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Authors: Callie Hutton

Tessa's Treasures

BOOK: Tessa's Treasures
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Table of Contents

Tessa’s Treasures

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

A word about the author...

Thank you for purchasing this Wild Rose Press publication.

Tessa’s Treasures

Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll

by

Callie Hutton

Copyright

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Tessa’s Treasures: Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll

COPYRIGHT © 2012 by Callie Hutton

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

Cover Art by
Kim Mendoza

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First
Last Rose of Summer
Edition, 2012

Digital ISBN 978-1-61217-115-9

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

To all the wonderful and strong women in my life who are survivors in their own way.

Chapter One

Lucas Raven glanced in the rear view mirror at the empty parking space across the street before swinging his Jeep Grand Cherokee into an illegal U-turn. He ducked his head and doubled-checked the sign over the storefront.
Tessa’s Treasures—Antiques
. While the name conjured up an image of an ancient woman named Tessa shuffling around the store dusting relics on sooty shelves, in reality he hoped to find Tessa Jordan, Mason Jordan’s little sister.

He parked and sat for a minute, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. What would she look like after all these years? Would she even remember him? Twenty-five years was a long time. He took a deep breath and opened the car door. Sitting here staring at the store certainly wouldn’t give him any answers.

A bell tinkled overhead when he entered. Immediately, his gaze swung to a shapely woman perched on a ladder as she reached for something above her head. Red curls were pulled into a bun that no longer did its duty. Wisps of shiny red tendrils had escaped at her nape to tease the sides of her face. As soon as her small delicate hands plucked the item, the ladder tilted. “Oh!”

Lucas rushed forward, grunting as the redhead landed in his arms.
Damnation, this is a good way to start the day.

The scent of lilacs filled his nostrils as large hazel eyes widened in a very pale face. She stared, her mouth a perfect circle, brows knitted. “Lucas? Lucas Raven?”

“Guilty as charged.”

She stiffened. “Could you put me down, please?”

Tessa Jordan straightened her long flowery skirt and tugged at the high neck of a blouse covering her ample breasts. She stepped back, straightening her shoulders, a quizzical smile on her lips. “Where did you come from?” Her hesitant voice and jerky movements confused him.

“I just bought Mrs. Rogers’ house.” His gaze ate her up. Forty-two he figured. The years had definitely been good to her.

“Why? I mean, I thought you were in Oklahoma City.”

“I was. Retired from the Bureau three weeks ago. Decided to return to my home town. Didn’t Mason tell you?”

“No.” She smiled warmly, but kept her distance. “Although I’m with his kids quite a bit, I don’t see much of my brother these days. With being Chief of Police and having a house full of kids and pets, his life is pretty jam-packed.”

He couldn’t stop staring at her lush mouth. She was everything he’d remembered, and more. Yet the wary look in her eyes and tinge of nervousness puzzled him. “Mason told me you were in California for a while. Divorced?”

“Yeah. One of ‘those.’” She rolled her eyes. “How’s your wife?”

He widened his stance, hands on his hips, hesitating as he always did when he thought of Patty. “She died last year. Breast cancer.”

Genuine sympathy flitted across her face. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Mason never told me. I know it’s a little late, but if there’s anything I can do...”

“Thanks, but I’m doing okay.” He crossed his arms before leaning against the counter. “Listen, Mrs. Rogers had some things stored in her attic. I thought you might be interested in taking a look at them, see if there’s anything you can use, or sell. I don’t care about the money. I just want someone who knows antiques to take a look.”

Let’s see if that flimsy excuse to see her again works.

In all the years he’d been gone from Duncan, Tessa had never been far from his mind. Now that they were both free, he fully intended to explore the relationship he’d hoped for years ago.

“Sure, I’d be happy to look. I guess we could set up an appointment.” She walked behind the counter, pulled out a book and flipped pages.

Light filtered through the window and settled on her features. Tessa was a pretty woman. Not that time had stood still for her. The slight crinkles around her eyes and the way her body had matured only made her more attractive. All the parts of her face put together displayed an interesting and appealing look. Her dark red eyebrows brought attention to her beautiful eyes. Her strong brow and small nose, turned up at the end, contradicted each other. But the telling point—that stubborn chin—brought character to an otherwise sweet appearance. He
waited patiently, enjoying the lilac fragrance wafting from her skin as she slipped on reading glasses and bent over the pages.

While waiting, he glanced around the shop where Mason said she spent all her time. The place was a perfect extension of the woman he’d never forgotten. Lighting from numerous table lamps gave the room a soft glow. Clean shelves displayed beautiful items, lovingly cared for. Colorful paintings adorned the walls; soft music played in the background; intricately patterned area rugs were scattered over the hardwood floors.

The bell over the door sounded again. Tessa glanced at the newcomers, a smile on her lips. She scooted around the counter and greeted two women with hugs and laughter. “Frances, I’m so glad to see you. When did you get out of the hospital?”

