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Margaret Brownley (41 page)

BOOK: Margaret Brownley
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The outer edges of darkness began to claw at him. He shook his head slightly and forced himself to continue. Must stay strong.

“There are no schools here, no families. Why would you choose to raise a child in a place like this?” he demanded.

“It’s because of what I saw in Centreville. Men had sent for wives and children. There’s even talk of building a schoolhouse there. Oh, Logan, don’t you see? We can do the same thing here in Calico Corners. By the time Noel is old enough for school, he’ll have everything he needs right here.”

Logan felt that his very foundation had been pulled out from under him. With Noel’s future no longer an issue, there was nothing left to do but admit to the truth. Knowing that she was here in town, accessible to him in a way not possible if she were in Boston would make it that much harder for him to stay away. It would be so tempting to put his own needs above hers. But he must never do that. He loved her too much.

“Do you know how hard this is for me? Knowing that I can’t give you the kind of life that you deserve?”

“This is where I want to be,” she said. “I want to raise Noel with the people who love him. Big Sam, Sharkey, and Hap.”

He glanced around. “Where is Noel?”

Libby nodded. “Cast-Iron took him for a walk.”

“Cast-Iron?” He shook his head in disbelief. “What about Thornton?’

“Let’s not talk about Thornton,” she pleaded softly. “I want to talk about us.”

“There isn’t any us!” he snapped and almost doubled over in pain.

Libby ran to his side. “Please, Logan, sit down.” She pulled a barrel that served as a chair toward him. She looked so worried he didn’t have the heart to argue. He sat down and stretched his leg out in front on him.

“Can I get you something? Some tea?”

He shook his head, but his gaze fell on a can of baking soda inside a wooden crate used for a cupboard.

He picked up her hand and she knelt before him. This woman who had turned his life inside-out and upside-down had also saved it. There had to be a way to express his gratitude and love without sacrificing her future. But he was a simple mountain man and though he knew what must be said, the actual words eluded him.

Her one weakness was her son. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for Noel and he counted on this. “What Noel needs is a real honest-to-goodness father.”

“I don’t think he would ever find a better one than you.”

He touched his fingertips to her rosy soft cheeks. “What kind of father would I make? I can’t even provide for myself, let alone a family. All I know is setting traps and selling pelts. And now I can’t even do that.”

“There’s a lot you can do,” she insisted. He shook his head but she stared him down, hands on her waist. “You listen to me Logan St.John.  You can do other things. These are people who would pay good money for a buckskin suit like you made for Noel,”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m taking about starting a business.”

He laughed. “I’m a trapper, Libby. I know nothing about business.”

Trapping is a business,” she said stubbornly. “And considering that beaver is out of fashion and has been for quite some time, I would say that anyone able to make a living from selling beaver skins as you have done has very astute business sense.  You should have heard the fuss people made over Noel’s little suit.”

He frowned and tried to make sense of what she was saying. “People? What people?”

“In Centreville. And that’s only the beginning.”

He rubbed his whiskered chin, scratched his temple and looked at her in disbelief. “Do…Do you think it’s possible? Do you think I could…a businessman. Me?”

“With a shop of your own,” she added.

“And a sign.” He shook his head.  This was crazy. Insane. “I don’t know, Libby.”

“Just think. You won’t have to set traps or ride a horse, or sleep out in the cold ever again.” On and on she went and it was hard not to catch her enthusiasm. “Big Sam said he’d supply you with all the hides you need.”

He thought about what she said and for the longest while sat and didn’t move. Finally he smiled. “Well now.”

She cried out and flung herself into his arms. “I thought I would never see you again.” 

“Oh, Libby!” he pulled her onto his lap and kissed her. “Libby Summerfield,” he whispered between kisses. “If you’re crazy enough to think I can be a businessman, I wonder if you’re crazy enough to—“ He pulled away so he could study her face—and that’s when sanity took hold. What is the name of Sam Hill was he thinking? He couldn’t propose marriage with his future so undecided.

“What were you going to ask me?”

“Nothing.”

“Logan St. John, don’t tell me nothing.”

“I was going to ask you to be my…personal baker.”

She looked unconvinced. “You were going to ask me to be your wife.”

“I most certainly was not.” He breathed deeply and tried not think about her sweet, sweet fragrance. “If I did happen to ask that question, which I wasn’t, what would you have said?”

“I’d say it was about time that you decided to get down off your high horse and ask me to marry you.”

He widened his eyes. “That’s not what you said the last time I proposed.”

“That’s because you weren’t ready back then,” she said. “Neither one of us was.”

“Does this mean you would accept? That is, if I were to ask.”

She pulled back to look him square in the eyes. “Does this mean you’re asking?”

A slow grin spread across his face. “Just so there’s no question. Libby Summerfield, will you do me the honor of being my wife?”

“It’s about time you got off your high horse and—“

She never got to finish what she was going to say, because he had pulled her into his arms and proceeded to give her the most thorough kiss possible under the circumstances.

“I love you,” he whispered.  He held his hands where God could see them, but by cracker he had no intention of holding them out for long. “I only hope that you never come to regret—that you never—”

She stayed his words with a finger to his lips. “I love you too.”

All at once weakened and strengthened by her declaration, he pulled away and pointed to the opening of the tent. “Get my crutches.”

“What?”

“My crutches!”

She retrieved his crutches and then stepped back to watch him struggle to his feet. “Are you coming with me?” he asked, ducking beneath the tent flap.

She followed him outside. “Where are we going?”

“To the church,” he said. “Where else would we go to get married?”

She smiled her lovely sweet spring, summer, fall and winter smiles all rolled into one. She had to lift her voice to be heard above the loud cacophony of hammers and saws. But what she said was music to his soul. “Welcome home, Logan.”

He dropped his crutches and took her in his arms, right there in the middle of tent city for all to see. “Welcome home, Libby.”

 

The End

 

About the Author

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance; Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with that—except she happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."

 

So that’s what Margaret did.
 
She now has more than twenty-five novels to her credit, is a New York Times bestselling author and Romance Writers of America RITA finalist—not bad for someone who flunked 8
th
grade English.  Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

 

www.margaretbrownley.com

 

Margaret can also be reached through Facebook and Twitter

 

 

 

If you liked Libby’s and Logan’s story you might like some of Margaret’s other books available in both print and eBook from Thomas Nelson or where all fine books are sold.

 

Brides of Last Chance Ranch series

Dawn Comes Early

Waiting for Morning/Dec 2012

Afternoon Tea/2013

 

 

Rocky Creek Series

A Lady Like Sarah

A Suitor for Jenny

A Vision of Lucy

 

BOOK: Margaret Brownley
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