Down Home Ever Lovin' Mule Blues

by Jacquie Rogers


copyright (c) 2008 Jacquie Rogers

Chapter 1

Grasmere, Idaho

Humans are so stubborn.

But never let it be said that we mules don't take care of our humans. Mine is Brody Alexander. I'm Socrates, master of cogitation and entertainer of both large and small children.

Infinite patience is required to endure Brody's obstinance. Granted, we john mules do have it easier than men. We don't have this hormone thing going on so we don't spend our lives trying to make little mules.

That gives us lots more time to cogitate. And believe me, I can think of a few more species who could do with a little thoughtful uncommon sense.

Human males, for instance. Why, they seem to spend every waking hour thinking about sex, getting sex, or being disap-pointed by not having sex.

That's how I see it. Except I left one thing out—human males need more than sex. They need love. My human could use a little loving these days. Why, he's been moping around worse than a porcupine on a bad hair day.

That's where the cogitating comes in. If testosterone hadn't clouded Brody's thinking, he'd already know what he needs. Funny thing, those hormones.

The way I see it, my job is to help his brain listen to his other parts—especially his heart. And I have the answer. Yes, sir, I do. I just saw a pretty little filly drive down the road, the very same one who mooned over Brody ten years ago.

It's time for action.

* * * * *

Brody Alexander stomped into the house and threw his battered Stetson on the table. "Luke, have you seen that dang mule? He's let himself out of the barn again."

Luke smashed his cigarette in the ashtray. "Nope, but I s'pose he'll show up once he gets a little hungry. Or cold. Old Socrates don't like the cold." Luke slurped his coffee and let out a satisfied sigh. "There's scrambled eggs on the stove."

The phone rang. He nodded toward it. "That might be him now."

"don't be a smart ass." Brody yanked the handset off the cradle. "Hello."

"Howdy. Your mule's in our pantry eating apples." He recognized the partly annoyed, partly amused voice of Judy Markum, the middle-aged widow from up the road.

"Uh, sorry, ma'am. I'll be right over."

Luke chuckled. "It was him, wasn't it?"

"Smart ass." Grabbing his hat, Brody made for the pickup and hitched up the trailer—the splint on his left arm not making the task any easier, or his humor any better. Sometimes he'd like to kick that dang mule into next Sunday.

Perseus, his Australian Shepherd, hopped into the pickup before Brody had the door halfway open. The old '62 Chevy was already warmed up from hauling feed to the cattle. The heater worked even if the rest of the pickup decided not to—a blessing in the crisp autumn Owyhee mornings. He took off for the Markum place.

Five minutes of bumpy dirt road later, he pulled in front of Judy's white stucco house with yellow trim. Snapdragons and petunias grew along the perimeter of the house, and the tinkle of the wind chimes seemed to smile on visitors.

She stood in the front doorway propped on her crutches, waving him in. At least she had a smile on her weathered face. He got out of the pickup and tipped his hat at her.

"Good morning, Judy."

Her dog, Beauty, ran up and nuzzled his hand. He obliged her with a few quick scratches behind her ears. A late-model tan Volvo was parked beside the Markum barn. He smirked, knowing that no local would have an expensive, foreign car with no ground clearance. Socrates had picked a mighty poor time to work up a hunger for the neighbor's apples.

"Come on in, Brody." Judy seemed quite happy for a woman with a mule in her house.

He took off his hat and trudged in. "Evenin', ma'am. I'm sorry about Socrates. Where is he? I'll get him out of your hair."

"It's my apples I'm worried about, not my hair." She pointed to a curtained room off the kitchen. "He's in there. Probably the happiest miniature mule in the world right now."

Brody made for the pantry, ready to give that mule the what-for. But the obnoxious beast beat him to the punch, sauntering out with a Red Delicious in his mouth. Socrates dodged Brody's one-handed grab for the halter and trotted into the living room.

