"Please, Lord, you have to send me a miracle. A man, in case you want specifics."
Haley Tillman really needed to get laid before she incinerated. If a man looked cross-eyed at her, the only thing left would be a pile of smoking ashes.
Just one little bitty miracle. Was that too much to ask?
She was thoughtful for a moment, then decided she'd better revise her prayer. Once, she'd asked for a stuffed bunny rabbit. The next day her dad took her to the taxidermist to pick up Fifi, the family dog that had died two weeks before, or as Haley preferred to call the beast when no one was around, The Tasmanian Terror. The mongrel was more her mother's pet. Her father had had the miniscule creature stuffed.
There was also a sale on stuffed rabbits. She hated the glass-eyed zombie rabbit and hid the nasty looking creature in the back of her closet. There was no escape from Fifi, though. Her mother placed the silent menace in the living room where everyone could see the dog.
So maybe a prayer revision might be in order. "Not just any man. I want a really hot, drool-worthy, sexy man." That still wasn't good enough. "No, he has to be more than a normal man. He has to stand above mere mortals. No more dweebs, losers, or rejects." She figured it wouldn't hurt to ask for the best.
And no more crying jags like the one last night just because she'd been stood up. She threw the cover back and grabbed her black-rimmed glasses off the nightstand before heading toward the bathroom.
A miracle would be nice. She snorted. As if a miracle was ever going to happen. She was pretty sure hot and sexy would never make it to her front door. Her almost date hadn't been drool-worthy. She supposed Ben wasn't bad looking, in a GQ, polished sort of way.
Haley sighed. Being stood up was nothing new. Anyone with a little bit of sense would be used to it by now, but not her. Okay, so maybe she sort of expected it because she'd cornered him. She did not wear desperation well.
"Ben could've said no," she mumbled as she walked inside the bathroom and flipped on the light. Her coworker from the bank owed her. Haley had worked all week crunching numbers for him.
She casually glanced toward the mirror and saw an apparition.
Her heart pounded inside her chest. She stumbled back, bumping into the bathtub. Before she toppled inside, she slapped a hand on the toilet seat and regained her balance.
As her pulse slowed to a more normal rate, she cautiously scanned the tiny room. She was the only one there. Her imagination was getting the best of her. That's all it could be. Over-tired, stressed, of course she was seeing things. She came to her feet, nerves stretched taut. Her stomach rumbled.
Please don't be the ghost of Nanny.
She loved Nanny, but her grandmother was gone, and though Haley had lots of fond memories, she wanted her to stay gone.
She was still trembling when her gaze landed on the mirror. She jumped, heart pounding again until she realized it was only her reflection that stared back. Fantastic, she'd scared herself. This had to be an all-time low.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then opened them again. Mornings were not good. She should drape black silk over her mirrors until she at least had her first pot of coffee. Not that she was monstrously hideous, but she was no beauty queen, either.
She had her father's looks. Her father was tall. Haley was five feet seven inches. She also had her father's dull, dishwater blonde hair. Her hair had turned bright orange when she attempted to color it in the eighth grade. She decided dull blonde was better. Her boobs were too big, too, but they matched her hips.
All the magazines she read said you had to like at least one thing about yourself. Her legs were nice and long. When she wasn't tripping over her feet, she was fairly satisfied with them. Except her life was never going to change. And miracles? She stopped believing in miracles a long time ago.
She brushed her teeth, then dragged a comb through her tangled hair so it didn't look quite so much like a rat's nest. There was a half gallon of ice cream in the kitchen freezer. It wouldn't be too difficult to eat herself into sugar oblivion. She could bring new meaning to the phrase death by chocolate. What would her sister say? Rachael never, absolutely never, let sugar cross her lips, and she always said Haley was killing herself. Right now, she didn't really care.
The buzz from her doorbell blasted through the tiny two-bedroom house that she'd inherited from Nanny, effectively drawing her away from her dreary thoughts. Bummer. She'd already started planning her funeral. She sighed. It was way too early for doorbells.
She grabbed her faded pink terry-cloth robe off the hook on the door and pulled it on over her green froggy flannel pajamas and left the bathroom. The doorbell buzzed again.
"Okay, okay," she mumbled.
