Arizona Forever by Jaclyn M. Hawkes
Dr. Jessie Benn has everything—except Mr. Right.
There’s only one problem.
The one guy who intrigues her is completely wrong.
She’s a veterinarian specializing in horses with a thriving practice nestled between her family’s Arizona ranches, looking for a nice, dependable guy who can take her to the eternities.
He’s a visiting Australian business tycoon who’s just a touch bitter, a touch wild, and way more than a touch fascinating.
What’s a girl to do?
What Readers Are Saying About Jaclyn’s Books:
I love all of her books! This was another great story that had it all; great characters, fun, happiness, love, suspense, sadness, triumph, family, and joy.
I’m not worried about letting my teenage daughters read anything Jaclyn writes.
Thanks for another great read and please keep them coming! Karen
Fantastic, magnificent and beautifully written.
I have never read a book before that had me captive from the beginning. I cried, have laughed and felt her deep grief and confusion. What a wonderful book and a wonderfully exceptional writer. I can’t wait to read more of Jaclyn Hawkes books! Lorraine
I love the way she writes!
I love it!
A fun read that warms your heart and makes you feel just as awesome as the characters!
Jaclyn Hawkes was delightful!
I find myself reading halfway into the night if I don’t set a reminder to stop and sleep when I get her new books. Janie
Be sure to read Jaclyn’s other books
Journey of Honor A love story
The Outer Edge of Heaven
The Most Important Catch
Rockland Ranch Series
The Sage After Rain
After The Wind
Wildflowers And Kisses
Excerpt – Arizona Forever
Six year old Jessie Benjamin did what she always did when she was afraid—she ran to her big brothers. Hurrying, she went two doors down the hall to Josh’s room where her other brothers, Brennan and McCade, would most likely be as well. It was where the four of them usually met whenever there was something wrong. Only this time, she knew something was really wrong because her brothers didn’t smile and tease her before they gathered around her like they usually did. They swallowed her into their jostling group hug, but this time there was the same scary feeling here in Josh’s room that she could hear in her parents’ raised voices coming from their room further down the hall.
She couldn’t tell what they were fighting about. She only heard a word here or there, her mother’s voice loud and angry, while her dad’s had calmed down to sad and almost pleading. This bickering had been going on for a couple of days now, but nothing like tonight’s fighting. It was so strange. Her mother got fussy pretty often, but her dad never got like this. Ever. He was typically calm and soft spoken. Even when someone did something big, like when Brennan broke the garage window, he never got too riled. Whatever this bortion thing was her mother was hollering about had made him truly upset.
Jessie looked up into the serious faces of her brothers and hid her own face against Josh’s chest. She wished her mother would calm down. That shouting couldn’t be good for the baby in her mom’s tummy. They’d just found out she was expecting. Jessie was praying it was a girl and couldn’t have been more excited for anything! Ever since she was little, she’d imagined she had this little blonde sister named Jennifer who did everything with her. She’d even dreamed about her and it felt like she’d waited forever. Even a baby brother would be wonderful!
The fighting spilled out of their parents’ room into the hallway and her father almost seemed to be begging as he said, “Please, Clara, don’t do this. Just hang in there four more months. Even three and a half. Then you can leave and won’t ever even have to see it. I know it’s your body, but please . . . It’s my baby too.”
Storming past Josh’s bedroom door, her mother shouted something they all clearly heard, “I’ll do what I want! It’s my body! In four months I’ll have missed the two biggest shows of the season. I missed shows for years to get the four we have. They’re plenty. It’s too much to ask that I do it again. This was your mistake, Ken—not mine! I shouldn’t have to pay for it and you can’t make me!”
The front door slammed and a moment later Jessie heard a car squeal away and then there was only silence. For some reason, that scared her more than the arguing. Finally, her dad went into his office and stayed on the phone with someone for a long time and when he came out, he actually looked like he’d been crying. Of course, that couldn’t have been true. Dads didn’t cry. But he looked like it.
That night, after everyone else was gone to bed, Jessie snuck into Josh’s room and sat on his bed and whispered, “Josh, what are they fighting about? What does bortion mean?” He was almost ten. He would know.
At her question, Josh began to cry. He pulled Jessie into a gentle hug. When he could finally speak, he said so softly and so sadly that Jessie could hardly hear the words that shattered her world into pieces, “Dad says it means Mom’s going to have the baby taken out of her tummy and then it will die, Jessie.”
21 years later
Jessie slid onto the bench on the edge of the soccer field beside McCade and gave an exaggerated sigh of exhaustion as she began to unlace her cleats and said, “Man, you schooled me out there this morning, Muck. I thought I had you until that sweet juke before the half and then I was toast. My calves are killing me!”
McCade smiled and batted at her blonde ponytail. “That’s what you get for working too much and playing too little. Juked by the king of jukage!” He reached a hand over her head to fist bump Brennan who sat on the other side of her sucking on a water bottle. “She’s getting old and slow, Bren. Adulthood’ll do that to ya if you let it!”
Brennan stopped drinking and squirted her in the face with the water bottle. “I don’t know. She’s still got some moves of her own. You forget she scored on me like I was standing still. She even got around Suki. And you know she’s got some moves.” Brennan winked at his wife Suki and McCade rolled his eyes.
