Monday, August 06, 2012

Her Surprise Sister

Her Surprise Sister, Book One in the Texas Twins continuity series from Love Inspired Books, is out now. If you love twin stories, you won't want to miss this new series which has not one, but two sets of twins, family secrets, missing parents, and a mystery that spans two decades. For more information, check out


By Marta Perry

Chapter One

What could she possibly say to a father who had walked out of her life when she was an infant? Hi, Dad, it's me, Violet?

Violet Colby's fingers tightened on the steering wheel. What was she doing miles from home in Fort Worth, trying to follow an almost non-existent clue to her birth father?

A sleek sports car cut in front of her SUV, horn blaring. Shaken, Violet flipped on the turn signal and pulled into the right lane. City traffic had frazzled whatever nerves she had left.

A coffee shop sign ahead beckoned to her. That was what she needed…a short respite, a jolt of caffeine, and a chance to reassess her actions.

She found a parking space, fed the meter, and pushed open the coffee shop's glass door, fatigue dragging at her. The aroma drew her in irresistibly, and in a few moments she was sitting at a small round glass table, a steaming mug and a flaky croissant in front of her. She hadn't bothered to read through the long list of specialty coffees the shop offered. All she wanted was caffeine, the sooner the better.

A woman brushed past her, the summer print dress and high platform sandals she wore making Violet uncomfortably aware of her faded jeans and scuffed cowboy boots. It wasn't that she hadn't been in Fort Worth before, but she'd usually taken time to dress appropriately for a trip to the city, a five-hour drive from the Colby ranch. This time she'd bolted out of her mother's hospital room, exhausted from nights of waiting and praying for Mom to open her eyes.

She hadn't been able to take it any longer. That wasn't the Belle Colby everyone in the county knew, lying there motionless day after day. Belle Colby was energetic, vibrant, laughing, always in motion. She had to be, running a spread the size of the Colby Ranch and raising two kids on her own.

Not now. Not since her mare had stepped in a hole, sending Mom crashing to the ground. And Jack, as Violet's big brother always the take-charge one, was so eaten up with guilt for arguing with Mom before the accident that he was being no help at all.

Violet broke a corner off the croissant and nibbled at it. Her family was broken, it seemed, and she was the only one who could fix it. That's what she'd been thinking during those lonely hours before dawn at her mother's hospital bed. The only solution her tired brain could come up with was to find their father—the man Mom never talked about.

Now that she was here, in Fort Worth, where she'd been born, the task seemed futile. Worse, it seemed stupid. What would it accomplish if she did find him?

She didn't belong here, any more than the sophisticated-looking guy coming in the door would belong on the ranch. Expensively-cut suit and designer tie, glossy leather boots that had certainly never been worn to muck out a stall, a Stetson with not a smudge to mar its perfection—he was big city Texas, that was for sure.

The man's head turned, as if he felt her stare, and she caught the full impact of a pair of icy green eyes before she could look away. She looked down at her coffee. Quickly she raised the mug, hoping to hide her embarrassment at being caught staring.

It didn't seem to be working. She heard approaching footsteps and kept her gaze down. A pair of glossy brown boots moved into her range of vision.

"What are you doing here?"

Violet looked up, surprised. "What?"

"I said what are you doing here?" He pulled out the chair opposite her, uninvited, and sat down. "I told you I'd be at your apartment…" He slid back the sleeve of his suit to consult the gold watch on his tanned wrist. "In five minutes. So why are you in the coffee shop instead of at your condo? Are you trying to avoid me?"

Okay, he was crazy. That was the only answer Violet could come up with. She groped for her bag, keeping her eyes on his face. It looked sane enough, with a deep tan that made those green eyes bright in contrast, a square, stubborn-looking jaw, and a firm mouth. His expensively-cut hair was sandy blond.

He didn't look crazy, but what did that mean? Or maybe this was his idea of a pick-up line.

Her fingers closed on her bag, and she started to rise. His hand shut across the table and closed around her wrist. Not hard, but firmly enough that she couldn't pull away without an undignified struggle.

"The least you can do is talk to me about it." He looked as if keeping his temper was an effort. "Whatever you think, I still want to marry you."

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