» The Madam Takes A Mate

The Madam Takes A Mate cover

Blurb

Description: The notorious Dodge City madam, Sally Sweets, tries to conceal her profession from her father who is about to pay her a visit by marrying a comatose cowboy. The cowboy unexpectedly wakes up, but he has amnesia, so Sally continues the marriage charade.

By the time her father leaves, she's developed a strong attraction for the cowboy and thinks she might stay married. But the cowboy doesn't like being in the brothel business and begs Sally to leave Dodge City and move to New Mexico where they can run a legitimate hotel. Sally's "girls" try to break up the marriage to prevent this.

The cowboy regains his memory and realizes Sally has lied to him about everything—including their love. He also remembers the great tragedy in his past that drove him to be a wanderer. Can he forgive Sally's deceits and believe her vows of love? Can she give up her ill-gotten riches and settle down with a plain cowboy?
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Excerpt

When she heard Francine’s voice in the parlor, Sally took her place in the little chair beside the bed. She waited with her heart pounding until she heard Francine say, “I’ve brought your father.”

Sally leaped up with a cry she hoped sounded both joyous and tragic. After embracing her father, she stepped back and really looked at him. While he looked better than he had the last time she saw him, he still looked too frail to be traveling around the countryside by himself.

He glanced at the still figure in the bed and back at Sally with a look of pain on his face.

“Oh, papa, I’m afraid you’ll won’t get to meet my beloved Bob. The doctor says he’ll never wake up.”

Her father patted her arm. “This is a terrible thing, daughter. Terrible. Can’t tell you how sorry I am.” He shook his head mournfully. “Your sister tried to talk me out of this trip, but I insisted. Thank goodness I did, for you truly need family to lean on at a time like this.”

With her hand still resting on his back, Sally felt his bony shoulder blades and doubted he could offer anyone much support. The changes that had occurred in him during the eleven years of their first separation still shocked her. During that time, he had turned from a vigorous young man into a sickly old one. She couldn’t help but think her disappearance had caused much of his decline.

She kissed his cheek. “Thank you, papa. Thank you for coming.” Holding his hand, she pulled him to the side of the bed. “This is my husband.”

The agony on her father’s face caused her tears to flow freely.

“Can’t the doctor do anything for him?” he asked.

Sally shook her head.

“What happened to the man who hit him?”

“Ah--he left town.”

“What? Is the law after him?” he asked indignantly.

“Actually, the law let him go. He’s a wealthy cattleman. Since the economy of Dodge depends so heavily on them, nobody wanted to prosecute him.”

Her father huffed in disgust. “Ain’t that something? You don’t even get the comfort of seeing the low-down skunk punished. I wish I was more of a man, daughter. I’d go after him myself.”

Sally managed a small smile. “Oh, Papa, you always were my hero.”

“Oh, my God!” Francine exclaimed loudly.

Sally had forgotten she was still in the room and looked over to shush her. Francine stared down at the bed with a horrified look on her face. Sally turned to see what had alarmed her.

Bob looked up at her with dark blue eyes. “Who are you people?” he asked weakly.

“Oh!” Sally’s breath and her wits deserted her.

“Praise the Lord!” her father said. “He’s awake.”

Intent on keeping Bob from blurting out the truth, Sally threw herself across his chest, blocking her father’s view. “I’m your wife, Sally. Don’t you know me, Bob?”

“Is my name Bob?” he asked with a frown.

“Maybe that hit on his head has messed up his memory,” her father suggested.

“Is that what’s happened, Bob? Can’t you remember anything?” Sally grabbed both sides of his face and leaned down close to it. Perhaps she could whisper an offer of money if he’d go along with the story.

“No, I... can’t,” he said in a baffled voice.

Sally moved back and stared down at him. “Really?”

He started shaking his head, then grimaced in pain, raised his hand, and gingerly felt the bandages. “What hit me anyway?”

“There was a fight,” Sally said, “in our hotel. Someone hit you with a chair.”

“Hotel?”

For a moment, Sally wondered if the cowboy was trying to make a fool out of her, but he did look truly confused. “Yes, we own a hotel.”

“I believe he’s going to be all right,” her father said.

Bob fixed his gaze on her father and squinted as though trying to see him better.

“We’ve never met, son. I’m James Honeywell, your father-in-law. I just arrived for my first visit. Thought I was gonna see a tragedy, but I’m seeing a miracle instead.”

Bob looked back at Sally with a confused expression.

“The doctor said you weren’t going to wake up. We’ve been expecting the worst,” Sally said softly.

“Water?” Bob asked.

