Monthly Archives: July 2010

Menu

Wednesday: Chicken, broccoli in sauce, rice

Thursday: BBQ chicken or broiled chicken, coleslaw

i think i am going to stick the chicken in the crockpot to cook some and then grill it on my mini BBQ so the house stays cooler.

Friday: Tortilla soup with toppings

Saturday: Chebureki, cucumber and tomato salad

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday:  Potato hash, cucumbers, tomatoes

Tuesday: Enchiladas, cut up vegetables

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Filed under Bargain Dinners, Recipes

My chicken dish tonight….

I wanted to make some kind of chicken curry, but instead…. I ran short on time and energy and ended up making a funny dish that was really good. I am not sure what it was. It was 8 when i got to eat dinner…..

I heated some oil and added some garlic and some chili peppers, a little curry powder and browned 2 chicken thighs. Then  I added  green pepper and simmered it until tender. I added crushed pineapple with some soy sauce, black pepper, salt, and some cornstarch and added it and cooked until thick and ate it over rice. Not sure what it was….but it was good….or I was really hungry! It was good with my pita bread!

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Missing Max by Karen Young

Missing Max

by Karen Young

Read by Laural Merlington

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

My Review:

Kyle and Jane were a typical family of busy lawyers until one day at New Orlean’s Mardis Gras that changed their life forever. When baby Max is kidnapped  and there is no sign or talk of anything from the kidnappers, it is tearing their lives apart even 6 months later.  Suddenly, the family is hit by more changes, talk of divorce is circulating, problems at work and does Jane have a stalker?

This was an audio book and not just an audio book, but for me, was on my computer and was 9 hours long…so it took me awhile to get it listened to. I am a speed reader, so it was hard for me to learn how not to get frustrated with the fact that i listened for 2 hours and was just in the beginning still. But  as a book, it was compelling and tough. It begins with what happened, then dwells over a month or two for quite awhile and then skips ahead briefly to sum it all up. It was hard as a mother to not relate to Jane and her pain of losing a child and not knowing. It was hard not to be frustrated with her husband.

This book is something that you could listen to with your older children/teens in the car. There was only a few times when it talked about elements I was uncomfortable with children hearing, but it was tasteful. Pre-martial s*x is spoken of though, as well as divorce, lack of lovemaking and the brief mention of  a chance of infidelity. I mention this because i know many parents look for audio books to listen to in the car on trips. It would be a good one if it was just older children. There are also a couple of  intense scenes with tornados etc.

Overall, this would have been a book I would have read, not listened to audio book, but I will recommend it to ones who like audio books that keep you awake. It would do that!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this audiobook free from Oasis Audio as part of their Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

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Baptism at church today

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The young people getting baptized

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The little boys playing in the trees during the service
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Another angle…..

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Some of the little girls…

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The men singing

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One of the girls

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Another two
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A young man- notice the floating letters, balloons and roses floating on the water. It was pretty!

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Part of the group
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Another part….I could not get the whole group in a picture….there were more behind me.
It was a large group with some visitors and some other relatives from the area as well. The lake was so gorgeous! It was a beautiful day!

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Ransomed Dreams by Sally John

My Review:

I just got this book last week, so sadly have not had a chance to read it yet, but am planning on reading it tonight and updating this review. That said, I am looking forward to it as Sally John is an excellent author and always delivers a good read and i could use one of those!
Alright, here is the real review!!
Sheridan’s life is changed when an assassin’s bullet slams into her husband, kills her best friend and severely traumatizes her. 18 months later she face once again with dealing with parts of a painful past. Her husband is a shell of the person she married and she wonders how to go on. Facing a past she wish she could leave hidden, her dying father, a controlling sister and an uncertain future with a husband she wonders even knows she is alive is enough to send anyone curling in a fetal ball.
Sally John has a way of taking real life family issues and using them to make us look at our own lives in a new way. She addresses real issues of trust being broken in a marriage, dealing with pain from the past and using God to deal with it. Her books are better than any non-fiction how to save your marriage book. They will help you to look inside yourself and wonder how you can learn from Sheridan’s lessons. Excellent book! -Martha

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Ransomed Dreams (Side Roads)

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (June 7, 2010)

***Special thanks to Vicky Lynch of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

When the going gets tough—or weird or wonderful—the daydreamer gets going on a new story. Sally John has been tweaking life’s moments into fiction since she read her first Trixie Belden mystery as a child.

