"I don't know how you do it Mary, only you could get stuck under a pile of hay." They help her out and all three of them brush the hay out of their hair and off of their clothes then head to the creek. Lyn stamps her large cowboy boots, Sharon brushes off her big butt, and Mary picks pieces of grass out of her large cleavage. They laugh at each other and head out of the open, off kilter, barn doors. Lyn eyes, an old cemetery and pokes Mary in the ribs. "How many people are dead in that cemetery, she asks her.
"Who knows." Mary shrugs. "All if them." Sharon, Mary and Lyn all laugh and as they walk to the wonderful spread set up and ready. Oliver, with Zach's help has set up tables and laid blankets out under the shade of maple and elm trees.
The soothing sound of the rushing creek and the warmth of a beautiful summer day make it perfect for a picnic and the launch of Debra St. John's book, This Can't Be Love.
The meadows are filled with wildflowers and Oliver has placed them in old glass canning jars on each table. He looks handsome in his button down, western shirt, cowboy hat and snug jeans. His new boots shine in the sunlight. All three of the hostesses are dressed in the same way, each with different color shirts.
"Look," Mary points to the acres of fields where ATVs buzz in the distance. "I wanna do that too."
"Look at Oliver, he is enjoying Zach's company for sure." Sharon is pleased she wasn't sure how Oliver would take Zach's help. But, they seem to be getting along just great. The girls want every one of Debra's favorite foods. Heaping piles of crisp fried chicken, corn on the cob, fresh from the garden, home made potato salad with eggs and without, burgers sizzle on the wood fire and smell delightful, and sliced tomatoes, onions, all kinds of condiments lie in wait for hungry guests.
Oliver has set up a special table with bottled water, sparking grape juice, and the makings for virgin strawberry daquiris sit read to quench the thirst of even the most picky of visitors. Bottles of crisp cold beer sit in chests of ice for those who like it.
They will Mary tells her. "We've come up with a great question for our guests. What is that thing under your saddle called?"
Lyn laughs as she just recently told Mary what it was called.
Sharon whistles a loud whistle to get everyone's attention and announces with glee!
"Eat, laugh, play, swim, love, and be merry. And have fun at Debra's roast. We are happy to see you and hope you have a blast with us today!
THIS CAN'T BE LOVE
After the disastrous end of another dead-end relationship, all Jessica Hart wants is solitude and time to heal at her grandfather's mountain retreat. Instead she finds Zach Rawlings.
Zach has made himself at home at the cabin. He's house-sitting while the owner is away, and the temporary nature of the job suits him perfectly. For Jessica, Zach is everything she wants to escape.
As she gets to know him better, she realizes there's more to him than meets the eye. His patience and tender concern begin to heal something deep inside of her. But can she trust her heart to a man like Zach?
They laughed together, then fell silent. Crickets chirped in the darkness. The scent of Zach’s aftershave drifted to her on the light breeze.
After a while, he turned toward her. “Do you?”
“Do I what? Like apple pie and ice cream?”
“No,” he said softly. His gaze dropped to her lips. “Do you kiss and tell?”
Jessica’s heart kicked into a fast rhythm and she caught her breath. “I…”
“Shhhh.” He leaned closer. “I won’t tell if you won’t,” he whispered before his mouth claimed hers.
His lips stroked over hers, not aggressively, but softly, tenderly. He didn’t touch her anywhere else, but brushed her mouth with gentle intent.
Her first instinct was to pull back, but something stirred deep inside her. A feeling she’d nearly forgotten. Whispery shivers danced along her nerve endings and fluttered in her stomach. Without meaning to, the action was purely a reflex, she opened to him.
The kiss deepened. Their breath mingled. Her palm slid up his chest, feeling the play of muscle beneath his shirt. She fisted the flannel of his open collar in her hand.
His knuckles grazed the sides of her face.
Her body tingled with awareness. Scattered thoughts flitted through her mind, but she couldn’t hold onto any of them. Not while Zach kissed her. Not when his mouth fitted so perfectly against hers. Not when the pulse racing at the base of his throat matched the cadence of her heartbeat.
She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt like this. Had felt anything.
Should she be feeling this way about Zach?
Almost as if sensing her conflicting emotions, he softened the kiss, tenderly brushing his mouth over hers one last time.
She waged a silent war within, trying to calm her racing heart.
She still clutched his shirt. She relaxed her fingers one at a time, releasing the twisted fabric from her grasp. Finally she drew in a deep breath, then slowly let it out.
Her eyes found his.
Zach’s gaze searched hers. He smiled. A smile as soft and tender as his kiss. He touched his finger to her lips, then rose. “Good night, Jess.”
Debra St. John
THIS CAN'T BE LOVE
coming November 5 from The Wild Rose Press
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