The Last Cowboy

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Words mean things. And Samantha Turner should know that better than anyone. Associate editor of the Flanders Herald, she’s buried herself in word-smithing for the better part of a decade as she labors at her father’s newspaper. But when she unleashes some well-deserved but incendiary words for her former boyfriend, she unwittingly sets into motion a chain of events that will change her life forever.

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Date de parution 08 avril 2016
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781772990454
Langue English

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The Last Cowboy
Previously published as Last Cowboy in Texas
By
Pat Dale and Nancy M Bell
Digital ISBNs EPUB 9781772990454 Mobi/Kindle 9781772995404 Web/PDF 9781772990478 Print ISBN 9781772990485 Amazon Print 9781772995411 Copyright 2016 Nancy M Bell and Pat Dale Cover Art by Michelle Lee 2016 All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights un der copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or in troduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electron ic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book
Chapter One Samantha Turner parked in front of Troy Robert’s re al estate office. With an exasperated sigh she shoved the car into park and k illed the engine. What was Dad thinking sending her to talk about the advertising requirements for the coming month? It wasn’t like he didn’t know her opinion of Troy. The man was insufferable, and his attitude toward women set her teeth on edge and mad e her blood boil. “C’mon, Sam. Just bite the bullet and get it over w ith,” she muttered. She gathered up the folder of mock up ads and exited the vehicle. T he light breeze tossed strands of hair into her face and she paused to tuck them back behi nd her ear. A nervous hand smoothed the linen skirt over her hips before she forced a bright smile on face and went to beard the lion in his den. “Hey, Julie. I’m here to see Troy about next month’ s ads. He should be expecting me,” she greeted the pretty young woman at the rece ption desk. “Hi, Sam. Nice to see you, your dad usually comes b y with the ad copy. This is a nice change.” “Not for me.” Sam grimaced. “For some reason known only to him, Dad decided I needed to come. Who knows?” She shrugged. “Is Troy in?” She peered toward the back office. No doubt he was having a late lunch and ent ertaining some sweet young thing if the town gossips of Flanders, Missouri were to be b elieved.Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.She grinned. “Samantha Turner here to see you,” Julie spoke into the headphone perched in her blonde hair. She listened for a moment and grinned. “He’ll see you in a minute, something he needs to clear up.” “A little afternoon delight? Gotta sneak someone ou t the backway?” Sam gritted her teeth and wondered why the thought bothered her so much. “No hardly.” Julie laughed. “He’s working on some b ig secret project. All on the down low. I have no idea what he’s up to, even.” “Hmmph.” Sam plopped down in the big leather chair in the front window of the small front office. “Big project, I bet.” Julie gave her a strange look just as the phone buz zed. “You can on in now.” “Thanks.” Sam collected her papers and got up. She walked down the short hall with no little reluctance. She paused outside the half c losed door and smoothed her hair. Taking a deep breath she rapped and pushed the door open. Troy Roberts was just as handsome as ever, and just as infuriatingly male as well. “Have a seat.” He waved vaguely in the direction of the chair in front of his desk while shuffling through a sheaf of papers on his desk. Fi nally, he looked up when she slapped a folder of ad proofs on the corner of the polished surface. “Hello Samantha. I wasn’t expecting to see you, Ozzie usually drops by with the stuff.” “Looks like you’re stuck with me this week.” Her sm ile was more a grimace. She flipped the folder open and shoved it toward him. A few of the papers Troy had been working on fluttered to the floor and Sam bent to retrieve them. Her head smacked hard into the dark haired man who had dived for the wayw ard sheets at the same time. “Ow! What the hell is wrong with you?” She straightened up and rubbed her forehead. “Nothing. Sorry.” Troy shoved the papers into a fat folder and then put that into a desk drawer. “Let’s take a look at what Ozzie’s com e up with this week.” “Actually, I did the layouts, not Dad. But never mi nd that right now. What’s so all fired top secret that you nearly kill me just to keep me from even touching those papers? Some clandestine less than legal real estate dealin gs? Money laundering? C’mon, Roberts. Spill.” Sam glared at him through narrowed eyes. He flushed and ran a finger inside the collar of hi s shirt. A sure sign he was trying to avoid the truth. “Why do you always think the worst of me, woman? It’s just a run of the mill real estate deal. That’s it.” “Sure it is,” Sam jeered softly. “Like I can’t tell when you’re lying. A skill I should have developed in high school, would have saved me a lot of embarrassment back then.” “Are you never going to let that go? I never lied t o you back then. There was nothing between me and Rosemary—” “Like hell!” The words exploded from her before she could stop them. “I saw you, Troy. My date—at the senior prom—wrapped around her out by parking lot. What an