Now an author of more than fifteen novels, Sally writes stories that reflect contemporary life. Her passion is to create a family, turn their world inside out, and then portray how their relationships change with each other and with God. Her goal is to offer hope to readers in their own relational and faith journeys.

Sally grew up in Moline, Illinois, graduated from Illinois State University, married Tim in 1973, and taught in middle schools. She is a mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother. A three-time finalist for the Christy Award, she also teaches writing workshops. Her books include the Safe Harbor series (coauthored with Gary Smalley), The Other Way Home series, The Beach House series, and In a Heartbeat series. Many of her stories are set in her favorite places of San Diego, Chicago, and small-town Illinois.

She and her husband currently live in southern California.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (June 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414327854
ISBN-13: 978-1414327853

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Topala, Mexico

Eighteen months later

Like everything about the small village tucked into the foothills of the Sierra Madres in central Mexico, sunrise was a leisurely event.

Sheridan waited for it, tea mug in hand, shawl over her cotton nightgown, bare feet chilled against the tile floor of the second-story balcony. Alone, she listened in the dark to the squawk of roosters and clung to their promise that the world would once again know light.

“Oh, good grief,” she murmured to herself with a groan. “That is so maudlin. Truly and hopelessly maudlin. You might try something more chipper. Something like . . . Something like . . .” Her foggy brain offered nothing.

She scrunched her nose in defeat. The morning had shuffled in on the heels of a sleepless night. Chipper was not going to happen, no matter how hard she tried to talk herself into it.

If she could turn the calendar back eighteen months, she would not be talking to herself. No. Eliot would be right next to her, responding, most likely pointing out a dozen chipper thoughts in that funny way of his.

Nostalgia and regret hit her, a powerful one-two punch that still took her breath away. She clenched her teeth, waiting for it to pass, mentally spewing forth a verbal attack at the counselor who had promised her that time healed all wounds, that month by month they would see improvement.

What drivel that was! Eighteen months—or to be more precise, seventeen months, three weeks, and two days; but who was counting? All that time had passed and only one thing was healed: Eliot’s gunshot wound. His other wounds, the invisible ones, still oozed like toxins from a waste dump site. He was not the same man she had married.

Sheridan took a deep breath and let the bitter argument go. Nostalgia and regret settled back down into whatever corner of her heart they’d found to hide out in. Their impact, though, lingered.

Would time ever erase her longing for the Eliot she had married? The animated one, the one others adored, the one who was engaged in every detail of life, whether simple or complex, with every person who crossed his path. The one from B.C.E., Before the Caracas Episode. Now, in their A.C.E. days, he might as well be a deaf-mute for all the interest he showed in the world around him.

Sleep-deprived, she totally blamed him. She didn’t mean to. It wasn’t like he had much of a choice. The bullet that shattered his nerves shattered their life. Everything about it was over. Health, career, home, friends. All gone. Kaput. Some days she barely recognized herself and Eliot. Where were the Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery she once knew? These routines, hometown, health, acquaintances, and even personalities seemed lifted from the pages of some stranger’s biography.

“Oh, honestly. Get over it already, Sher.” She forced a swallow of tea and focused on the scene before her.

A lone sunbeam pierced between two mountain peaks and sliced into the distant mists. Another followed. And another and another until finally pure light broke free. Valleys and canyons burst into sight. Loud birdsong erupted. Then, as if God had uncurled His fist, long fingers of sunlight shot forth and touched the wrought-iron railing where she stood.

It was achingly gorgeous.

Sheridan flicked at a tear seeping from the corner of her eye. “You should have stayed in bed, you foolish, stubborn woman.”

Sunrises were the worst because they represented the best of what had been.

Most days she could ignore that thought. Evidently not today. She and Eliot were morning people. Had been morning people. Their daily ritual of tea and conversation at an east-facing view, awaiting dawn, was seldom missed. With crazy-full schedules, they needed such a time to relate on the deepest levels. Some days their hearts positively danced and sang in union. Naturally, through the years the tune changed now and then, the tempo sped up and slowed down, but the music never stopped. It never stopped. They always talked. They always connected.

Until that day in Caracas.

Now she watched sunrises by herself.

“You really should’ve stayed in bed.”

