by Cheryl Brooks
When Calvin suffers a near-fatal heart attack, Tina and the Circle Bar K cowboys volunteer to read through the letters that Calvin wrote to Tina’s grandfather in an effort to find his next of kin, or at least discover where he had lived in the past. Calvin’s life has been a tough one, and many of his letters were very emotional. However, the scene that gave me goose bumps when I wrote it—and still does—is this one where Tina and Dean Wayland, one of the ranch’s more flirtatious cowboys, have just opened the first box of letters and started to read…
Dean lifted the lids on the boxes and then handed one set to me. “These look like the oldest of the bunch.”
“If I know my grandfather, they’re probably in order.” Doing my best to steady my nerves without making a big show of it, I chose a letter from one end of the box and studied the envelope. “This one’s postmarked Saigon. Doubt if it would help us much.”
Suddenly, I had no desire to read any of those letters, especially after noting the address on that first one—a missive Grandpa must’ve received while recovering from the wounds that earned him a Purple Heart. Those boxes had been in my possession for months, but beyond a quick check to verify their contents, I’d kept their lids firmly shut. Even now, when I had a valid reason to go through them, I was reluctant to do so, knowing full well how painful the task would be.
“You okay?” Dean asked. “You’ve been staring at that for a long time.”
I glanced up. “I’m not sure I should be the one to do this.”
He nodded as though he understood. “Too close to the recipient?”
“Yeah.” I turned the letter over in my hand. “I wasn’t even born when this letter was mailed. Calvin was still serving in Vietnam. The war hadn’t been lost yet. Saigon hadn’t been renamed Ho Chi Minh City. And Grandpa was in an Army field hospital in Da Nang.”
Goose bumps prickled my skin as I spoke those last words. Grandpa had come very close to dying in that hospital. Mom had told me that much. I didn’t want to know any more.
Dean took the letter gently from my hand. “Maybe all we need to look at are the return addresses.”
I nodded slowly. That much, I could do.
Writing this reminded me of my own father, who served in the Army during the Korean War. He was never one for telling war stories, and I can’t recall my mother (she died when I was twenty-one) ever talking about anything of that nature, either. I’d seen pictures of him in his uniform, of course, and I still have his Eisenhower jacket, but it wasn’t until after his death that I heard some of what he’d told his second wife about his years in the armed forces. He told her things that I suspect he’d never even told my mother.
Many of us grew up with siblings and cousins, but our parents’ and grandparents’ lives began long before we were born. We can’t know the details of the day-to-day events that molded their lives; we may not even know the highlights, let alone what motivated them to make certain momentous decisions, if indeed they had any control whatsoever. They may be our family, and we may think we know them, when in truth, we barely know them at all.
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Cheryl's Newest Release: Must Love Cowboys
Shy computer specialist, dog lover, and amateur chef Tina Hayes has a thing for firefighters, but when she travels to the Circle Bar K ranch on family business, the ranch’s cowboys have no trouble persuading her to stay on as their cook. Especially not when she learns that brooding Wyatt McCabe—a man who makes her heart gallop like no one else can—is also a former firefighter.
HOW DOES SHE KNOW HE’S THE ONE?
Wyatt’s sizzling embraces leave Tina breathless. But being surrounded by a passel of smokin’ hot ranch hands can be complicated. With so many cowboys courting Tina all at once, Wyatt must prove to Tina that she belongs with him.
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