idiot I was, making excuses for you. Worrying somet hing was wrong when you disappeared…” She shook her head. “It wasn’t like that. I’ve tried to explain it to y ou a hundred times but you just want to believe the worst of me.” “And Rosemary yapping all over town the next day ab out how you ditched me for her, and you guys were an item now. What a stupid trusting fool I was, that was allnothing?” “Samantha, it was years ago. I have no control over what Rosemary said, then or now.” Troy sighed and leaned back in his chair. “I find that hard to believe when the two of you we re thick as thieves all that summer. People were expecting you to announce the engagemen t any day.” Her voice thickened with emotion and she cursed herself for letting it show. “What did you expect me to do? You wouldn’t even ta lk to me, answer my phone calls, you slammed the door in my face more than on ce. And Rosemary, well Rosemary was right there and willing to—” “Willing to what? Go on, Troy. Willing to what?” Sa m snapped. “You know what, Sam. This is ancient history. Now e ither show me those damned proofs or get the hell out.” She picked up the folder and threw it at him, the p apers showering over the carpet as the folder slid right across the desk and off the f ar side. “Take and look and call Dad with any changes.” Sam stalked out of the office, s lamming the door behind her with a satisfying crash that brought Julie running from th e reception desk. “Oops. Just another amicable meeting between Turner and Roberts I see.” “Yup. See ya later, Julie.” Sam continued out the d oor and across the street to her car. She paused as she opened the door her reporter ’s senses tingling. What was so hush hush that Troy was working on? Had to be somet hing big that he thought wouldn’t be too popular with the good folk of Flanders or he wouldn’t have been so quick to try and keep her from seeing the papers. “Hmmm, what are you up to, Mr. Roberts?” She leaned on the open door and gazed at the Happy Estates real estate office across the street in speculation. A vision of Troy, the sun picking up high lights in his dark hair, flashed unbidden across her inner eye. A sigh escaped her lips. Why couldn’t things be as simple as they were in high school. Well, not simple really. More like magical. Her, Samantha Turner, book worm and all round nerd, dating Troy Roberts. Mr. Handsome and most likely to succeed. A warm glow heated the pit of her stomach as memories of steaming up the back of his dad’s car out by the lake replayed in h er mind. “Hey, Sam!” Mrs. Harvey called from across the stre et breaking her reverie. “’Lo, Mrs. Harvey,” she called back. Shaking her he ad Sam slid into her car. “Remember what happened at prom, idiot,” she remind ed herself. “From now on Dad can take ad copy to him. The less I have to do with Troy Roberts the better. * * * Troy glanced at Sam’s retreating back as he gathere d up the scattered papers from the floor. The twitch of her backside beneath her s lim fitting skirt mesmerized him until the door slammed shut behind her.Damn!Pig headed woman.Why couldn’t she let go of what happened at the stupid senior prom years ag o? If she’d just listen to his side… Troy let the thought go. He shook his head to rid i t of the memory of sliding his hands over those enticing curves of hers. Samantha Turner had only improved with age, that was for sure. Sheaf of papers in hand, he straighte ned up and returned to his desk. It took a few moments to separate the ad copy from the papers for his block buster real estate deal. Thank God Sam didn’t get a look at the m or the details would be splashed all over the front page of the Flanders paper. Just what he didn’t need at this point in the delicate negotiations. He set the mock up ads to the side and turned his a ttention to the real estate deal. The contract was covered with scribbled notes and c rossed out clauses. The whole messed kept blurring into the image of Sam’s butt j ust before the door slammed shut. “Damn it! Julie, is there any fresh coffee?” He raised his voice on the last phrase. The door opened and Julie stuck her head inside. “J ust made a fresh pot. I’ll bring you a cup, right away. She got to you again, didn’t she, boss?” “Who?” he asked trying to look innocent. “You know who I mean. Sam.”
