Read Her Texas Family Online

Authors: Jill Lynn

Her Texas Family

Falling for the Single Dad

Moving to a small Texas town, Lucy Grayson is looking to live life on her own terms. When she agrees to take a job in Doctor Graham Redmond's office, the two instantly clash. The same can't be said for the widower's daughter. They quickly form a bond when Lucy begins teaching the little girl to dance. Graham soon realizes how good Lucy is for his daughter—and for him. Yet his late wife's parents don't agree. Their ultimatum to choose between them or Lucy fills Graham with despair. He can't let his daughter lose her grandparents…but he also can't lose the woman who could complete their family.

“I don't ever plan to remarry.”

He didn't have to make up this whole story for her. So they weren't a match in the love department. The idea that Graham would never remarry was crazy.

“You don't have to explain anything to me. It's not like we were on a date.”

“I know. But I'm telling you, I wouldn't be anyway. I'm really never getting remarried.”

Graham definitely seemed the type to marry and grow old with someone. Lucy could picture him having more kids, finding a stepmom for Mattie. The girl would love it. Maybe having a mom again would take away some of Mattie's serious nature and let her be a kid.

What would keep Graham from considering marriage again?

“Was your marriage…that bad?” Graham's frown told her what she already knew—she shouldn't have asked.

“No. It was that good.”

Ouch.
Why did those words sting? She hardly knew this man. She'd been in town two weeks, and yet his response made her feel as if she'd been shoved from a moving car.

This had nothing to do with her. Then why did it feel as though it did?

Jill Lynn
is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group and won the ACFW Genesis award in 2013. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Bethel University. A native of Minnesota, Jill now lives in Colorado with her husband and two children. She's an avid reader of happily-ever-afters and a fan of grace, laughter and thrift stores. Connect with her at
jill-lynn.com
.

Books by Jill Lynn

Love Inspired

Falling for Texas

Her Texas Family

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HER TEXAS
FAMILY

Jill Lynn

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

—Psalms
139:14

To my husband: God blessed me big when He gave me you. Thank you for being better than I could have ever imagined, for making me laugh and for always cleaning my mess of a car. I love you!

Chapter One

C
limbing a tree in heels? Not one of her better decisions.

Lucy Grayson held her cell phone toward the Texas sky and prayed for reception. The prayer didn't work, nor did her ascent, which she'd hoped would somehow get her closer to a cell tower. Just beyond the tree, Lucy's pitiful car sat on the side of the road with a flat tire, stranded like a woman with a broken high heel.

Her whole life was packed into that car...all of her shoes, most of her clothes and everything else she could cram in. Which made the thought of clearing out her trunk in order to reach her spare tire daunting. And so not necessary. Not if she could get hold of her sister and brother-in-law and borrow their truck, loading everything into it instead of dumping her things on the side of the road.

She was mere miles from their home, so she
could
walk. But surely her phone was just being ornery. It had
to have some reception. Another impatient glance at the screen told her nothing had changed in the past twenty seconds of her life.

Drat.

Lucy wiggled her left foot, attempting to free it from her red ankle bootee without reaching down to untie it. She certainly couldn't climb down in these shoes. She'd slipped a few times on the way up and didn't want to risk the same during her descent.

A look down had her stomach tripping all over itself. Lucy had climbed higher than she realized, hoping just a little more height would give her the results she wanted.

Averting her gaze to the limb directly in front of her, she shimmied out of her left ankle boot. It dropped to the ditch below with a muted thud. The sole of her bare foot met rough bark, and she started the same process with her other shoe. One final kick of her heel against the tree limb sent it flying from her foot. Perfect. Now to get down.

A yelp sounded.

At the bottom of the tree, a man stood staring up at her, his hand pressed against his forehead. Oh, no. She hadn't...

“Is there another shoe coming that I need to be aware of?”

Lucy pressed her lips together to hold back the ill-timed amusement that begged for release. Keeping her right arm wrapped around the tree trunk, she pointed to her other shoe, which had landed a few feet away from him. “No. Sorry about that.”

“It's okay. I think.” He stopped rubbing his forehead, leaving the red mark from her boot weapon visible. “What are you doing up there?”

Now,
that
was a tough question to answer. Picnicking? Going for a climb? Moving to Texas? Nothing seemed quite right. And her actual answer, now that she had an audience, did sound a bit...unusual. Or for her, usual. Her family would definitely call this a typical Lucy moment.

“I was making a phone call.” Or trying to.

The man's brow crinkled, and he continued to peer up at her with confusion. Lucy scrambled down the tree, each bough swaying under her now bare feet. Despite feeling somewhat like a monkey, the sensation of being free did give her a thrill.

