I am proud to announce the release of the third story in my western historical “Dorado, Texas” series, My Heart Knew. The story of Maisie and Dylan first appeared in an anthology but this novella has been expanded and revised.
Tomboy Maisie Treadwell is restless, feeling confined in her small Texas frontier town. From the moment she meets cowboy Dylan MacInnes, the sparks and words fly. Of course, if she didn’t cause his ankle sprain, their relationship might have gone more smoothly. To appease her mother’s worries over the boarding house’s reputation, Maisie is at the mercy of meeting Dylan’s demands. A shared interest in adventure stories draws them closer. Soon, Maisie can’t wait to spend time reading aloud to the recuperating virile man. Until the afternoon she overhears him explaining that his demands were meant to teach her a lesson. Can Dylan find a way to again win her trust?
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The sound of a throat clearing made her whirl and swipe the back of her hand at the hot tears tracking down her cheeks. “Oh.”
Mister MacInnes filled the doorway, balancing on his right foot with a rough-cut tree branch under his left arm as a crutch. “Ready for me?”
Those three words struck her like a match to kindling. Many times Maisie had been inside a boarder’s room with that male present. But never had her palms itched like they did now. Could that be guilt? Or some other feeling? Quickly, she set down the volumes and ran a hand over the quilt, wondering if he’d be bothered by daisies and summer ferns. “A straight-back chair usually sits by the window, and I’ll have to locate it. Or I can carry in a cushioned one from the parlor. And bring in a footstool.” Hoping to move the attention away from her babbling, she swept a hand in that direction. “I’ve placed an extra pillow for resting your foot on the bed.” What was she saying? The fully-grown man knew why the pillow had been put there.
Mister MacInnes stared at the bed with a narrowed gaze and then shook his head. “Let’s try the bed.”
“What?” She jerked and stepped back, knocking a boot heel against the wall. Heat flamed in her cheeks, but she restrained herself from covering them with her hands. The heightened color drew enough attention to her embarrassed state.
He flicked his gaze to the pillow and back to her before speaking. “I meant, could you help position the pillow under my foot? Maybe even fold it double.”
“Of course, sir.” Maisie slid the pillow tight against the carved wooden footboard and waited as he limped across the rag rug and eased onto the quilt-covered mattress. This man was so tall he might not fit in her bed.
The ropes supporting the straw mattress creaked under his weight, and he scooted until he’d centered his large body in the bed. Clasping both hands under his knee, he lifted and then jerked his head. “Okay, slide it under.”
Maisie jumped forward to comply to center the pillow. “There, how does that feel?”
“As good as can be expected for having a sprained ankle.”
The mention of his injury shot contrition through her. “I want to tell you how truly sorry I am about running into you and causing this.” She swung a hand toward his bandaged foot and accidentally bumped it.
“Damnation, girl.” He sucked in a lungful of air through clenched teeth.
“Oh, I’m so clumsy. Again, I apologize, Mister MacInnes.” To keep from causing another accident, she clamped both arms around her middle. Not until she spotted his granite-stiff expression relax did she breath out a sigh of relief. She pitched her voice low. “And I’ll be thanking you for not revealing to my mother the composition of what I was wearing when first we met.”
Mister MacInnes cocked an eyebrow and looked toward the doorway. “She doesn’t know her daughter dresses like a man and rides alone on the prairie.”