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The Brides of the Oregon Trail Book 1
BY CYNTHIA WOOLF
Desperate times call for desperate measures, so when Hannah Granger’s little sister takes off for Oregon with a group of mail-order brides to meet her new husband, Hannah has no choice but to follow. She expects her sister to find trouble, and she does. But what Hannah doesn’t expect is to fall for the hired gun traveling with the wagon train as they make their way along the treacherous Oregon Trail. The bounty hunter is tall, dark and dangerous, everything she’s avoided her entire life. But when she begins to suspect criminals are riding just four wagons back, she’ll do just about anything to convince him to listen…and to protect her fragile younger sister from the truth about what this trip is costing them both.
The only thing bounty hunter Joe Stanton wants is to avoid trouble. He’s tagging along on this trip to the Oregon Territory to put a little extra cash in his pocket and take a break from the hunt. The only woman he ever loved broke his heart and his last bounty cost an innocent man his life. Joe’s had enough blood, death and betrayal to last a lifetime. So why, then, does he make Hannah’s secrets his own? Why does he lie to protect her? And why does the stubborn woman’s dogged attempts to help him track down criminals drive him insane with worry?
Maybe because he’s falling for the red-headed beauty. Maybe because if he doesn’t keep her close, they’ll both end up dead.
They stopped next to Little Blue River at about dusk and, even though they traveled only about fifteen miles from Independence, Hannah was exhausted. She’d walked for hours today, as had Lydia and both were definitely the worse for wear. Hannah wanted to lie on the ground and sleep, but chores awaited, supper needed fixed and then dishes needed washed.
On top of that, Hannah’s feet were killing her. She’d bought a new pair of boots for the journey, and they didn’t fit as well as perhaps they should. She couldn’t wait to go to the stream and cool her feet in the water.
Hannah helped Lydia with the dishes and then fell into bed with her clothes on, too exhausted to go to the river and cool her feet. Even though she missed her soft bed, right now the pallet felt like heaven.
Morning came early and as Mr. Gunn wanted to be back on the road by seven o’clock. Normally, she wouldn’t be rising from bed until seven so she could be to work by eight. This new reality would take a while to become routine.
A bugle sounded, followed by a shotgun blast. Hannah sat upright and hurried out of the covers, peering through the wagon wheel to see what was happening. Then she realized it was dawn and this was how they would be awakened.
She wet a washcloth from the water bucket. They’d used the water from the barrel, too tired to go to the river and fill the bucket. Hannah knew she’d have to fill the barrel up and start using the river water. For now, she washed her face and hands with the water easily available. Now would have been a good time to take care of her feet, but she had to care for the animals first. By the time she was done with that, Lydia would have breakfast ready and then they’d have to repack to be ready to get on the trail by seven.
Oh, well. I’ll do it tonight. The day will be a rough one. They already hurt. It’s my own fault for waiting so long to buy the boots. If I’d purchased them sooner, I could have broken them in and I wouldn’t be in this pain. Thank goodness when I open my dress shop I won’t have to walk all day long. I can just sit and sew beautiful dresses for my clients. I have to keep telling myself that and keep my eye on the shop, if Mr. Mosley helps out with the funding. What if he won’t? I’ll think about that later.
Hannah did her best to ignore her feet. But walking for miles was killing her. Until it wasn’t. Her feet had grown numb, which was fine. Oh, she knew as soon as she took the boots off she’d regret it, but cleaning her feet had to be done.
After supper, she gathered clean socks, salve and long strips of cotton material to wrap her feet. The wagon train was still following the Little Blue River for a while, which pleased her. The closer they stayed to good water the better.
When she got to the stream, she found a good rock for sitting about six feet from the river bank and unlaced her boots, then gently took each boot in hand and pulled it off. She was almost afraid to look. The pain of removing her boots had her gasping. Her socks were soaked with blood. She pulled those off and, when the cold air hit her skin, pain shot through her body.
“Crap. What a mess.”
“I’ll say,” said a deep voice from behind her.
Hannah shrieked and fell off the rock. Her heart pounded in her chest, and she wished she’d brought one of the rifles.
Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of 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. 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!