Excerpt from the book:
Michael watched as Penny sat against the tree near the gravesite of her deceased husband. He noticed she visited the gravesite several times for hours at a time. He took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. It was evident that she loved Jason, even after death.
How did you compete with a memory?
For the first time in his life, he felt conflicted. He missed his sister and nephew. But he knew he would miss Penny when he finally left. Penny Banks was a fine woman. Not only pleasing to look at, but she had a genuine good heart. It was evident that she had not been taught properly while she was growing up, but once Mrs. Cutler showed her a few things, Penny committed them to memory. He still remembered when she made that pan of biscuits at the Cutler's. She had been so proud.
All she had needed was someone to show her, to help her.
The first of the week he had walked by the house and heard her through the open window struggling with the quilt square. He heard her frustration level rise as she kept pulling out her stitching and started over again
It occurred to him that Mrs. Cutler, when she offered Penny the chance to share in the making of the wedding quilt, had no idea that Penny did not have the proper tools to do the job right. After the third day, he told Pat he needed to run an errand and headed to the Cutler ranch to ask to borrow a hoop.
Mrs. Cutler had been surprised when she learned that Penny did not have one, and then was so apologetic about not offering one to begin with.
He had waited till the meal was over before giving her the hoop. He did not want Pat to see him. Pat would harass him so much about it that Michael knew he would end up knocking the man off his horse. And then there would be a real fight. He knew Pat would apologize later on. Pat never held a grudge. But he decided he wanted to avoid the whole situation to begin with. He did not want to think what Penny would think if she saw the two of them fighting.
Over a hoop, no less.
But she had been pleased with his gift. And her smile to him had been worth everything.
He looked on as she continued to sit. He wondered what she thought about, or talked about while sitting up there.
He mentally shook his head.
What was he doing? His brain surely must be addled. When Mrs. Cutler invited Penny to join the women this weekend for the quilting circle, Penny had look so lost. He was surprised at himself when he offered to bring her.
What was he thinking? He needed to find the bulls and get back home. But he knew where the bulls were. He knew the first day when he rode the Banks range. He told himself, and Pat, that he wanted to make sure. But he knew.
He wanted to spend more time with Penny Banks.