Tag: Kathryn Albright

A New Beginning…

Dear Santa,

Kathryn here…

It is five days since Christmas Day and here in the Midwest the snow is getting a bit dingy. At my house, the small tree looks a little more forlorn for lack of presents at the base. The leftovers have been eaten and the company has departed. The music that hung in the air is silent. A few items remain out of place, but the house is quiet once again. The frenetic energy that bounced off the walls in the days before and surrounding Christmas, is slowly dissipating.

Although I am the first to admit that I enjoy seeing and hearing from people I haven’t visited with in a while, as the big day draws near, I find myself seeking a time-out. It is all a bit too much—the sounds, the colors, the over-the-top cheer, the rich foods, the ridiculous parking at the stores. There are so many expectations, so many things I should be doing. Because of those, the holidays are stressful for me and that is not what they are supposed to be about.

That is why the days from the 26th to the 30th are my favorite. The expectations of what I should do are gone. (Can you tell that I am a bit rebellious when it comes to the “shoulds” in my life? I imagine it puts me on your Naughty List now and then.) But during the days between Christmas and New Years, the time is suspended. Reflection on the year that has gone by and hope for the year to come slowly seep into my senses like a subtle, fragrant scented candle.

 

There is a settling inside me. I am full…

Of a quiet joy…(Matthew 1:23) 

A quiet peace…(Romans 8:35, 37-39)

And there is HOPE.

This time of year reminds me of a blank page…one that is waiting, expectant, for a new story to be written upon it. I even become a bit giddy with the prospect.

Santa…I have a request. 2016 has been rough for so many. For those that are grieving or suffering, my wish is that 2017 brings a new hope, a new light, and a renewed resilience. A new beginning…

Can we make that their gift in the coming year? And can they get it early? January 1st perhaps?

Sincerely,

 

 

New Release – Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff

Tomorrow is the release of my latest sweet western historical romance

Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff

Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff

 

To celebrate, I am holding a giveaway. Details are at the end of the post.

This is the last book (#4) in my Heroes of San Diego Series. Each of the books can be read on their own without needing to read the others, but if read together, the reader will get to know the inhabitants of Clear Springs and enjoy the sense of community the series has.

Here is the blurb from the back cover of the book to give you a little idea of the story —

 

A Christmas to Remember!

Clear Springs’ new schoolteacher, Gemma Starling, feels as if she’s been given a fresh start. So long as no one discovers her dark secret—she once shot a man in self-defense!

Sheriff Craig Parker has forsworn love, but delightful Miss Starling intrigues him. And when events at the school turn dangerous, Craig won’t let her face it alone. Gemma might just be the one woman he could ever love, but will the secret she’s hiding tear them apart or bring them together by Christmas?

Gemma Starling had traveled two thousand miles from her former life to flee a crime that she committed. As the new schoolteacher in Clear Springs, she tries to blend in, but the sheriff in town is not so easily deceived. Gemma’s attempts to avoid Craig Parker only intrigue him more. When her life is threatened, he realizes that his personal feelings for her have far surpassed his professional responsibilities for the case. He can’t lose her…yet does he even know who she truly is?

Since the title mentions a Christmas Kiss, I thought I’d share with you the excerpt of Craig and Gemma’s first kiss in the book.

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  – Excerpt –

Craig’s gaze narrowed. “That’s not what I mean. What happened that you traveled all the way from Boston to California…and I suspect…alone? That’s unusual for a woman. Even more so for a woman who obviously had money. What did your family have to say about it?”

He was figuring out too much. If she wasn’t careful he would eventually add things up and realize she wasn’t who she said she was, but she should tell him something to appease his curiosity. Perhaps then he would leave her past alone.

“Mother died when I was very young. A carriage accident. I don’t remember her. My father raised me on his own…with a few servants.”

“And tutors.”

“He died recently. It was his heart,” she answered the question that appeared immediately on his handsome face.

Craig frowned. “How long after his death did you leave?”

