The only wide-open space Rance McKettrick wants to see in his future is his hometown in his rearview mirror. The down-to-earth ex-rancher is determined to make a fresh start with his two young daughters—and leave his heartbreaking loss and family’s successful corporation far behind. He sure doesn’t need Indian Rock’s free-spirited new bookstore owner Echo Wells confusing his choices…and raising memories he’d rather forget. But her straightforward honesty and reluctance to trust is challenging everything Rance thought he knew about himself. And when their irresistible attraction puts their hearts on the line, Rance and Echo must come to grips with who they really are to find a once-in-a-lifetime happiness.
The dog, fur soaked, matted and muddy, sat forlornly on the rain-slicked pavement, next to Echo Wells’s custom-painted hot-pink Volkswagen bug. Echo, rushing from the truck-stop restaurant with the remains of her supper in a take-out box, in hopes of not getting too wet before she reached her car, stopped cold.
“I do not need a dog,” she told the universe, tilting back her head and letting the drizzle wash away the last tired traces of her makeup.
The dog whimpered. It was a large creature, of indeterminate color and breed. A slight indentation around its neck revealed that it had once worn a collar, and its ribs showed. One forepaw bore the brownish stain of old blood.
“Oh, hell,” Echo said. She glanced around the parking lot, empty except for a few semitrucks and an ancient RV, but there was no one in sight, no one conveniently searching for a missing pet.
The dog had obviously been on its own for days, if not weeks-or even months.
Just imagining the loneliness, fear and deprivation the poor thing must have experienced made Echo shudder and opened a gaping chasm of sympathy within her.
The canine wayfarer had either been dropped off-there was a special place in hell, in Echo’s opinion, for people who abandoned helpless animals-or it had gotten away somehow, while its owners were gassing up at the pumps or inside the restaurant having a meal.
“I just had this car detailed,” Echo told the dog. The bug was her only vanity, a reckless indulgence with psychological implications she didn’t care to examine too closely.
The animal whimpered again, and looked up at her with such sad hope in its soulful brown eyes that Echo’s heart melted all over again.
Resigned, she rounded the car and opened the passenger door with one hand, balancing the takeout box in the other. The dog slunk along with her, half crouched, limping a little.
“Go ahead,” she said gently. “Get in.”
The dog hesitated, then made the leap into the seat-mud, rainwater and all.
Echo sighed, opened the take-out box and stood in the rain, hand-feeding the animal the last of her meat loaf special. So much for staying within her travel budget by stretching every meal into at least two more.
Ravenous, the poor critter gulped down its supper and looked up at Echo with such pathetic gratitude that tears came into her eyes.
“Don’t worry,” she said, to herself as much as the dog. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
She closed the car door, let the rain wash her hands clean, holding them out palms up as if in supplication, and rubbed them semidry on her ancient tan Burberry coat before settling behind the wheel once more.
The dog, dripping onto Echo’s formerly clean leather seat, eyed her with weary adoration.
Echo started the car, and the combination of wet dog and her own soggy raincoat instantly fogged up the windows.
“This is Arizona,” she complained to her new traveling companion. “It’s supposed to be dry.”
The dog sighed, as if to concur that nothing was as it should be.
“You really are wet,” Echo remarked matter-of-factly. She switched on the defroster, pulled the lever to open the trunk and braved the elements again to get out the quilt she’d carried around with her since childhood. After bundling the dog, she peeled off her raincoat and tossed it over the seat before getting back in the car and buckling up.
Cocooned in faded colors, the dog sighed again, lay down as best it could given the disparity between its size and that of the seat, and was snoring by the time Echo pulled out onto Highway 10.
Two and a half hours later, on the outskirts of Phoenix, she turned into the lot of a medium-priced chain hotel. The rain had stopped, and there was a muggy warmth in the night air.
The dog sat up, yawning, the quilt falling away in damp folds.
Echo assessed the creature again. “I was hoping to make it to Indian Rock tonight,” she told her bedraggled passenger, “but I’m tired and, frankly, you stink. So I’m going to spring for a room, and we’ll hit the road again in the morning. Wait here.”
The dog looked alarmed at the prospect of her departure, and made a low, whining sound in its throat.
Echo patted its filthy head. “Not to worry, Muttzo,” she said. “It’s you and me until we find your people.”
Grabbing her hobo bag, she got out of the car slowly, leaving a window cracked, and headed for the main entrance, hoping she didn’t smell like the dog.