“Does it show that much?” “Yep. She’s grown up to be a tough woman. Nothing l ike she was in school, that’s for sure.” “I think I liked her younger self much better,” Tro y mused. “Certainly seemed like you two were thicker than th ieves back then. Now you’re more like oil and water.” She chuckled as she left to ge t his coffee. “Or fire and oil,” he muttered. The woman still ign ited heat in his belly whenever he came into contact with her. His relationship with Samantha in high school still insinuated itself into his dreams. They’d never gone quite all the way but he’d looked forward to the day when they would. He’d planned that around the senior prom, bu t then Rosemary Silcox threw a monkey wrench into his plans. He’d waited around un til Sam came back after college, but she made it perfectly clear from the get-go, sh e wasn’t interested in him. any more. To hide his wounded pride and injured heart, Troy s et out to create the impression he was quite the stud. He dated a few women in Flander s and then dropped hints and bits of gossip where he knew they travel fast about pain ting the town red in Brandon with a plethora of beautiful women and country singers. If I could only stop those stupid dreams... Oh, wel l. Fantasies are harmless and there’s no chance of anything happening for real. If I could just move on with my life… “Here ya go, boss.” Julie set coffee on the corner of his desk and left him to it. “Thanks, Jules.” Absently, he reached for the mug w hile frowning at his paper strewn desk. He’d been about to make an important call whe n Samantha arrived. Now that he’d calmed a bit, he dialed his client. * * * Samantha indicated and pulled out the parking spot at the side of Main Street. There was a ton of work waiting for her back at the newsp aper, but the thought of it was as appealing as dunking herself in the river in Januar y. She dialed her best friend Melissa Coward’s number. “Missy? Hey, are you free for coff ee? I need a break, I just met with Troy about next week’s ad copy. He’s such a jerk!” “What did he do this time?” Missy laughed. “I thoug ht Ozzie took care of that account.” “He asked me to do the layout and then said since i t was my creation I should be the one to present them. Wily old man has something up his sleeve. He went fishing with Troy’s dad last night, the pair of them must have c ooked up a scheme between them.” “Maybe they remember how you two were in school. Yo u know, everyone thought it was only a matter of time until there was a wedding announcement.” A spur of electric tension coursed her body. “Don’t remind me! I looked like a bloody fool after what he did at prom. I couldn’t wait to leave for college after that.” “I know, Sam. But maybe you should have let him try and explain,” Missy said. “You wouldn’t even look at him after that, remember?” “I saw what I saw. No explanation needed.” She snar led the words. “Sorry, Missy. I shouldn’t take it out on you. Besides, it’s all water under the bridge now.” “It’s okay. Where do you want to meet for coffee?” “The diner?” Missy giggled. “Sure, see you in a few.” Sam scrunched down in her seat as she drove by the Herald office. With any luck he wouldn’t see her and flag her down to run some othe r asinine errand. The man was always going on about the son he never had, the one he’d hoped would take over the paper. Like Sam was collateral damage or something. Dad never seemed to realize that every time he said those things she felt like she w as never going to be good enough to please him. I do my best to be the son he always wanted but he never seems to notice. * * * Troy accelerated down the winding road from Flander s to Reeds Spring enjoying the way the red sports car hugged the curves. He was ho t on the trail of another sweet land
deal. Since musicians and entertainers had chosen t o turn Branson into a national phenomenon, land values in the area skyrocketed. When his father retired and left him in charge of t he real estate business in the sleepy little town of Flanders, Missouri, Troy was determined to put the company on the map. Branson’s new found popularity gave him the pe rfect opportunity to take advantage of the possibilities opening up. He knew in his gut he could make a killing selling exclusive private properties hidden away in the wooded hills just outside of the big city. His hunch had proved right and now the bi g names in country music were lining up to purchase their own secluded hideaways. Troy w as more than happy to oblige them. Troy grinned. He was on his way to seal the deal on a two thousand acre parcel of pristine Ozark woods and hills. Successful country singer, Jason Tawdry contacted Happy Estates looking for the perfect place to buil d a hidden mansion. Troy had scoured the area and called in a few favours. There were still large tracts that could be had for a very reasonable price, but he had to act fast. Word was spreading fast and land values were set to skyrocket. He hoped to clos e the deal today if luck was with him. The two thousand acres was selling for a tenth of p rojected value; a thirtieth of what he’d sell the five-acre parcels for. There was some competition and if he didn’t get things finalized today, it was likely the price wou ld double or triple in the next few days. There was one possible problem with the site. He’d heard a rumour that some environmentalists were concerned about the proximit y of the proposed development to the nearby conservation area. Troy gritted his teet h. No tree huggers were going to stand in