Alma's Mail Order Husband (Texas Brides Book 1)
just doesn’t fit. I just can’t imagine you as a Mexican housewife
in that dress.”
    “You didn’t mind me in Mama’s wedding dress,”
Alma reminded her. “What’s so different about this?”
    “That was different,” Allegra told her. “I
could understand you wanting to wear a wedding dress to get
married. But then you changed back into your regular work clothes.
This is different. This….” Her eyes scanned Alma down and back up.
“This means something different. It means you’re a different
    “Who am I?” Alma asked.
    Allegra gulped. Was that the glistening of
moisture in the corner of her eyes. “This dress means you’re not
the Alma I know anymore. You’re not the cattle puncher I know.
You’re someone I’ve never met before.”
    Alma considered her words. “You’re right. I’m
not the cattle puncher you know. I changed, and it wasn’t the
wedding dress that did it or even this dress here. It wasn’t any
clothes that did it. I got married. I’m not the Alma you know
anymore, because I’m not Alma Goodkind anymore. I’m Alma McCann,
like you said yourself, and I’m happy to change into something
other than a cattle puncher. I want to be a wife and a mother, and
I want my place to be in the home at the fireside, not out in the
saddle in all kinds of weather.”
    Allegra stared at her. Her voice came out as
a husky whisper, and her words pleaded for an irretrievable outcome
that slipped through her fingers when she wasn’t looking. “But
you’re my sister. I don’t want to lose my sister.”

    Alma’s eyes stung with tears. She threw the
dress down into the open trunk and rushed to Allegra’s side. She
wrapped her arm around her youngest sister’s shoulders. “I’ll
always be your sister, no matter what I change into. I’ll never
change into anything that will take me away from you. You never
have to worry about that.”
    “But where will I find you?” Allegra
whimpered. “Where will I find the sister who I know? If you’re
being a wife and a mother here in the house and wearing Mama’s
dresses, where will I find the leader of our ranching operation?
Where will I look for the sister I used to count on to show us the
way and keep us on track? That sister will be gone forever.”
    Alma listened in silence. “Maybe you could
become the leader that you need. Maybe you could be the guiding
force for the ranch. You know everything I know. Maybe you don’t
need me anymore.”
    “But I do need you,” Allegra cried. “I
don’t want to work on this ranch without you. It just won’t be the
same if all three of us aren’t out there anymore. If you go, what’s
to stop Amelia from going, too? Then I’ll be all alone.” A tear
rolled down her cheek, and Alma felt her own sobs threatening to
overwhelm her.
    “I’ll stay with you as long as I can,” Alma
promised. “I’ll ride the ranges with you as long as you need me.
But it’s only a matter of time before being married catches up to
me, and then I’ll have to give it up.”
    “Is that what you want?” Allegra asked. “Do
you want to give it up?”
    “Yes,” Alma told her. “I want to be a woman.
I want to be soft and gentle and loving and comforting to my
husband and children. I don’t want to be a cattle puncher all my
life. I want to come home to the fireside and stay there. I want to
be the home that cattle punchers like you come home to. I want you
to know there will always be a fire on the hearth and a hot meal on
the table because I’m there to make it.”
    Allegra hung her head, and the tears fell
into her lap. “I thought the three of us would always stay
together. I never knew you wanted anything different.”
    “I didn’t want to let you down,” Alma
admitted. “I didn’t want to have this conversation we’re having
now. I didn’t want you to think I was leaving you.”
    Allegra nodded and sniffed. “I understand why
you want to come home to the fireside. I

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