“Good news,” she said when she returned after fifteen minutes, clutching a key card in hand. “We’re in.” The dog was so glad to see her that it leaned across and laved her face with its rough, meatloaf-scented tongue. “Of course, I did tell them you were a toy poodle.”
Echo drove around to the back and parked under a light. The dog politely paused to do its business in the shrubbery while Echo wrestled one of her suitcases out of the Volks. Inside, they slogged along a carpeted hallway to room 117 and entered.
“You get the first bath,” Echo told her canine friend, leading the way to the bathroom. As soon as she turned on the faucet in the tub, the dog leaped over the side and lapped thirstily at the flow.
The showerhead was on a long metal tube, one of those detachable jobs, so Echo took it down from its hook and knelt beside the tub. Finished slurping, the dog sat down, watching her, its eyes luminous with trust.
“What do you know?” Echo asked, after considerable spraying. Ten pounds of din rolled down to the bottom of the tub and swirled around the drain. “You’re a white Lab. And female, too.”
The dog gazed at her soulfully, enduring. One more trial in a long sequence of them.
Echo opened a tiny packet of soap and lathered the dog’s coal. Rinsed. Lathered again. The soap bar wore away to a nubbin, so she fetched a bottle of shampoo from her cosmetic bag.
More lathering. More rinsing.
“You need a name,” Echo said as she towel-dried the dog. “Since there’s something faintly mystical and Lady-of-the-Lakeish about you-it’s the eyes, I think -” She paused, pondered and decided. “I hereby dub you Avalon.”
Avalon, apparently understanding that the bath was over, leaped out of the tub and stood uncertainly on the mat for a few moments, as though awaiting a cue. When Echo didn’t issue any orders, the animal shook herself gloriously, dousing her human companion, and padded out into the main part of the hotel room.
Echo laughed, found the blow-dryer and plugged II into a wall socket. Avalon’s snow-white fur curled endearingly under the onslaught of heat. Once the dog was thoroughly dry, Echo filled the ice bucket with water, set it on the floor and dodged into the bathroom for a badly needed shower of her own.
When she came out, bundled in a robe, with her curly, shoulder-length blond hair standing out around her head like an aureole, Avalon had curled up on the floor, at the foot of the bed. The dog opened one brown eye and lifted her head slightly, and there was a certain stalwart wariness in her manner now, as if she expected to be chased away.
Echo’s throat tightened. She knew what it was like to feel that way, to hover on the fringes of things, hoping not to be noticed and, at the same lime, yearning desperately to belong.
Her old life, in Chicago, had been all about waiting on the sidelines.
“Hey,” she said, crouching to stroke Avalon’s soft, gleaming coat. “I’m a woman of my word. We’ll stick together, as long as necessary. Share and share alike.” She put out her hand and, to her surprise, Avalon placed a paw in her palm. They shook on the deal.
After blow-drying her hair and winding it into a French braid to keep it from frizzing out, Echo pulled on a cotton nightshirt, brushed her teeth and climbed into bed, leaning to switch off the bedside lamp.
Avalon gave a soft, pitiful whine, as though she were crying.
Echo’s eyes burned again. “Come on, then,” she said. “There’s room enough up here for both of us.”
Avalon jumped onto the bed, nested al Echo’s feet and fell asleep.
Echo, exhausted after days on the road, wasn’t far behind.
* * *
Cora Tellington greeted her granddaughters, Rianna and Maeve, with exuberant hugs, on the sidewalk in front of Cora’s Curl and Twirl. The day was new-penny bright, and the only cloud on the horizon was the scowl on her son-in-Iaw’s face as be got out of the gigantic SUV he drove whenever he came back to Indian Rock.
Rance McKettrick eyed the storefront next to Cora’s combination beauty salon and baton-twirling school, apparently noting that the For Sale sign was gone from the dusty display window. .
“Finally unloaded the place, did you?” he asked. “Who’s the sucker?”
Cora took in her late daughter’s handsome husband with a patient sigh. He stood six feet tall, and even in that expensive suit he was wearing, he managed to look like a rugged cowboy, just off the range. His hair was dark-Cora’s fingers itched to give it a trim-and his blue eyes were dusky with his private sorrow. Since Julie’s death, nearly five years ago now, though it didn’t seem possible she’d been gone that long, Rance had been living a half life, going through the motions. Phoning it in.
