Taggart's BrideShe became pregnant by one brother, and married the other. Now her first love is back — who will Jolie choose?
Seven years ago Drew Taggart married the young and pregnant Jolie Stewart when his brother had abandoned her. But now Darian Taggart is back in town and the two brothers are competing for the same woman. Who will Jolie choose?
by Allison Leigh
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"I suppose you heard."
"Hmm?" Jolie Taggart finished folding the last bath towel and added it to the neat stack sitting atop the shining oak dresser. She wanted to get the laundry put away so she wouldn’t have to do it the next day before going to her part-time job at the post office. Waiting for him to elaborate, she glanced up and in the wide mirror over the dresser saw the reflection of her husband, Drew, standing on the other side of the bedroom. He’d unbuttoned his chambray work shirt and as she watched, he yanked the tails from his jeans and shrugged out of it, balling it up in his fist.
He wasn’t looking at her, though, and she stifled a longing little sigh at the sight of Drew’s bare chest. Her husband was nothing if not a magnificent-looking man, though he’d likely figure she’d lost her mind if she told him so.
She scooped up the stack of towels and walked past him to the linen cupboard tucked in a corner of their bathroom. She juggled the high stack and opened the door. The shelves were jumbled, as if Evan had been rooting through for one of his toys. She knew it was more likely that it was Drew who’d left the disorganized mess. He did that when he was searching for an old towel to turn into a grease rag for whatever engine he was trying to fix around their small spread. She spied a relatively neat corner and began fitting the stack of clean towels into it.
Drew didn’t immediately answer and she raised her voice a little. "You suppose I heard what?"
She glanced over her shoulder, hearing Drew’s soft footfall behind her.
“Darian’s back," he said in his quiet voice.
Jolie blinked. She was aware of a slow tumble of pale blue and peach terrycloth as the towels she’d been putting away slid from the shelf to the cool white-tiled floor. Her stomach clenched. "I...excuse me?"
Drew watched her, his deeply brown eyes unreadable. "You heard me."
She swallowed. She’d been married to Drew for nearly seven years now. In fact, their anniversary was just a few days off. She’d knitted him a cable-knit sweater in a beautiful silvery gray color. It had taken her months and she’d had to bribe Evan with a bag of chocolate-covered peanuts to extract his promise that he wouldn’t tell his daddy what she’d been working on every afternoon between the time she picked Evan up from school and when she put on dinner before Drew came in for the day.
She reached for the towels, automatically refolding and stuffing them in the cluttered closet. One of these days she’d pull everything out and organize it properly, she thought stupidly. "How, uh, how do you know? Did you see him? Talk to him?" Did you tell him about Evan? She wanted to ask the question but didn’t. Couldn’t.
"Helen told me."
Jolie relaxed a little. Helen Taggart was Drew’s stepmother, having married his father when he was but a teenager. "So he’s in Gillette, then. At Helen’s." A few safe hours away from Weaver, Wyoming, where she and Drew and their son, Evan, lived. Their son. No matter what circumstances had led to Evan’s birth, she considered Drew to be Evan’s father in every way that counted. She believed that Drew felt the same.
She realized Drew hadn’t answered her. "Drew? Darian is...in Gillette. Isn’t he...?"
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