But it was so beautiful. And it went on and on like a slow waltz. At the bottom of her street now, purple haze still shrouded the town square. The sky brightened in slow motion above it, the fiery ball itself still hiding behind a peak.

Something moved in the semidarkness below. A person. Early risers were not uncommon, but she was startled. Something felt off about this one.

Or was that just her hypervigilance? Compliments of the incident in Caracas, it kicked into gear at times without warning, filling her with anxiety and suspicion.

Now she could see that it was a man. He passed the bandstand, his strides too deliberate for a villager, too American. He headed straight for the steep incline that led up to her house. In city terms, the distance was perhaps a block. In Topala terms, it was simply up beyond the sculptor’s shop.

The sun overtook the peaks and the man came into view.

“No way.” Her heartbeat slowed, but not quite to normal.

Even with his face concealed by a ball cap, his body clothed in a generic khaki jacket and blue jeans, a city block separating them, she recognized him. She recognized him simply because the air vibrated with him.

Luke Traynor owned whatever space he occupied.

Sheridan set the mug on the table beside her, tightened the shawl around her shoulders, and massaged her left arm. She felt no surprise at his unannounced arrival nor at the early hour. It was as if she had always expected him to show up sooner or later.

But as he climbed the narrow street, an uneasiness rose within her. Her muscles tensed. Why was he here? He had promised not to come. Sixteen months ago he promised. Not that she was keeping track. . . .

The sound of a soft whistle drew her attention back toward the square. Javier, the young sculptor, stood on the porch steps outside his shop. Behind him, the handicraft shop owner emerged from his door.

Javier raised his chin in question.

Sheridan gave a half nod. They needn’t be concerned. The stranger was, so to speak, a known quantity. Not that she felt the least bit glad to see Luke. Eliot would most likely be severely distressed at his arrival.

Wishing Luke were an apparition did not make it so. He continued his steady pace, arms swinging gently, head down as if he studied the cobblestones, making his way to her house.

Since that day in Caracas—the day her husband died in every sense except physically, the day this man saved her life—Sheridan had understood intuitively that Luke would always be a part of her life. And there he was, out of the blue, ascending her street in the middle of nowhere on a spring day as if he visited all the time.

She suddenly remembered the date. “Good grief.”

It was Annunciation Day, a day of remembrance, of celebration for when the angel Gabriel visited Mary and announced her future. How apropos. Luke appeared without warning. He would not have come unless he had something to tell her, some message that would irreversibly change her future.

Was this his joke or God’s?

Luke neared and looked up, straight at her.

She saw not the man whose presence had always triggered apprehension in her, but rather the guardian angel who had saved her life.

Sheridan turned and made her way inside, down the stairs, and through the house.

* * *

Sheridan opened the front door and stopped.

Luke Traynor stood less than six feet away, at the low gate in the stone wall where her front terrace met the steep hill.

She returned his steady gaze, knowing full well her own expression did not mirror the one before her. While dread, relief, and excessive gratitude rearranged every muscle on her face, his remained perfectly composed. The sharp nose, thin lips, and deep-set eyes could have been made of the same cobblestone he stood on.

He flashed a rakish grin. “I was in the neighborhood.”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

He cocked his head, somber again. Always the gentleman, he waited for her to make the first move.

Sheridan clutched her shawl more closely and resigned herself to riding out the emotional disarray rumbling through her. She both loathed and loved this man. Of course he knew that, so it didn’t matter how she reacted to him except that she’d like herself better if she were polite.

With a quiet sigh, she walked to him, planted a kiss on his scruffy, unshaven cheek, and eased into his embrace. Nestled against the rough collar of his jacket, she smelled the familiar scent of him, an indescribable mix of earth, sun-drenched air, and confidence that bordered on lunacy. She felt the hardness of his body, always unexpected given his average height and build.

“Sheridan. How are you?”

“Fine.” She backed away, crossing her arms.

“And Eliot?” he said. “How is he?”

“Fine.”

Luke blinked, a slow movement of lids indicating he could take the truth.

She wanted to shriek obscenities at him. The disconcerting thing about angels, though, was that it was impossible to keep up any sort of pretense. Like an angel, Luke had stayed close beside her for long weeks after the shooting. He had gone with her to the edge of hell, holding on to her until she came back. He knew her better than she knew herself. Glossing over answers was a waste of time with him.