An older woman, leaning on a cane, smiled broadly. “Two days ago, dear. This is the first time Emma,” she nodded in the direction of her younger companion, “let me out.”

“I’m glad she decided to bring you over. I’ve missed you so much.” Tessa hugged the woman again, then seemed to remember his presence. “Frances, Emma, this is Lucas Raven. He recently bought Sarah Rogers’ house. He discovered some items in Sarah’s attic and would like me to take a look at them.” She patted Frances on the arm, and turned to him. “This is Frances Maynard, and her daughter-in-law Emma. Frances helps me out in the store a few hours a week.”

He tugged at the brim of his Stetson. “Mornin’, ladies.” When Emma giggled, Tessa shot her a glance, eyebrows raised.

“I’ll let you ladies visit. Tessa, if it would be all right, I’ll stop back later when you’ve had a chance to check your calendar.” And he could have her all to himself.

The older woman’s eyes shifted from him to Tessa. “Oh dear, I didn’t mean to interrupt your business.”

“No, Mrs. Maynard, don’t trouble yourself. I have a lot of things to do today. I’ll be happy to stop back later.” He strolled forward and nodded at the women. “Ladies.”

****

The three women watched Lucas saunter out the door. Snug jeans hugged his rear like a well-worn glove. Small beads of sweat broke out on Tessa’s upper lip.
Oh, my, it’s gotten a bit warm in here.

Emma shook her head briefly. “Wow. I didn’t know the Rogers’ house sold. Mr. Raven will certainly be a welcomed addition to town. I may have to whip up a batch of my special brownies, make a welcome-to-town call.”

A jolt of unease passed through Tessa. “For heaven’s sake, Emma, the man just got here. At least give him time to unpack before you start hunting him down.”

“I’m not hunting him, merely being neighborly. A nice thing for a lonely widow to do.”

“Besides, he just lost his wife last year,” Tessa added.

“All right, girls, take it easy.” Frances smiled. “Emma, leave the man in peace for a bit.”

Hah! Not likely, Tessa thought.

After an hour or so of tea and conversation, she breathed a sigh of relief when her visitors left. Monday mornings were always slow, so they hadn’t been interrupted. In fact, the day dragged. After dusting each of the shelves, she went through items purchased at a garage sale two weeks ago, then circled newspaper ads for the various sales she planned to visit by the end of the week. She ate a salad, flipped through a magazine. All afternoon the bell stayed silent. No word came from Lucas.

Lucas. With the piercing blue eyes and tanned skin. Even though only one quarter Indian, he favored that part of his ancestry with a full head of black hair. Though a bit too long and slightly gray at the temples, it begged to have a woman comb her fingers through the silky strands. He stood at six feet, his broad shoulders tapered to a slim waist, and muscular legs.
A warrior.

She’d spent the eight years since her divorce avoiding involvements of any kind and vowed to never again put herself in the hands of a man. So why did she feel safe with him? They had a history, true, but he was still a man, and a law enforcement one at that.

Unfortunately her body didn’t get the memo because her heart thumped as a dark green Jeep braked in front of the store. Lucas climbed out, stuffing his western-style shirt into his jeans as he strode to the store. He took off his Stetson, smoothed his hair back and replaced the hat, pulling it low over one eye. Her knees threatened to give out. When the little bell over the door tinkled, she took a deep breath.

Straight, white teeth gleamed beneath a gut wrenching smile. “Evenin’ Tessa.”

She cleared her throat to give the frog there a chance to escape. “Good evening, Lucas.”

Resting his weight on one long leg, he hooked a thumb in the loop of his belt. “Did you get a chance to look over your appointment book?”

“I did.” She fumbled with the book before it fell to the floor. She retrieved it, dropped it again, then placed it on the counter—upside down, and jostling several loose papers. “I have some dates marked right here. Somewhere.”

A strong dark hand dusted with black hair stilled her hand. She fixed her gaze on him.

“Do I make you nervous?” No pretense there. The man was serious.

“Not at all.” She managed a half smile. “Why do you ask?”

He shrugged. “You seem a little jumpy, and I didn’t want to be the cause of it.” Once again, that smiled drilled her senses.

“It’s been a very hectic day.” The lie fell easily from her lips.

He glanced at the silver and turquoise watch on his wrist. “It’s almost six. How about you grab that book of yours and let me buy you dinner at The Steak and Brew?” He held her gaze, one brow raised. “Unless you have a date.”

“No date, but I don’t know if it’s wise to mix business with, ah, you know.”

That sounded real sophisticated
.

“Aw, come on, Tessa, it’s just dinner. We’re old friends. Your brother’s been my best friend for longer than I care to mention. Besides I’ve been away for twenty-five years. Think of yourself as one of those ladies from the Welcome Wagon.”

She tilted her head to one side as heat flooded her cheeks. “As long as you put it that way, I can’t refuse, can I?”

BOOK: Tessa's Treasures
13.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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