Brody gritted his teeth. Judy's guests would be in there, and here he had to chase a flea-bitten mule. Oh well, might as well act the clown. After all, he did it for a living.

"I do not want that animal on my new carpet!" Judy hobbled after him.

He held her back and called to the mule, "Socrates, get your tush out here." In two long strides, Brody managed to grab the mule's halter. "What in the Sam Hill do you think you're doing? Let's go home."

"Hello, cowboy." The feminine voice was sultry, and familiar.

Brody stopped cold, took a breath, and turned toward the voice.

There she sat on the couch, little Rita Markum, holding the apple Socrates had brought her. Only she wasn't little anymore. Not that she'd grown taller or gotten fat. Nope, she'd filled out into one helluva woman. He felt a certain amount of compassion for old Adam in the Garden of Eden. If Eve bore any resemblance to Rita, poor Adam never had a chance.

He couldn't help but notice the tasteful tan linen business suit she wore—and the smooth, shapely thigh exposed when she crossed her legs. Brody's mouth went dry. Whew, baby. Her hair was still blonde, although shorter, and her blue eyes even bluer. He hoped she still wanted him like she did that day of her high school graduation, because he sure wouldn't mind taking up where they left off.

"Brody Alexander, if you don't get that infernal animal off my carpet, I'm going to beat you both!" Judy stood behind him with a crutch raised, ready to inflict bodily damage.

"Yes, ma'am." He tugged on the halter, but Socrates wouldn't budge. Brody swore under his breath—on account of ladies being present.

"After you get that stubborn mule trailered," Judy said, "come back in and I'll make some coffee. I baked cookies yesterday."

He stole one more glance at Rita. The mule took a step and Brody thanked the Good Lord above.

He wished he could stay, but Luke had already fixed breakfast and wouldn't be too amused if Brody didn't eat his cooking. "I'm sorry, I've got to get back to my morning chores." His stomach growled.

The mule put on his brakes, leaning back on his hind legs and stiffening his front legs. Brody pulled and yanked, but old Socrates wouldn't budge an inch.

Rita arched an eyebrow and folded her arms beneath her bosom. "Looks like you're working up an appetite."

Such a sweet bosom, too. He didn't remember her being so well endowed. But he could mull the matter later. Right now, he needed to get this ornery mule out of the house before Judy clobbered him. It looked like he was going to have to pick up all three hundred pounds of the stubborn creature and carry him out of there. "Yes, ma'am."

Socrates took a step, and Brody was glad to get out before he made a total ass of himself. "But I do have to get going." The mule stopped again. Brody pulled harder, but the mule wouldn't budge.

"I doubt that. It's eight-thirty," Judy said. "You should have all your chores done by now."

Maybe coffee and cookies would hit the spot. He sneaked another glance at Rita's bosom. The scenery wouldn't hurt his digestion any, either. "I'll be right back, as soon as I can convince this apple thief to go outside."

Socrates bolted toward the door and nearly jerked Brody's arm out of its socket in the process. The suddenly frisky mule made the trip through the kitchen downright perilous as Brody had to hop over a kitchen chair, then barely miss getting his nose plastered all over the door frame, but he refused to let go of the lead rope. He opened the trailer gate and the mule hopped in, pretty as you please. Brody shook his head, wondering what in tarnation had gotten into the old boy.

By the time he'd returned to the kitchen, Judy sat at the table while Rita poured three cups of coffee. A plate piled high with homemade chocolate chippers looked mighty inviting. And a cookie or two certainly wouldn't spoil his appetite for Luke's dried-up scrambled eggs.

Judy motioned to the chair opposite her and Brody sat in it.

"I guess you and Rita will have to get reacquainted. You two have come and gone over the last few years—I don't imagine you've seen each other for quite some time."

Brody tipped his hat at Judy's daughter, then remembered his hat was still on in the house, for Pete's sake. He whipped it off and ran his fingers through his hair for good measure. "Howdy," he said, smiling his most charming smile.

