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Roberta Olsen Major
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Clementine figures Jack Standard will wake up, smell the coffee, and be hers someday--until her stepsister Diana shows up at the High Standards spread in Texas and stakes a claim of her own.
Diana has always had a flair for getting what she wants--and what she wants this time is a piece of the Standards.
All his life, Harry Standard’s big brother has had to clean up after him. But not this time. This time, Harry Standard will find a way to get Diana out of Jack and Clem’s way once and for all…
Standard’s Point, Texas
They stood on the porch of Augie Ledbetter’s dry goods store, one tall and slim, the other small and dainty. From a distance, you might have thought--had you known they were mother and daughter--that the small one was the child. But closer up, you would find faint lines fanning out from the small woman’s eyes, and a thread or two of gray in her brown hair.
And there was no mistaking the untried look of the tall one. She had hazel eyes, hair the color of native honey, and a quiet smile--should you be lucky enough to catch her in one. While her mama’s bodice curved out and nipped in, the daughter was still pretty much straight up and down--another sign that she had some growing to do.
Lord knows they both prayed it wouldn’t be the up and down kind.
You got a feeling of anticipation from the two of them, though the daughter’s was banked. The mother paced a little, though, and twisted the cord of her little drawstring bag every once in awhile. And they both turned their eyes to the north end of the street often, where the stage was supposed to come barreling into town any time now.
So far, though, there wasn’t much traffic.
It was a chilly afternoon at the tail end of winter, and the people of Standard’s Point were mostly going about their business--though they spared a friendly nod or a wave or smile for the two in front of Ledbetter’s dry goods.
In the daughter’s unspectacular breast, there was a hum of anxiety, though you couldn’t tell it from her face.
"Afternoon, Mrs. Standard."
Clementine McKee could feel her mama stiffen, even from a few steps away. She looked over at the man. He was a tall young man--which was the first thing she checked right off, even though she’d never admit it--and many a woman would call him handsome. Clem knew him by sight only; Standard’s Point was not so large that you could call anyone a complete stranger.
Her mama, who was a smiling woman, only spared this man a stingy one. And Clem saw the way she took a half step in front of her daughter, as if to protect her.
"Mr. Brody." Along with the miserly smile, Jewel McKee Dover Standard dipped her chin in what might be able to pass for a nod, if you made allowances.
"Meeting someone on the stage this afternoon?" Cameron Brody asked as pleasantly as if he hadn’t just been as close to snubbed as a sweet woman like Jewel could bring herself to do.
Clementine, even at sixteen, figured he had to be as dumb as a post if he couldn’t tell Mama didn’t want to chat with him.
"Yes," Jewel said curtly. "Now, if you’ll excuse us."
Brody touched the brim of his hat. He didn’t look offended in the least. In fact, Clementine almost thought she saw a glint of amusement in his cold dark eyes. "Give my regards to your husband, Mrs. Standard."
Jewel dipped her chin again, though her fingers were white on the cord of her little bag. Cameron Brody moved off, chuckling.
"What is it you don’t like about Brody?" Clem asked when he was out of earshot.
"What makes you think there’s things I don’t like about Mr. Brody?" Jewel hedged. Then, without waiting for an answer, she went on. "Is the stage late, or am I just anxious? It’s been a lot of years." Jewel pulled out a handkerchief, coughed into it, then folded it up and tucked it away. "What if I don’t recognize her?"
Clementine smiled her quiet smile. "She’ll probably be the only dark-haired young lady arriving on the stage this afternoon."
Jewel started to chuckle, but it turned into another cough. When the spell had passed, she looked up at the serene face of her practical daughter. "You’re my joy, Clementine. What would I do without you?"
Clem half-shrugged, smiled again, then took another look towards the north end of the street that cut Standard’s Point into pretty much two equal halves.
Diana Dover was coming. The stepsister she barely remembered.
The Ice Cream Crone: “…a galloping romp of hilarity on a quest of pure enjoyment. Roberta Olsen Major delights her readers with wit, puns, and good old silliness… filled with the perfect combination of chivalry and joviality… Life, love and the pursuit of laughter reign…” --Joyce Handzo, In the Library Reviews, October 10, 2003
The Ice Cream Crone: “… takes ‘happily ever after’ a hop, skip and a jump farther, leading the child in us all on a merry romp through ‘what if’.” -- Pam Ripling, author of Locker Shock!
Roberta Olsen Major wore out two toy typewriters as a child before her parents decided it would be more frugal to provide her with the real thing. Throughout junior high and high school, she used two fingers to tap out lurid, angst-filled stories peopled with impossibly beautiful characters speaking highly improbable dialogue.
After earning a BA from Brigham Young University, she worked as a librarian in sensible shoes, before switching her Major to the care and feeding of a scientific husband and two charming children.
A published playwright and reviewer of children’s books, she now lives in Texas, where she collects dust, gets taken for daily walks by her faithful Schnauzers, and is, as always, working on her next book.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 246
Paper Weight (lb): 10.6
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