Cora missed Julie as much as he did, if not more, because there are few losses more poignantly painful than burying one’s only child, but she’d come to terms with the grief for the sake of her granddaughters. They were so young, only six and ten, and they needed her. Of course, they needed Rance, too, and he loved them, in his own harried, distracted way, but he seemed to be able to push them onto an emotional back burner whenever he went away on business-which was all too often.
“It’s going to be a bookstore,” Cora said of the storefront, as the girls rushed into her shop to raid the candy jar on the counter and be greeted by Cora’s three employees, who always fawned over them. “This town needs one of those.”
Rance assessed the place, looking skeptical. ‘”It’s going to take a lot of work,” he warned. “And things are tough for independent bookstores these days. Everybody shops at big-box chains or online.”
Cora ignored that. “I got a decent price,” she said, studying him, with her hands on her still-slender hips. Thanks to years of baton twirling, Cora was still petite, even in her sixties, and she liked to dress flashy; hence her stylish jeans, silk blouse and rhinestone-trimmed denim vest. She changed the color of her hair often; that week, it was auburn, and pinned up into a do reminiscent of a Gibson girl’s. “What’s going on, Rance? You look like a thunderhead, rolling over the horizon and fixing to drop a shitloud of rain.”
Rance sighed, continuing to stand on the sidewalk, and for a moment, Cora felt sorry for him, even though she wanted to snatch him bald-headed most of the time, out of pure frustration.
“I was wondering if you could keep Rianna and Maeve for a few days,” he said, having a hard time meeting her eyes. “There’s a big meeting in San Antonio, at the head office. Even Jesse’s going, which ought to tell you that it’s critical.”
McKettrickCo, the conglomerate that had made Rance’s family rich, along with the largesse from their legendary Triple M Ranch, was on the verge of going public. There was a lot of dissension among the McKettricks over the move, and if they were converging on San Antonio, Cora realized, the meeting was indeed big. Jesse, Rance’s cousin, was notoriously indifferent to company operations, but maybe now that he was planning to marry up with that Bridges girl, he’d decided to become more responsible.
To Cora’s way of thinking, Rance and his other cousin, Keegan, would have been better off to adopt Jesse’s original attitude-cash the dividend checks and celebrate every new sunrise.
“Rance,” Cora said carefully, “Rianna’s birthday is coming up on Saturday. She was counting on a party. And Maeve’s getting her braces on bright and early Monday morning, in case you’ve forgotten.”
“Cora,” Rance replied, looking grave and a little guilty, “this is important.”
“Rianna and Maeve,” Cora countered, “are more important.”
“We’re talking about their future,” Rance argued, keeping his tone low. Folks were passing on the street, so he spared a rigid smile or two, but his overall expression went from grave to grim.
“Come on,” Cora jibed. ‘They’ve already got trust funds that would choke a mule.” She leaned in a little, to make her point. “What they need is a father.”
Rance bristled, as Cora could have predicted he’d do. “They’ve got one.” he growled.
“Do they?” Cora asked. “Jesse pays more attention to them than you do. He’s the one who came to their baton recital last week, when you were in Hong Kong or Paris or wherever the hell you were.”
“Do we have to have this conversation on the goddamned sidewalk?” Rance demanded, in a furious undertone.
“We’re not having it inside, where your daughters can hear.”
Rance spread his hands. “Rianna and Maeve are okay with this,” he insisted. “We can reschedule the orthodontic thing, and Sierra’s going to throw a little do for Rianna ‘s birthday, on the ranch.”
Cora folded her arms. She didn’t like playing her trump card, but she was about to, because Rance McKettrick needed to wake the heck up and get it through his hard head that his girls were growing up. He couldn’t keep on treating them like appointments to be shifted around to suit his crazy schedule. “What do you think Julie would say if she could see what’s happened to her children, Rance? And to you?”
For a momemt, he looked as though she’d struck him. Then he shoved one of his big rancher’s hands through his hair and huffed out an exasperated breath. “Damn it, Cora, that was below the belt!”
“Call it whatever you want,” Cora replied, hurting for him and determined not to let it show. “You and those little girls meant more to Julie than anyone or anything on earth. She gave up a career to make a home for all of you, out there on the Triple M, and now you treat the place like a hotel with express checkout!”
Rance was silent for a long time.
Cora waited it out, holding her breath.
“Will you look after Rianna and Maeve or not?” Rance finally asked.