She smiled back—a faint one, but she smiled, nonetheless—and placed a cup of coffee in front of him. "Almost ten years."

He nodded his thanks, wondering what to say to her. He'd known her when she wore painted-on pants and ran for rodeo queen at the local rodeos. And he'd turned her down flat when she wanted to find out what lovin' was all about. Heck, she had been jailbait then. But she was a full-grown beauty now.

And fair game.

"How long does it take to heal up after knee surgery?"

It took a minute for him to realize that Judy had spoken to him. Then he remembered he and Luke had offered to drive her to the hospital for her surgery in the morning.

"You've had knee surgery, right?" she asked again.

"Uh, yeah. Three times. don't take the pain medication after three days. Flex until it hurts. don't do anything that hurts too much until the doc gives you the go-ahead, but don't let it lie still, either. It'll seize up on you and then those damned, er, excuse my French, physical therapists will get a hold of you and turn you six ways from deliverance. Then after you heal up a bit, chuck down a pain pill and exercise the hell. . .er, heck out of it. You'll be dancing a jig in no time."

Judy took a sip of coffee. "I'm no spring chicken like you. It might take me a bit longer." He could tell she wasn't looking forward to tomorrow by the deep furrow in her usually smooth brow.

"don't worry about it." He patted her hand. "They can fix you up good as new."

Rita sniffed. "You ought to know."

He stared at Rita, wondering why she sounded so snide. She was well aware that bullfighters got banged up all the time. Hell, he knew a guy who'd broken over a hundred bones, including his back and neck, had a steel plate in his head, and still fought bulls. In fact, he knew several men like that. Once bullfighting got into a man's blood, it stayed there.

She daintily dabbed her napkin on her lips. She hadn't eaten a thing yet, so he figured she was mindful that she'd just said a dumb thing.

"I see you still have Socrates."

"Yes, and now I have a skunk, Guinevere, and a dog, Perseus, too. I'm traveling the circuit, clowning and bull-fighting. Might have to go in the can in a year or two, though."

"You don't need to say it that way," Judy protested. "It's certainly no disgrace to be a barrel man."

"Nope, but I like being in control of cowboy protection, and you can't do that from the barrel."

"I don't suppose that has anything to do with your limp or the cast on your arm." Rita placed her napkin on her lap. "Why don't you just retire?"

"Rita!" Judy glowered at her daughter. "That's not your call."

Retire? She had to be out of her mind. "I'm just a little sore, is all."

Shrugging, Rita said, "He'll end up just like Dad—stove up and dead. At least men in the city have more sense than that. David certainly does."

David? The possessive way she said his name annoyed the hell out of Brody. Who was David? Probably some jerk who counted assets on a spreadsheet all day. Poor sap. But a damned lucky sap if he'd managed to hook up with Rita. Counting her assets would be a pleasure. Brody wondered if she would've been so hostile if it hadn't been for that one sorry night when he'd had to turn her down—one of the hardest things he'd ever done. While he didn't regret it, he'd sure been sorry to see her move to the city to partake of the favors of corporate life.

And damned glad he'd made his own escape from it.

Judy took a cookie and frowned at her daughter. "So when are you going to introduce me to your fiancé?"

Fiancé? She planned to marry the sap?

"At the wedding, I suppose. He's far too busy to take time off to travel here, but I'll call him this evening and invite him to the ranch to meet you."

The scrumptious cookie turned to sawdust in Brody's mouth and he stopped chewing. So why did his gut feel like it was tied in a half-shank? He shouldn't give two hoots or a holler whether she invited her city boyfriend out here. And he didn't.

"Of course," Rita reiterated, "I'm sure he won't have time."

Judy shrugged. "It seems mighty ungentlemanly of him to marry my daughter without asking me first."

"Oh, Mom! You're so old-fashioned. Couples don't ask consent from their parents anymore."

"Old-fashioned or new-fashioned, there's such a thing as manners."