the way of progress, not to mention a heal thy boost to his bank account. He had a plan already to deal with them. “Bring it on, ” he muttered and accelerated around another sharp bend. * * * “Sam, I need you to go over to Reeds Spring. There’ s a lady at the motel there that has a story.” She raised her gaze from the editorial she was work ing on for this week’s edition and frowned at her father. “What? Was someone murdered? “No, but you’d think so from the way this gal’s car rying on. Just see if she’s got anything newsworthy.” “Okay. You mind if I finish my editorial first?” “I figured you’d rather drive that road in daylight.” He was right. “Well, I suppose I can finish this to morrow. What’s her name?” “Rose Ingersoll. At least she says it is. Unit elev en.” Sam closed the file she was working on and shoved t he chair back from the desk with a sigh. Great, she’d have to finish it when sh e got back from talking to some crazy lady. At least this Rose wasn’t Rosemary Silcox.Is it really fair to dislike the woman before I even meet her just because of her first na me? “Bye, Dad. Let Mom know I might be late for dinner. ” She waved a hand toward where Ozzie leaned on the front counter gossiping w ith one of his cronies. At least it was a nice day for a drive. The sun was bright and the trees overhanging the road threw shady patterns on the road as Sam pushed the car as fast as she dared on the winding road. Wind whipped through her hair and she grinned . Maybe this was better than staring at the computer screen in her tiny office. “Reed Springs, look out ‘cause here I come.” It was four when she pulled up at the Quiet Springs Motel. The place was just an office and a dozen ramshackle cabins, a left over from the early twentieth century. A woman with fiery red hair opened the door of numb er eleven when she knocked. “Are you Rose Ingersoll?” Sam flashed her press pas s. “Yes. You must be the reporter from the Flanders He rald.” The woman looked at her with a peculiar expression on her face. “Right. I’m Samantha Turner.” The look of amusement on the woman’s face puzzled her but she didn’t stop to analyze it. “I spoke with your father earlier. Did he explain t he issue I want to make people aware of?”
“Dadsaidyouhadastorybutdidn’tgivemeanyde tails.What’sthelowdown?”Hot
“Dad said you had a story but didn’t give me any de tails. What’s the lowdown?” Hot to discover what the hell it was the woman wanted a nd get home before dark Sam ignored the niggling feeling that something was off about the red haired woman. “Before we start, please call me Rose. I’m an envir onmentalist. My federation sent me to appraise the situation and report on the rumo urs of the sale of two thousand acres adjacent to the Drury-Mincy Conservation Area . I understand there’s been development permits applied for that parcel of land . As you may or may not know those hills are full of rare plant species as well as hom e to quite a few animals and amphibians on the endangered species list, Blanding s Turtle, the Eastern Spotted Skunk and Peregrine Falcons to name a few. The list of endangered plants includes lindera mellisifolia more commonly known as Pondber ry, Asclepias meadii which you probably know as Mead’s Milkweed…” “Im sorry to interrupt Ms. Ingersoll, I mean Rose, but what exactly do you want me to do about this?” “I want you to put this story on the front page of your paper, of course! The local population needs to know how the development of tha t parcel of land will impact the conservation area adjacent to it and that even thou gh the property in question lies outside the bounds of the conservation area that th ere are many rare plants and other species there that are in dire need of protection.” “What would you like to see happen, then?” Sam rubb ed the centre of her forehead with two fingers to ease the headache building there. “Well, of course, the best thing would be for the a rea to be left pristine, just as it is. But, I have it on good authority that a local realt or has made an offer and the owner is very close to accepting it. It’s imperative that th is information is made available to the public as soon as possible. Would you consider putting out a special edition?” “Whoa, hold on a minute. I don’t think a special ad dition is going to happen. Have you spoken to the owner of the land? Do you have th e name of the realtor or the firm he works for?” Maybe this has something to do with that top secret deal Troy’s working on. Sam chewed her lower lip and tuned out the woman’s voic e as she droned on about the endangered whatevers. If Troy was involved it might be fun to throw some heat his way. Most of the people she knew would welcome the devel opment so close to Flanders. It would provide jobs for tradespeople and an influx o f new people in the area would increase the bottom line of the local businesses. “What did you say? What was the name of the real es tate company?” Her attention snapped back to the red haired woman.Why does she remind me of someone? “The company is Happy Estates Real Estate and since they’re based in Flanders I thought I’d give the local rag first crack at the s tory. But if you’re not interested I can always take it to Springfield.” Rose Ingersoll plan ted her fists on her curvy hips and glared at Sam. “Oh, no. I’m definitely interested. Happy Estates y ou say. Hmmm. Have you talked to the realtor behind the deal?” Sam scribbled down a few points in her notebook. “I’ve tried to contact the owner of the land, but h e’s not interested in