Two Wild for Teacher: Lone Star Lovers, Book 6

BOOK: Two Wild for Teacher: Lone Star Lovers, Book 6
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Dedication

Chapter One

Sam Logan couldn’t sleep. He had one last chore to take care of. One he’d been putting off.
No time like now to get ’er done.

He walked softly on bare feet down the long hallway, past the master bedroom he’d given up when Johnny married Ellie and moved both his new wife and his brother Killian into the large room to share it. He shook his head, a glimmer of a smile tugging at his mouth. Sounds that hadn’t been heard in this old house in over three long years echoed up and down the hallway.

Sexy sounds—happy sighs and laughter, slick slaps, an occasional yelp from Ellie. He could only imagine what his two oldest boys were doing to the girl. But they all seemed happy with the arrangement and both men were gaga for Mean Ellie Harker. Who would have thought one simple pronouncement would produce such lightning-fast results?

It’s time you boys found yerselves a wife.

That’s all it had taken. Sam had disappeared for a long weekend to attend a cattle auction and give them time to think about what he’d said, what was missing from all their lives, only to return and find all four men looking as though they’d been wrung through a wringer and put up wet.

His sons hadn’t told him everything, but he’d heard the rumors—from Ole Win at the diner who’d witnessed how the oldest two had swarmed Ellie like bees around a hive, and then from Wade Luckadoo whose daughter had witnessed Ellie’s kidnapping by the twins, but for some inexplicable reason hadn’t called the sheriff.

So they hadn’t wooed Ellie in a traditional way. Didn’t much matter to Sam. A pretty woman stood in the kitchen every morning, a happy smile on her face, and all the boys had perked up, falling over themselves to please her.

These days, meals were an event. Ellie had been running the town’s only diner and knew how to cook a mean chili, sear steaks to perfection and bake glorious pies.

The pies had become a bit of a joke in the house over the last month.

Ellie had figured out right off that Johnny loved apple pie. However, Killian wouldn’t commit, sampling the varieties she lined up on the counter every Sunday and sighing, but never telling her which one was his favorite.

Sam thought he knew why.

Killian wasn’t sure about his place in Ellie’s heart. She’d melted first for Johnny, but had accepted Killian in her bed too, and even told him often that she loved him. Killian only half believed her, and given his upbringing, living in a house with two people who’d hated each other’s guts and whose anger had spilled over onto him, Sam understood why Killian had doubts anyone could love him.

Ellie’s unending search for the perfect pie to please Killian was her way of proving she loved him. From the way his second adopted son beamed each time Ellie introduced a new set to sample, Sam didn’t think Killian would ever tell her which pie he loved most.

Pie was taking on mystical properties, a true elixir of love in every bite. And pie was what the twins, the youngest of his brood, huddled over now.

A single light shining from the stove was all that lit the kitchen. The boys sat, bleary-eyed, blond heads in need of a good haircut and a comb, with elbows propping up their chins while they shoveled sweet pie into their mouths.

Sam crept in silently, opened a cabinet door and gave it a good slam.

Both boys jumped, startled stares swinging his way.

Mace gave Sam a tired grin. “Hey, Pa.”

Sam never tired of hearing that. The two older boys still called him Sam. The twins had been eager to accept him and Gracie as their parents when they’d first arrived for fostering. Something Gracie had loved as well. She’d always wanted to be someone’s mama. He felt a pinch in his chest at how happy she’d been—all the way to the end—surrounded by her boys. “Why aren’t you two in bed?” he snapped, his voice gruff. “You’ll be fallin’ off your horses tomorrow.”

“Couldn’t sleep,” Mace grumbled, rolling his eyes.

“Why’s that?” Sam asked, although he had a pretty good idea why.

Mace grunted. “Too much damn noise. People gettin’ happy. Wish’t I was that damn happy.” He lifted his fork and turned to take another bite.

Sam came closer and peered over Mace’s shoulder. “That the cherry pie?”

“Mmm-hmm,” the younger twin groaned. “S’good.”

Sam arched a brow. “Think we should tell Ellie that Killian’s not a pie man?”

Both boys’ heads jerked up, eyes rounding.

“Hell no!” Jason said around a mouthful of peach pie. “She might stop bakin’.”

“We’d still get lots of apple,” Sam said with a dry chuckle. “Girl wears herself out tryin’ to please y’all.”

“That ain’t what has her all wore out,” Jason muttered, then grimaced from the audible whack his brother gave his leg.

“You know,” Sam said, “there’s a simple solution to your problem…”

“Earplugs?” Mace quipped.

Sam shook his head. “Seems all y’all need is a little somethin’ to keep your minds off what you’ve got no business hearin’.”

Jason’s eyes narrowed. “I know what you’re gonna say. We need to find ourselves a wife.”


A
wife?” Mace quipped, his mouth stretching into a wide grin.

Both boys shared a glance then dipped their heads to continue milling into their pie. In that one glance, they seemed to share the same thought. And maybe they did. No two boys could be closer.

Men
, Sam amended in his mind. They weren’t scrawny teenagers anymore. A woman, a good woman, would have herself a fine husband—if they could ever decide which would marry her.

“Strange times we live in,” Sam murmured, thinking about how the town was changing. Multiple men taking up with a single woman. He’d never have imagined it, but then, for him, there had only been Gracie. And she’d had eyes only for him.

On that melancholy note, he turned. Pie wasn’t going to satisfy his yearning. Sleep, a chance to dream about a golden-haired girl with freckles on her nose—that’s what he needed. “I’ll say good night. My job’s done. ’Night, boys.”

