumberyard and flour mill; stood the building he'd bought from Murphy Magee. The interior measured a good-size, comfortable enough to stock his merchandise and display his trophies and still have plenty of aisle room. For the past few months, he'd spent nearly all his income on sporting goods to fill his store. Tom had been taking men on hunting trips for the better part of a year. The trial period was over. His advertisements in eastern papers had proved to be successful in attracting suit-and-collar types out West for camping adventures they couldn't experience in the big cities.
Tom felt at ease in the woods, but the boisterous antics of dandies grated on him after the first day out. Being isolated with men sporting handlebar mustaches and rifles with superfine sights -- front and rear -- to guarantee a sure shot was not his idea of a challenge. Real gamesmen had to actually work at stalking their prey; not be so out of shape they were unable to hike up hill. Nor would they pine over the loss of forbidden flasks of brandy; Tom allowed no liquor in the campsites.
But now that Shay had arrived, Tom would stay behind in the store, letting the would-be hunters buy as many gadgets as they pleased while his partner took them out on the trail. Tom wasn't opposed to all the newfangled gadgets that helped a man bag his game with relative ease; he just preferred not to use them.
Grasping the handle of a door, Tom let himself inside a lobby that had the faint scent of ink. He crossed the granite floor tiles to a narrow stairwell on his right. At a single hall featured two doors. In gold letters the first had ALASTAIR STYKEM, ATTORNEY AT LAW spelled out. Tom went in the office.
A young woman in a high-buttoned blouse sat behind desk, plucking at keys of a typewriter with one finger. On his intrusion, she looked up and down, then up again; then left and right as if she planned on fleeing. A pair of wire bow spectacles perched on her nose. Black ink smudged her forehead and chin. But it wasn't the ink that made him stare at her -- it was the color of her hair. A vivid red-orange. Like Indian paintbrush petals.
"M-may I h-help you?" she stammered, not meeting his gaze while pushing her glasses farther up her nose. an ink smear across the freckled bridge.
"I have a two-o'clock appointment."
His nod went ignored because she refused to lift her head. He had to resort to saying, "Yes."
"Th-they've been waiting for you."
The woman stood, kept her gaze pinned to the carpet's cabbage rose pattern, and took a few steps to the paneled door. Knocking, she stuck her head through the crack she'd opened. "Mr. Wolcott is here," she announced in a clear, smooth voice.
"Good. Send him in." An exasperated breath punctuated the man's next words. "Crescencia, wipe that type-writer ink off your face."
Crescencia withdrew, then backed toward the desk so Tom couldn't see her face -- as if he hadn't already. Mumbling into the hankie she'd produced from a fold in her skirt, she said, "Y-you may go in, M-Mr. W-Wolcott."
Tom slipped by the desk and nudged the interior door the rest of the way open with his shoulder.
Alastair Stykem sat with his back to the window, sheer curtains deflecting the intensity. of afternoon sun. Upon Tom's entrance, the lawyer rose from behind a massive oak desk and extended his hand. Tom had to step farther into the room to grasp it. After the formality, he felt a presence to his right, and looked down at the occupant in the chair. A pair of pale, mint-colored eyes leveled on him. The woman had rich mahogany hair swept away from her oval face. Huge bows ran around the band of her hat, which sprouted a large, blue chrysanthemum
The lawyer's voice pulled Tom's gaze away. "Mr. Wolcott."
"Stykem," Tom said in acknowledgment.
"You know Miss Huntington?"
Unbidden, Tom's glance once again landed on the seated woman. "I've seen her around." But he had never inquired after her. There was an old-maidish air to the way she carried herself. He would have guessed her to be ten years older than him. But up this close, he could see he'd been mistaken. He had to have had her by at least five.
"Well then, please sit down, Mr. Wolcott."
Tom lowered himself onto one of the plump leather chairs, but he didn't feel at ease in the cushioned depths. Anxiousness made him reach for the half-pack of Richmonds in his front pants pocket, but he stopped himself midway when he saw the disapproval on Miss Huntington's face.
"I see no reason for preamble," Alastair continued. "Miss Huntington has known about the situation for a week, so I'll come right to the point." The lawyer steepled pudgy fingers against his paunch. "Murphy Magee is dead. He fell into a sewer hole last Monday night and sustained fatal injuries."