Bitter disappointment swept through Cora like a harsh wind scouring a lonely canyon, even though she’d expected the conversation to end just this way. After all, it always did.
“You know I will,” she said.
Rance took a conciliatory step toward her-raised his hands as if to lay them on her shoulders-then decided against the gesture and stood his ground. “I didn’t pack any of their things,” he said. “I figured you might want to stay in the ranch house, instead of here in town.”
“You wouldn’t know where any of their things were,” Cora told him, defeated. Julie, Julie, she thought. I try, but this man of yours is a McKettrick, and that means he’s bone-stubborn. Might as well try to move one of these mesas as change his mind. “You do what you’ve got to do. I’ll take care of Rianna and Maeve.”
“I appreciate it,” Rance said, and Cora knew he was sincere. Trouble was, sincere fell a long way short of enough.
* * *
Feeling as thought he’d just been dragged bare-ass naked over ten miles of bad road, Rance watched as his mother-in-law sashayed into the Curl and Twirl and slammed the door behind her. Squeezing the bridge of his nose between a thumb and forefinger in hopes of circumventing another tension headache, he turned and stepped off the curb just as a Pepto-Bismol-pink Volkswagen whizzed into the next parking space and nearly took off all ten of his toes.
It was a relief to have somewhere to focus his irritation.
“What the hell . . . ?” he rasped, and stormed around to the driver’s side of that bug, intending to open a can of verbal whup-ass on whoever was at the wheel.
The window went down, and a blonde with wide-set hazel eyes and a braid blinked up at him, cheeks flushing pink.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
Rance leaned to glare in at her. A white dog, buckled into the seat belt on the passenger side, growled an eloquent warning. “I don’t know where you come from, lady,” Rance said, “but around here, people don’t expect to get maimed for life trying to gel into their own cars.”
Her eyelashes fluttered, and her small, clearly defined mouth tightened a little. Her nose was delicate, and spattered with the faintest sprinkling of freckles. “Is that SUV yours?” she asked, after glancing into the rearview mirror.
“Yes,” Rance answered, wondering what the hell his rig had to do with the price of rice in China.
“Well,” she replied pertly, “if you drove a reasonable vehicle, instead of that enormous gas-hog, you would have seen me coming and the whole non-incident could have been avoided!”
Rance was so taken aback by her audacity that he laughed, but it was a short, gruff sound that made the dog growl again.
She blinked again, but then she stuck out a slender hand, startling him as much as she had by almost running him down. “Echo Wells,” she said.
“My name?” she prompted.
Rance took her hand. It fell cool and soft. The dog snarled and strained at the seat belt.
“Hush, Avalon,” said Echo Wells. “We’re in no danger. Are we-Mr . . .?”
“McKettrick,” he supplied belatedly, holding on to her hand a moment longer than absolutely necessary. “Rance McKettrick.”
She smiled suddenly, and Rance felt ambushed, as though he’d been dazzled by a sun-struck mirror popping up out of nowhere.
“No harm done,” she said.
Rance wasn’t so sure of that. He felt oddly shaken. Maybe she had run over him, with all four wheels, and he’d somehow survived and gotten to his feet in some kind of altered state. “What kind of name is Echo Wells?” he heard himself ask.
The smile faded, and it was something of a relief to Rance. The flash was still pulsing at the edges of his vision, but his knees felt a little steadier.
“What kind of name is Rance McKettrick?” she shot back.
Avalon bared her teeth and snarled again.
“What’s with the dog?” Rance asked, mildly insulted. “I’ve always gotten along just fine with animals.”
“You did come on a bit strong,” said the redoubtable Ms. Wells. “Dogs are sensitive to energy fields, you know. And yours, if you don’t mind my saying so, is a mess.”
“I guess almost gelling killed does that to a person,” Rance said, after a moment or two of baffled recovery. “Messes up their- energy field, I mean.”
Echo’s cheeks went even pinker. The effect was similar to the smile, and Rance stubbornly resisted an impulse to back up a step or two. “Are you making fun of me, Mr. McKettrick?”
“No,” he said, glancing at the crystal swinging from her rearview mirror. “But if you’re into energy fields, then you’re probably looking for Sedona, not Indian Rock.”
She reached over, still staring defiantly into Rance’s face through the open car window, and gave the dog a few reassuring strokes with her right hand. Momentarily, Rance wished he could sprout fur, so she’d touch him like that. A practical man, he quickly shook off the fanciful thought.
