Evan Jones thinks his troubles are over in 1886. He’s married his love, the Mexican healer Reyna, and started horse ranching outside of Tombstone in the Arizona Territory. But tragedy strikes when least expected to nearly tear their union apart. Evan and Reyna soon face more than one phoenix rising from the forgotten ashes of his past that threaten dire—and possibly deadly—consequences.
He grasped her wrist with his free hand. Chocolate brown eyes searched her face. “Dear Jesus God in Heaven, are you—you’re with child?”
This wasn’t how she’d hoped to tell him, wasn’t the time she’d have chosen. She looked down at her shoes, stalling for a long minute, knowing all too well how he would react with guilt at not being able to provide and protect. Male ego could be so fragile… Yet, the time for pretense had definitely passed.
She hoped her smile as she met his gaze would lessen the blow to his pride. “Yes, Evan. You’re going to be a father.”
He pressed his lips into a thin line. “And me less than useless. Were you going to tell me at some point or was I to guess?”
“You mean you didn’t know?” Dylan’s jaw dropped open then closed slowly. “Was it to be a surprise and I’ve gone and put my foot in it? Ah, I’m sorry, Reyna, but you look like Sarah does when she’s full of the motherly happies, all radiant beauty. After the morning sickness is done with, wrth gwrs. She doesn’t look good a’tall during that part of it, green around the gills and peaked, dark circles under her eyes, a real fright—”
Sarah poked his thigh with her fork, hard. “Stop yapping.”
“But you do—”
“Well, Lord Almighty, you don’t have to go on about it!”
Sitting on the edge of the sofa at Evan’s waist, Reyna touched his cheek with tender affection. “I didn’t want to worry you, mi corazón. You are not ‘useless,’ you have had a terrible injury. I’m stronger than you think. And you’re healingdia por dia. There is time for you to get strong and be the provider I know you want to be.”
“Plus we’re here to help.” Sarah rose and gathered their plates. “And no, Evan, she hadn’t told us either. Dylan, help me take the dishes in and give them privacy while I knock sense into you. ‘A real fright’ eh? I’ll show you a real fright—with my rolling pin.” With a swish of skirts she headed toward the kitchen only to turn and glare at her husband, tilting her head toward the door. “Well? C’mon with you, ‘Gabby’ Jones. Give them a chance to talk. Never in my life have I known a man to be such a tattling gossip…” The door creaked on its hinges as she pushed through, muttering.
Dylan grinned. “Congratulations! Took you long enough, but I guess ’tis all about the trying, eh?” He wriggled his brows at them, picked up the tray, and followed Sarah. “C’mon now,nghariad, you know I didn’t mean—”
The door closed.
In the ensuing quiet, Evan took Reyna’s hand, frowning. “I hate that I’m not sound enough to pull my own weight. Here you are doing twice the work when you should be taking it easy. I always thought I’d jump for joy and kiss you the day you’d tell me you’re carrying our child. So much for that.”
“See? I knew the news would worry you. Have faith, husband.” She leaned in, smiling. “You can jump for joy when she’s born. But you can kiss me now.”
A knock on the front door interrupted. Reyna pulled away and sighed. “I’ll go see who it is and be back in a moment. Perhaps Dylan invited Doc to join us for dessert—again.” She left the parlor and walked down the hall to the entryway.
A round-faced, muscular man with sandy-brown hair and eyes the color of ice stood on the front porch when she opened the door, a beaten hat in his hands and a threadbare carpetbag at his feet. “S’mae. You the housemaid, then? I’m looking for Dylan Jones. Fetch him if you would, now.”
Instant offense stiffened her neck though he spoke in a heavy, familiar musical accent. Reyna spoke slowly and precisely. “Perdóname, señor. You are mistaken—”
She barely heard her husband’s voice as he called from the parlor. “Who’s that at the door, Reyna?”
“Evan Jones, is it? I guess I’m not as mistaken as you thought.” With an arrogant stride the man stepped past her into the hall, loudly announcing, “It’s me, Owen. Owen Pritchard. Come from Wales to find you.”