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Brides of the Oregon Trail Book 2
BY CYNTHIA WOOLF
Lydia Granger thought she left a life of struggle and poverty behind. As a mail-order bride on her way to Oregon City, a secure future is assured. But when the wagon train arrives in Oregon City, she discovers her fiancé is dead and her dream of a safe future is shattered. Moments after her dream is stolen from her, a gift arrives. Her wealthy fiancé left her everything he had. Life for Lydia should be easy, but the truth is much darker and more terrifying than she could imagine, for her fiancé’s death was no accident, and the man who took his life wants everything, all the dead man’s riches.
Detective Max Caldwell lost his wife to a brutal killer, a man who will stop at nothing to take what he wants from the world. He killed in Chicago. He killed in Oregon. It’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Max seeks not only justice, but vengeance for his wife’s death and has no qualms about asking the innocent Lydia to help him hunt for her fiancé’s murderer. Because Lydia, and her inheritance, are the bait Max will use to lure evil into the light. Too late he realizes Lydia, with her soft heart, beautiful smile, and collection of rescued animals is not only powerful enough to take down a killer, but she just might melt the ice around his heart.
November 16, 1852
Lydia climbed out of the wagon and looked up, thankful to see the sun shining bright. Perhaps the walk to town wouldn’t be as bad today as it was yesterday. She walked into town from the outskirts where the wagon train stopped.
More than happy to be wearing her best dress and not the ragged skirts and dresses she’d worn for the last six and a half months, she didn’t mind the walk. She held her skirt high so as not to get it muddy until she reached town. There she certainly didn’t mind walking on the wood planks of the boardwalk instead of rough roads, full of ruts from previous wagons and either dry and dusty or slick with mud.
The wagon train stood on the east side of town. With the rainy weather they’d had since arriving two days ago, she still wore her boots, refusing to ruin her good shoes in this muck.
Passing the butcher, the general store and the bank she made her way to the sheriff’s office. People passed her and she probably should have asked them about Walter, but she didn’t want anyone to know her business. Instead, she’d waited for two days for Walter to show up at the wagon train so they could marry and start their life together.
Figuring something was wrong, perhaps that he was sick, she decided to check with the Oregon City sheriff. Naturally, his office was at the side of town opposite from the wagons. Finally reaching his office she knocked once and then entered.
Behind the average wooden desk was a man in his late thirties, with dark blond hair and arresting light green eyes. He wore a plaid flannel shirt with a black wool vest with a five point star badge pinned to the vest.
“What can I do for you, Miss…?”
“Granger. Lydia Granger. You can help me by directing me to the home of Mr. Walter Mosley. I am Mr. Mosley’s fiancée and he was supposed to come and claim me, for lack of a better word, and we were to marry.”
He stood immediately upon hearing her name. “Miss Granger, I’ve been waiting for you. My name is Robert McCauley. Walt was my dearest friend. You never met anyone kinder than Walt Mosley. ”
Lydia’s stomach started to tighten. She cocked her head just a bit to the left and narrowed her eyes. “Was? Did you have a falling out?” She began to chew her lip, hoping that reason was the case, because she didn’t like the other possibility at all.
He shook his head. “No, ma’am. I’m very sorry to say, Walt passed away three weeks ago. Doc said it was a heart attack. Walt left you something though. He said if he passed we should read it together.”
“Passed? He can’t be dead.” Lydia swayed. This can’t be happening. What will I do now? Without Walter I have nothing and no one. Hannah has Joe. She’ll be fine, but what will I do without Walter?
The sheriff moved quickly and held her by the shoulders. “Here, sit.” He helped her to the ladder-backed chair in front of his desk. “Are you better?”
“Yes. It’s just such a shock.” She looked down at her lap. “I don’t know what to do now. I…I’m sorry.” Taking a handkerchief from her reticule, she dabbed at her eyes. “It’s just that for the past year and a half, I’ve planned on marrying Walter Mosley and now I simply don’t know what I’ll do.”
“Let’s read his will. You’ll have a better grasp of things afterward.”
The sheriff handed her an envelope and then leaned against the desk while she read the contents.
The envelope contained a single sheet of paper.
I, Walter Augustus Mosley, being of sound mind and body, do hereby leave all my assets and worldly goods to my fiancée, Miss Lydia Granger. Signed Walter A. Mosley, March 7, 1852
The combination to the safe is 12 right, 17 left, two spins to 52 right, and three spins to 23 left.
She recognized the handwriting. It was the same as in his letters. Lydia looked at the sheriff. “Is this document legal?”
“Yes, ma’am. You can see from the signatures at the bottom that Mr. Elmer Fulton and myself were witnesses. Walt trusted me with it and bade me to give it to you when you arrived, if he couldn’t be here to meet you. He never doubted you would come.”
She lifted her brows and her eyes widened. “Of course, I came. I gave him my word and he seemed like such a nice man.” Walt trusted me, believed in me, I knew he was a good man.
The sheriff nodded and looked out the window.
It almost seemed like he was seeing his old friend.
“He was a good man and my best friend. He helped this community very much.”
Lydia put her hand to her throat. “I hope to make Walter proud of me and to follow in his footsteps. Although I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment, I want to make Oregon City my home.”
“I’m very glad to hear that.”
“Um, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I assume since there is a safe, a house must be around it?”
Robert chuckled. “Yes, Miss Granger. Let me take you to your new home.” He opened the top drawer of his desk and withdrew two keys wired together, which he put in his vest pocket. Then he grabbed his hat from the peg by the door and donned it before opening the door. He waved his arm out in front of him. “After you.”
Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of thirty-eight 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. The ranch they met on is still there as part of the open space in Mineral County in southwestern Colorado.
She also has six scifi, space opera romance titles. She calls them westerns in space.
Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and her great friends and 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!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!