Read The Touch of Sage Online

Authors: Marcia Lynn McClure

The Touch of Sage (3 page)

BOOK: The Touch of Sage
4.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Sage giggled, delighted by the women

s banter.

Smiling, Eugenia said,

Yes, he

s handsome, Rose.
I expect you

ll have quite a nice time lookin

him over.


When

s he comin

, Miss Eugenia?

Sage asked. She wondered if Eugenia would have him stay out at the ranch right away or if she had it in mind for him to board at Willow
s’
s for a time.


I don

t rightly know,

Eugenia answered.

Bridie

s still havin

a bit of trouble convincin

him all the way.
But she

s confident she will.
She

s told him how important the ranch is to me and all.


Do you want me to prepare the extra room for him?

Sage asked.

Eugenia seemed thoughtful for a moment, finally saying,

It might be a good idea.
I haven

t been out to the ranch house in so long, and I

m sure it

s just crawlin

with critters.

Sage smiled—
for Eugenia seemed very excited about the possibility of having her favorite nephew close by.
Eugenia deserved happiness
,
and Sage was glad for her.


I

ll get lunch on, take Bullet for a walk, and then get right into that upstairs room, just in case,

Sage said.

Eugenia reached out and took one of Sage

s hands in her own, squeezing it affectionately.

You

re too good to us all, Sage,

she said.


Rummy!

Rose giggled as she spread her cards on the table
,
revealing her instant win.

Mary threw her cards to the table

s surface with angry indignation.

I told ya, Livie!
I told ya!
Ya have to deal

em out proper!

Sage smiled as Rose leapt from her chair and began performing an elderly lady

s version of the can-can.

Rummy, rummy, rummy!

she sang as she danced.


It don

t count a
whit
, Rose,

Mary told her.

The cards weren

t dealt proper.


Rummy, rummy, rummy,

Rose continued to sing, swishing her skirt and petticoats this way and that as she danced.


Well, why don

t we just thr
ow a sign out on the front door?”
Mary grumbled.

Willow
s’
s Saloon and Dance
h
all…neked knees and ankles a
-
flyin

ever

where.

Sage laughed, amused not only by Rose

s scandalous behavior but by Mary

s predictable response as well.


I

ll get us some lunch,

Sage said, smiling.


Oh, lunch can wait,

Eugenia said.

Come play a hand or two with us, Sage.


Yes, Sage,

Livie begged.

Please do.


All right,

Sage agreed
,
pulling a spare chair up to the table.
“J
ust one…maybe two.

With a contented sigh,
Rose
returned to her seat, only to hear Mary grumble,

It would serve ya right, Rose Applewhite…if the Reverend Tippetts hisself walked in here to see ya dancin

around like a heathen.


You know as well as I do, Mary,

Rose began,

that
Scarlett
Tippetts was a
dancehall
girl in Leadville before Reverend Tippetts married her.
I

spect he wouldn

t be a bit undone.

Rose picked up the deck of cards and began to shuffle.


One at time, Rose.
Ya just be sure ya deal

em one at a time,

Mary mumbled, irritated with being one-upped.

Sage looked at the fa
ces of her friends, delighted with
their company.
Still, the familiar, painful pinch of regret pricked at her heart, reminding her of what she didn
’t have—
of what she knew she never would have.
Oh, she loved these dear ladies, it was true

but they did nothing to fill the loneline
ss, the gaping void in her soul
longing
for a life of wonder with a loving husband and a family all her own.
The sting of buried resentment began to well up in her, but she fought it, painfully tucking it away and trying to concentrate on the cards in her hand.

Reminding herself she w
as blessed—
that she was happy for her si
sters and their blissful lives—Sage smiled (however half
heartedly
)
when Mary said,

Now ya see, Livie?
Proper dealin

…it

s important.


I feel a win comin

over me,

Rose giggled.


Well
,
I just hope the Reverend Tippetts is in time to see it,

Mary grumbled.


Maybe he just will be, Mary,

Rose said as she drew a card.

Then me and
Scarlett
Tippetts can both start into kickin

up our heels.


