Rocky Mountain Bride by Jillian Hart Savannah Knowles arrives in Montana expecting to marry Nate Brooks, but he has never heard of her! Can this quiet man find room in his heart for lonely Savannah? Shotgun Vows by Kate Bridges Milly Thornbottom has a crush on Mountie Weston Williams, and one stolen kiss changes their lives! After they're marched straight to the altar, can her crush possibly develop into more? Springville Wife by Charlene Sands Grace Lander returns to Springville to pick up the pieces of her life and become the town's schoolmarm. Single father Caleb Matlock's kiss may be just what Grace needs to mend her heart and make a home!
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April 30, 2008
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Excerpt from Western Weddings by Kate Bridges
Snow. Savannah Knowles had never seen so much of it. It was everywhere#nbsp;--sifting through the air and clinging to the roof of the train depot and crunching at the platform beneath her feet. She gathered her courage, gripped her satchel by the patched handle, shivered inside her traveling coat and squinted into the last light of the April evening. She could see only the shadowed impression of dense forests through the downfall, but nothing more of her new home.
A few men stood against the ticket station, veiled by the icy snow. Was her Mr. Brooks one of them, the man she'd come to marry? She lifted her chin, watching each scowling face or curious look, but no one moved toward her.
He wasn't here yet, but he would be. She had faith in him. Of all the letters she'd received from her advertisement, his had been the most sincere. He was her last hope. She was out of options and out of money, which is why she'd come to this strange, rough country with its rugged mountains and unfathomable weather. A keen-edged gust of wind sliced through her layers of clothing, cold enough to freeze the insides of her bones.
Goodness, she'd never felt such cold. Already she missed the sweet gentle warmth of a Carolina spring. Snow caught on her eyelashes and stung her face as she picked her way through the accumulation of snow and ice to the baggage car. Every bit of her ached with homesickness and with hope.
"Hey, there, miss!" A gruff man barked out from the cavern of the opened railcar. "This one yours?"
"Mighty fancy trunk for these parts." The railroader lifted his lip as if in distaste or something worse and tossed down her trunk with a careless heave.
My books. She watched the precious container crash onto the platform. It skidded on the ice and tipped over to rest on its side#nbsp;-- still in one piece.
A stroke of luck. The finely crafted side of the trunk was snow battered, but the contents inside were safe at least, and not scattered over the icy platform. All that was left of her family's great library, collected for generations, the volumes with sentimental value too great to sell. Hard times had fallen after the War Between the States.
Suddenly the biting wind hailing against her back seemed to lose its teeth. Before she could turn around, she sensed a tall presence behind her. Her stomach slid to her toes. Mr. Brooks? Could it be him?
"Hope nothing breakable was in that." His gaze met hers and, despite the haze of snowfall between them, she felt a snap of recognition.
Those dark blue eyes were exactly as he'd described them in his letters. Her pulse fluttered in her chest. She'd memorized his features from his self-description, and he'd been surprisingly accurate. He had a granite face, a square jaw and a serious expression just as she'd pictured, but he was taller than she imagined. Maybe it was his bulky coat and the shroud of snow, which made him look like a giant bear of a man, but it was him. Her Mr. Brooks.
He'd come for her, just as he'd promised. Happy relief washed through her, warm enough to chase away every chill. At first sight, he looked as dependable as she'd made him out to be. "Nathaniel Brooks?"
"Uh, yep. That's me."
She couldn't breathe as he gave her a simple smile#nbsp;--sincere and respectful. Instead of greeting her, maybe taking her by hand or offering to carry the satchel she carried, he looked past her to the baggage man.
"Hey, there, Roberts." Mr. Brooks spoke in a cozy, friendly baritone. "You got a bundle coming for my pa? Something from Savannah?"
Oh, he had other business, too, she thought, a little disappointed, waiting patiently. Maybe he was preoccupied with that?
The baggage man straightened and gave the small of his back a two-handed rub. "What kind of bundle?"
"Pa said it was a surprise, but I'm not one for surprises. He ought to know that."
The baggage man shook his head, ready to slide closed the cargo door. "Sorry, Nate. I've got nothing else for this stop. Just the woman. Good luck."
"Just the woman?" He looked perplexed as he studied the other end of the platform. It was as empty.
The only other passenger who'd disembarked had already left, and she realized the men who'd been standing in the shadows of the depot had disappeared, perhaps seeing nothing had arrived for them. But why was Mr. Brooks acting as if he didn't know anything about her?
This couldn't be right. Shouldn't the man who proposed to her remember? Maybe she'd better try again. "Mr. Brooks? I'm pleased to meet you in person. I'm Miss Savannah Knowles."
When he looked at her, no recognition sparked in his dazzling eyes. "You're from Savannah?"
"No, that's my name." Why did he seem so confused? "I knew you wouldn't keep me waiting."
"Waiting?" He looked at her as if he didn't understand the English language. "You're Savannah?" "That's right." This was not going the way she'd imagined. Her heart tumbled to her toes.