“A month later.”

“Didn’t give you much time to put his things in order.”

She could hear the question in his voice. “I couldn’t bear the quiet. I was so close to Father. He supported me in everything I wanted to do.”

Craig’s brow raised.

It didn’t take a scholar to recognize the look he gave her. “I was, perhaps, a bit spoiled. We discussed his law cases. He challenged me to think for myself and thought I’d make a good lawyer. I was in my second year of law school at the university when he died.”

They turned from the main road of town and headed down the lane to the boardinghouse.

“They let women in?”

“There were two other women in my class.”

“Why didn’t you stay and finish?”

“When my father died, I had to start afresh—somewhere totally different. I’d been writing for years to Elizabeth. She wrote to me and poured her heart out in her letters as her world was falling apart. She is the sister I always wanted. When my father died, all I could think of was seeing her.” She looked down at the ground. “That’s when I packed a bag, closed up the house and left Boston.”

“No relatives? No one tried to stop you?”

“No.” Thank goodness they were nearing the boardinghouse and the twilight shadows hid her face from his scrutiny. She’d told him the truth…just not all of it.

He stopped before Molly’s fence and whipped the lead strap around the top railing. Then he walked her up to the door. Molly’s parlor lantern spilled light outside and onto the small porch.

“Do you ever think about going back?”

“And leave Clear Springs?” she teased at first, and then grew serious. “I may move somewhere new. But no, I won’t ever go back.” She knew full well what waited for her in Boston—a jail cell.

“Maybe someday you will finish law school.”

That would make her too easy to track down. Women lawyers were few and far between. No…that dream had ended abruptly and was best left in the past. “Someday never comes.” She pasted on a smile to take the sting out of her own words. “Good evening, Craig. Thank you for…everything.”

When she turned to go inside, Craig stepped forward. “Wait.”

“What?”

“You answered a few questions I had.” He searched her face as though still trying to figure out more. His face was inches from her own. She breathed in the scent of leather and horse that always hovered around him. The brown stubble on his jaw caught her attention. So rough…and yet the ends gleamed gold.

“It’s getting late. Molly will have supper waiting.” She didn’t want him to know more…see more…because if he did, he might see that she was coming to care for him even though she oughtn’t. He was too smart.

With his hand to her waist, he pulled her close.

She stiffened. “Craig? What are you doing?”

He gazed at her, his blue eyes intense. “Be still.”

She knew that look. It thrilled her…and yet she couldn’t let him kiss her. “Craig… No. Remember,” she said desperately fighting the tug inside her that drew her closer to him. “I promised Mr. Tanner? You…should…unhand me.” Her words were a bare whisper and she couldn’t help but stare at his lips. They looked soft…and inviting.

“I plan to.” He lowered his mouth to hers, touching her lips lightly, tentatively with his. His warm breath tickled her face.

Just the lightest butterfly touch and she calmed, suspended somewhere between Boston and Clear Springs, wrong and right, despair and hope.

Inch by inch his fingers walked around to encircle her waist and then, holding her gently secure, he slanted his mouth over hers and deepened the kiss.

She melted.

Her lips tingled under his, the sensation spreading and rippling through her entire body and into her toes. Her heartbeat quickened. This shouldn’t be happening. She knew this shouldn’t be happening. She even clenched her hands into fists on his chest to push him away, but then found herself stopping just short of doing that and instead, grasping his leather vest, unwilling to let go. Oh, my…

He took his time ending the kiss.

His gaze pinned her in place even though she knew she should take her leave. For an earth-shattering moment as they looked at each other, time seemed to stop.

Then he released her. “Good night, Gemma.”

He strode down Molly’s path, mounted his horse and rode away.

It was then she remembered to breathe.

 

Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff
© 2016 by Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

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To enter the giveaway for a copy of Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff, tell me what profession Gemma was working toward before she came to Clear Springs.

 

ckfts-promo-fr-2Available now for Pre-Order!