She landed in front of him with a very ungraceful, un-dancer-like crash.

During her descent, he'd crossed his arms over a white-checked oxford he wore with crisp jeans and brown leather shoes that even her fashion sense approved of. He was a head taller than her, with chocolate hair and midnight-green eyes.

A wave of recognition rushed through her, causing her skin to prickle with awareness.

Lucy remembered this man from her sister's wedding. She didn't know his name. She just recalled seeing him that night.

At Olivia and Cash's reception, he'd been dancing with a little girl. The small child had worn glasses and a frilly dress, and her shoes had been propped up on his toes as they'd twirled around the dance floor. Lucy had melted at the sight. After all, she was a dancer.

Right.
That was what had attracted her attention. Not the fact that the guy was totally droolworthy and hadn't noticed her for a second. Usually when guys tried to gain her attention, she couldn't care less. This one hadn't known she existed...although now that she'd clocked him in the head with a shoe, she'd be unforgettable. For all the wrong reasons.

Did it really matter that he was looking at her without an ounce of recognition?

It wasn't as if Lucy wanted to follow her sister's path and sign up for a wedding ring while in Texas. She didn't do serious relationships. She did fun. Lucy had made the decision way back in high school, and she'd stuck to it ever since. It had taken only one experience—one moment of going gooey over a guy—to teach her she much preferred to keep things light. And it was a lesson that had served her well over the years.

“I saw your flat tire and thought you might need help.” The look of bewilderment still etched across his face had her fighting a smile. Not everyone knew what to make of her personality. But did he have to look
so
shocked? So he'd found her up a tree trying to make a phone call. She wasn't acting
that
crazy. “Where are you headed?”

“I'm actually moving here. Right now I'm trying to get to my sister's house, which is just—” North? East? Lucy searched for the Rocky Mountains that had declared which way was west for the whole of her life, but was only met with the low green hills that permeated Texas Hill Country. Finally, she just pointed. “That direction.”

He reached forward and removed something from her hair, tossing it to the side. Looked like a baby branch by the size of the thing. How had she not noticed that monstrosity hitchhiking a ride on the way down?

“Your sister?”

“Yeah. Olivia Maddox.” Even after seven months of her sister being married, that new last name still felt so weird to say.

“Graham Redmond.” He offered his hand, and Lucy shook it, introducing herself. “Cash is a friend of mine.”

Lucy just nodded.
I know. Men.
This conversation only served to support her philosophy of keeping them in the fun/friend category instead of getting overly involved with one.

“So, are you moving to Texas for work?”

“For fun.” For the most part. Lucy could also mention that she couldn't get along with her previous employer and that the move had been perfect timing for getting away from a certain guy, but she didn't feel like delving into those things now. Or maybe ever. “And partly for work. I have a part-time job lined up teaching dance.” Although teaching one measly dance class wasn't enough to pay her bills. Lucy's first priority in town was to find a job that did. Scratch that. Her first priority was to get to her sister's house. The second would be to make sure she could pay for rent and groceries.

But at least she knew she was doing the right thing in moving. After the trouble with her old boss, she'd prayed for an out. Olivia had called about the dance-instructor opening a few days later. Moving to Texas had been an answer to prayer and just the kind of adventure Lucy craved.

She reached out and gently touched the mark on his head. “I'm sorry about hitting you with my shoe. Does it hurt?”

He flinched as if her hand inflicted more pain than her boot had. “It's fine.”

“But it looks so red.” A perfect match for the color of her shoe. And it was forming a rather large bump. “How do you know? Maybe you should get it checked out.”

“I'm a doctor.” He tenderly touched the spot. “I'm not worried about it.”

“Okay.” She shrugged. Why did she care so much? Sure, her shoe had caused the welt, but he obviously didn't want her interference. Fine by her.

She could say the same back to him. Since he'd so nobly stopped to help her, she would reassure him she didn't need his assistance. He could keep heading wherever he'd been heading, and she'd figure out how to get to her sister's or change the tire on her own.

Graham Redmond didn't need to fill the role of dashing hero in her life. Because, as the residents of Fredericksburg would soon find out, Lucy wasn't a damsel in distress who needed to be rescued.

She could rescue herself.

* * *

Usually people worried about pulling over to help with a stranded vehicle because a dangerous person could be planning some kind of highway robbery...not because they feared shoes falling from the sky and almost knocking them out cold.

The place where Graham's forehead had been introduced to a high heel still smarted, but he ignored the throbbing in order to figure out the woman in front of him. She seemed...young. Flighty. And not just because she'd been up a tree when he'd pulled over at the sight of her stranded Volkswagen Beetle. She twisted long, blond curls over one shoulder as she bent to pick up her shoes, sliding them back on her feet and then tying the small black laces. Skinny jeans met with a blue-and-white-checked shirt extending from under a navy sweater. How old could she be? Early twenties? She acted a bit like a teenager, though her looks didn't support that theory.