Tom regarded Alastair quizzically for a moment. Some sixth sense made him proceed with care. "I'm sorry to hear that. Murphy was a regular guy."
"Be that as it may, a problem has arisen that only Mr. Magee could have settled. Since he's not with us, the case has been brought to my attention by the county he recorder's offine in hope that I can mediate a peaceful conclusion to this unfortunate situation."
The words county recorder's office cautioned Tom into silence. Resting his foot on a dusty knee, he pressed his back into the chair and depicted a comfort he didn't feel. Before he'd left Tuesday morning, he'd slipped the receipt Murphy had given him beneath the door to the recorder's office so that he could pick up the deed when he got back into town. Obviously something had gone wrong. Maybe the clerk needed more information. Maybe Murphy hadn't written out the bill of sale correctly. The man had been drunk when they'd made the transaction at the Blue Flame. Even if Murphy had messed up, why was Miss Huntington sitting primly in the chair next to him?
Alastair opened a folder before him and produced two documents. He held them out for Tom to see. "As you can read, the warehouse at 47 Old Oak Road is deeded to both you and Miss Huntington. The clerk had recorded Miss Huntington's title on a Monday afternoon, and yours on a Tuesday morning. For legality's sake, it doesn't really matter whose was recorded first or last. Both are binding. If Mr. Magee was here with us, he could explain how he happened to sell both of you his warehouse. By his taking money twice, he's committed fraud" -- the lawyer gave a slight shrug -- "but who can prosecute a dead man?" After a chuckle, he answered himself. "My late wife would say I would if I could recover something.
Tom saw no humor in that. Accentuating the annoyance he felt with Stykem, Murphy, and Miss Huntington, who had begun to rummage through her purse, Tom brought his foot down hard on the floor and leaned forward. "What are you trying to tell me, Stykem?"
"You and Miss Huntington are both the legal owners of the parcel known as lot four, block two."
A cold knot formed in Tom's gut. Muscles on hisforearms bunched as he took hold of the chair's arms and gripped the padded leather. If Murphy, Magee weren't dead already, he'd go for the man's throat. He should have known better than to do business with a man basted with whiskey. But Tom hadn't wanted to leave for the week without having secured the warehouse, so the transaction had taken place in the saloon.
He heard a dainty cough and sniff, then glared at Miss Huntington. "What do you have to say about this?"
Miss Huntington had brought out a hunk of lacy stuff and lifted the edge to her nostrils. "Mr. Stykem, I find I'm feeling a little light-headed. Could you please open the window for ventilation?"
"Open the window?" Tom echoed. "You've known about this for a week. If anyone is sick, it's me!"
She kept her eyes forward. Curved lashes caught his attention; they were softly fringed and the exact shade of her hair. His gaze lowered. A kind of feathery blue fabric gently outlined her figure, cutting in at her narrow, sashed waist. He knew enough about ladies' fashions to appreciate that she wore pleats, bows, and trims in all the right places. As his eyes lingered on the controlled rise and fall of her breasts as she breathed into her handkerchief, he became aware of what he was doing. With a silent curse, he instantly stopped his appraisal of her.
Tom laid his palms on his thighs. "What now?"
The curtains fell back into place after Alastair unlatched the window lock and lifted the sash. He took his seat and pointedly gazed at the both of them. "Mr. Magee died on the installment plan. Meaning he owed people money." A shuffle of papers, and Stykem came up with a long list that he beganto read from. "Eight dollars and forty-two cents to one Madame Beauchaine of Tut Tut, Louisiana for astrological readings, ten cents to Dutch's Poolroom for dill pickles, three hundred and twenty-two dollars and four cents to the Blue Flame for a bar bill" Alastair waved his hand over the paper and set it down. "Et cetera, et cetera. Frankly, I don't know why he held on to the warehouse as long as he did. He could have used the revenue."
"What are you getting at?" Tom questioned.