“Would you mind moving?” Echo asked, with acidic sweetness. “It’s been a long drive, and I’d like to get out of the car.”
Wondering what he was doing carrying on this conversation in the first place, Rance retreated.
Echo Wells opened the car door, unbuckled her seat belt and swung two shapely legs out to stand. The top of her head came just shy of his chin, and that skimpy little pink-and-white sundress of hers was about a size-nothing. Instead of the high-heeled shoes he’d have expected with an outfit like that, she was wearing pink high-top sneakers with gold ribbons for laces.
Smiling dreamily, as though Rance had turned transparent and she could see right through him to the feed-and-grain across the street, she drew a deep breath and expelled it from the diaphragm.
Rance frowned. He took up his share of space, and he wasn’t used to being invisible-especially to women.
“Welcome to Indian Rock,” he said, mainly to get her attention. His tone could have been a mite on the grudging side.
She went around to the sidewalk, opened the door on the other side, and let the mutt out. Avalon-silly name for a dog, just the kind of airy-fairy thing he’d expect from somebody with a crystal on her mirror, wearing pink high-tops and driving a car to match-pranced straight over and squatted next to his truck tire.
He glowered at the dog.
The dog obviously didn’t give a rip what he thought. If she’d had a pecker, her look said, she would have lifted a leg against his shiny black paint job, or maybe christened the running board.
Echo Wells came back to her car, got her handbag, which was roughly the equivalent of a piece of carryon luggage, and fished inside for a key. Then she pranced right over and stuck that key in the lock of the door of the empty shop next to Cora’s place. Rance was jarred. This was the new owner?
He realized he’d been expecting someone different. Someone like Cora, maybe. But definitely not this woman.
“Most folks drive to one of the big chain stores in Flagstaff for their books,” Rance called, and considered biting off his tongue. Since it still came in handy once in a while, he pressed it to the roof of his mouth instead.
“Do they?” Echo chimed, sounding merrily unconcerned. Then she and the dog went inside, and she shut the door, hard.
Rance had half a mind to storm in there after her and tell her a thing or two, but since he couldn’t imagine what those things would be, he stood on the sidewalk instead.
Before he could turn away, the door of Cora’s shop sprang open and his daughters barreled out. Both of them were dark-haired, like he was, but they had Julie’s green eyes.
It had been a full year after Julie’s accident before he could look into those eyes without flinching on the inside. Still happened, sometimes.
“We almost forgot to say goodbye!” Rianna, the youngest, lisped, clinging to his right leg with both arms. She would be seven on Saturday.
Maeve, tall for ten, clutched him around the middle.
His heart softened into one big bruise, and hi. eyes stung a little. He embraced the girls and bent to kiss them both on top of the head.
“I’ll be back in a few days,” he said.
They let go of him, stepped back, craning their necks to look up at his face. Their expressions were solemnly skeptical.
“Unless you decide to go someplace else after you leave San Antonio,” Maeve said sagely, folding her arms.
Rianna’s attention had already shifted to the pink Volkswagen. She approached and touched one fender with reverence, as though it were an enchanted coach, drawn by six white horses, instead of a car.
“It’s like a Barbie car,” she said wondrously. “Only bigger.”
Maeve rolled her eyes. The young sophisticate.
“Yeah,” Rance agreed, though he didn’t have the faintest idea what a Barbie car was.
The door of the soon-to-be-bookstore opened again, and Rance heard bells ring. He was confused, until he remembered the little brass tinkler Cora had hung above the entrance to the Curl and Twirl, so she’d know when a customer came in. Echo’s shop must have one, too.
Echo stood in the gap, leaning one bare and delectable shoulder against the splintery framework and smiling at the girls. “Hi,” she said, taking in both Rianna and Maeve in the sweeping, sparkling approval of her glance, and leaving Rance firmly outside the she-circle. “My name is Echo. What’s yours?”
“Echo,” Rianna sighed, spellbound.
“You made that up,” Maeve accused, being the proverbial chip off the old block, but she sounded intrigued, just the same.
“You’re right, I did-sort of,” Echo said. “It suits me, don’t you think?”
“What’s your real name?” Maeve asked.
Rance should have been on his way to the airstrip outside of town, where the McKettrickCo jet was waiting, with Keegan and Jesse already onboard, checking their watches every few seconds, but he was as curious to hear the lady’s answer as Maeve was.