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HARLEQUIN

BARNES & NOBLE

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The Heroes of San Diego Series & a Giveaway!

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Happy Monday! I am gearing up for the release of Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff in November. This book will wrap up my Heroes of San Diego Series. It will be hard to leave my friends, but new stories are waiting to be written. I thought I’d go back to the beginning and post a bit about the story-lines and how they are connected because at the end of my post I have a question for you…

 

Book #1

Angel and the OutlawThe Angel and the Outlaw was my debut story, the “book of my heart,” that just begged to be written. When young, I loved the peninsula on Pt. Loma in San Diego where the old 1854 lighthouse stands. At that time, visitors could climb up the narrow circular stairs and walk around the catwalk. Not so anymore. In that story, a young woman from town dares to tutor the light keeper’s daughter who happens to be mute from a traumatic event in her past. Stuart is hiding out from the law and every bit a taciturn hero, but Rachel sees through his gruff exterior in the way he treats his daughter. When the law starts to close in on him, things get heated! (This book is NOT SWEET.)

 

 

Book #2

The Gunslinger and the HeiressThe Gunslinger and the Heiress takes place fifteen years later and is the story of Caleb and Hannah ~ the two children from my first book. I had many readers write in and ask if Hannah ever got over her muteness. I loved writing this story which has a dash of adventure and piracy in the mix. Who knew there were pirates off the coast of California? I learned that fact while researching and just had to include it in my story. The story takes place as the Hotel Del Coronado is being finished. Caleb is a scrapper and a reluctant bodyguard for Hannah. He’s always loved her…but she is as far removed from him as the moon now that they’ve grown up.

 

 

Book #3

fs-250-smFamiliar Stranger in Clear Springs starts out in La Playa ~ a town on the harbor that is closest to the lighthouse (and where Rachel of Book #1 taught school.) Elizabeth is Rachel’s good friend and heading into spinsterhood. She runs the family mercantile and has all but given up on love since a soldier from the nearby Fort Rosecrans left her without a word. Four years later, he suddenly shows up again and twists her heart into a tangle. Of course, she does the same to him! This story follows them into the back country where Tom has been sent to make sure the gold shipment from the mines gets through to the bank safely. Only trouble is, Elizabeth is smack dab in the middle of the fray!

 

 

Book #4 

Christmas Kiss from the SheriffChristmas Kiss from the Sheriff will be released on November 22nd! Gemma is Elizabeth’s good friend from La Playa who is the new school teacher in Clear Springs. Unbeknownst to the people of the mining town, Gemma is running from her past and has never taught a class in her life. When she skirts around a few questions and gets herself into a muddle at school, Sheriff Craig Parker becomes suspicious—so many things don’t add up about the beautiful new teacher. But she’s smart and independent and he is drawn to her!

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As I write my stories, it always amazes me how the characters become “real” to me. I think of all these heroes and heroines as friends and wish I could meet them face to face. Weird, isn’t it? I guess it’s a writer’s mind…

My publisher, Harlequin, is having a big ebook sale (ending tomorrow the 25th of Oct.)
This is only the second time I have ever heard of Harlequin doing this, so it is a
BIG DEAL!

My entire back-list is on sale for $1.99! I’ll leave you with a few links…

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Harlequin

For a chance to win one of my back-list books just let me know which one sounds like the story you would most like to read!
Feel free to go to my website’s Books Page and read the summaries and excerpts.

Kathryn’s Winner


The winner of my giveaway yesterday–

a name I pulled from my Stetson (using the randomnumbergenerator.org) is

Colleen

Congratulations Colleen!

Thank you to all who stopped by and commented!
I enjoyed learning a bit about you too!
Colleen – Please contact me at kathryn at kathryn albright dot com to collect your book!

Ten Fun Filly Facts about Kathryn!

