Award-winning Harlequin author Barbara White Daille is with us today. Welcome, Barbara! I have to say, after reading this excerpt, redemption stories are right up my alley and I’m going to have to get a copy on my Nook. You pretty much hooked me with the first two lines and it just got better from there.
I hope you have a great blog tour and am happy to be hosting you here!
Without further ado, here’s The Rodeo Man's Daughter, by Barbara White Daille.
Genre: Short Contemporary Romance
Heat level: Sweet
After growing up dirt-poor and looked down upon by folks in town, Caleb Cantrell took off while he was still a teen, headed for fame and fortune. A near-fatal injury destroys his rodeo dreams, and he returns to his hometown with the goal of settling scores with the folks who’d done him wrong and then leaving them all behind for good. Despite his rocky reunion with his high-school sweetheart, he finds his interest in her still going strong. All of a sudden, he's got a hankering to hang around.
The Rodeo Man's Daughter excerpt:
A long memory made for bad company when a man had too much time on his hands. Especially when those hands held a sizable number of grudges.
Caleb Cantrell eased up on the gas pedal of the pickup truck he'd rented earlier that morning at the airport. He cut the engine and stepped down from the cab, his worn boots hitting the ground and raising a cloud of dust. First time in ten years he'd set foot in Flagman's Folly, New Mexico, and the layer of dirt that now marked him made it seem as if he'd never left.
Yet he'd come a hell of a long way since then.
Here on the outskirts of town, he stood and stared across the unpaved road at the place he'd once had to call home. After he'd left there, he'd slept in no-tell motels, lived out of tour buses and trucks and, eventually, spent time in luxury hotels. Didn't matter where you went, you could always tell the folks who took pride in ownership from the ones who didn't give a damn.
Even here, you could spot the evidence. Not a ritzy neighborhood, not a small community, just a collection of ramshackle houses and tarpaper shacks. A few had shiny windows and spindly flowers in terra-cotta pots. Some had no windowpanes at all. Here and there, he noted a metal-sided prefab home with too many coats of paint on it and weeds poking through the cinder blocks holding it up.
And somewhere, beyond all that, he knew he'd find a handful of sun-bleached trailers, their only decoration the cheap curtains hanging inside. The fabric blocked the view into the units through the rusty holes eaten into their sides.
Sometimes, the curtains blocked sights no kid should see, of mamas doing things no mama should do.
Swallowing hard, he retreated a pace, as if he'd felt the pull of one rust-corroded hulk in particular. It wouldn't still be there. It couldn't. But he had no intention of going over there to make sure.
Across the way, a gang of kids hung out near a sagging wire fence and a pile of cast-off truck tires. Still quiet, but soon their laughter and loud conversations would start, followed by the shouts from inside the houses. Some of the houses, anyway.
The rough edges of his ignition key bit into his palm.
In all the years he'd been gone from this town and with all the miles he'd logged, he should have shoved away everything that bothered him about this place.
He hadn't forgotten a single one of them.
The gang of kids had moved out of sight behind one of the shacks. A lone boy, eight or nine years old, stayed behind and stood watching him. Dark hair, a dirty face. Torn T-shirt and skinned knees. Could have been Caleb, twenty years ago.
The kid made his way across the road. "Hey," he said, "whatcha doing?"
"Just looking around."
"What's wrong with your leg?"
The boy must have noticed his awkward gait, the stiffness that always hit him after he sat in one position for a while. "I hurt my knee. Getting off a bull."
"Thought you were supposed to stay on 'em."
He shrugged. "That one had other ideas." Not too bad—in those three quick sentences, he'd managed to bypass two years' worth of rehab and pain.
The kid looked away and then quickly back again, shuffled his feet and jerked his chin up high. Caleb recognized the mix of pride and false bravado.
"Hey, mister…got a dollar?"
"Sure." How many times had he asked that question himself? How many times had he sworn he'd never ask it again? He reached into his pocket for his wallet, thumbed it open and plucked out a bill without looking at it. "Here you go."
"Wow. Gee, thanks. Thanks a lot."
Caleb grinned. The boy's grubby fingers clutched a hundred-dollar bill. He turned and raced across the road as if fearing Caleb would change his mind. He wouldn't. He had plenty of money now.
Folks in town would sure be surprised to see him again, especially when he started spending that cash. When he started showing them just how far he'd come. Maybe then they'd look at him differently than they had years ago.
His grin fading, he shoved the wallet into his pocket and nodded.
Yeah. He'd show them, all right.
Barbara’s note to readers:
Hi! I hope you enjoyed the excerpt of A RODEO MAN'S DAUGHTER. I'm currently on a blog tour to celebrate the release of the book. You can find full details at my website. Meanwhile, please leave a comment or question for me here at Sunday Share, and your name will be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of A RANCHER'S PRIDE, the first book set in Flagman's Folly.
Who is Barbara?
Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.
From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books." Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.
Barbara hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!
Leave a comment or question (and contact email, please) for Barbara and you could win an autographed copy of A RANCHER’S PRIDE. She will pick a winner on Wednesday.
Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Barbara. Have a great week everyone!
Stacey Joy Netzel