"Mr. Magee's estate can't give a refund to either of you. After debtors get hold of what he has left of the money you gave him, there'll barely be enough to cover my fees." Stykem bent his fingers and cracked the knuckles in succession from pinkie to thumb. "I didn't want to suggest this without your being together, but one of you could buy the other out. Of course, that will mean you're paying twice for the property. You'll, have to ask yourself how badly do you want it." Wiry brows arched as he waited for their reaction. Neither of them moved; so the lawyer continued. "Miss Huntington, you pay Mr Wolcott five hundred dollars and the warehouse is yours. Or, Mr. Wolcott, you pay Miss Huntington four hundred and fifty dollars, and the...
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Book Description Pocket Books 2010-07-18, 2010. Softcover. Condition: New. Softcover. Publisher overstock, may contain remainder mark on edge. Seller Inventory # 9781451614053B
Book Description Gallery Books, 2010. PAP. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. THIS BOOK IS PRINTED ON DEMAND. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # IQ-9781451614053
Book Description Gallery Books 7/18/2010, 2010. Paperback or Softback. Condition: New. Harmony. Book. Seller Inventory # BBS-9781451614053
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Book Description SIMON & SCHUSTER, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. From USA TODAY bestselling author Stef Ann Holm, Book One in the Brides for All Seasons series: "Harmony is a laugh-out-loud read. Stef Ann Holm has created the most warm-hearted, heart-stirring romance of the season" (Romantic Times).When prim deportment teacher Edwina Huntington finds herself co-owner of a warehouse with rugged sportsman Tom Wolcott, togetherness in Harmony, Montana, is anything but. And as soon as they discover that they clash more than their choices of paint color-lemon yellow and slaughter red-sparks fly in every shade. Edwina wants to educate women on the ceremonies of society, as preparation for marriage-though she's resigned to spinsterhood. Tom hasn't thought much about matrimony one way or the other-his world of big guns and big grizzlies has kept him plenty occupied-until now. Equally fierce-willed, Edwina and Tom square off for a showdown. But they're both helpless in the face of the powerful attraction that explodes between them, and soon the battle of the sexes rages in a new direction.true love. Seller Inventory # AAV9781451614053
Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.From USA TODAY bestselling author Stef Ann Holm, Book One in the Brides for All Seasons series: Harmony is a laugh-out-loud read. Stef Ann Holm has created the most warm-hearted, heart-stirring romance of the season (Romantic Times).When prim deportment teacher Edwina Huntington finds herself co-owner of a warehouse with rugged sportsman Tom Wolcott, togetherness in Harmony, Montana, is anything but. And as soon as they discover that they clash more than their choices of paint color-lemon yellow and slaughter red-sparks fly in every shade. Edwina wants to educate women on the ceremonies of society, as preparation for marriage-though she s resigned to spinsterhood. Tom hasn t thought much about matrimony one way or the other-his world of big guns and big grizzlies has kept him plenty occupied-until now. Equally fierce-willed, Edwina and Tom square off for a showdown. But they re both helpless in the face of the powerful attraction that explodes between them, and soon the battle of the sexes rages in a new direction.true love. Seller Inventory # AAV9781451614053
Book Description Pocket Books, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # INGM9781451614053
Book Description Gallery Books. Paperback. Condition: New. 448 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.1in. x 1.2in.When prim deportment teacher Edwina Huntington finds herself co-owner of a warehouse with rugged sportsman Tom Wolcott, togetherness in Harmony, Montana, is anything but. And as soon as they discover that they clash more than their choices of paint color -- lemon yellow and slaughter red -- sparks fly in every shade. Edwina wants to educate women on the ceremonies of society, as preparation for marriage -- though shes resigned to spinsterhood. Tom hasnt thought much about matrimony one way or the other -- his world of big guns and big grizzlies has kept him plenty occupied -- until now. Equally fierce-willed, Edwina and Tom square off for a showdown. But theyre both helpless in the face of the powerful attraction that explodes between them, and soon the battle of the sexes rages in a new direction. . . true love. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9781451614053
Book Description Gallery Books, 2010. PAP. Condition: New. New Book. Delivered from our UK warehouse in 4 to 14 business days. THIS BOOK IS PRINTED ON DEMAND. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # IQ-9781451614053
Book Description Pocket Books, 2010. Condition: New. This item is printed on demand for shipment within 3 working days. Seller Inventory # GM9781451614053