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I feel like I need to have a name starting with F for this post!
Fun Filly Facts about Francine… hmm…

This week is dedicated to fun facts about the members that make up the corral
here at Wildflower Junction (a.k.a. Petticoats and Pistols) and today is my day!
I’m supposed to come up with 10 facts ~ we’ll see if I can…

FFF #1

~ I wrote my first manuscript with the hope that I could make enough money to stay home with my children as they grew. Call me naive to the publishing world! It didn’t happen, but now on the flip side of life, I have been able to retire early and be with my grandchildren and parents more.

FFF #2numbers

~ I prefer even numbers.
Not sure why…it just makes sense to me.
Maybe it was because I was born on an even day in an even month.
2014 was a good year. 2016 even more so.
(There might be a pill to correct this…or maybe therapy.)

FFF #3

Kathryn's Wedding Picture~ Although my first wedding was more exciting than my second, my second marriage has been more exciting than my first–and it’s to the same man!
Allow me to explain:  My first marriage at my grandparent’s farm lasted fifteen minutes ~ the duration of the drive from the farm to the church. I learned after the 1st ceremony, that the wedding wasn’t legal because the farm was just over the county line. The pastor had to take us back to his side of the line to say our “I Dos” all over again and sign the wedding certificate in the correct county. (It seems to have stuck — We’ve been married 38 years!) 

FFF #4

~ I love witty puns and quotes.
I think this may be a hazard of being a writer and loving the written word.

              “Borrow money from pessimists—they don’t expect it back.” (Steven Wright)
“If yourcar could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?” (Steven Wright)
“She’s descended from a long line her mother listened to. (Gypsy Rose Lee)
“Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.”

FFF #5horse-3

~ I wanted a horse when I was a child.
I still want a horse…
(Or a trip to a dude ranch might help :-))
I did enjoy riding lessons for two years as a youngster.
Even won a red ribbon (2nd place) in my one and only horse competition.

 FFF #6Cuyamaca Countryside

~ I grew up in the big city but always was a country gal at heart.
My favorite times were when my family left the city of San Diego and went hiking in the back country, to the beach, or on a summer vacation to a National Park. Give me the wide open spaces, an open road, and a starry sky and I am happiest.

FFF #720160927_140409_resized

~ I’m a dog person
—most particularly Golden Retrievers and Great Danes.
(I think this has something to do with never having my own horse.)
I’ve had three goldens that have come and gone in my life. The one pictured here was named Baron.
Every time I take a walk I think about and miss them.

FFF #8henry-cavill-superman-costume

~ I love everything SUPERMAN.
Mostly it has to do with his moral integrity, need to protect those weaker, and his strength.
It may have a small something to do with being able to fly. That is one cool super-power!
But then…he is easy on the eyes…

FFF #9

10914931_10153074190180135_517531118880944071_oIn my other life
I was a High Risk Obstetrical Nurse and a Sonographer.
That’s a lot of initials after my name…(I’m trying to beat my brothers…)
Now that I have left the medical field, I miss doing ultrasounds of babies in the womb.
I don’t miss having to get up everyday and leave for work.

FFF #10

I have my own “cheese cake” photo.  

Ready?  Here you go…

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Hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a little bit about me.
I’d love to hear a few fun facts about you! How about sharing one or two?

Comment to be entered into a drawing for one of my books!

Apple Days & a Giveaway

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Apples are on my mind!

I visited a local apple orchard yesterday with my family and came back loaded with apples, cider, fudge and pumpkin butter–and we only went for the apple donuts!

One of the things I enjoyed when I was a child was to take family trips in autumn to see the colors and enjoy the Apple Days celebration in Julian, CA. Perhaps that is a reason I set my stories there. Nostalgia. In each of my books I’ve given a nod to the thing that kept Julian on the map after the gold rush there had played out — Apples.

James Madison, a widower, came to the area in 1867 looking for a good area for a ranch. He was born in New York, but grew up in New Orleans. He began breeding race horses (the Shiloh breed of quarter horse) and also Durham cattle. In the early 1870s, he and Thomas Brady traveled to San Bernardino, brought back a wagon-load of apple trees and planted an orchard.

