After Tex (Whispering Wind)

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9780778314660: After Tex (Whispering Wind)



Megan O'Rourke's beloved grandfather had always been determined to lure her out of New York and back to their ranch in Whispering Wind, Wyoming. Now his will makes it impossible for her to refuse. She's named guardian of Tex's daughter—a daughter Megan never knew about!

Jake Landers has also come home to Whispering Wind. After leaving years before under a cloud of suspicion, he's returned to put down roots. When he comes face-to-face with the woman who shares his troubled past, he hardly recognizes the driven powerhouse Megan has become. Now she has big decisions to make—about life, love and where home really is. Jake's only too happy to help Megan rediscover their old dreams—and maybe this time, fulfill them forever.

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About the Author:

With her roots firmly planted in the South, Sherryl Woods has written many of her more than 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether in her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. Sherryl is best known for her ability to creating endearing small town communities and families. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:



Megan O'Rourke swept through the elegant marble and glass lobby of the prestigious Manhattan skyscraper, acknowledging a half-dozen greetings that followed in her wake. "Hey, Megan."

"Good morning, Miss O'Rourke."

"Miss O'Rourke."

"Hi ya, sweetheart."

This last from the newspaper vendor, who also handed over a copy of the latest issue of her competitor's glossy lifestyle magazine.

"Nothing you haven't covered and done better," he assured her with a wink.

"Thanks, Billy. I hope the day never comes when you tell me she's beat me on something."

"Won't happen," he said with confidence. "That staff of yours doesn't miss a trick."

Megan knew that because her staff was every bit as eager and ambitious as she was, every bit as tenacious and determined to take Megan's World to the top, right along with the weekly TV show that had launched just weeks ago. The people she'd hired were young and savvy, quick to spot trends, sometimes just as quick to start them, she acknowledged as she got onto the elevator.

Not until the doors had whooshed closed did she pinch herself, a daily ritual that had started with her meteoric rise in publishing. She still couldn't believe she was right on the brink of becoming a phenomenon as successful and renowned as Martha Stewart, dabbling in a whole slew of media pies, from magazines to books to television, her finger on the pulse of American culture.

Pretty impressive for a small-town girl from Wyoming who'd grown up on a ranch with a grandfather who was about as sophisticated as flannel-shirts, not designer sheets. Tex O'Rourke wasn't into trends or styles or much of anything except land and cattle and making money. If Megan ever saw another cow again it would be way too soon.

Still, as Tex liked to remind her, she owed a lot to those cows she hated so much. They'd enabled her to go off to New York at twenty-one with money in her pocket. She'd been able to rent an apartment where she didn't have to fear for her life every time she walked out the door.

After she'd served a suitable apprenticeship on three other magazines, starting in the lowliest of capacities, those blasted cows had allowed her to buy a faltering bimonthly publication, rename it and, in two short years, turn it into must-have reading from New York to Los Angeles. Even the people who set the trends read it, just in case she'd gotten the jump on them. Her readership demographics were an advertiser's dream. These were the people who spent money—a lot of it—to stay one step ahead of the Joneses.

But if Tex's money had given her a boot up, she knew it was her own drive and dedication and vision that had accomplished the impossible. Megan's World was on financially stable ground now all on its own. Her first book—a hefty tome on entertaining—had been a bestseller. The second—on turning flea market bargains into treasured heirlooms—was flying off shelves at an even faster pace.

Six months ago she had started a local cable TV show in Manhattan, used that to assemble sample tapes, and just weeks ago had taken the program into national syndication. She was the media world's latest hot property. Her demanding schedule was packed with talk show appearances and newspaper interviews. Ironically, that ability to crowd every hour with work was another lesson learned from the inexhaustible Tex, even if he didn't approve of the way in which she'd put it to use.

Life was good. Life was very, very good. Alone in the elevator, she pinched herself again just to make sure it was real and not one of those summertime daydreams she used to have on the rare occasions when Tex had allowed her to laze around down by the creek during breaks from school.

When the elevator opened on the thirty-second floor, Megan stepped off into chaos. The rapid expansion of her media interests had jammed the offices, but no one had the time to steal away to look at new space. Her Realtor was at her wit's end.

"Jasmine called again," her executive assistant said, as if to reiterate that fact as he trailed her into her office. "The penthouse floor over on Madison is going today unless you get your tail over there to put in a higher bid."

"Can I fit it in?"

"No."

"Can you?"

"No, not unless you clone me."

Megan stared, intrigued by the idea. "Can I do that?"

"They did it on Guiding Light, but as a practical matter, I'd say no," Todd Winston said.