Once she stood at the front door, she peered through the peephole her father had installed for safety, as if anyone would ever break into her house. What would they steal? Her hand-me-down furniture?
She blinked. No one there. Were they hiding?
Hmm, serial killer lurking outside her door? Would that count as a date? Nope, they didn't have murders in Hattersville. Nothing, absolutely nothing, ever happened in the small town. She shook her head and opened the door a crack, making sure the chain was secure.
A man stepped into her line of vision. Haley's mouth dropped open. Good Lord! This had to be the guy who invented tall, dark, and sexy! Her thighs quivered.
At least six feet one inch of pure testosterone stood on her porch. He had the dark good looks of a male stripper, only with clothes on. The stranger removed his black Stetson, slowly dragging his fingers through thick, coal-black hair. His deep blue eyes held her gaze before sliding down her body as if he could see more than the sliver revealed from the slightly open door.
Warm tingles spread over her like a Texas wildfire in the middle of summer. She could barely draw in a breath as her gaze moved past broad shoulders and a black Western shirt that hugged his scrumptious muscles. Then her eyes slipped right down to the low-slung jeans riding his hips, past muscled thighs, all the way to his scuffed black boots.
Oh, Lord, her every fantasy stood on her front porch!
She forced herself to meet his gaze.
I want him! She felt like a kid in a candy store with lots of money to spend. Mommy, Mommy, can I have the hot sexy cowboy? Pleeeeeeeeease!
If only it was that easy. No way would she ever have the opportunity to have sex with someone who looked like him. What was he doing at her door, anyway? Lost?
"Haley, right?" he asked with a slow drawl that made her body tremble with need.
How did he know her name? She grasped the door a little harder. He smiled as though he knew exactly what she was thinking. Her world began to tilt. She remembered that breathing might not be a bad thing so she drew in a deep breath. "What?" the word warbled out. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Do you need directions or something?"
He smiled wider, showing perfectly straight white teeth. "Mind if I come in?"
Her fantasy of this cowboy's naked body pressed against her naked body shattered like rocks hitting a mirror. Oh, this guy was good, real good, but she wasn't born yesterday. He'd obviously seen her name on the mailbox out front. She raised her chin. "I don't need a vacuum. I have all the pots and pans I will ever use-including waterless cookware. There's a complete set of encyclopedias on my e-reader and I have a double-barrel shotgun for protection. Now, do you want to tell me why you're ringing my doorbell at this time of morning?"
"You prayed for a miracle. I'm the answer to your prayer." He rested his hand on her grandmother's white rocking chair. Her rocker had always sat in that same spot on the porch for as long as Haley could remember. The cowboy lightly set the chair in motion. Back and forth, back and forth, his thumb lightly caressing the weathered wood.
Wow, her prayer had really been answered? The man upstairs had given her more than she'd asked for. She reached up to smooth her hair about the same time reality set in. Had she lost her mind?
"Go away!" She slammed the door shut. Her pulse raced so fast Haley thought her heart would jump out of her chest. At this rate she was going to have a heart attack before she turned twenty-seven! Who was he? Definitely the wrong house. Shoot, the wrong town. No one who looked like him lived in Hattersville. Definitely a salesman. As if she needed another vacuum cleaner. Three were quite enough. Another magazine subscription might have been nice. One could never have enough magazines.
But wouldn't it have been nice if he was sent in answer to a prayer? How had he known she'd prayed for a miracle? Not that it mattered since she'd slammed the door in his face.
What was she thinking? Haley smoothed her hands down the sides of her robe, took a deep breath, and started to open the door. She remembered at the last minute to remove her glasses and stick them in her pocket. Rachael had said they made her appear to be more professional. Haley thought the glasses made her look like Buddy Holly. She wore them out of habit rather than a need to see. She pasted a smile on her face and opened the door as much as the chain would allow.
The cowboy wasn't there.
Had she only imagined him, too? She closed the door enough so that she could slide off the chain. Her smile was still firmly in place when she opened the door again. Nothing. Only old Mrs. Monroe watering her lawn across the street. She looked up and waved as her crotchety husband came around the corner of the house, getting a face full of water. Mrs. Monroe quickly dropped the hose.
"Damn, thought we'd finally got some rain," he sputtere...