She tried another phrase. “We’re doing about as well as could be expected.”

He nodded.

“Eliot is still asleep.”

“It’s early. Perhaps I can greet him later.”

The resistance drained from her. Yes, Gabriel had come to deliver a message, and he would not leave until he’d done so.

She had no inkling how to shield Eliot and herself from this unexpected source of distress but gave a lame attempt. “I don’t suppose you’re passing through town and simply must be on your way right now, this very minute?”

“Sorry.”

She inhaled, her shoulders lifting with the effort, and blew the breath out with force. “Coffee?”

“Love some.”

Excerpted from Ransomed Dreams by Sally John. Copyright 2010 by Sally John. Used with permission from Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

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Working on trying to be a good mother…

When i saw some sales for back to school products, i have to admit, I had a panic moment. I was planning on doing more school this summer, but instead, couldn’t. i had to take a break for my sanity. I also, even though what we used was great, i am trying something that should make life easier too next year. I still have to buy a few more things, decide on some school for my second grader which is stressing me out, but life will go by and I want to remember having fun with them.

Today however, i was gone from the house from 9 am-5:30 pm. It was a nice day, but i really wanted to be home too. Instead part of the day, I watched Emma with my sister and drank tea. It was great.  We also got my husband his DOT physical, bough produce, did swimming lessons, VBS, library, went to some garage sales and  I am probably forgetting something. We ate dinner outside…..it was nice, except for some bees who briefly checked out our watermelon.

Something strange this evening, I look out and there is a large crow on my porch eating my flowers!!! I was upset and went out and scared him off, but why? Why does he have to eat my flowers? Of course, it had to be a him….as no girl crow would think it was okay to eat flowers…right?

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Menu for the week

My husband has been gone alot for dinner this past couple weeks and we have been surviving on sandwiches, pasta etc. for meals mostly.
But I figured I better plan some things..
Wednesday: Bean and cheese burritos
Thursday: Sad to say bean and cheese burritos again, but only because they begged for them!
Friday: Hamburgers with tomatoes, lettuce etc, watermelon, cucumbers. I had taco salad

Saturday: Potato soup, Huckleberry muffins

Sunday: Breakfast for dinner, pancakes, eggs, fruit- popcorn

Monday: Pizza, salad

Tuesday: Chicken curry, pita bread, rice- not sure where to get the recipe, but I will look

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Little blessings

Yesterday, I drove down to see my sister and family. I got to sit with Mishael while she held Ellina. It was really nice to be able to do that.  She had put a chili/taco soup in the crockpot and we had that with lots of toppings, kind of like taco salad. We made some oatmeal raisin cookies, cleaned up and went back over to change Ellina’s diaper and all. She decided to wet all over her bedding…..which was so normal, it was funny!

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(Notice the thermometer for size)

It was a crowded room then to sleep and i woke up at about 7 am and got ready to go. We left at 8, but then had to turn around and go all the way back as P. forgot his glasses. That is such a long drive. Driving is still so difficult for me, so it was  a stretch, but I made it. I got home and got ready for church. T. and I went to church and T. slept the whole service…..over 3 hours, so you have to know he was really tired, but I felt really refreshed somehow from being able to pray, read the bible and was just thrilled when I am understanding a bunch and getting so much out of somethings. It is hard when you are tired and you are working so hard to understand, but today it was a real blessing.

Tomorrow is another day and I hope I can keep going, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

As the one minister was sharing today about  the three young men in the fiery furnace, I read that passage that gets me every time, but this time, it touched me again.

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:17, 18, KJV.

I realized that even in these hard things, we pray and ask God for things, to deliver us, we struggle with our faith, wondering if He will deliver us, but that i saw, with this verse is truly faith. We can believe in a God enough that we can serve Him, stand up for what we know is right and have faith in Him, even if He does not deliver us from the hard things and going through the fiery furnaces of this life.

It is not always believing that we are going to be spared, but that we know and trust in His will to do what is best.

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Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson

Resurrection in May
Written by Lisa Samson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

When kindly old Claudius Borne picks up May on the side of the road after a drunken party night, care for her and treats her like the daughter he never had, it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship and something more.

May travels the world and after suffering through a genocide in Rwanda that leaves her scarred on the inside and the outside. Claudius works to help her heal and other special people God brings into her life who have suffered as well, like an old boyfriend who is a  murderer on death row now, a kindly nun, and the postman.