endangered species, he’s just interested in lining his pockets . As for the real estate agent…well…it’s a little awkward. But, I guess you know that.” The woman raised her delicate copper eyebrows and pursed her lips, regarding Sam with brilliant green eyes. “How would I know that?” A frown furrowed her brow. “I don’t know you from Adam, lady.” To her astonishment the slender woman double d over with mirth. “Oh my, Sam. I’m so sorry. I thought you knew who I was and were just being prickly.” She paused to wipe tears from her eyes. “Well, I thought you looked familiar, but…” “Sam, it’s me. Rosemary Silcox.” “What the hell!” Sam exploded. “What in the name of all that’s holy are you doing here? Wait a minute, Rosemary Silcox had blue eyes and blonde hair and…” she trailed off. “And she was fat, isn’t that what you were going to say? I know you all called me tub of lard and Two Ton Tessy in school.” “Well, umm, yeah…” “It’s okay, Sam. That was a long time ago. When I l eft Flanders after high school, I went to Nashville, met a great guy and got married. I’ve always wanted red hair and green eyes and so voila! Some coloured contacts and a bit of hair dye and I reinvented myself. Losing weight was easy, I didn’t have much money and it took a while to find a job. But I did. A good one at one of the recording studios. It took a while and a lot of hard work, but I’m a sound technician now”
“Wow! So what are you doing here in the middle of n owhere bleating about endangered species?”Or is she just looking for an excuse to hook up wit h Troy again? But she said she got married, so there must be a hu sband somewhere.” “George, my husband, was an environmental activist and a scientist. He was passionate about saving the remaining wild places a nd I’ve taken up the cause in his honour.” “Is he here with you?” Sam glanced around the small room. “He’s dead, Sam. He died a few months ago, but he k new about this deal and I promised him on his death bed I would do my best to carry out his mission to protect it.” “Humpff. And it just happens that Troy Roberts is t he realtor and your husband is dead? You’re sure this isn’t just a ploy to get clo se to him again? Like the stunt you pulled at the prom?” “What are you talking about? I would have thought y ou and Troy would be married with a passel of kids by now. He helped me out of a n embarrassing situation that night, there was nothing more to it.” “Why’d you leave town right after grad then? The wh ole town knew you made out with someone else’s date in the parking lot.” “You’re insane, Samantha Turner. If you believe tha t tripe you really don’t deserve a man like Troy Roberts. Now are you going to write t his story or not. I’m done hashing over nonsense that happened ages ago.” “Fine, so you have documentation? Any numbers for t hese so called endangered species?” “Damn straight, I do.” Ro pulled out a file filled with folders and then turned the laptop on the small table toward Sam so she could see the data displayed there. By the time she had sufficient information to write a draft of the story, it was nearly six. She took her leave of Rose Ingersoll nee Rosem ary Silcox and started for home. She’d forgotten about meeting Missy so she pulled o ut her cell phone and dialed. “Missy, I’m sorry. Dad sent me to Reeds Spring for a story and I totally forgot to call.” “It’s okay, Sam. Did they have a murder over there? “No. But you’ll never guess who I met with.” “Some rich and handsome country singer?” “Not hardly. Remember Rosemary Silcox? Well, she’sRose Ingersoll now, and man has she changed. Red hair, green eyes and she looks like a freaking model.” “You’re kidding me, right? Two Ton Tessy looks like a model? Did you kill her? Is that the big story?” “No, I didn’t kill her. Although the thought did cr oss my mind when she mentioned Troy.” “Ohhh, fireworks!” Missy teased. “Not really. I am a professional you know. She was married to some environmentalist from Nashville. George Ingersoll, name means nothin g to me, but I’ll have to do some research. Anyway, seems he got wind of some deal Tr oy is working on to develop two thousand acres adjacent to the Drury-Mincy Conserva tion area and wants to stop it from going through. Rose claims he died a few months ago and she promised she’d carry the torch for him. So there you go. Although it does se em like she’s got her ducks in a row. I’ve got a ton of material to verify before I write the story.” “Holy cats. How did the guy die?” “You know, I never thought to ask,” Sam confessed. Now she thought about it guilt twisted her gut. If it was true Rosemary recently l ost her husband the least she could have done was been a bit sympathetic. “Samantha! That was pretty cold,” Missy chastised h er. “Well, so was making out with my date at prom,” she shot back before she could stop herself. “I know, I know, not the same thing. You’r e right, Missy. I should have been more compassionate and professional. But you know, I was still reeling from discovering this gorgeous red head was Rosemary Sil cox. I mean, wow, wait til you see her.” “I imagine I will if she’s back in the area. She’s staying in Reed Springs? We should ask her to have lunch or dinner with us, for old time’s sake.” “I’ll think about it. I have to meet with her again at some point to finalize the article anyway. Can we get together tomorrow?” “Nope. Mom and I are going to Branson to shop.” “Shopping in Branson, huh? Sounds like fun.” “Want to come along?” “No. I’ve got to get the weekend edition ready. I’ll talk to you later.”