That would be a sight!

Mary exclaimed, discarding a card.

A sight indeed.

 

Eugenia glanced
to
the sweet young woman at her side.
One look at her nephew Rebel Lee Mitchel
l, and the girl would be lost—or perhaps found—
whichever way Eugenia chose to look at it.
It was in fact dangerously daring, quite meddling in reality, but Eugenia
felt warm and excited inside—
happier and brighter than she had felt since Buck passed.
Reb

s soul was damaged, it was true.
But he wasn

t completely unrecoverable.
There was a heart in him yet.
There had to be!
And Eugenia could only hope Sage would be the one to find it.

Again Eugenia studied Sage—her sweet and lovely features—
the smile she forced attempting to mask her profound loneliness.
If only the girl knew what was about to arrive on the front porch step of Willow
s’
s Boarding House.
If only she knew.



Hush, Bullet!

Sage scolded, eating a piece of biscuit dough off her finger.

We

ll go out as soon as I get these in.

Hurriedly, Sage arranged the biscuits in a pan.
It was obvious by the dog

s unceasing barking he needed to go out.

Sliding the pan into the oven, she said to the sandy-colored dog,

Ya know, if you

d just quit chewin

through your rope and consortin

with Mr. Simmons
’s
lady dog, I could let ya out on your own.

Quickly, she untied the rope tethering the dog to the table leg and wrapped it around her wrist several times to secure it.

At the prospect of the outdoors and some
semblance
of freedom, t
he dog instantly began to pant—
excitedly jumping up and down attempting to thankfully lick Sage

s face.
Bullet was only a puppy, just one and a half years old, but he was already enormous!
A big dog with a puppy

s mind was, indeed, a handful.
When Karoline married J
oel Evans just before Christmas—
well, somehow Sage inherited the handful.


Come on, boy,

Sage gig
gled as the dog smiled at her with
relief.

Let

s take you out back.

However, at that very moment, a loud, soli
d knock sounded at the boarding house front door. Sage sighed—
slightly
irritated at the interruption—
and led Bullet toward the front door instead.


I guess we

ll go out front this time, boy,

she told him.

But just this once.
Do you hear me?

The dog seemed to nod in agreement as he bounded happily toward the door.


Settle down, Bullet.
Settle down,

she said, wrapping the rope around her wrist again in an effort to shorten the slack.

Pasting on a friendly smile, Sage opened the door to greet whomever she might find on the other side.
Her smile vanished instantly, however, as astonishment washed over her.

Standing there on the front porch of Willow
s’
s Boarding House was as tall a man as Sage had ever seen.
He wore a black front-flap shirt.

He removed his weathered, black hat to greet her with a deep,

Mornin

, miss.

Sage saw that his hair was
as black as the shirt he wore—
as were the finely groomed mustache
and goatee he smoothed with an
index finger and thumb as he greeted her.
Other than the fact the color of his eyes was as dark nearly as his pupils, Sage only had time to notice one other thing—he w
as so extraordinarily handsome—
she was left with her mouth gaping open.

Her awe of the stranger at her door was cut short when Bullet began jumping about in excitement.
The dog planted
both front paws firmly on the stranger
’s stomach, licking
the front of his shirt.


Down, Bullet!

Sage scolded.

Down!

Bullet obeyed long enough for Sage to utter,

I

m sorry, sir.
He…

Instantly the dog squeezed himself between the stranger

s knees in an effort to escape.
The rope around Bullet

s neck was still anchored securely around Sage

s wrist as he managed to break between the stranger

s legs. Sage went with him, hitting her face solidly on the man

s knee as he raised one long leg to let the dog through.

BOOK: The Touch of Sage
4.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Broken Wings by Viola Grace
Anthology Complex by M.B. Julien
Mabe's Burden by Kelly Abell
Under His Spell by Natasha Logan
Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Soul Mate's Promise by Soprano, Robin H
Muerto hasta el anochecer by Charlaine Harris
The Gargoyle at the Gates by Philippa Dowding
Final Grave by Nadja Bernitt