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Monday, July 9, 2018


You know what I love about July 4th? No, not the fireworks—I’ve never been a big fan, unless it’s the big displays exploding overhead. My favorite memories are of the picnics in the park, with the band in the shell and baseball games on the field next door.  Riding my bike through the park, listening to the laughter, meeting up with my friends… the community celebration is what I loved most about July 4th growing up. 

In the old West, the community would celebrate in a similar way. There’d be a band, speeches from politicians and prominent citizens, maybe a basket auction to raise money for a new school or a bell for the church steeple. There might be games for the kids—and the adults—like sack races and horse races. And after the playing and the speaking and the eating, the musicians would tune up for the dancing. 

Yes, I think the celebrations, even in the old West, were all about community and fun.

In WILD TEXAS HEARTS, Wolf Richards returns to Civil just in time for the celebration in the park. He joins the festivities, meets up with friends and sees a beautiful woman he’s never met go dancing by in the arms of the town’s teacher. While he’s wondering where his son and Lizzie are, the doctor takes the next dance with the beauty—and Wolf finally realizes who he’s looking at.


Wolf only paused long enough to turn his horse over to Malcolm Douglas at the livery. Flipping an extra two bits to the man to unsaddle and groom the gelding, he strode back into the sunshine, knowing his horse would be well cared for.
He could hear the fiddlers warming up by the time he joined the crowd at the schoolhouse. He greeted friends as he made his way past the tables loaded down with baskets of food waiting to be auctioned off, but he hadn’t yet spotted Cal or Lizzie.
“Richards! Over here.”
Wolf joined Harvard in the shade of a big tree.
“I wondered when you’d arrive. Cal has been watching for you since daybreak.”
“Pa! You made it.” Calvin came running around the schoolhouse, loose shirttails fanning the hot afternoon air behind him. Wolf snagged the flying body and spun his son in a circle, hugging him close.
“I promised I’d be here, didn’t I?”
“That’s what Miss Lizzie said, that you gave your word and you’d keep it no matter what. And. You. Did!” He huffed out the words as Wolf gave him another squeeze.
Wolf dropped Cal on his feet and ruffled his hair. “I do my best, son. Happy birthday, Cal.” With a flourish, he held out the new book he’d bartered from a cowboy at the last trading post he’d visited.
“Thanks, Pa. I’ve never read this one.”
“That’s why I got it for you.” He ruffled his son’s hair.
“Miss Lizzie gave me this.” He pulled a brightly painted toy from his pocket. “She whittled it and painted it and everything.”
Wolf glanced around to see if anyone was close enough to hear Cal’s slip. “That’s really nice, Cal. Where is Mister Sutter? I haven’t seen him yet.”
Cal’s grin widened and he nudged Harvard, as if the two shared a secret. “Oh, he’s around back, I imagine.” Before Wolf could question him further, one of the other boys called Cal back to their game of hoops.
“What was that all--”
“You haven’t seen the decorations around the park, have you? Millicent and the celebration committee have outdone themselves.” Harvard strolled away, ignoring Wolf’s question.
Something was definitely going on.
The half-acre of flat, open land behind the schoolhouse had been transformed. A large plank floor had been assembled for the dancing, with a raised platform at one end currently occupied by two men Wolf didn’t recognize, tuning their fiddles, Mr. Petersen holding a long saw across his knees, and Sheriff Freeman, who always had the job of calling the dances and controlling the raucous basket auction. The entire area was edged with a railing made of freshly cut tree branches wrapped in red, white, and blue bunting, befitting the day.
Wolf accepted the glass of punch Audelia Mercer insisted he try and followed Harvard around the structure. He spotted Calvin in the middle of a knot of boys, but he still couldn’t find Lizzie. He wanted to see her, needed to know how she’d fared being in town under Millicent’s watchful eye for a more than a month.
Folks took their places as the fiddlers struck up a lively reel. Carruthers strutted by, his collar so stiff he couldn’t turn his head to his partner, a lovely woman Wolf didn’t recognize. The man looked dumbstruck with awe. Who would have thought the schoolmaster would have snagged a woman in this little town? As the dance got underway, Wolf watched the couple parade past, the woman watching her feet carefully as if she wasn’t quite sure of her steps. Something about her seemed familiar, but he was certain they’d never met.
“Who is that with Carruthers?”
Harvard grinned at him. “You know her.”
“I don’t. A man doesn’t forget a woman that beautiful.”
Harvard threw back his head and laughed like a braying mule. “This evening is going to be entertaining.” He slapped Wolf on the shoulder. “Excuse me. This is my dance.”
As the music changed to a waltz, Harvard relieved Carruthers of his partner, took the woman in his arms and started moving. Her sunny yellow skirt flared as they turned and the setting sun made her hair glimmering with all the colors of autumn. Just like Lizzie’s. Where was the woman anyway?
As Wolf watched the couple, something Harvard said made his dance partner laugh, and the sound hit him like a punch to his gut.
That was Lizzie!                    

See you next month!



  1. Great excerpt. I love the way you ratcheted up the tension.

  2. What fun that scene must have been to write. Loved it.

    I remember those 4th of July celebrations back when I was a kid. Haven't thought of them in years. Now, I can't stop. LOL Doris

  3. I like that hearing Lizzie laugh brought up such emotion for Wolf. I wanted to know all about Wolf and Lizzie right there. And I liked the way he noticed her hair and that yellow skirt.
    We didn't go to see fireworks that much when I was growing up, but we had a picnic, usually down in the orchard and nothing says the 4th of July like hot dogs and watermelon.

  4. Tracy, we used to go to my grandparents' house for the 4th of July. Most of my cousins lived close to them, but we lived a couple of hours' drive away. The grand thing for me was that both sets of my grandparents lived within walking distance, so my cousins on both sides and I could always have somewhere to walk to. LOL And a lot of my cousins from both sides went to school together so were friends, anyhow. That was the best thing for me--since I came along "late" for my parents and my sisters were both grown and gone by the time I was 8 years old. The excitement of the holidays was getting to go to my grandparents' homes and see my cousins--and there were a lot of them that were my age! Great excerpt. I loved this story of yours!

  5. Tracy,

    The Fourth of July was always a big event at my house when I was growing up. Parades. Marching bands. Fireworks (big boomers and the ones we lit off at home. Picnic at noon and hotdogs and marshmallows over a bonfire at night. Fun times. Great memories. I grew up near Brush, Colorado. This town called its three-day 4th of July rodeo the 'largest amateur rodeo on the world'. I was the reigning rodeo queen in 1971 (I think it was that year). *grin*

    I love your #blogabookscene excerpt. (I'd have to stop what I'm doing to read this story if I hadn't already read it. *wink*)