Jessie followed, trying to think of all the questions she wanted to ask the Wilde brothers’ mother.
Once in the room, they both sat on the bed.
Mary grabbed her hand. “Are you okay?”
Her sweet concern was so endearing. “Yes and no.”
“I know about what’s been going on, sweetie. It’s a lot to take in.”
Jessie wondered if she knew everything or just some. “Yes, it is.”
“You know I call Dallas my little George Washington. He can’t lie.”
“I know. He’s easy to read.”
“I’m glad you figured out the memo. It couldn’t have come from Austin.”
It seemed that their mother did know everything.
“Maybe. I just know that it could’ve been faked.”
“True. But I know Austin. He’s tough and dark, but he would never betray the family or put the mine in a bad light. It’s killing him about all these accidents.”
“I couldn’t tell.”
“Of course not. You’ve not spent enough time with him. But a mother knows. His dads elevated him to running the mine in the hopes he would change his mind about leaving Wilde. It almost worked, too.” The sadness in her voice was heartbreaking. “Now, I don’t know. We plan on retiring soon, spending some of the year here in Wilde and the other part in Bliss, Colorado. But I’ve told my husbands that if Austin leaves, I think I’ll die. There’s a rift that has been building for years between the boys. The younger four adore Austin, but he just keeps pushing them away. I think it’s his way of preparing to make the break.”
“So, is that why you wanted to talk to me? See if I could change his mind about leaving?”
“No, honey. Not at all. I’m here for you. I remember how confused I was when I came to town and my Wilde brothers swept me off my feet. I only had three to contend with. You’re juggling five.”
“Actually, four. Austin and I aren’t really spending any time together. I’ve only seen him a couple of times since I came to town.”
“Really? That’s odd.”
“I don’t think so. He’s not too keen on me being here in town, you know, investigating the accidents.”
“Still, his style is to meet things head on. And you’re a beautiful woman. There’s got to be some other reason he’s avoiding you than that.”
“I wouldn’t know what it is.” Maybe I’m just not his type.
“Well, he’ll let you know when he’s ready.” Mary smiled. “You are a beauty, Jessie. I can see why my boys want you for their wife. Ask me anything. I’ll tell you the truth.”
Jessie decided to ask something less pointed. She wanted to ease into the big questions. “How did you come up with your sons’ names?”
“Good question. They are corny names when you think about it.” Mary laughed. “Well, my husbands like to spoil me. My favorite thing is to travel. So they’ve taken me all kinds of places at least twice a year. Back before the boys were born, the mine wasn’t doing so well. We didn’t have much money. So, we had to stay in the country.” The sweet woman blushed then said, “Each is named after the city they were conceived in.”
Jessie liked knowing that. Next, she decided to go for one of the hardest questions. “What about children?”
“Yeah, I remember that troubled me, too. It’s really simple with our family. The men don’t care to know who the genetic provider is. They all think of the boys as their own. Though I have my suspicions about who might be the biological father for each boy, I’d never say. Like my husbands, I really don’t want to know.”
“How did your own family react?”
“Badly. Maude came to Wilde to beat some sense into me but ended up falling for the two Strong brothers.”
“How did that happen?”
“The Strong brothers had never practiced plural marriage. In fact, they had their own families—a wife and two sons each. A year before my sister came to town their wives had taken a road trip together for a girls’ weekend to Vegas. On the way back, they were hit by a drunk driver and were killed. The brothers moved in together on their family ranch in order to share the raising of the four boys that had been left behind.”