“That’s a secret,” Echo said mysteriously, and put a finger to her lips as if to say, Shush. “Maybe when we’ve known each other for a while, I’ll tell you.”
“My name is Maeve,” said Rance’s eldest daughter, stoically charmed.
“I’m Rianna,” said the younger.
“Well, if my real name were as beautiful as yours are, I’d have kept it,” Echo confided.
Rance could almost hear the engines revving on the company jet.
“I’d better go,” he told his daughters, who seemed to have forgotten he existed.
The white dog slipped past Echo, trotted over to Rianna and licked her face.
Rance, poised to lunge to his daughter’s defense, was confounded by this display of canine affection.
Rianna giggled, stroked the dog with both hands and looked back at Rance over one tiny shoulder.
“Can we get a puppy, Daddy?”
“No,” he said. “I travel too much.”
“You can say that again,” Maeve quipped. Sometimes she was more like a very short adult than a kid.
Echo raised one perfect eyebrow.
“Goodbye,” Rance told his daughters.
Rianna was busy snuggling with the dog. Maeve gave him a look.
He got into his enormous gas-hog of an SUV and drove off.
* * *
“I like your pink car,” Maeve said, but only after she’d watched her father’s SUV go out of sight. The look on her face reminded Echo of Avalon, sitting next to the Volkswagen the night before, hoping to hitch a ride and fully expecting to be refused.
“I like your dog,” said Rianna.
“Dad won’t let us get one,” Maeve announced.
“So I gathered,” Echo answered carefully. These were well-cared-for children. Their long dark hair was neatly brushed and clipped back with perky little barrettes, and their denim shorts and colorful sun-tops looked as though they came from some rich-kid boutique.
So why did she want to kneel on the sidewalk and gather them both into her arms? They probably had a mother.
“He’s gone a lot,” Rianna said.
“We stay with Granny all the time,” Maeve added.
“Does your mom travel, too?” Echo asked.
“She died,” Maeve said.
Echo felt bereft. “Oh,” she replied, lacking a better response.
The door to Cora’s Curl and Twirl opened, and a woman stuck her elaborately coiffed auburn head out. “Maeve, Rianna-” She paused, noticing the dog, then the car, and finally Echo herself, and broke into a big smile. “You must be Miss Wells,” she said.
“Echo, then,” the woman said pleasantly. “I’m Cora Tellington, and I presume you’ve met my granddaughters.”
“I have,” Echo said softly.
“Well, land sakes,” Cora enthused, coming over to pump her hand. “I wasn’t expecting you for a few more days yet. I would have dusted a little, inside the shop, and aired out the apartment upstairs if I’d known you were going to be here so soon.”
“That’s kind of you,” Echo replied, already liking the woman. She’d purchased the shop sight unseen, and the whole transaction had been conducted via fax and overnight delivery services. She’d wondered what kind of person Cora Tellington was, selling property over the Internet for next to nothing. Cora had probably speculated about her as well. “Actually, I’m looking forward to getting the place in shape.”
“Don’t you have any furniture?” Maeve asked, peering through the display window, which needed scrubbing.
Rianna and Avalon drew up beside Maeve, taking ganders of their own.
“How can you have a bookstore without any books?” Rianna asked.
“My things are coming in a truck,” Echo explained. “And I’ve got a lot of work to do before I can stock the shelves.”
Maeve whistled through her teeth in a way that shoudn’t have reminded Echo of Rance McKettrick but did. “I’ll say you do,” she agreed.
Rianna turned and looked up at her worriedly. “Where will you sleep?”
“Right here,” Echo answered. “Avalon and I stopped by a discount store this morning and bought an air mattress and some sheets.”
“It’ll be like camping,” Rianna said, reassured.
“No, it won’t, you doofus,” Maeve said, with all the disdain of an elder sibling. “Camping is outside.”
“Enough,” Cora interrupted gently, but she looked as worried as Rianna had as she studied Echo’s face. “There’s plenty of room at my place,” she said. “Dog’s welcome, too, of course.”
Echo’s heart warmed. “We’ll be fine right here, won’t we, Avalon?” Even as she said the words, though, she thought of Rance McKettrick, and wondered if she shouldn’t have taken his suggestion and gone to Sedona instead, started her new life there.
No, she decided, just as quickly.
When it came to starting over, Indian Rock, Arizona, was as good a place as any.