* * * Before leaving Reed Springs Sam decided to grab a b it at the local café. As she went through the door, Troy almost bumped into her on hi s way out. “Hi, Samantha. Fancy meeting you over here. On a story?” “Yeah.” She eyed him speculatively. Did he know Ros emary was in town? “How’s the food?” “Try the special. Near as I can tell, it’s the only thing you get the same day you order. Salisbury steak. Not bad.” “Thanks for the tip. Well, I’ll see you around.” “Hey, mind if I keep you company? I could use anoth er coffee and I just closed a major business deal. I’d like to tell you all about it, could be some really good advertising for the Herald.” “Sure. I don’t mind company.”Even yours. She nearly balked when she saw the inside of the ca fé. Knotty pine walls covered with dusty mounted fish of every description and ce iling tiles weathered yellow with age, but the place seemed clean enough otherwise. The waitress was taking her order when Rose came in to the café. When she turned back to Troy her heart sank at the look of apprecia tion on his face. There was no sign of recognition though. Judging by his reputation as a lady’s man may he just never got tired of lusting after women? Rose hadn’t spotted them and took a table across th e room. Troy smiled in a way that told her he’d detected her jealous thoughts. “I bought two thousand acres today.” “Impressive. So what are you going to do with them, Troy?”Like I don’t know. Hah! This is going to be very interesting. “Luxury tracts. Five acres a pop.” “Luxury? In little old Flanders? How quaint.” “It’s not in Flanders. Near Reeds Spring, actually.” “Sounds like your chance to make a killing, Troy.” “Yep. I already have half a dozen stars interested, including Jason Tawdry.” “Country singers, huh? I wish I could sing.” “Maybe you could if you tried it “Very funny, Troy. How long will it take to get this gold mine off the ground?” “Depends. There’s one problem. Some environmentalis t group has filed an injunction against the development permits. They claim it’s go ing to have a huge impact on the conservation area. Hell, they haven’t even contacte d me to find out what precautions I’ve in the plans to negate that. If I can’t get th is one squelched fast, I’ll have to spend all my profits in court battles.” Samantha shot a meaningful glance at Rose, then tur ned back and smiled at Troy. “How interesting.” Rose returned her wave from acro ss the room. “Who’s that?” he asked. “Rose Ingersoll. You don’t know her?” “No. She’s not from these parts, is she?” “I don’t think so. If you’d like, I’ll introduce yo u and you can see for yourself.” “Sure. I’d love to meet her.” From the look in his eyes, Samantha thought he was going to race her across the room. Just wait til he figured out just who and what the woman was. Sam allowed herself a mental chuckle. She went over to speak to the woman and returned wi th her in tow. “Troy Roberts, this is Rose Ingersoll. Rose, I do believe you and Troy have met before.” Troy jumped to his feet and helped her into her cha ir. “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure, regardless of what Samantha seems to thin k.” Rose’s laughter tinkled musically and Sam’s stomach clenched. Damn, the woman even laughed sexy now. “Troy, don’t you recognize me? It’s me, Rosemary Si lcox, Ingersoll is my married name and I go by Rose now.” She reached out shook a bewildered Troy’s hand. “I’ve been meaning to contact you, actually. I’m the repr esentative from the environmental group that filed the injunction against your develo pment. “Wow, that’s— interesting…” Sam chortled with glee at his discomfiture. For onc e Troy Roberts was speechless. Perfect!