Brody scooted his chair back and stood, ready to beat a hasty retreat. He didn't mind facing down a two-thousand-pound charging bull, but he'd learned long ago not to get in the middle of a mother-daughter argument. Discussions, they called them.

"Luke and I'll be over at five in the morning to take you to the hospital. Thanks for the cookies and coffee." He nodded at them both, jammed on his hat, and made his escape.

"That won't be necessary," he heard Rita call. But he pretended not to hear. Rita would need help getting Judy home tomorrow evening whether she wanted to admit it or not. Besides, he wouldn't be able to keep Luke away with a brace of Peacemakers and a whip.


* * * * *

Rita stood in the doorway watching Brody drive down the road. She took a deep breath and blinked a few times to get a grip on herself. He'd taken her by surprise, he had. Her heart had skipped a beat while he'd been tussling with the four-legged apple bandit. She cursed her childhood crush on the handsome bullfighter that had stayed with her all these years.

Every girl around had had a crush on him back then. She'd wanted to lay her head on those broad shoulders of his since the day she'd first met him ten years ago. His left front tooth was just a teench crooked, making his smile all that much more engaging. And no one, absolutely no one had such a self-confident strut. The jerk.


She turned to her mother, who had concern written all over her face. "Yes?"

"You can shut the door now."

"Oh." Rita stared at the door, waiting for her mother's instruction to register with her gray matter. "Of course." She pulled the door closed, then grabbed the broom propped on the kitchen wall where her mother had left it. "I'll sweep up. Socrates probably made a mess."

She shoved through the pantry curtains—away from her mother's gaze—so she could have some time to think. Picking up the few strewn apples decorated with mule tooth marks, she lamented that Brody hadn't found her attractive all those years ago. Certainly, that had to be the reason he'd turned her down. After all, his escapades with women were legendary.

She remembered him muttering some nonsense about saving her honor. Hrmmph! Lousy excuse. But if she'd had her way, she might not have such a good life now—a great job and a prestigious fiancé.

David had found her attractive, and looks were of utmost importance to him. Why he'd bought her a membership to the gym and preferred she wear dresses that made frequent visits to the gym very necessary. He enjoyed parading her in front of his friends, and she enjoyed making him happy. She also enjoyed working out, so it certainly wasn't a sacrifice.

In all honesty, though, she'd never been as drawn to David as she had been—and apparently still was—to Brody. But Brody obviously didn't share that attraction, then or now, since he could hardly wait to get away from her.

"Rita, there's not that much floor to sweep. Come on out and help me pack up for the hospital."

"Okay, Mom." She propped the broom in the corner, picked up the apples, and dumped them in the barrel before joining her mother in the kitchen. "I can't believe they're going to rebuild your knee and it's only day surgery."

"They do practically everything in day surgery now. Phyllis —you remember Phyllis at the Pie Palace—had a partial mastectomy and it was day surgery. These days they don't keep you in the hospital unless you're hooked up to an IV and about ready to croak."

"Of course I remember her. How's she doing?"

"She had breast cancer. They got it all, though, and she's doing fine now."

Judy sounded cavalier, but Rita knew deep emotions ran under that shell of understatement. "I'm glad she's okay—must've been really scary."

"Yes, we were concerned, but you know our Phyllis—can't keep her down. She only closed the diner for a few days."

Translation: the neighbors worked the diner for a week while Phyllis bossed them around. On the day and day after her chemo, a neighbor would happen to stop by the diner and assist. Rita knew the ways of country people. Good ways, especially the strong sense of community—truly caring for one another, was what she missed most about being away from home.

"I'll have to drop by the diner and say ‘hi' to her."

"I'm sure she'd like that, but she's coming here the day after my surgery so you can visit then. You'll get to see her boy, too."

"She has a baby?"

"No, a four-year-old boy that some bucklebunny friend of hers left. But he might as well be Phyllis'—he calls her ‘mom' and doesn't even remember his own."

