A Stone Creek Christmas
Stone Creek veterinarian Olivia O'Ballivan communicates easily with animals, but men are another story. Especially rugged architect-turned-rancher Tanner Quinn. Olivia's uncanny bond with his daughter Sophie's pony has him questioning her sanity, while she wonders if he's not just a drugstore cowboy. Then twelve-year-old Sophie conspires with Olivia to get Tanner into the spirit of Christmas. But will a holiday miracle transform the globe-trotting Tanner into a rancher--and family man--for all seasons?
At Home In Stone Creek
Everyone in Ashley O'Ballivan's life is marrying and starting families--except her. But why bother dating when no one can compare to Jack McCall, the man who left her heartbroken years ago? Now he's back in town --and maybe he isn't who she thinks he is.
While recovering from a dangerous mission for the DEA, security expert Jack rents a room in Ashley's bed-and-breakfast. For both their sakes, he tries to keep his distance, though neither can deny the growing spark between them. But when his past catches up with him, he'll have to leave again...just as he realizes where he's always belonged--in Stone Creek.
Sometimes, especially in the dark of night, when pure exhaustion sank Olivia O'Ballivan, DVM, into deep and stuporous sleep, she heard them calling--the finned, the feathered, the four-legged.
Horses, wild or tame, dogs beloved and dogs lost, far from home, cats abandoned alongside country roads because they'd become a problem for someone, or left behind when an elderly owner died.
The neglected, the abused, the unwanted, the lonely.
Invariably, the message was the same: Help me.
Even when Olivia tried to ignore the pleas, telling herself she was only dreaming, she invariably sprang to full wakefulness as though she'd been catapulted from the bottom of a canyon. It didn't matter how many eigh-teen-hour days she'd worked, between making stops at farms and ranches all over the county, putting in her time at the veterinary clinic in Stone Creek, overseeing the plans for the new, state-of-the-art shelter her famous big brother, Brad, a country musician, was building with the proceeds from a movie he'd starred in.
Tonight it was a reindeer.
Olivia sat blinking in her tousled bed, trying to catch her breath. Shoved both hands through her short dark hair. Her current foster dog, Ginger, woke up, too, stretching, yawning.
"O'Ballivan," she told herself, flinging off the covers to sit up on the edge of the mattress, "you've really gone around the bend this time."
But the silent cry persisted, plaintive and confused.
Olivia only sometimes heard actual words when the animals spoke, though Ginger was articulate--generally, it was more of an unformed concept made up of strong emotion and often images, somehow coalescing into an intuitive imperative. But she could see the reindeer clearly in her mind's eye, standing on a frozen roadway, bewildered.
She recognized the adjoining driveway as her own. A long way down, next to the tilted mailbox on the main road. The poor creature wasn't hurt--just lost. Hungry and thirsty, too--and terribly afraid. Easy prey for hungry wolves and coyotes.
"There are no reindeer in Arizona," Olivia told Ginger, who looked skeptical as she hauled her arthritic yellow Lab/golden retriever self up off her comfy bed in the corner of Olivia's cluttered bedroom. "Absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, there are no reindeer in Arizona."
"Whatever," Ginger replied with another yawn, already heading for the door as Olivia pulled sweatpants on over her boxer pajama bottoms. She tugged a hoodie, left over from one of her brother's preretirement concert tours, over her head and jammed her feet into the totally unglamorous work boots she wore to wade through pastures and barns.
Olivia lived in a small rental house in the country, though once the shelter was finished, she'd be moving into a spacious apartment upstairs, living in town. She drove an old gray Suburban that had belonged to her late grandfather, called Big John by everyone who knew him, and did not aspire to anything fancier. She had not exactly been feathering her nest since she'd graduated from veterinary school.
Her twin sisters, Ashley and Melissa, were constantly after her to 'get her act together,' find herself a man, have a family. Both of them were single, with no glimmer of honeymoon cottages and white picket fences on the horizon, so in Olivia's opinion, they didn't have a lot...