And neither did the math. If Graham remembered correctly, Olivia's sister was just a few years younger than she was.

He pointed up the tree she'd just climbed down like some kind of gymnast. “Did you say you were making a phone call?”

“Yeah.”

“If you were calling for help, I can change the tire for you.”

She huffed, crossing her arms. Had he said something offensive?

“I know how to change a tire. At least, I'm sure I could figure it out,” she said, voice quieter. “There's probably instructions. How hard can it be?” She motioned to her car. “I was calling my brother-in-law because my car's packed full. Every inch of it. I'd have to unpack the back to get to my spare, and since I'm almost to my sister's house, it made more sense to see if they could bring the truck. That way I could load everything into it, and I wouldn't have to move all of my stuff onto the side of the road.”

Her convoluted logic made sense. Graham must be losing his mind.

“So, you need a ride to Cash and Olivia's? That I can do.”

Her eyes narrowed to slits. “Were you...headed in that direction?”

“No, but it's not far.”

The toe of her boot tapped as she contemplated. A quick shake of her head was coupled with tight-pressed lips. “No, thank you.”

No? What did she plan to do? Walk? Hope for cell reception? She was crazy to think he'd leave without helping her.

“I don't want to interrupt your plans.”

What plans? Graham hadn't done anything social in the past...five years or so. Not since Mattie was born and then losing Brooke. He didn't exactly have a busy social life. Work? He had plenty of that. And colored pictures on his fridge. He had lots of those. Plus, he played a mean game of Go Fish on Saturday nights.

“My daughter and I were just headed home. It will only take us a few minutes to drop you off.” If he had to be direct or demanding in order for her to accept his help, so be it. Anything to make this encounter go a bit faster. Lucy made him feel...uncomfortable. As if he wanted to loosen his tie, even though he wasn't wearing one today.

After a minute of contemplation, she let out an earth-shaking sigh. “Fine.” The word came through gritted teeth. “I appreciate your help.”

He got the impression she didn't like his offer of help one bit, especially when her forced tone was accompanied by crossed arms and eyes that flashed with displeasure. Their bright blue color punched him in the chest. Unique. Brilliant. He wasn't sure exactly how to describe them. Not that he needed to write a report. What he needed to do was drop this woman off at her sister's and then head home to get his week organized before the craziness of Monday hit. No doubt his medical office would be slammed tomorrow morning as it was almost every Monday. But at least there he felt useful. At least there he was too busy for the images of his past failures to haunt him.

“Let me grab my purse.”

While Lucy did that, Graham opened the trunk to his car and checked the bolt pattern on his spare. It didn't match the one on Lucy's wheels. Just as well. Graham wasn't sure he'd live through the experience of changing a flat tire with this woman. He'd seen what Lucy could do with a shoe. What harm could she accomplish with a lug wrench?

He started his BMW and pulled up parallel to her car. She came over with full hands, so he leaned across the seat and popped the passenger door open. Lucy slid in, dropping a purse and jacket on the floor of his car. When she shut the door, the scent of lime and coconut came with her.

It was the end of January, and she smelled like summer. Graham hadn't known the season had its own scent before.

He motioned to the backseat. “This is my daughter, Matilda Grace. Everyone calls her Mattie.”

Lucy buckled and twisted to face the backseat while he put the car in Drive. “Hi, Mattie Grace. It's nice to meet you.”

In the rearview mirror, Graham could see the name earned a smile from Mattie. A shy one.

“I'm Lucy.”


Ms.
Lucy,” he said.

Those eyes of hers jutted to him, giving off a spark of something close to annoyance before she softened and turned back to Mattie. “What grade are you in?”

“Kindergarten.”

Graham could feel the mix of interest and shyness oozing from Mattie in the backseat. His daughter tended to be on the serious side with an older-than-her-years nature. She was compliant, sweet and entirely more than he deserved. He thanked God for her every day.

The short distance to Cash and Olivia's took only a few minutes. When they arrived, the three of them got out, making their way up the wide porch steps.

Lucy knocked, then opened the door, calling out her arrival. She stepped inside, and Olivia squealed, tugging her into a very enthusiastic hug.

Cash Maddox appeared at the door, surprise evident. “Hey, Red. Mattie. Come on in.”

At thirty-one years old, Graham was a few years older than Cash, but the two of them had grown up together and they'd always had an easy friendship. Cash was one of the few people who understood losing someone—not that he'd lost a wife, like Graham had, but grief was one emotion they shared knowledge of.

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