Bucklebunnies, girls who claimed cowboys' trophy buckles in return for sexual favors, had clung to Brody since he first hit the rodeo circuit—not that he seemed to mind.

After changing clothes and catching up on the rest of the local gossip, she made a last-ditch effort to pry some funding out of MOMMI, the charitable organization associated with Pettybottham Enterprises. She'd told her mom and Phyllis that procuring funding for a children's home not under some kind of governmental aegis was futile, but still, she had to try.

"Caroline Pettybottham speaking."

"This is Rita Markham calling about the Grasmere Children's Home."

"The one with no children, no sponsor, and no license?"

"That would be the one. You see, the people in Grasmere want to take care of their own. These children don't need social workers and psychologists—just a roof, warm clothes, and a lot of love. I wrote a proposal covering each of those aspects which you should've received by now."

"I received it. And filed it."

In the circular file, more than likely. "Then you see we have the children's welfare foremost in our plans."

"Miss Markum, you must understand that in order to maintain our status we must adhere to certain standards. Unfortunately, your project comes nowhere close to what I can allow."

Rita's heart sank. She'd given several thousand dollars to the project herself, but it wasn't nearly enough. Even after they built the house, the budget had to include operation and maintenance costs, and more importantly, the children needed money for care. If ever there was a time to cowboy up, it was now. By hook or by crook, those children would be cared for right here in Grasmere where they belonged.

She spent the rest of the day making applesauce—three dozen pints of it. Rita didn't care if she ever ate another bite of the stuff. Her mom hovered, always wanting to help and not the least bit comfortable with having someone else take over her kitchen.

"You might as well get used to it." Rita screwed rings on the last seven jars. "You won't be cooking for at least a couple of weeks yet." At least, not if she had anything to say about it.

This was the first time in Rita's memory that her mom had ever shown physical infirmity. She'd cooked meals, collected eggs, and fed cattle through bouts of colds and flu, sprains and pulls, rashes and bruises.

"How many head of cattle do you have now? And who's feeding them?"

"Fifty-three head, and I'm feeding them, of course. They're my cattle."

"I'll be feeding them as long as I'm here, starting tonight. Just let me know what and where."

"Luke can feed them. You don't need nasty calluses on your pretty hands. Rita, I told you not to come out here. I'd have done fine by myself, and you have a busy schedule to keep—and a rich man on a string, too."

Rita placed the final batch of jars in the canner and turned the burner to high. "I refuse to let you go through this by yourself. You'd never leave me in a lurch if I needed help. Besides, David will do fine for a few weeks, and when I get back I'll work out the final details of the wedding."

While the jars cooled and sealed, Rita took the apple peelings to the backyard and threw them to the chickens. No matter where she looked, memories flooded in. A sawhorse with steer horns nailed to one end leaned against the barn. Her dad had tried to teach her to rope, but she'd never been very good. She tried hard, though, because she didn't want him to show her again, since every time he threw the rope he was in deep pain even though he didn't let on. But she knew. And it was hard for him to keep his balance in the wheelchair.

Enough reminiscing.

Back in the house, she wiped the sticky counters clean. This sort of work was exactly why she'd rather be number-crunching in Seattle. She could buy applesauce at Safeway.

"I guess we'd better get you some supper, Mom. It's nearly five o'clock and you aren't supposed to eat anything after six." She grabbed some green beans and a spaghetti squash from the cupboard.

Judy limped to the refrigerator and opened it. "I'll fry up the chicken."

"No, you won't!" Rita commandeered the chicken and led her mother back to her chair. "I didn't come clear out here from Seattle just to watch you stand in front of a hot stove on your sore knee."

"I'm not too hungry, so don't fix much for me."

"I'll fix a whole meal. Remember, it'll be a long time before you get to eat again." Rita hated to admit it, but she actually enjoyed doing things for her mother. It was kind of a payback, she supposed. Her mother had always knocked herself out trying to meet her daughter's needs, and most of her wants, too. "You're probably just nervous."

