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MAIL ORDER MELODY
Brides of Seattle Book 5
BY CYNTHIA WOOLF
Adam Talbot has his life planned out, and that plan does not include a wife. So why does one woman occupy his mind night and day? He is being trusted to deliver a group of mail-order brides from Massachusetts all the way to the Washington Territory. Karen is one of them. She’s beautiful, smart and has two young children that should scare Adam off faster than an angry rattlesnake.
He was burned at the altar, left standing with his heart broken and the whole world laughing when his fiancée eloped with his best friend. A woman is more trouble than he needs. But he’s the moth and she’s the flame. He knows he’s going to get burned. But allowing her to marry another is out of the question. And when a deranged woman from Karen’s past threatens the soft-hearted woman he can’t help but fall in love with her–and her two precious little ones–Adam discovers that walking through fire doesn’t burn anymore, not if it gets him what he really needs…his own family.
March 6, 1866
Karen gazed out her kitchen window, still awed by the majestic Cascade Mountains in the distance. The setting sun made their snowcapped peaks sparkle like diamonds.
On the other side of the house she saw the waters of Puget Sound roiling with the March winds blowing over them. Adam Talbot crowded her thoughts, as he often did when she was alone.
I’ve been in Seattle nearly a year and Adam isn’t any more friendly than he was on the ship here. He avoided me then and has been avoiding me since. So far I’ve delivered four babies from the marriages that have taken place. There are four women pregnant, including Rachel and Lucy Talbot. They are so obviously in love with their husbands.
But Adam doesn’t seem interested in me and he’s the only one I’m interested in getting to know. I’ll concentrate on my medical practice and then I’ll forget him.
She walked to the children’s room. Alice was still there having watched the children all day and had just put the children down for the night. Getting Patty to sleep was getting harder since Karen’s grandmother’s music box had stopped working. Now no songs played to provide a melody to sing to, since the box broke.
A knock sounded on the door and Alice left to see who was calling at such a time. Karen wasn’t surprised. She was called on at all hours to deliver babies.
Alice tapped the door to the children’s bedroom.
“Karen? Adam Talbot is here. He said Rachel is having her baby and you should come right away.”
Karen went to her bedroom, picked her Gladstone bag off the floor and her shawl off her bed. I shouldn’t be excited to spend time with Adam he’s usually so standoffish and proper. If he would be friendlier… She sighed. Oh, well. It will probably be a quiet ride.
Alice waited in the hall outside the bedroom. Standing there in her pink dress, holding the lamp, her blonde hair shining in the flickering light, Karen wondered why the woman hadn’t found a man to marry. Of course, many people probably wondered the same thing about Karen.
“I just put the kids down for the night. Will you keep an eye on them while I’m gone?”
Alice nodded. “Of course. Now go and send word when Rachel has the baby.”
“I’ll be back soon thereafter with the news.”
Karen walked out to the front porch where Adam waited. Even in the low light he was the most handsome man she’d ever known. Her heart beat faster whenever he was near.
“Good evening, Adam.”
“Hello, Karen. May I take your case for you?”
She handed him the bag. “Please.”
Their hands touched for just a moment and she was warmed to the core. Even Douglas had never given her that feeling.
Her gaze flashed to Adam.
His eyes were wide, and he smiled. “Well,” was all he said before holding out his arm for her.
She slipped her hand through the crook in his elbow, and they descended the stairs to the buggy parked on the street in front of the small clapboard house that was her home. They’d had rain, so the street was muddy, but Adam had pulled the buggy as close to the porch as possible for her. His thoughtfulness pleased her.
He set the bag in the back seat.
“Let me help you. No need for you to get muddy when I already am.”
He swung her up into his arms and carried her to the surrey.
“Oh, my.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, enjoying the sensation of being carried by a strong lumberjack. His scent surrounded her, sandalwood, pine and man.
Her head told her that she shouldn’t enjoy it too much, that he wasn’t interested in her, but her heart still held out hope.
Setting her safely in the front seat, he then walked around the back and slid into the seat beside her.
He picked up the reins. “Are you ready?”
Adam clicked his teeth and swatted the reins down on the horse’s rump. “Giddy up.”
The horse took off at a fast walk. When they reached the edge of town, he slapped its rear end again.
The beautiful black stallion was the same one that Adam usually rode. The animal trotted up the hill to the Talbot home.
“How long has Rachel been having pain?”
“A long time. About six hours or so. At least that’s when Jason told us and began to prowl the living room.”
“I’d guess she’s been in labor much longer, but she probably didn’t tell anyone.” Karen calculated that Rachel could have been in labor for twelve to eighteen hours by now and could very well be ready to deliver the child.
He shrugged. “Maybe. I don’t know much about having babies. Billy and the puppies born after Jason and Rachel brought Lucky home are my only reference.”
She smiled. “That’s not very much experience, since having puppies and having babies are very different.” She took a deep breath of the air scented by the evergreen forest they drove through. The crisp, cold air seemed to make the pine aroma crisper and seem cleaner. Looking up the stars sparkled as bright as any diamond she’d ever seen.
Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of more than thirty-three 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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