|This is a picture from my Grandma's ranch (now owned by my uncle.) |
My cousin took it. Isn't it gorgous?
It is also the inspiration for the setting of my next book.
The working title for my next book is A Match Made in Lone Spur. (That will probably change next week. LOL.) It's kind of a Western--I say kind of because I'm kind of a city girl, and this book is a little half-Country-half-City. I'm working on the ending right now. It's been so fun to write. I've included the first few pages below:
Rosie hadn’t yet met her new neighbor, but the fact that he’d hired movers instead of hauling his own pick-up loads didn’t inspire her confidence. Betty from down the road had told her—with a wink—that the new neighbor was a bachelor from the East. He’d come to Lone Spur as a change, having already backpacked through Europe, run the Boston Marathon, and swam the English Channel. Now he wanted to conquer the Wild West.
Before he bought the place, his lawyer had sent a letter, asking the other neighbors’ permission to build a small resort. Since her grandfather had started having heart trouble around that time, Rosie hadn’t thought much about it. She’d helped Grandpa sign his permission, figuring a resort could boost the local economy.
Water, though—that was a different story.
Rosie walked along the mostly empty irrigation canal with her yellow Labrador, Cheddar, at her heels until she got to the fence-line, dividing her property from her neighbor’s. She gripped her long blond ponytail before bending to slip her body in between two rows of barbed wire strung across the fence posts. Cheddar, having learned long ago not to take chances with the fence, did not follow her.
Once Rosie crested the small hill past the fence, she saw why the water level was low. Her new neighbor’s sprinkler system threw white jets across his barren fields. He was using her water—water she could never get back. Hadn’t the irrigation coordinator told her new neighbor about the schedule?
Rosie quickened her pace. Five foot-seven and sturdily built, she had a body that testified of pioneer stock, but she could walk as fast in cowboy boots and Wranglers as any female health club member could jog in spandex. And now a sense of injustice propelled her to walk even faster. As she breathed in the hot desert air through her clenched teeth, she considered whether it might be better to let the police handle this. Stealing water was a serious offence.
The problem with the police, though, was that it might be hours before they took care of the problem. And Grandpa wouldn’t approve. She couldn’t risk upsetting him—not with his heart condition.
Ahead of her, Rosie caught a glimpse of her neighbor. Wearing board shorts and a T-shirt, he looked better suited for a surfing competition than for running a ranch. After a few more steps, she could also see that he wore flip-flops. Didn’t he know this was rattlesnake country?
Her neighbor pulled his screwdriver away from the irrigation pump and waved. His broad smile startled Rosie at first. She wasn’t used to seeing men her age that smiled with such confidence. At least she thought he was her age—he seemed about thirty, but he could’ve been older. He obviously hadn’t been beaten down the way most men around Lone Spur had. Desert living did that to people.
Other than his confidence, Rosie supposed there wasn’t much that was extraordinary about him. He had dark brown hair and wore aviator glasses. She probably could have found ten men that looked just like him in Copper City. He didn’t look like someone who swam the English Channel and ran the Boston Marathon.
She stopped on the other side of the ditch from his irrigation pump. “You’re using my water,” she shouted.
He held a hand to his ear. “I can’t hear you.” He pointed a few yards away to a crop of cottonwood trees. “Maybe we should talk over there.”
Rosie leaped over the irrigation ditch and switched off the pump. She waited until the motor died down before she spoke. “It’s not your turn to use the water. Someone should have told you. There’s a schedule.”
He laughed—he actually laughed. “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you. I’m Destry Steadman.”
She resisted the urge to turn back toward home. She still had so much to do. “I’m Rosie Curtis.”
“Rosie from the water police?” He removed his sunglasses to reveal dark blue eyes almost the same shade as Rosie’s.
Rosie folded her arms, reminding herself that it wasn’t Destry’s fault she’d arrived home two hours late because of Grandpa’s doctor appointment. “Rosie, your neighbor.” He had only caused her to miss an extra half-hour of watering time. “Someone should’ve given you a copy of the schedule.”
“Someone gave me a copy, but I didn’t know it was that big of a deal.”
“It’s a big deal.” Rosie tried to control her tone. “You’re just lucky you didn’t use Brett McFerrin’s water.”
“He owns the house at the end of the lane, and he’s got at least forty pounds on you.”
Destry’s eyes widened. “You mean he’d—”
“Brett’s a nice guy, but it’s not unusual for a man to lose his temper over water rights, especially when there’s a drought.” Rosie bent to pick up Destry’s screwdriver from where it lay in a puddle of water. She wiped it on the side of her jeans and handed it to him. “I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have, but I’m in sort of a hurry right now.”
He lowered one eyelid to a half-squint. “Sorry about the water. Would it work to trade times?”
Rosie shook her head. “Thanks for offering, but you were scheduled to water earlier this afternoon. I’d be happy to trade in the future if you let me know ahead of time.”
He reached for the wallet in his back pocket. “I’ll pay you back.” A typical city dweller, he had no idea that water was more valuable than liquid gold out here. “How much do I owe you?”
Ignoring the stack of bills in his wallet, Rosie forced a smile. “You don’t owe me anything. The main thing I need is to get back to work.” She turned to walk back in the direction of Grandpa’s ranch. She didn’t have time to teach him the ropes—not with everything else she had to do. Since Grandpa’s heart trouble started, Rosie had taken on almost all the work around the ranch, and she needed to get ahead on her chores before her teaching job began again next week.