“I’ll get it.” Francine rushed over to the pitcher and poured water into a glass. She brought it back to the bed with a trembling hand.

“I better take that,” Sally said, although she didn’t feel too steady herself. When she held the glass up to his mouth, Bob tried to raise his head, but it fell back against the pillow. Sally slipped her arm under his neck and held his head up so he could reach the glass.

He grimaced as if in pain, but still opened his mouth eagerly.

“Not so fast,” Sally said when he began to gulp the water.

Her position put her cleavage right at his eye level, and as he drank, he stared directly at it. Sally didn’t know what to think. Was he putting on an act? If he was, she didn’t have any choice but to go along with it as long as her father stood nearby.

He drained the contents of the glass, and Sally lowered his head. He blinked his eyes and squinted as though he couldn’t focus. “Who are all these other women?” he finally asked.

Sally looked around and saw that Stella and Betsy had crowded into the room and the rest of her girls were peering in from the office with shocked expressions. “I’ll introduce you later,” she said and waved them away.

“You’re right, daughter,” her father said and lightly touched her shoulder. “You and your man deserve a little time alone. Ladies,” he gestured toward the staring women, “could one of you show me to my room?”

“Sure thing, Mr. Honeywell.” Francine was the first to snap out of her surprised trance. “Just follow me. One of you employees get his bag,” she added in a highfalutin tone.

They filed out of the room and pulled the door shut.

Sally stared down at her husband! Dear Lord, what was she going to do with him?

His hand felt along the bed until it covered hers. “What did you say your name is?”

“Sally Sweets.”

“And mine’s Bob Sweets?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t remember it.”

“What do you remember?”

He frowned as though in pain. “Nothing really. My head hurts so bad, I can’t think.”

“You close your eyes and try to rest. I’ve gotta go out for a minute.”

His hand closed around hers. “Don’t leave me.”

She used her other hand to free herself, then patted the back of his hand reassuringly. “I’ll be right back. You rest.”

She found Josie and Betsy in her office. “Francine, told us to stay here in case you needed something,” Josie said.

“Send for Doc Fraiser,” Sally said. “I’ve gotta know what’s going on here.”

Back in the room, she found Jake grunting as he squirmed in the bed. “Is something wrong?” she asked.

“Did I get hit somewhere besides my head?”

“Nothing serious.”

“Why is there a bandage around my bottom?”

“That’s not a--well--that’s in case you have to go.”

A horrified expression came over his face. “A diaper! I ain’t using no diaper. Get the thing off me.” He threw the covers back and struggled to pull his nightshirt out to the way.

Sally grabbed his hands. “Stop that. As long as you can’t get out of bed, you have to wear it.”

“I can get out of bed.”

She let go of him and took a step back. “Okay, do it.”

He looked surprised for just a second. Then his lips pinched together with determination. He rolled on his side and pushed his elbow against the bed in an effort to raise himself. His head actually came a couple of inches away from the pillow before his eyes squeezed together, and he dropped back with a groan.

He looked so miserable Sally couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. She lightly rubbed his upper arm. “You just rest until the doctor gets here. If you have to go, just go.”

“I gotta go,” he muttered through clenched teeth, “but my eyeballs can swim before I do it in a damn rag.”

Sally swallowed her temptation to laugh. She’d catered to male pride for too long to make that mistake. “Just hold it for another minute,” she said as she went to the washstand and retrieved the enameled chamber pot. She whipped up his nightshirt, hurriedly pulled apart the knot that held the folded sheet in place, and held the chamber pot in an appropriate position. “Okay, let go.”

He sighed in relief as liquid gushed into the pot.

When he finished, she put the lid on the pot and set it under the bed. Then she pointed to the pad still rumpled around his hips. “You want me to remove that?”

“Please,” he replied.

While she pulled the material away and smoothed the nightshirt down over his muscular thighs, he stared at her intently. Finally he said, “It’s hard to believe you’re my wife, but seeing how free you are with my body, I guess you must be.”

Sally smiled sweetly, lightly rubbed his cheek, and asked herself how in the hell would she get out of this?

Reviews

“A great romance and just makes the cliche that true love conquers all come true. Love the story and the characters, you hope that Jake will go back to her and that they will find happiness. Wish I could give it 10 hearts I enjoyed it so much..." ~ Louise Riveiro-Mitchell, The Romance Studio

“Madam Takes A Mate is a fast paced, well-planned novel. Full of subtle humor and some very tender moments. I found it hard to put down. Highly Recommended!" ~ Naomi, Fallen Angel Reviews

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