The Cowboys of Clark’s Folly – Return to Folly

Saddle up, Cowgirls! for 4 stories about love and romance in the Lone Star State. These Texas cowboys will steal your heart…and fire your libido!

EXCERPT – Return to Folly by Linda Nightingale:

Today, Ash didn’t notice the natural stone construction or the black wrought iron and brass hardware on the stalls.  He hurried to the open door framing a cameo of a pretty girl on her knees in the straw beside a sweating black horse.  Trish’s wretched expression and the trembling hands stroking Jet’s neck broke his heart.  If the stallion died, a part of her would die, too.

“Do anything you can, Doc. I don’t care how much it costs.” Ash spoke from the doorway. “If he needs to be flown to A&M, you have my okay.”

Trish looked up at him.  A tear escaped her lashes, washing a path down her soiled cheek. “You won’t regret it, Ash.”

“Is he going to die?” Dorothy peered around Ash. “Trish, you’re everywhere I look.”

Irritation sizzled over him. Ash turned and took Dorothy’s shoulders. “Wait in the ranch office. Too many spectators won’t help Jet.”

She allowed him to lead her down an empty corridor. These horses had been turned out to graze. Trish and Charlie never missed a step.  He waved her ahead of him into the AC-cool office. Suddenly, Dorothy in her clean, pressed jeans and crisp white shirt reminded him of Deanne. They were both beautiful dolls, only useful as a toy.

He felt guilty for thinking such a thing, but it was true.  On a ranch, both were merely decoration.  A woman like Trish…his heart faltered.  Damn, he’d been so afraid of commitment, he’d failed to recognize the rough-cut diamond in his hand.

“Make yourself comfortable.” He patted the back of the burgundy love seat positioned along the outer wall. “I’ll let you know what happens.”

“There’s no need for me to wait here.  I’ll return to the house.  Ring me on my mobile.”

He nodded, held the door for her, and stiffened when she brushed a kiss to his lips, but he simply couldn’t bring himself to apologize for leaving her alone.

She sashayed out of the barn bound for comfort. He spun, hurrying back to the stall where Jet fought for his life.  When he arrived, he said nothing.  Trish didn’t look up.  She held the horse’s head for the vet to pump oil into his stomach through the tube inserted in a nostril.

Joe, the vet, shook his head.  “If this doesn’t work, next step: A&M.”

Ash nodded.  A desperate horsewoman tilted her head to hide her tears.

Within thirty minutes, Plan B became the only option. From his mobile, the vet ordered air transportation to College Station from the small local airport.  A privately owned van would trailer Jet to the veterinary school at Texas A&M for further diagnosis and treatment.

They arrived at the airfield fifteen miles from Marathon to find the plane could accommodate only one passenger.

“I’ll ride with Jet.” Trish looked on the verge of begging. “Okay, Ash?”

“Of course.” He longed to cradle her in his arms and comfort her, but as it was, he had to resist merely caressing her cheek. “The stallion knows and trusts you.  He’ll follow you anywhere.”

“Thanks,” she whispered, tears misting the dark brown eyes.

“Charlie, please tell Ms. Applewhite I was called away on an emergency.” He gave the pilot a grim smile.  “I’ll be your copilot, Captain Gaines.”

For which honor, he signed a credit card receipt in the amount of $3,500, but Ash held J.P. Morgan’s opinion, “If you have to ask how much a thing costs, you can’t afford it.”

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