 

Jason turned his head to watch Sam leave the room, not liking the hint of sadness he’d seen in Sam’s eyes before he’d turned away. They all missed Gracie Logan, but none more than Sam. “Think he’s really okay with how things worked out for Johnny and Killian?”

“He hasn’t said a word about them holing up in the same damn bedroom. Don’t think he cares so long as everyone’s happy. Why you ask?”

“Don’t know. Sometimes, he gets a look.”

Mace nodded. “Know the one you’re talkin’ about, but I think it’s ’cause he’s missin’ Mom.”

Jason pushed away his empty plate and sighed. “Only thing’s gonna make him happy again is when we all start makin’ babies.”

Mace grimaced. “Think we don’t get any sleep now…” He shrugged. “It’s not like Johnny and Killian aren’t doin’ their best on that end. Still, Pa’s not gonna rest easy ’til we find a woman too.”


A
woman?” Jason said, reminding his brother how Mace’s sly joke had started the ball rolling with Ellie. They’d been teasing Sam and had irked the hell out of Johnny, who’d taken Sam’s pronouncement as marching orders and didn’t like them making light of it. Jason felt responsible for how things had worked out. Johnny might never have considered sharing a woman with Killian if Mace hadn’t first planted that seed. Not that both Johnny and Killian didn’t appear satisfied with the arrangement. Still, it was his job to curb Mace’s wildness. He was the oldest. Little brother needed to get serious about this business of finding
a
wife.

Mace shrugged. “Be easier havin’ just one woman. Less yap. And we’ve got lots of practice sharin’.” He picked up his glass of milk and downed it in a couple of big gulps.

Jason knew Mace would prefer to drop the subject of the marrying part. The thought of taking a wife and starting a family made both of them feel itchy. Until they’d come to the Doubletree Ranch, they’d never known what a loving family could be like. Who knew whether they would follow their birth parents’ sorry footsteps rather than Sam and Gracie Logan’s? But Sam expected them to man up and give it a try. “How the hell we gonna find ourselves
a
woman?” he said aloud, although he didn’t really expect Mace to have the answer. He wasn’t the thinker. “We can’t settle on one for a whole weekend—how we gonna settle on one for the rest of our lives?”

Mace nodded. Then his blue eyes glinted, narrowed. He sat forward in his chair. “There’s only been one woman we ever wanted for longer than a day.”

Jason had an instant image of soft brown hair pulled back into a messy bun, dark-rimmed glasses perched on a pretty, slender nose, green eyes peering over the tops. He and his brother had fantasized about her for years. “She’s a pretty thing, but doesn’t even know it.”

“I like the way her eyes bug when she’s mad. She doesn’t like losin’ it.” Mace’s grin said he couldn’t wait to push her to the edge.

A smile twitched the corners of Jason’s mouth. Wouldn’t she be appalled to see them again? The thought didn’t dampen his enthusiasm one bit. On the contrary, just the idea of pursuing pretty Molly Pritchet caused heat to fill his loins. “We ain’t jailbait anymore,” he drawled.

“No, we ain’t.”

Both men shared wicked grins as they let the thought of what it might be like to seduce Miss Pritchet blossom.

“School’s out tomorrow,” Mace murmured.

Jason gave a firm nod. “She’s gonna have time on her hands. A whole summer’s worth.”

Both men scooted closer to the table, pie forgotten, and made their plan.

 

 

As she adjusted her burden in her arms again, Molly Pritchet wished she’d driven. She was hot, starting to sweat, and the muscles in her arms were beginning to burn with the weight of her box of personal items she’d emptied from her desk. Earlier, traces of roses and honeysuckle scenting the warm air had drawn her from her house, enticing her to get ready to embrace the last day of school and the start of her plans for a summer of blessed solitude, free of responsibility. That morning, she hadn’t wanted to think about anything but the pretty day, the flowers she had purchased to set into their beds and the small, decorative pond she wanted to install in her backyard.

Besides, walking to and from the little high school was the only real exercise she ever got.

With every passing year, she fought a little harder to keep padding from settling on her rear and upper thighs. So she walked, getting more of a workout than she’d planned, but enjoying the sounds of lawnmowers growling, birds chirping and children playing.

Lord, she loved the sounds of children. Not something that had changed over the eight years she’d been teaching. And it was a true joy to meet up with graduates who remembered her and stopped by to tell her about their lives, and how she’d touched them.

She might never have her own, but there were plenty of children she’d helped raise in her own limited capacity.

The sound of footsteps on the sidewalk—heavy tread, a little hollow—men’s booted heels, came from behind her, and she edged to the side to let whomever was approaching pass.

However, the steps slowed, and before she knew it, she had a man at each elbow.

Her breath caught when she recognized them. “Mason, Jason,” she said, hoping they’d take her reddening cheeks for exertion, not delight. She’d always had the most inappropriate thoughts where these two were concerned.

Some things never changed. They both looked so handsome and tall—shaggy blond hair curling beneath the brims of their straw cowboy hats, matching blue work shirts—nicely ironed—and dark Wranglers that molded to powerful thighs. The only notable difference in their appearance was their boots. Mace Logan’s boots were saddle-brown leather while Jason’s were black. She didn’t need visual clues to keep the two of them straight. Unlike most folks in Two Mule, she’d always been able to tell them apart. Mace had a lazy smile that invited a woman to linger. Jason was a tad sharper, with a keen glance that had burned right through more than one woman’s defenses, or so she’d heard.

Good Lord, she’d just checked them out, and from Mace’s slow grin and Jason’s razor gaze, they both knew it.

Two sets of blue eyes glinted with humor.

“Howdy, Miz Pritchet,” Jason said, his smile wide, perfect white teeth gleaming.

BOOK: Two Wild for Teacher: Lone Star Lovers, Book 6
13.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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