May is afraid to the leave the house and rarely does, but through letter writing, some interviews and love from many people, you will read this book of pain and healing and it’s many hurting characters.

You will fall in love with them in spite of yourself and feel the pain she was feeling with overly descriptiveness.

I think this is the best book I have read by Lisa Samson. She really captured the heart of pain, hurt and healing in a novel like many cannot.

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Beautiful Bandit by Loree Lough

My Review:
Joshua is a rancher in Texas when he witnesses a bank robbery. When one of the robbers is suspected of being a woman and the search begins. kate Wellington, forced to participate in a bank heist, escapes from her captors and runs into Josh who offers to help her and escort her across the border to Mexico and safety. But an ankle injury puts a kink in her plans and she ends up at his ranch for awhile and starts getting close to the family. Only known as “Dinah” to him and his family, she dreads to think what they will think if they find out the truth. She knows she is in danger of hanging, even if it was not her fault.

This book seemed like one I had read before, the story line is not new, but Loree Lough puts some new twists on it and for sure keeps you engaged. I wanted her to tell the truth right at the beginning, but I know, then there would be no story!
Ms. Lough weaves the gospel and salvation message also into this romantic texas western story with guns, bad guys and bandits and gives us a good many things to think about! -Martha

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Beautiful Bandit (Lone Star Legends V1)

Whitaker House (August 3, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

At last count, Loree had 73 books (fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults; one novel optioned for a TV movie; and many more slated for release), 63 short stories, and more than 2,500 articles in print. Her stories have earned dozens of industry and “Readers’ Choice” awards. A frequent guest speaker for writers’ organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, corporations, college and high school writing programs and more, Loree has encouraged thousands with her comedic approach to ‘learned-the-hard-way’ lessons about the craft and the industry.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (August 3, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742255
ISBN-13: 978-1603742252

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

May 1888

San Antonio, Texas

The hot, sticky air in the banker’s cluttered office made it hard to breathe. Josh ran a fingertip under his stiff collar as the image of cows, dropping by the thousand, reminded him of why he’d come to San Antonio. Selling a couple thousand uncontaminated acres from his family’s ranch, the Lazy N, was the only way to protect the land that remained until they were able to get the anthrax infection under control.

He did his best not to glare at the decorous Bostonian, Griffen, sitting beside him. It wasn’t the Swede’s fault, after all, that the disease had killed so many of the Nevilles’ cattle. In his shoes, Josh would have snapped up the land just as quickly. Trouble was, now this la-di-da Easterner would move to Eagle Pass, bringing his never-been-out-of-the-city wife and children with him. Worse yet, Josh had a sneaking suspicion that the former printing press operator would make a regular pest of himself by asking about the Texas climate, irrigation methods, when to plant, and only the good Lord knew what else. If that didn’t earn Josh a seat closer to the Throne, he didn’t know what would.

Few things agitated him more than sitting in one spot. Especially indoors. Confusion at how these fancy gents managed to look so calm and cool only added to his restlessness. He hung his Stetson on his left knee, mostly to occupy his hands in some way. Now, as the banker explained the terms of the agreement, Josh stared hard at the bloodred Persian rug under his boots and searched his mind for something else to focus on, anything other than the wretched document that would transfer ownership of Neville land to this foreigner. Moving his Stetson to his right knee, he remembered the day he’d bought the hat, and how he’d purchased another just like it one year later, when business at the Lazy N had put him back in Garland. One for riding the range, one for his wedding.

Strange, he thought, how Sadie could appear in his mind’s eye from out of nowhere, even after three long years without her. He forced her from his mind. This get-together was more than painful enough without his dwelling on the most agonizing period of his life. Josh exhaled a harsh sigh, hoping the banker and the Swede hadn’t heard the tremor in it. For his agitation, he blamed the oppressive heat. His empty stomach. The ten-day ride from Eagle Pass that had left him so bone-tired, he couldn’t sleep, even on the hotel’s pillow-soft mattress. A body would think that an establishment with Persian rugs and velvet curtains could afford to provide some cold water for its clients, he thought, loosening his string tie as Griffen asked yet another inane question. Father, give me the strength to keep from grabbing those papers and hotfooting it out of here without making the deal! he prayed silently.