Todd—with his all-American face and biceps to die for—had been an aspiring actor until Megan had gotten her hooks into him when he'd taken a temp job between acting roles. She'd turned him into an executive assistant, the ultimate Yuppie with his neatly trimmed brown hair, oxford cloth, button-down shirts and trendy glasses that couldn't hide mysterious eyes the gray-green color of sage. She had a hunch he'd taken the job as an acting assignment and chosen his wardrobe—and the glasses—accordingly. She knew for a fact he could see better than she could, and her vision was twenty-twenty.

He still taped at least three daytime dramas at home every weekday and fast-forwarded through them in some sort of bizarre soap ritual every weekend. He claimed the women in his life loved it, and if it satisfied some deep-seated need in him and kept him working for her, Megan wasn't about to complain. Nor was she going to voice any disapproval of his tendency to discuss the story lines as if talking about old and dear friends. She had offered sympathy on more than one occasion only to discover that the death in question had been scripted and filmed in a studio on the west side of Manhattan.

"What do I tell Jasmine?" Todd asked.

"To start looking for alternative space. Then find a hole in my schedule and pencil her in sometime before the millennium."

"I'll write it in pen," he countered. "Otherwise, you'll just erase it and write in something else. I will not listen to another one of that woman's perfectly justifiable tirades. You hired her to find new space so we wouldn't all be crawling over top of each other. The least you can do is look at what she finds."

Megan grinned at his testiness. "I thought you enjoyed crawling all over the staff, especially Micah."

Micah Richards was a bright, ambitious producer who was responsible for whipping Megan's TV production into shape in record time. With her close-cropped black hair, angular features and long legs, she was stunningly beautiful in an unconventional way. Mere mention of her was enough to bring color to Todd's cheeks.

"Micah's the kind of woman who'll slap me with a harrassment suit if I sneeze in her general direction," he protested. "I do not crawl anywhere near her."

"But you want to, don't you?"

Todd gave her a jaundiced look. "My private yearnings are none of your concern."

"Sure they are. It makes up for having absolutely none of my own."

"I thought you had a date last night."

"It was a business meeting," she countered emphatically. "No yearning involved."

"How many so-called business meetings does that make with Peter? Your finances must be very complicated if you need to see your accountant that often."

That was the trouble with an efficient assistant. He knew her habits all too well. "Do I pay you to keep tabs on my social life?"

"You pay me to keep tabs on everything."

True enough, she acknowledged, but only to herself. "Okay, then, tell me what's on the agenda for today."

Todd ticked off a daunting schedule that was already running late, thanks to his penchant for scheduling nine o'clock meetings when he knew perfectly well Megan refused to be civil to anyone before ten. Too many years of ranch living and rising at dawn had made her rebellious. Fortunately, most of those nine o'clock meetings were with staffers who knew her habits. They worked steadily until she called for them, she crammed an hour's worth of talk into fifteen minutes and Todd got to enjoy his little game. It was a small price to pay for his otherwise incredible efficiency.

Her first meeting was with her food editor, who wanted to do a feature on edible flowers. She littered Megan's desk with bright nasturtiums and encouraged her to sample them to prove her point. Megan eyed the perky little flowers with distaste and agreed to take the woman's word for it.

That was followed by a quick session with a freelance photographer hoping to do an architectural photo shoot on the new waterfront home of a man who'd made megabucks in the computer industry. Megan had to tell him they'd been there and done that—months ago, in fact.

She had lunch with her editor to talk about the next book, followed by nonstop meetings to cover every facet of the magazine, as well as the topics for the next four tapings of the TV show.

"Are you satisfied with these?" Megan asked Micah, who was pacing around the room with an edginess that was typical of the woman's nervous energy.

"All but that last one," she said. "To be honest, I'm not sure anyone gives a fig about figs."

"Isn't it our job to show them the possibilities?"

Micah nodded. "Okay, I'll buy that, but consider this. The people watching this show have to go to their neighborhood market later to get the ingredients. Just how many varieties of figs do you think the stores in Middle America will carry?"

"In other words, we'll excite them, then frustrate them," Megan said thoughtfully.

"Exactly. It's all well and good to suggest new, trendy foods, but if we do, we'd better be sure there's a mailorder link or something for the hard-to-find ingredients. See what I mean?"

Megan nodded. "Mail order, huh? Maybe a catalog?" She beamed. "I love it. Put somebody on developing it. Let's not just offer exotic gourmet foods, but a sampling of everything we talk about on the show. Anything else?"

"Nope. I'll take care of this and get back to you."

"Thanks, Micah." Megan regarded her hopefully. "I don't suppose we could get the first catalog out in time for Christmas."

"Not without having the entire staff crash and burn. Maybe next Christmas, if we want to do it right."

"Okay, I'll settle for summer," Megan compromised.

"Done," Micah said, then grinned. "I would have gone for spring."

It was a game they often played, tempering their natural tendencies toward eagerness and excitement with reality checks.

"See you tomorrow," Micah said. "I'll find something to sub for the figs."

