Here on Christmas Day Amie Stuart Author of: THE BIG GIRL'S GUIDE TO BUYING LINGERIE 7pm Friday
The Big Girl’s Guide to Buying Lingerie
· Publisher: Dancehall Diaries Ltd.
· Release Date: June 2016
· Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
· Available Formats: eBook
Tim Caldwell is a Casanova Cowboy. Even as he vows to clean up his act for his daughter’s sake, he gets slam-dunked by the presence of one beautiful, ornery and distant bartender.
Toni Dubois is a lost soul who’s spent her life on the run. After fifteen years, she heads back Louisiana but gets sidetracked when Lady Fate lands her in Bluebonnet, Texas.
This isn’t just Tim and Toni’s story, it’s Rene’s also and the pre-teen from hell does everything she can to rile her dad. From swearing like a sailor to bribing Toni into leave town. But Rene’s not the only one who has a lot to learn about life and love and maybe a few lessons to teach as well.
The two-way radio at Tim’s belt squawked, startling him and the yearling he’d been working with. The rope slipped from his grip and Sonny, a two-year-old boy who was short on manners, danced away, a grin on his horsy face.
Before he could unhook it from his belt, the radio squawked again.
“Tim Caldwell, answer me!”
“I’m here, Momma.” He licked his lips, then wished he hadn’t. They were coated with dust. Only June and already the temperatures in South Central Texas were nudging the century mark.
“The school just called and said you need to come pick up Rene.”
Sonny nudged his elbow as a low groan slipped past his lips. “What now?”
Sixth grade just hadn’t been good for Rene—-or vice versa—right up to the last day of school, when she’d beaten up a girl in gym class.
His mom’s voice crackled with static. “She started her period and, apparently, raised quite a ruckus. Tim, didn’t you tell her about…you know?”
Oh shit. “I forgot.” He released the ‘talk’ button and sighed, waiting for the explosion, glad she couldn’t see him shiver from the suddenly clammy sweat.
“Timothy Patrick! That child is probably scared out of her wits!”
Tim winced, knowing full well he deserved the scolding and a whole hell of a lot more. Telling Rene about the facts of life was something he’d put off. Like a checkup or doing his taxes. Determined to do the right thing, he’d read the book his aunt had given him, then chickened out, scared he’d flub it and too proud to ask for help. Now, ask him about horse breeding and he could talk a body’s ear off. Much more to-the-point than his daughter’s “journey to womanhood”.
Not for the first time he cursed his ex-wife for taking off on them, the mean angry side of him glad she was in prison. He hadn’t asked to take this on by himself.
“They thought,” his mom continued, “that under the circumstances, she could just take the rest of the day off.”
“How bad was it?” He unsnapped Sonny’s lead and opened the gate separating the small arena from Sonny’s pasture. Sonny took off to play with his friends, kicking up his heels and a cloud of dust. Tim smothered a twinge of envy and a cough while listening to his mom’s reply.
“They didn’t say, but Principal Skinner specifically asked for you.”
Janie Skinner had it out for him, firmly convinced he had no business raising a little girl by himself and more than willing to “help” if he’d let her.
But at twelve, Rene was no longer a little girl. Obviously.
“Alright. Lemme get cleaned up. Would you call Skinner back and tell her I’ll be there in about forty-five minutes?”
* * *
Forty minutes and one stop at the grocery store later, he pulled up in front of Bluebonnet Elementary and slid out from behind the wheel of his dusty pickup. As he made his way up the shallow steps, he noticed Skinner lying in wait for him just inside the double doors and slowed his pace.
Rene’d started her period, for Christ sake, not tried to burn the school down.
“Morning, Tim.” Despite her conservative attire of khakis, an oxford shirt and the snug bun, her smile was almost flirtatious as she held the door open for him.
There was no doubt in his mind if he’d gone out with her, she would have eased up on Rene–but even he had his principles. No puns intended. Besides, summer school ended in one more week. Then came junior high where the principal was a man–and one of his dad’s poker buddies. Relief was in sight.
“Janie,” he replied, forcing an easy grin. No way in hell would he let her know just how much she irked him.
Her own smile faded.
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