The book opens with Amanda stuck in the middle of nowhere after been thrown off a stagecoach for criticizing the driver. This is where Rick Rennick finds hers and he offers to give her a ride. After assurances that her virtue is safe with him, she accepts. Here’s what happens next:
No sooner had she seated herself upon the wooden bench than Mr. Rennick took off hell-bent for leather. Glued to the back of the seat, she cried out. “Oh, dear. Oh, my. Ohhh!”
What had looked like a perfectly calm and passive black horse had suddenly turned into a demon. With pounding hooves and flowing mane, the steed flew over potholes and dirt mounds, giving no heed to the cargo behind. The wagon rolled and pitched like a ship in stormy seas. Dust whirled in the air and rocks hit the bottom and sides.
Holding on to her hat with one hand and the seat with the other, Amanda watched in wide-eye horror as the scenery flew by in a blur.
The wagon sailed over a hill as if it was airborne and she held on for dear life. The wheels hit the ground, jolting her hard and rattling her teeth. The hope chest bounced up and down like dice in a gambler’s hand. Her breath whooshed out and it was all she could do to find her voice.
“Mr. R-Rennick!” she stammered, grabbing hold of his arm. She had to shout to be heard.
“What?” he yelled back.
“Y-you sh-should—” She stared straight ahead, her horrified eyes searching for a soft place to land should the need arise. “S-slow down and enjoy the s-scenery.”
Her hat had tilted sideways and he swiped the peacock feather away from his face. “Been my experience that sand and sagebrush look a whole lot better when travelin’ fast,” he shouted in his strong baritone voice.
He made a good point, but at the moment she was more concerned with life and limb.
He urged his horse to go faster before adding, “It’s also been my experience that travelin’ fast is the best way to outrun bandits.”
“W-what do you mean? B-bandits?” It was then that she heard gunfire.
She swung around in her seat and her jaw dropped. Three masked horsemen were giving chase and closing in fast.
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