"How long are you planning to stay?"

Rita picked up a spatula and scooted the Crisco around in the hot skillet. "The doctor said you won't be up and about for six weeks, so that's how long I'll be here. I had some vacation coming, plus I took four weeks' unpaid leave."

Her mother sighed, then cleared her throat in that way of hers when she had something uncomfortable to ask. "So doesn't your David mind you being away from him?"

Dredging the chicken breasts in seasoned flour, Rita placed them in the pan. Did David mind? Yes. He'd expressed his disappointment that she wouldn't be there to supervise construction of their new home in an upmarket neighborhood on Mercer Island. And he'd insisted that she finish the financial reports she'd been helping him with. Actually, helping wasn't quite the correct term, since she'd done all the research, calculations, spreadsheets, and write-ups herself. But he'd do the same for her.

"Rita? You're a million miles away."

"Oh, I'm just concentrating on the cooking. I don't cook much in Seattle, you know."

She glanced at her mother, who wore a decidedly skeptical expression. Darn, she never could fool her mother. Yes, coming here was a pain in the rear, but her mother needed her, and she was here. That was that.

"Brody's as handsome as ever, isn't he?"

Warmth crept up Rita's cheeks as she concentrated on stringing the beans. "Yes, Mom. Handsome as the devil." Her knife slipped and she nearly took a hunk of her thumb along with the string. For the first five years after she'd left home, Brody had been her first hope when she woke up and her last dream before she drifted off to sleep. But she was over him now.

"A helpful neighbor, too."

"I'm sure he is."

"He and Luke came over this spring and plowed and harrowed my garden."

"That's nice." She rinsed the beans, plopped them in a saucepan with water and salt, and put them on the stove to boil.

"When we had a fundraiser for the children's home, Brody donated two beeves."

"Two's more than one."

"Yup. And when the bills closed in on me, he lent me some money. I told him I'd go over and fix him a meal and clean his house once a week."

"I bet he needed his house cleaned more than he needed the money."

"Rita! Well," her mother conceded, "there's some truth to that. Anyway the agreement goes through January."

Rita froze. It was September. Did her mother expect her to clean Brody's house and fix his meals? Obviously, yes. She squeezed her eyes shut and sighed. Of course she would help her mother meet her obligations, but going to Brody's house every day seemed a bit above and beyond the call of duty.

"There's one thing, though. I don't want you spoiling things with your city boyfriend."

"Why would you think I'd do a stupid thing like that? David and I are in love."

Her mother frowned in obvious doubt. "A man like Brody can sweet-talk the chirp right out of a sparrow. Stay away from his charm, or you'll end up barefoot and pregnant, married to a broken-down cowboy. There's no future in that, honey."

Her mom was right. Rita didn't know how she could avoid melting like a teenage virgin every time he glanced her way. But that's exactly how he made her feel.

* * * * *

Five a.m. came way too soon for Rita. Armed with an insulated cup of strong coffee, she felt a little sorry for her mother, who could only have the smallest sips of water, and only for meds, before her surgery.

"I'll warm up the car."

"No need. Brody and Luke will be here in no time."

"Hmph! You've been telling me all my life, ‘No cowboys,' yet here you are, letting not one, but two of them take you to the hospital."

On cue, an extended-cab pickup with a camper that had Brody Alexander—Rodeo Bullfighter and Clown emblazoned on the side pulled into the driveway, over the grass, and rolled to a stop directly in front of the kitchen door. Luke opened the passenger door and made a gimpy, but hasty jump out. "Ready?"

Before Rita could respond, Judy hobbled out of the house. Luke helped her into the back seat and buckled her in. Rita wasn't sure what she thought of such an intimate gesture, but maybe she made too much of it. Then Luke hopped in beside Judy—amazingly agile for an old busted-up bullrider—and Rita instantly took a disliking to him. He seemed entirely too familiar with her mother.