Jessie opened her mouth to catch some of the water Brennan was squirting, then smiled and said, “Twice. That would be twice I scored on you, bro. And that second one was world class. Christiano himself would have been jealous. Old and slow? I may be overworked and under played, but I’ll always be younger than the three of you. And we did win. I love this deal where the winners get taken to breakfast.” She pulled off her socks and wiggled her toes. “It’s already insanely hot out here. You two seem to be buying a lot lately. I’m having blueberry waffles. Think they’d care if I walked into the Wagonmaster bare footed? My feet can’t face shoes yet. They need air.”
As if on cue, all three of her brothers held their noses and Josh’s wife, Lucy, laughed from where she was standing beside the bench. “Just ignore them, Jessie. They’re only sore losers. Nice toenails, by the way. Love the polka dots.”
Jessie stretched her foot out to admire her pedicure. “They are cute, aren’t they? Ryley did them for me yesterday while I was finishing my patient log. You have a very artistic son.”
Josh turned to her from the other end of the bench with a look of horror. “You let my son paint your toenails? Jessie!”
Jessie laughed. “What? He did a great job for a three year old. Well, once I’d showered the excess polish off my skin. For awhile there it looked like I’d been attacked by an ax murderer with a foot fetish. But he did much better on his own toes. I think mine gave him some practice. His didn’t look nearly so gory.”
This time it was Lucy who was horrified. “You let him paint his own toes, too? Jessie! That’s a terrible thing to teach a little boy. You are never babysitting again!”
“Okay. Fine. I won’t do it again. Don’t ground me from your kids. They’re my favorite nephew and niece.”
“They’re your only nephew and niece.”
Jessie stood up and picked up her bag. “True, but they’re still my favorites.”She gave a wide smile. “So . . . Hustle up people. I’m starving and my fans are waiting. I have a 7:30. Justison is bringing in that boneheaded buckskin gelding of his with the speed index of 106.”
Josh grimaced. “Some fan. He’s likely to try to kick your head off. Justison thinks if they try to strike, they’re just feeling good and ready to run.”
McCade shook his head as they headed to their trucks. “There’s probably nothing wrong with the horse. Justison just needs an excuse to visit Doc Jessie again. Don’t take any of his crud, Jess. You know how he is.”
At the restaurant while they waited for their food, Josh began fooling with his phone. After a second, he gave a low whistle and then said, “Unbelievable! You know that guy from my mission, my friend Riordan Kane? From up in Brisbane? The one we taught forever and got to be such good friends with, but he would never join even though he basically agreed with all the principles. He’d had that LDS girlfriend who had played him so bad and he always said it all sounded great, but he’d already been baptized and didn’t need to do it again. Remember he came over for a visit a couple years ago? Elder Burton says the Wall Street Journal reported that he’s selling his company for $168 million dollars! Holy crud! That’s a hunk of dough! He’s only like twenty-nine years old! How does a guy do that?”
Brennan only shook his head as he built sugar packets into a cube. “Apparently very deliberately. You said he was a business machine. Didn’t you say he was ruthless? He was in software, right?”
“Oh, I don’t know about ruthless. Well, actually, yeah, he was pretty ruthless in business. But I don’t think he’d always been that way. He’s a nice guy. I think he started out developing the software of some of his computer geek friends, but somewhere along the way he became ruthless. Awhile back his girlfriend, who he thought he was going to marry, started sleeping with the enemy—literally. So he wiped the other guy out. Apparently his company was built on solid technology, mostly phone apps I think, and it snowballed.”
Brennan nodded. “Yeah. I’d say it pretty well snowballed. Why’s he selling?”
“Who knows why Riordan Kane does anything he does? You’d think he had it made, but he doesn’t seem very happy sometimes. Last time I talked to him he distrusted every woman on the planet. Talk about your disenchanted. He had tons of money, no smile, and no idea of his purpose in life.”
Brennan raised his eyebrows. “I’d say if you built a company to $168 million dollars before your thirtieth birthday that you had some purpose in life.”
“Well, that seemed to be his only purpose. Other than to fish. He does like to fish. I hope once the sale is final he throws himself into something else and doesn’t just go all billionaire playboy. That’s the last thing Riordan needs. He’ll never join the church.”
Lucy patted his hand. “Relax, honey. It’s hard to go all billionaire playboy with only a paltry $168 million. He can hardly do much damage on that pittance.” She smiled at him. “Didn’t you say he was coming to the National Stock Show and bringing his fancy reining horse?”
Josh put his phone away and grinned. “He is. He’s bringing a guy named Quinn something, who’s some famous goalie for a pro soccer team over there. Riordan got him into reining as well. He says Quinn is a maniac.”
Jessie accepted her plate of blueberry waffles from the server, smiled her thanks and then said sweetly, “Well, you’d better not have them stay at your house then. That’s all Ryley would need is an aunt who lets him paint his toenails and a resident maniacal pro soccer goalie for role models. My, but this breakfast bankrolled by the losers looks wonderful, don’t you think, Lucy?”
Lucy smiled just as sweetly. “Indeed it does, Jessie. Bon appétit, Bren.”
Author Jaclyn M. Hawkes
Jaclyn M. Hawkes grew up in Utah with 6 sisters, 4 brothers and any number of pets. (It was never boring!) She got a bachelor’s degree, had a career and traveled extensively before settling down to her life’s work of being the mother of four magnificent and sometimes challenging children. She loves shellfish, pizza, the out of doors, the youth, and hearing her children laugh. She and her incredibly handsome husband, their younger children, and their happy dogs now live in a mountain valley in northern Utah, where it smells like heaven and kids still move sprinkler pipe.
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