Carolyn Brown brings her unique voice to this tale of twin sisters finding love in a small Texas town
Cathy Andrews’s biological clock has passed the ticking stage and is dangerously close to “blown plumb up”. While her twin sister Marty thinks settling down with one man is just a waste of good cowboys, Cathy wants it all: the perfect husband, the baby, and a little house right there in Cadillac. But even as the town is laying bets on whose wedding will be next, Cathy doesn’t see happily-ever-after happening anytime soon.
Fortunately, Cathy and Marty have best friends who aren’t afraid to stir up a ruckus—and if it means Cathy’s got to bust out and set the town on its ear they’ll back her up—no matter how hot things get.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author and RITA Finalist, Carolyn Brown, has published more than seventy books. These days she is concentrating on her two loves: women’s fiction and contemporary cowboy romance. She and her husband, a retired English teacher, make their home in southern Oklahoma.
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If Prissy Parnell hadn’t married Buster Jones and left Cadillac, Texas, for Pasadena, California, Marty wouldn’t have gotten the speeding ticket. It was all Prissy’s damn fault that Marty was in such a hurry to get to the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society monthly meeting that night, so Prissy ought to have to shell out the almost two hundred dollars for that ticket.
They were already passing around the crystal bowl to take up the voting ballots when Marty slung open the door to Violet Prescott’s sunroom and yelled, “Don’t count ’em without my vote.”
Twenty faces turned to look at her and not a one of them, not even her twin sister, Cathy, was smiling. Hell’s bells, who had done pissed on their cucumber sandwiches before she got there, anyway? A person didn’t drop dead from lack of punctuality, did they?
One wall of the sunroom was glass and looked out over lush green lawns and flower gardens. The other three were covered with shadow boxes housing the blue ribbons that the members had won at the Texas State Fair for their jalapeño pepper entries. More than forty shadow boxes all reminding the members of their history and their responsibility for the upcoming year. Bless Cathy’s heart for doing her part. She had a little garden of jalapeños on the east side of the lawn and nurtured them like children. The newest shadow box held ribbons that she’d earned for the club with her pepper jelly and picante. It was the soil, or maybe she told them bedtime stories, but she, like her mamma and grandma, grew the hottest jalapeños in the state.
“It appears that Martha has decided to grace us with her presence once again when it is time to vote for someone to take our dear Prissy’s place in the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society. We really should amend our charter to state that a member has to attend more than one meeting every two years. You could appreciate the fact that we did amend it once to include you in the membership with your sister, who, by the way, has a spotless attendance record,” Violet said.
Violet, the queen of the club, as most of the members called it, was up near eighty years old, built like SpongeBob SquarePants, and had stovepipe jet-black hair right out of the bottle. Few people had the balls or the nerve to cross her, and those who did were put on her shit list right under Martha, aka Marty, Andrews’ name, which was always on the top.
Back in the beginning of the club days, before Marty was even born, the mayor’s wife held the top position on the shit list. When they’d formed the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society, Loretta Massey and Violet almost went to war over the name of the new club. Loretta insisted that it be called a society, and Violet wanted it to be called a club. Belonging to a club just sounded so much fancier than saying that one belonged to a society. Loretta won when the vote came in, but Violet called it a club anyway and that’s what stuck. Rumor had it that Violet was instrumental in getting the mayor ousted just so they’d have to leave Grayson County and Loretta would have to quit the club.
Marty hated it when people called her Martha. It sounded like an old woman’s name. What was her mother thinking anyway when she looked down at two little identical twin baby daughters and named them after her mother and aunt—Martha and Catherine? Thank God she’d at least shortened their names to Marty and Cathy.
Marty shrugged, and Violet snorted. Granted, it was a ladylike snort, but it still went right along with her round face and three-layered neck. Hell, if they wanted to write forty amendments to the charter, Marty would still do only the bare necessities to keep her in voting standing. She hadn’t even wanted to be in the damned club and had only done it because if she didn’t, then Cathy couldn’t.
Marty slid into a seat beside her sister and held up her ballot.
Beulah had the bowl in hand and was ready to hand it off to Violet to read off the votes. But she passed it to the lady on the other side of her and it went back around the circle to Marty, who tossed in her folded piece of paper. If she’d done her homework and gotten the numbers right, that one vote should swing the favor for Anna Ruth to be the new member of the club. She didn’t like Anna Ruth, especially since she’d broken up her best friend’s marriage. But hey, Marty had made a deathbed promise to her mamma, and that carried more weight than the name of a hussy on a piece of paper.
The bowl went back to Violet and she put it in her lap like the coveted jeweled crown of a reigning queen. “Our amended charter states that only twenty-one women can belong to the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society at any one time, and the only time we vote a new member in is when someone moves or dies. Since Prissy Parnell got married this past week and moved away from Grayson County, we are open for one new member. The four names on the ballet are: Agnes Flynn, Trixie Matthews, Anna Ruth Williams, and Gloria Rawlings.”
Even though it wasn’t in the fine print, everyone knew that when attending a meeting, the members should dress for the occasion, which meant panty hose and heels. Marty could feel nineteen pairs of eyes on her. It would have been twenty, but Violet was busy fishing the first ballot from the fancy bowl.
Marty threw one long leg over the other and let the bright red, three-inch-heeled shoe dangle on her toe. They could frown all they wanted. She was wearing a dress, even if it only reached midthigh, and had black spandex leggings under it. If they wanted her to wear panty hose, they’d better put a second amendment on that charter and make it in big print.
God Almighty, but she’d be glad when her great-aunt died and she could quit the club. But it looked like Agnes was going to last forever, which was no surprise. God sure didn’t want her in heaven, and the devil wouldn’t have her in hell.
“One vote for Agnes,” Violet said aloud.
Beulah marked that down on the minutes and waited.
Violet enjoyed her role as president of the club and took her own sweet time with each ballot. Too bad she hadn’t dropped dead or at least moved to California so Cathy could be president. Marty would bet her sister would get those votes counted a hell of a lot faster.
There was one piece of paper in the candy dish when Beulah held up a hand. “We’ve got six each for Agnes, Trixie, Anna Ruth, and two for Gloria. Unless this last vote is for Agnes, Trixie, or Anna Ruth, we have a tie, and we’ll have to have a runoff election.”
“Shit!” Marty mumbled.
Cathy shot her a dirty look.
“Anna Ruth,” Violet said and let out a whoosh of air.
A smile tickled the corner of Marty’s mouth.
Saved, by damn!
Agnes was saved from prison.
Violet was saved from attending her own funeral.
The speeding ticket was worth every penny.