Heart Junction, South Dakota, 1913
Marigold Mahoney is livid when her father forces her to leave his palatial home in Minneapolis to teach school in dusty little Heart Junction. Being the driver for a spoiled little spitfire like Mari isn’t Grit Truman’s idea of a delightful job, yet he can’t turn down the opportunity to earn a little extra pay. Temperaments constantly clash from the moment Grit and Mari meet, and, the more they are together, the more often they collide--until they ultimately run into each others' arms. Once romantic feelings begin to build the conflict between them grows, and, for the first time in her life, Mari discovers she can’t always have everything she wants--or can she? Mari devises a plan to permanently win Grit’s heart, but it will take a miracle to unite an arrogant rich girl with a proud farmer. Excerpt Setup: Mari and Grit meet in the train depot. "I presume you understood my father when he instructed you to meet me at precisely eleven-fifteen this morning?” “Yes, miss, I did. Unfortunately, my horse didn’t wish to accommodate my schedule or yours. She decided she’d drop her foal at ten, and I couldn’t abandon her.” “You’re a farmer? A man of property?” Grit rubbed his finger over his upper lip. “I am a farmer, yes, but I am not yet a man of property. I rent my buildings, and I sharecrop the land.” “You’re a sharecropper?” Her tone was far too condescending, and she immediately regretted using it. “Yes, miss. Is there anything wrong with that?” “I don’t suppose so. It’s just, as a woman of means, I’m not used to dealing with…” She stopped herself before she made matters worse by insulting him further. “You have means, Miss Mahoney, or your father has means?” “It’s all the same, Mr. Truman.” He shrugged casually and gave her an unexpected smile. “Whatever you say, miss. If you say you have money, I believe you. I shall not hold your state of wealth against you. I enjoy the company of rich people as much as I enjoy the company of the poor.” “Whether or not you enjoy my company is up to you. Your job is to take me wherever I want to go, even if you strongly dislike being with me.” “Miss Mahoney,” he said, giving her a look she could not define, “I assure you, I could never dislike being in the company of a woman as beautiful as you.” His surprising show of charm left her speechless. Worse yet, his totally improper compliment sent her heart into palpitations. “Miss Mahoney?” “Yes?” she replied without looking at him. “If you’re ready to go, I’ll take your bags to the carriage. I’ll carry three of them at once and come back for you and the rest of your luggage, if that suits you.” “Your proposal suits me fine, Mr. Truman.” He stood next to her as he picked up two bags and her trunk. Once he was walking away from her, she watched the way he moved. Her heart began to beat wildly. How strong he was! Her heavy trunk full of shoes, clothes and personal items was a feather to him. And what a confident, assured gait he had in his stride. She judged him to be over six feet tall. His dungarees clung to his legs showing their powerful muscles. His blue cotton shirt stretched tight over his broad shoulders. Grit Truman was a very attractive man. Servant, mechanic, sharecropper, whatever he wanted to call himself, he was every inch male. If she were a silly woman like Betsy Lindstrom or Luella Senilla whom she knew from her finishing school, she’d be tempted to toy with Mr. Truman’s affections. But Mari did not believe in tempting the servants...did she?