Sadly, his thoughts were doing little to distract him from the grim truth.

He had cast the single dissenting vote at the family meeting, and the decision to sell the land had become even more odious to him when it had been decided that, as the only Neville with a law degree, Josh would be responsible for transacting the sale. He groaned inwardly at the sorry state of affairs, leaning forward to hide the tears that burned in his eyes. He loved every blessed acre—especially those acres—that made up the Lazy N. He’d built a small but solid home for Sadie and himself on that section of the ranch, and having to hand it over to someone else hurt almost as much as burying Sadie had.

Griffen, God bless him, had been the one to suggest that Josh hold on to the precious acre where she had been buried, along with their twins, who had died at birth. When Josh had asked permission to visit their graves from time to time, Griffen’s pale eyes had darkened a shade, and he had said, “I’d be a wreck in your position. We will build a fence around the land to make sure your little family is never disturbed.” But Josh had known, even as he’d nodded in agreement, that having to cross Griffen property to reach his family would only heap one misery atop another.

Josh grabbed his Stetson and, with his elbows propped on his knees, spun it round and round as he watched, through the window, three men and a woman dismount sweaty horses. They looked as tense and restless as he felt, and he wondered what unfortunate family business had brought them to the bank today.

“If you’ll just sign here, Mr. Neville,” Thomas Schaeffer said, redirecting Josh’s attention to his own, unfortunate family business.

He accepted the banker’s fountain pen. As its freshly inked nib hovered over the document, a bead of sweat trickled down his spine, and he felt a disturbing kinship with the fat hen his ma had roasted for dinner last Sunday.

Outside, the wind blew steadily, swirling street grit into tiny twisters that skittered up the parched road before bouncing under buggies and scurrying into alleyways. Even the burning breeze would feel better than this choking heat. “Mind if I open the window? I’m sweatin’ like a—”

“I’d much rather you didn’t,” he said, peering over the rims of his gold-trimmed spectacles. “The wind is likely to scatter our paperwork hither and yon.”

Hither and yon, indeed. Josh had read sayings like that in literature, but what kind of person actually used that sort of language in everyday speech? His musings over the annoying situation were interrupted by the sounds of shuffling footsteps and coarse whispers from the other side of the banker’s office door.

The commotion put a stern frown on Schaeffer’s heat-reddened face. “I declare,” he said through clenched teeth, “I can’t take my eyes off that fool assistant of mine for fifteen minutes without some sort of mayhem erupting.” Blotting his forehead with a starched white hanky, he continued grumbling, “Looks like I’ll have no choice but to replace him.” Shoving the eyeglasses higher, he lifted his chin and one bushy gray eyebrow—a not-so-subtle cue for Josh to sign the paper.

So, gritting his teeth, Josh inhaled a sharp breath, scratched his name on the thin, black line, and traded the pen for the banknote Schaeffer handed him.

On his feet now, Griffen grabbed Josh’s hand. “T’ank you,” he said, shaking it, “been a pleasure doing business wit’ you, Neville.”

Unable to make himself say, “Likewise,” Josh forced a stiff smile and pocketed the check. “You bet.” God willing, the worst was behind his family now.

The burnished, brass pendulum of the big clock behind the banker’s desk swayed left with an audible tick as the men prepared to go their separate ways.

It swung right as gunshots rang out in the lobby.

Schaeffer and Griffen ran for the door, but a flurry of activity outside drew Josh’s attention back to the window.

Tick….

It was the foursome he’d seen earlier, now scrambling up into their saddles. A lumpy burlap sack rested on the meaty rump of the biggest man’s mount, and sunlight glinted from his pistol.

Tick….

Now Josh knew why the bunch had looked so nervous before. They’d been just about to rob the bank! He yanked out his sidearm, pulled back the hammer with one hand, and threw open the window with the other, hoping to get off a shot or two before the robbers were swallowed up by the cyclone of grit kicked up by their horses’ hooves.

Tick….

Perched on the sill, Josh took aim at the shoulder of the fattest bandit, just as the woman’s pony veered right, putting her square in the center of his gun sight.

Tick….

She looked back as Josh released the pressure on the sweat-slicked trigger.

Tick….

Quick as you please, she faced front again, her cornflower blue skirt flapping like a tattered sail as she was swallowed up in a thick cloud of dust.

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