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A FAMILY FOR CHRISTMAS
Montana Sky Series
Kindle Worlds Novella
By CYNTHIA WOOLF
Charlotte Walker is widowed, pregnant and running for her life. Lost in a blizzard on Christmas Eve, she fears she will die before ever seeing her sweet baby’s face. When her horse throws her, all hope seems lost, until a handsome stranger appears, takes her in his arms, and carries her to the warmth and safety of his remote mountain cabin.
Adam Masters lives alone in the mountains of Montana Territory outside Morgan’s Crossing. The last thing he expects to find on his property is a half frozen woman. The last thing he wants is to deliver a baby on Christmas morning. But Charlotte and her new daughter begin to thaw his cold, grieving heart. Adam already lost one family. When danger comes to his door, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect the two women he’s grown to love, but can he convince Charlotte to take a chance and give him her heart.
A FAMILY FOR CHRISTMAS
Montana Sky Series
Kindle Worlds Novella
By CYNTHIA WOOLF
December 24, 1887
Riding hard as she dared alternating between a gallop and a walk—more gallop than walk—Charlotte Walker made good time. She rode through the mountains at the edge of the tree line and had no idea where she was headed, just south, away from Rosewood and her brother-in-laws evil machinations, not to mention his abuse.
The snow fell harder, blinding Charlotte to what was in front of her. She knew what was behind. Rupert, hopefully dead but at the very least he was unconscious from being hit with a cast iron skillet—twice. If he awoke he’d be after her and she had to make as much distance as possible.
Because of a stupid family practice, Rupert was determined to marry her and raise her unborn baby, his niece or nephew, as his own. Charlotte found the idea abhorrent. Nothing about Rupert was attractive, unlike his brother, Rory, who she’d loved most truly. Rupert was mean and cruel, ugly inside and out.
Since he’d forced her to move to his home, she’d been a prisoner and had been hit more times than she could count. The only thing that kept him from raping her is her pregnancy. He didn’t want to hurt the baby which he was sure would be a boy.
Luckily, the storm had set upon her almost as soon as she left town. Rupert and his two remaining brothers couldn’t come after her for days. That was her only saving grace.
The snow fell lightly on the first day of her flight. The farther south she rode, the harder the moisture seemed to fall. She’d had the foresight to grab a blanket to cover her legs, but she was still so cold, so very cold. Her old coat, though wool, didn’t provide nearly enough protection from this weather.
Still she pressed on, knowing her very life was in danger. She winced as another small pain hit. It was nothing compared to the pain Rupert would inflict on her if he awoke. She was sorry she needed to kill him, but he attacked her, tried to kiss her and she knew, wanted more than just a kiss even in her condition. She’d had to change her dress because he’d ripped the bodice open when she’d refused him.
Her poor mare was starting to blow, the weather hard on her, but Charlotte was afraid to dismount. Only by the grace of God and a mounting block had she been able to climb atop the horse as it was. Charlotte’s heavy belly prevented her from getting close enough to mount any other way.
Being eight-and-a-half months pregnant didn’t help matters at all. She rested a hand on her belly and then pulled the hood of her coat down to cover her forehead, protecting her face as she looked at the saddle. The snow was falling too hard for her to see anything, so she let the horse go where she might. Charlotte didn’t know where she was headed, anyway. She had only what little she’d been able to pack in a single valise and her and Rory’s savings of ninety-two dollars. Charlotte knew it wasn’t a lot, but hopefully the money was enough for her to get to someplace safe and find a job. If she hadn’t been running for her life, she might have left Rosewood anyway. She’d never been outside of the town and would have thought leaving to be an adventure. This was certainly not what she had in mind for her first trip away from Rosewood.
Wind blew, chilling her clean to the bone and left her shivering so much her teeth chattered. Her back and hips ached from riding so long without a break. Yesterday morning she finished the food that she’d brought. Hunger pangs left her feeling weak and lightheaded.
Bluebell stumbled on the snow covered road. At least Charlotte thought it was a road. She tightened her hold on the saddle horn, but suddenly Bluebell fell forward, sending Charlotte flying over her head. She landed with a whoosh in the snow so deep it left her on her knees buried to the armpit. Try as she might she couldn’t get up.
“Help! Please someone help me! Please help. Help!”
Tears froze to her face as she realized that she was about to die. She’d never get to see her baby’s sweet face or know his or her smile. Anguish squeezed her chest.
“Please help me. Someone.”
“What are you doing out in this weather, lady?” asked a gruff voice.
Charlotte looked up and saw a huge man, covered in white, lean down toward her. Thank God someone is here to rescue me.
“I guess so. Take my hand and I’ll pull you up. Your horse fell but doesn’t appear injured. My cabin is just through those trees.”
The man pulled Charlotte to her feet but she was too cold and her boots too full of snow, for her to stand. She lost her balance and started to fall, her arms windmilling wildly.
He stooped and picked her up in his arms, her head lolled back as he lifted her.
“Between your imbalance and you nearly becoming unconscious just now, I’d guess you haven’t eaten in a while. How long since you ate?”
“I ran out of food yesterday.”
He walked quickly carrying her as though she was light as a child. In a few minutes she saw light coming from a window as a good-sized cabin come into view. “Bluebell. Bring my horse.”
“I need to get you warmed up first.”
He turned toward the horse.
“Come on Bluebell.” He made a clicking sound and the horse began to follow. When he reached the cabin, he set her down in front of the door so he could open it and then scooped her into his arms again.
He used his booted foot to shut the door after them, and then walked directly to the fireplace where a roaring fire burned.
The man set her down and she looked around his cabin. There were at least two rooms. The main room she was in had kitchen containing a sink with a pump and an icebox, along with a long counter with cupboards above and below. A dining table sat almost in the middle of the room in front of the fire place and on the right side of the room were two lovely padded gooseneck rocking chairs on a large braided rug, with a tall wooden table between them and a kerosene lamp on the table. Bookshelves, full of books, lined the walls on the living room side of the cabin behind the rockers. She assumed the doorway to the left of the fireplace led to the bedroom.
“Your home is very nice.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “Afraid I lived in a hovel?”
She ignored the sarcastic remark knowing she would have been glad for a hovel rather than be in the elements.
“How did you find me?”
“I thought I heard something. When I followed the sound, I found you.”
“I’m so glad you did.”
She took off her cold, damp coat and turned to thank her rescuer.
He jumped back.
“Holy Christ, lady, you’re pregnant. You shouldn’t be out in this weather.”
Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of twenty-five historical western romance books and two short stories with more books on the way.
Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place in Creede that is the only similarity between the stories. Her father was a cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now) not the ranch owner.
Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and her great critique partners for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.
Links to Cynthia’s website, blog, books, etc.
Thanks, Cynthia, for sharing your book with us!
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