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Authors: Stef Ann Holm

Harmony

BOOK: Harmony
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“Like melt-in-your-mouth chocolate,

HARMONY

is sinfully delicious from start to finish. I absolutely loved this book!”

—Millie Criswell, author of
Desperate

PRAISE FOR

STEF ANN HOLM

AND HER WILD, WONDERFUL WESTERN ROMANCE

FORGET ME NOT

“A cheery story . . . one endowed with Holm's fine sense of atmosphere, and an enjoyable heroine who changes and grows from a spunky, spoiled socialite to an independent woman.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Ms. Holm transports the reader back to the Wild West. . . . Her characters come alive before your eyes in this delightful and highly entertaining story. A rollicking good time!”

—Rendezvous

“An engaging love story about a woman seeking to transform her life and gain independence. The secondary characters, J.D.'s irascible father and the cowboys, add to the underlying humor of Josephine's thoroughly Western adventure.”

—Gerry Benninger,
Romantic Times

“Stef Ann Holm takes us on a wonderful journey . . . filled with rich, historical detail. . . . She brings authentic characters to life, leaving the reader emotionally satisfied and eager for more.”

—Robin La Fevers, Compuserve Romance Reviews

“A book that fans . . . will not forget any time soon. J.D. and Josephine make a charming pair and the secondary characters are all first rate. The Wyoming Territory is at its descriptive best in the hands of that master scribe, Stef Ann Holm.”

—Harriet Klausner,
Amazon Books
(online)

“Stef Ann Holm has written a true ‘forget-me-not' book. A real keeper. She gets better with each word she writes.”

—Jan Robison, Waldenbooks

“Eastern gal meets western cowpoke and it's unforgettable!
Forget Me Not
is a surefire read from gifted storyteller Stef Ann Holm. Read it!”

—Suzanne Coleburn,
The Belles & Beaux of Romance

“I truly enjoyed being in the West again with Jo and J.D. What an adventure. Just the right amount of romance, action, and history to spice up an afternoon of reading. Stef Ann can't be beat.”

—Sharon Harbaugh, Munchkin Book Shop

“Forget Me Not
highlights Stef Ann Holm's incredible talent. As a reader I walk with her memorable characters every step of the way.”

—Elaine Galit, Blue Willow Books

“Forget Me Not
will truly not be forgotten for years to come.”

—Shelly Ryan, 1,001 Paperbacks

“Forget Me Not
was a warm blending of relationships, reality, growth, humor, and love. Sweet as Jo's peach pies.”

—Yvonne Zalinski, Paperback Outlet

“A not-to-be-missed reading experience that won't be easily forgotten. Fans of Americana, rejoice!”

—Sharon Walters, Paperback Place

“This story is so very heartwarming. It is like discovering a charming new treasure. The characters . . . are wonderful.”

—Book Rack

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For my husband, Barry, who dragged me into the arms-and-tackle store and showed me a whole new world.

You may be able to mountain-bike, skateboard, surf, Rollerblade, and shoot a bow and arrow, but just remember who whips your butt at gin rummy.

Prologue

M
urphy Magee was known for his humorous antics when he was three sheets to the wind—which was each evening from around six o'clock until whenever Lynell Pickering, the bartender at the Blue Flame Saloon, cut him off.

Because Murphy was a tinsmith by trade and a spendthrift by nature, the lint in his pocket stretched farther than his coin. So the group of men at the bar on this chilly autumn night found it curious that Murphy Magee would buy drinks for the house. But none questioned the good fortune of free liquor, and the generous rounds were accepted with devil-may-care grins.

When the hour neared midnight, Lynell told Murphy it was time to button up and be off to bed. Swilling down the last dram of whiskey from his tumbler, the wobbly Murphy allowed himself to be suited up for the elements by the barkeep.

Nudged through the door, Murphy stood on the boardwalk and recoiled as the wind blustered in his face. The gusts whistled through tree boughs, stirred up foliage, and ruffled the storefront awnings on Main.

Warding off a shiver, Murphy set out on a path down the middle of the street. He had the niggling feeling
that he had done something twice, but he couldn't recall exactly what.

It had rained while he was in the Blue Flame, the air smelling like worms and musty wood. Large round puddles lay scattered before him like silver mirrors. He approached a shimmering pool, peered over scuffed boot toes, and gazed at his reflection. A fat white face rested on his shoulder.

Murphy quickly swung around, staggered, then searched the nearby shadows for a trace of the chap who was following him. No one stepped out to reveal himself. With a wry snort, Murphy meandered along until the next puddle came into view and that very same milky face hovered at his ear. As he turned around this time, he stepped backward. The wet splash at his feet caused him to look down once more.

In the rippling water, not only were his features distorted, but so were those of the man's face, whose features were as plump as pudding.

“Aye . . .” Murphy said with a broad grin at the reflection of the full moon that hung high in a dark sky. “I know who you be now, Mr. Man in the Moon. So you think to follow me, eh?” Then he purposefully jumped double-footed into the puddle with an uneven laugh. Blotches of cold, silty water marked the bottoms of his pants. He wavered as he watched his face and the moon above him settle on the puddle's surface once more.

Giving the moon a crude gesture with his middle finger, Murphy moved on. He tried to remember the people he'd spoken with today. . . . Lynell Pickering's voice was the most prominent, but a few others came to the surface.

A lopsided smile hitched the corner of his mouth. There had been that Miss Edwina Huntington. A pretty lady, but too prissy to suit his fancy. She'd been nice to him, though. She'd given him five hundred dollars.
Why
 . . . ? He couldn't readily recollect. Then he believed
he'd traded words with Tom Wolcott. Tom, he liked. The man was as red-blooded as they came.

For some reason, Murphy thought that his business with Miss Huntington in some way connected with Tom . . . but nothing came to mind.

Another puddle loomed, and Murphy hopped square into it, taking pleasure in the spray he sent onto the pavers. The road was torn up a bit here and there to make way for the sewers Harmony's Department of Public Roads had taken it into their fool brains the town needed.

Murphy ambled toward home with that great albino face in the sky floating after him. At every puddle, he took a leap dead center. It became a game of sorts as he met with each one. He paid no heed to the primitive fence and its sign of dim words that faded into the night. All he could see was the circumference of the biggest of all puddles—just behind the slates of wood.

Disregarding the barrier, Murphy let his legs spring him skyward. Only he didn't connect with the ground. His feet sliced into a giant void.

“Sweet Jaysus!” His lament echoed in his ears, and then was lost on the wind.

As Murphy plunged to a sure death, an ill-timed revelation sobered his brain. It was the queerest of moments to remember. But remember he did.

He knew now why Miss Huntington had given him five hundred dollars, and why Tom Wolcott had sought him out this evening at the Blue Flame.

Sweet Jesus
. If the fall didn't kill him, surely the pair of them would once they found out what he'd done.

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BOOK: Harmony
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