Rita held her tongue, but later she'd give her mother the same lecture that she'd received when she was a teenager and again last night—No cowboys!

Brody waved at Rita and she nodded back, doing her best to remain calm at the sight of him—bullfighters counted as cowboys. No, they were worse than cowboys.

Gripping her travel mug of strong coffee, she climbed into the passenger seat beside him. She had no idea he had a brand new rig, and she wondered why he had chosen to drive the old beater Chevy the day before. But it was none of her concern. He was none of her concern. She'd told herself that the entire previous sleepless night.

In fact, she wouldn't even think about him.

Or how his Old Spice after-shave made her want to run her fingertips along his jaw.

Or how he was only a foot away from her and she could easily reach out and put her hand on his thigh.

Or how he somehow pulled her gaze to him without doing a thing.

She squeezed her eyes shut. This two-hour drive promised to be a very long one. For sure.

* * * * *

Brody stole a glance at the pretty filly sitting in the passenger seat every chance he got. He just couldn't get enough of her, even though her stiff posture and pinched lips spelled stay away. He should pay heed, too, because he smelled trouble lurking about her tempting flowery perfume.

But then, he never could resist a challenge.

Not that he'd had many when it came to women. Challenges, that is. He'd always had all the women he wanted. As long as they stayed their distance afterward, he was a happy man. A few times he'd been momentarily caught in some bucklebunny's net, but not often and certainly not recently.

He glanced at her again. Keep your eyes on the road and drive, buddy. This was going to be a long trip.

Ninety minutes later, the hospital finally came into view—a sight Brody never thought he'd actually be happy to see—and he pulled into the passenger loading zone of the Outpatient Surgery Center.

A nurse who sat on the bench sipping a Diet Coke broke into a wide grin when she saw him and waved. He rolled down the window.

"Hey, Brenda."

She ran to his door. "Hi, Brody! You here for another patch job?"

"No, darlin', I brought the neighbor lady in for knee surgery. Do you have Judy Markum on your list?"

"Sure do. I'll get an orderly out here to wheel her in." As she turned to go back into the building, she asked, "Want to go out for drinks later?"

He shook his head. "Next time. I'm taking Mrs. Markum home after surgery. Two-hour drive, you know."

The nurse shrugged. "Darn. But I'll see you around today."

After she left, Brody killed the motor and got out of the rig to open Rita's door. He knew he was in a heap of trouble the second he saw the blaze ignite in her eyes. Women were a puzzlement.

"I knew I should've brought Mom here myself!" She jumped out and jammed her hands on her hips. "Do you know the odds are that you'll be in the hospital three times this season?" She leaned forward. "And did you know that by the time you reach thirty-five, that number will probably increase by two?"

Stepping closer, she wagged her finger in his face. "And did you know that odds are that if you've dated that nurse, that you've probably dated—if you call it that—at least six nurses at this hospital alone? That is, of course, if there are twenty single women working here." She swatted her hands together, turned her back on him, and stomped off.

Brody realized his jaw sagged at her ridiculous calculations, and snapped his mouth shut. She was wrong. He'd only dated four women from this hospital. He'd spent considerably more time in the Boise hospital.

Luke stepped up, shook his head, and hooked his thumbs over his belt buckle. "What did ya say to crinkle her hair, Romeo?"

"Beats me." Brody rubbed the stubble on his chin as he watched an orderly wheel a chair toward the pickup. "But that woman needs to do a little more livin' and a lot less math."

* * * * *

ISBN: 978-0-9800356-8-1
See the Book Video, featuring Justin Saragueta
Buy the book

To keep up on the latest news from Jacquie Rogers

and for a chance to win Free Stuff

Subscribe to Keely's Contest & News Group
Click on Keely to join Keely's Contest & News Group
Powered by Faery Magic!

This page updated October 12, 2008
All content, including graphics copyright © Jacquie D Rogers 2005-2008, All rights reserved.