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Bachelors & Babies Book 3
BY CYNTHIA WOOLF
Carter Monroe woke on a normal day or so he thought. Then he found a baby in a basket on his front porch with a note stating he was the father. That was impossible and yet the baby’s mama had been sure. With no way to find the mother, he takes the responsibility of raising the little girl, Lanie, as his daughter.
Lanie needed everything. While at the mercantile he meets beautiful Samantha Wallace who informs him she is his mail-order bride, a bride he knows nothing about. When he sees her, mistake or not, he knows he can never let her go.
What is going on? A baby and a bride all on the same day? Was someone playing tricks on him or was he just having a really strange day?
Bachelors & Babies Book 3
BY CYNTHIA WOOLF
Carter Monroe had just finished his first cup of coffee and rolled up the sleeves of his chambray shirt to pour a second cup from the pot on the stove. He suddenly heard a horse galloping away. He went to the kitchen window, but the rider was too far away. None of his men were supposed to be going anywhere today, especially not this early. He was surprised they were out of bed. Breaking horses was on the agenda and all hands were to remain at the ranch.
He opened the door off the living room to get a better look at the horse and nearly fell over a basket on the porch in front of the door. A baby basket. An occupied baby basket. He grabbed the door jam with his left hand, while his gut clenched.
“What the heck?!”
Squatting next to the white wicker container, he turned down the blankets. Staring back were the biggest, bluest eyes, a button nose and rosebud mouth. The baby took one look at him and…grinned a toothless grin.
Carter couldn’t help but smile back. He looked up again to see if the rider was still in sight, but he or she was gone. He ran his hands through his hair and stared at the baby. Finally, he decided he needed to do something as the morning was a little chilly. “Well, you are a cute little thing. Let’s take you inside where it’s warmer.”
He carried the basket to the kitchen table where he examined the contents. Besides the baby, he saw several diapers made of soft flannel, a nightgown, two blankets, a rattle, a bottle, what looked like a pair of heavy wool pants and a note.
This is Elaine. I call her Lanie. She’s four months old and your daughter. I shouldn’t have kept her from you for this long, but I can’t care for her anymore. I’m leaving for San Francisco and can’t take her with me. She’s yours to raise now. Goodbye. Tell her I love her.
Carter’s legs turned to jelly and he sat before he fell face first to the floor.
His baby? He hadn’t had relations with many women and a year ago he hadn’t been with anyone. Actually he hadn’t been with anyone since Martha passed. So Lanie couldn’t be his child, but someone sure wanted him to think she was and he didn’t know how he could disprove it. The note was fairly damming, but he was sure Lanie’s mama had the wrong man.
Josiah came in to prepare breakfast.
“What you got there, Boss?” The older man smiled, came over to the table and looked in the basket.
Carter watched the man’s smile fade.
“What the heck is that?”
“She’s a baby.”
Josiah rubbed his hands over his face and looked again in the basket. “I know it’s a baby but who’s baby is it?”
“She’s apparently mine now. I have to go to town and buy things for her and see if by some chance the mother is still there.”
“Yes, I guess you better. This ranch is no place to try and raise a baby without a woman.”
Carter ran his hands through his hair. “You think I don’t know that?” He picked up the basket and took Lanie to the barn with him to hitch up the buggy.
Samantha stood on the board walk outside the Golden City Mercantile. After taking a few minutes to collect herself, she walked in, hoping she’d be able to find work there until she found her fiancé. Surely there was something she could do; even sweeping the floors would be all right with her.
She walked to the counter on the right side of the store, just beyond the door, where a middle-aged, balding man wearing a white butcher’s apron stood.
“Excuse me, sir?”
“What can I do for you, young lady?” The storekeeper smiled.
Using both hands, she held her valise in front of her. “I’m looking for a job and a place to stay until my fiancé comes to get me. I’ll do anything, sweep floors, straighten shelves, whatever you need.”
“Who is your fiancé, miss?”
The shopkeeper lifted his brows and glanced at the man in the back of the store.
“You don’t say. Well this is the day for surprises. Hey!” said the storekeeper.
The man turned toward them.
The store owner waved. “You better get up here…now!”
She watched the tall, handsome man saunter up to the counter.
He held a wicker bassinette, the occupant of which was beginning to cry.
The man put the basket on the floor and looked Samantha over.
“What do you want, Orson?”
The baby cried in earnest now, apparently not liking being on the floor.
Samantha bent down and talked to the baby. “Hi there sweet thing. What’s the matter, huh? What’s making you cry, sweet baby?” Then she looked up at the man. “Do you mind if I hold her?”
“How do you know it’s a girl?” asked the man.
The man had dark hair cut right to his collar and amazing, deep blue eyes. “She just seemed like a girl to me. After all, I had a fifty-fifty chance.” She picked up the baby only to discover she was soaked. “She’s wet almost through her soaker. Do you have diapers?”
He pointed at the basket. “In there along with those wool pants that you called a soaker.”
Samantha took a blanket and laid it on the floor and then changed the baby’s wet diaper for a clean one. She’d done this many times for her friend Aggie’s baby boy, Daniel.
“There you go, sweetie. All dry now.” She picked up the baby and folded the soaker and diaper into the now wet blanket. Looking up at the man, she said, “You’ll need to put those in the basket I guess. The blanket isn’t too wet right now, but you’ll still want to wash it before the baby needs it again.”
“Thank you, miss. I’m Carter Monroe. Pleased to meet you.” He tipped his hat.
Her eyes widened. He was Carter Monroe? Oh, my goodness. He’s much more handsome than I’d hoped, but when I read his letters, he sounded so kind that I’d said, yes, I’d marry him. Now I’m very glad I did.
She’d only had nine letters from her fiancé, but he was taller and better looking than she’d imagined. What would she do if he was like Thurston? No. She refused to believe she could be that unlucky twice and if he was, she’d just leave.
“I’m Samantha Wallace…your bride.
Carter frowned. First a baby and now a bride. What the heck is going on? “Bride? What bride?”
Her brows furrowed and she tilted her head to one side. “I’m your mail-order bride. I know I didn’t tell you I was coming now, but considering we are to marry, I didn’t think you’d mind sooner rather than later.”
Carter shook his head. I don’t need to deal with this the same day as a baby dropped in my lap. If there were any other Carters or Monroes in the area I’d know about them. But there aren’t so something strange is happening. “Lady. I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.”
Her eyes narrowed. She placed the baby safely back in the basket, then she dug around in her valise and produced a stack of letters. “What are these, then? You wrote these letters convincing me to become your bride, and I agreed, so here I am, and I expect you to keep your word.”
Carter examined one of the envelopes. The return address stated Carter Monroe, C Bar M Ranch, Golden City, Colorado Territory. The handwriting looked familiar, but it certainly wasn’t his. He took out the letter and read.
My dear Samantha,
I’m so happy you have agreed to marry me. I’ll send you the money to get here as soon as possible. You’ll love my ranch. It’s big and I have ten men working for me. Sometimes keeping them is a chore in itself since the goldmines of Central City are so close.
Write me back and let me know when you can come, so I can get you the money.
Hoping to see you soon,
Carter’s mouth formed a thin line and he tried to calm himself before anger consumed him. After reading the missive, his eyes narrowed and his brows furrowed as he glared at her.
This can’t be happening. How could this happen to me and all on the same day. What did I do to deserve this?
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!
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