When one door closes, another one opens. But will Mac Macready step inside and take Jewel Whitelaw up on her shocking proposal?
Hawk’s Way: Mac
Hawk’s Way – Book 10
Mac Macready has it made. Women chase after him, men envy him, and he’s got his dream job . . . until it all falls apart and he loses everything.
One minute, Mac Macready was a living legend in Texas—every kid’s idol, every man’s envy, every woman’s fantasy. The next, his fiancée dumped him, his career was hanging in the balance, and his future was looking mighty uncertain. Then there was the matter of his scandalous secret, which didn’t stand a chance of staying secret where he was headed now.
So it was either succumb to Jewel Whitelaw’s shocking proposal—or take cold showers for the rest of the long, hot summer . . .
SWEAT STREAMING FROM HIS TEMPLES, strong hands clenched tight on the parallel bars that supported him, Mac Macready put his full weight on his left leg. He felt a sharp pain, but the leg held. He gritted his teeth to keep from groaning. So far, so good.
Mac kept his eyes focused on the area between the bar in front of him, willing his leg to work. He took an easy step with his right leg, then called on the left again. The pain was less sharp the second time he put his weight on the restructured limb. He could handle the pain. More important, the leg had stayed under him. He glanced across the room at his friend and agent, Andy Dennison, and grinned.
Mac Macready would walk again.
“You did it, Mac,” Andy said, crossing the room to slap him on the back. “It’s great to see you on your feet.”
“About time,” Mac said. “Give me a couple of months, and I’ll be ready to start catching passes again for the Tornadoes.”
Mac caught the skeptical look on Andy’s face before his agent said, “Sure, Mac. Whatever you say.”
He understood Andy’s doubt. Mac had said the same thing after every operation. Who would have suspected a broken leg—all right, so maybe it had been shattered—would be so difficult to mend? But Mac had known he would walk again and without the aid of a brace. He’d done it today. It seemed he was the only one who wasn’t surprised.
He’d known he would succeed, because he’d beaten the odds before. When he was eight, he’d suffered from acute myelocytic leukemia. It should have killed him. He’d recovered from the childhood disease and gone on to win the Heisman Trophy and be drafted in the first round by the Texas Tornadoes. Mac had no intentions of giving up his dreams of a future in football.
“Where can I get in touch with you?” Andy asked.
“I’m headed to a ranch in northwest Texas owned by some friends of mine. I’ll call you when I get there.”
“Take care of yourself,” Andy said.
“I will.” Mac replied.
He could hardly wait to get to the wide open spaces of Zach and Rebecca Whitelaw’s ranch, Hawk’s Pride. More than Zach or Rebecca, he had a yearning to see their daughter Jewel again.
Jewel was the first of eight kids who’d been adopted by the Whitelaws, and she’d returned to Hawk’s Pride after college to manage Camp LittleHawk, the camp for kids with cancer that Rebecca had started years ago.
Mac remembered his first impressions of Jewel—huge Mississippi-mud-brown eyes, shoulder-length dirt-brown hair, and an even dirtier-looking white T-shirt and jeans. She’d been five years old to his eight, and she’d been leaning against the corral at Camp LittleHawk watching him venture onto horseback for the first time.
“Don’t be scared,” Jewel had said.
“I’m not,” he’d retorted, glancing around at the other five kids in the corral with him. The horses were stopped in a circle, and the wrangler was working with a little boy who was even more scared than Mac was.
“Buttercup wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Jewel reassured him.
He remembered feeling mortified at the thought of riding a horse named Buttercup. And terrified that Buttercup would throw him off her broad back and trample him underfoot. Even though he’d been dying of cancer, he’d been afraid of getting killed. Life, he’d learned, was precious.
“I’m not scared,” he’d lied. He wished he could reach up and tug his baseball cap down tighter over his bald head, but he was afraid to let go of his two-handed grip on the saddle horn.
Jewel scooted under the bottom rail of the corral on her hands and knees, which explained how she’d gotten so dirty, and walked right up to the horse—all right, it was only a pony, but it was still big—without fear. He sat frozen as she patted Buttercup’s graying jaw and crooned to her.
“What are you saying?” he’d demanded.
“I’m telling Buttercup to be good. I’m telling her you’re sick and—”
“I’m dying,” he’d blurted. “I’ll be dead by Christmas.” It was June. He was currently in remission, but the last time he’d been sick, he’d heard the doctors figuring he had about six months to live. He knew it was only a matter of time before the disease came back. It always did.
“My mommy and my daddy and my brother died in a car wreck,” Jewel said. “I thought I was gonna die, too but I didn’t.” She reached up and touched the crisscrossing pink scars on her face. “I had to stay in the hospital till I got well.”
“Then you know it’s a rotten place to be,” he said.
She nodded. “Zach and ‘Becca came and took me away. I never want to go back.
The circle of horses began to move again, and she headed back toward the fence. It was then he noticed her limp. “Hey!” he shouted after her. “What happened to your leg?”
“It got broken,” she said matter-of-factly.
Mac hadn’t thought much about it then, but now he knew the pain she must have endured to walk again. Jewel would know what he was feeling as he got out of the hospital for what he hoped would be the last time. Jewel would understand.
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Print Length: 153 pages (originally in print as The Virgin Groom, 1997)
Publisher: Harlequin, January 2017