After her meeting with the producer, Megan retreated to a test kitchen to sample the recipes slated for nine months from now, in the July issue's feature on backyard entertaining. She prided herself on the fact that Megan's World had never once mentioned the word hamburger in connection with such an informal social event.

She thought of her grandfather and smiled. Tex referred to her suggested alternatives as "sissy food" and refused to allow his housekeeper to put any of it on his table. Megan knew, because on her last whirlwind visit home she'd asked Mrs. Gomez if she'd ever tried any of the recipes.

"Only at my own home, nina. Your grandpapa wants only meat and potatoes, nothing so fancy as what you write about."

"Does he even look at the magazine?" Megan had inquired, unable to hide the wistful note in her voice. For all of her claims to independence, she still craved Tex's approval, which he gave out with stingy rarity.

"Of course he looks. He even got cable last month so the picture of you on TV would be clearer. He is very proud of you." The older woman had shrugged. "That does not mean he understands the choices you have made or the food you write about, si?"

"Yes," Megan had agreed with a sigh.

Megan was a mystery to her grandfather, just as Tex was an enigma to her. He had taken her in when she was barely nine and abandoned by a mother who no longer wanted any part of raising a difficult child. That was the last time Megan had seen Sarah O'Rourke. She had never seen her father, at least not that she could recall, and no one mentioned him. She didn't even know his name. Given Tex's tight-lipped reaction to her hesitant inquiries, there was some question whether her mother did, either.

Tex had been mother and father to her from that moment on. He'd done the best he could, but he was not an especially warm man. He believed in plain truths and harsh realities with no sugarcoating. He'd given her a roof over her head, food and clothes, but he thought toys and dolls were foolishness, television a waste of time and books on anything other than ranching only marginally better.

Megan had never doubted, though, that he loved her. And when the time had come to let her go, he'd railed about it, but he'd given her the wherewithal to make her dreams come true and the knowledge that home would be waiting for her if she failed.

That Megan had succeeded beyond her wildest expectations and his was still baffling to him. Not a conversation passed without him asking when she was going to "give up that damn fool nonsense" and come back where she belonged. She'd put off another visit for just that reason, because the pressure to come home—both overt and subtle—would be relentless. Seeing the hurt and disappointment in his eyes when she refused took some of the joy out of her accomplishments. Better, she'd concluded, to stay away.

Tex thought she should be satisfied that she'd proved what she could do in a competitive world. He simply couldn't understand that every single TV show, every single issue of the magazine was a new and exciting challenge. His attitude was proof that his early support had been an indulgence, not a genuine exhibition of faith in her abilities. He still dreamed of turning her into a rancher.

That lack of understanding and his refusal to set foot in New York grated on her and made every conversation with her grandfather a minefield. Their last one had ended with an explosion that had shaken her. She'd been avoiding his calls for the past week, letting Todd and her answering machine deal with Tex because she simply couldn't, not without adding to the mountain of guilt already weighing her down.

She was tapping her pencil against her desk, still lost in thought, when Christie Gates burst into her office carrying an I Love Lucy lunchbox and a Howdy Doody puppet. Christie was Todd's assistant and an aspiring writer who spent every lunch hour searching for some story angle she could sell to Megan. Most of the ideas had been outlandish and way off the mark, but this one had potential. Megan could feel it.

"Are these not the greatest?" Christie said enthusiastically, setting the two pieces of memorabilia on Megan's desk with surprising reverence for someone who hadn't even been born when either classic show was originally on the air.

Megan examined them closely. "Definitely originals," she concluded.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Book Description Mira Books, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Megan O Rourke s beloved grandfather had always been determined to lure her out of New York and back to their ranch in Whispering Wind, Wyoming. Now his will makes it impossible for her to refuse. She s named guardian of Tex s daughtera daughter Megan never knew about! Jake Landers has also come home to Whispering Wind. After leaving years before under a cloud of suspicion, he s returned to put down roots. When he comes face-to-face with the woman who shares his troubled past, he hardly recognizes the driven powerhouse Megan has become. Now she has big decisions to makeabout life, love and where home really is. Jake s only too happy to help Megan rediscover their old dreamsand maybe this time, fulfill them forever. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780778314660

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Book Description Mira Books, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Megan O Rourke s beloved grandfather had always been determined to lure her out of New York and back to their ranch in Whispering Wind, Wyoming. Now his will makes it impossible for her to refuse. She s named guardian of Tex s daughtera daughter Megan never knew about! Jake Landers has also come home to Whispering Wind. After leaving years before under a cloud of suspicion, he s returned to put down roots. When he comes face-to-face with the woman who shares his troubled past, he hardly recognizes the driven powerhouse Megan has become. Now she has big decisions to makeabout life, love and where home really is. Jake s only too happy to help Megan rediscover their old dreamsand maybe this time, fulfill them forever. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780778314660

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