The higher elevation and increased rainfall in the land around Julian, along with the type of apple-orchard-5soil, made the it perfect location for a different kind of fruit other than the lemons and grapefruits and avocado trees that did so well nearer the coast. Before long, Madison also had blackberries, peaches, grapes and almond trees that produced exemplary fruit. (He also grew wheat as well as had a half-share in the Hubbard Mine. He was a very busy man!)

Many other inhabitants of the area, began planting orchards.  By the 1890’s apples from Julian were shipped throughout the country and winning county fairs. They won blue ribbons at the 1893 Worlds’ Fair in Chicago and in 1904 at the St. Louis Fair. In 1907, Julian apples won eight gold medals in the Jamestown Virginia Exposition, one of them being the Wilder Medal, which is the highest award given by the American Pomological Society.

Apple facts

(Courtesy http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2014/07/22/history-of-apples)

  • No other fruit has had the popularity of apples in art, literature, poems, and songs.
  • The original wild apple comes from Kazakhstan. This was found through following the DNA trail. These wild apples are still prevalent there today.
  • The original wild version can be terrifically sour. It is known as the “spitter” because the initial reaction upon taking a bite is to spit it out. It is only domestication and grafting that developed the sweet and tart flavors.
  • John Chapman (a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed) collected seeds from Pennsylvania cider mills and carried them west, starting orchards in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. These apples were too sour for eating and were used to make liquor.
  • The Temperance Movement in the 1880s viewed the apple as sinful (see previous) and pushed for the burning of apple trees.little_leaves1-e1459470207517-300x177
Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

This is my standard recipe for Apple Crisp that I’ve been making for my family for years. (I prefer it warm, with a splash of milk to balance the sweetness.)

In an 8” x 8” buttered pan:

Fill pan with sliced apples OR 1 large can of apple pie filling.

In a bowl mix:

1 cup flour
¾  cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
Add one beaten egg and mix with fork until crumbly.

Spread over fruit.
Melt one stick of butter and pour over mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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What is your favorite way to enjoy apples?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of Western Spring Weddings,
set in Clear Springs (a.k.a. Julian!)

Psst! My favorite eating apple is the Honey Crisp. What’s yours?

Visit Kathryn at her website and Facebook!

Black Bart – PO8 (poet)

“Here I lay me down to sleep     
To wait the coming morrow,
Perhaps success, perhaps defeat,
And everlasting sorrow.

Let come what will I’ll try it on,
My condition can’t be worse;
And if there’s money in that box
“Tis munny in my purse!”

Black Bart.

Imagine being the driver for a Wells Fargo stage and carrying money or gold from one town to the next when out of the brush steps a polite, slim man on foot, wearing a long duster and bowler hat, with a flour sack over his head –two holes cut out in order to see. Oh yes—and the man is carrying a shotgun.

“Throw down that box!”

* * * * * *

With a list of 28 known robberies in northern California and southern Oregon, all performed on foot with an amiable, polite nature, without foul language, and without firing a shot, Black Bart acquired notoriety during his lifetime and became a legend. In the midst of bandits and thieves who were brought down in a gunfight or jailed or hung from a tree, this man could not be caught!

Black Bart

Charles Bowles (aka Black Bart) Creative Commons

Black Bart’s real name was Charles Bowles. He was born in 1829 in Norfolk, England and emigrated with his family to New York when he was a toddler. His early years were spent farming. In 1849 he sought his fortune in the California Gold Rush. In 1854 he married, and in 1860 he and his wife were living with their four children in Illinois. He served in the Civil War before returning home to his family in 1865. By 1867 he was off again, searching for gold in Montana.

In 1875 at the age of 46, he made his first $160 from a robbery in northern California. It was at his fourth hold-up that he left a poem he had written and signed it at the bottom Black Bart – PO8. A second poem was left at his next robbery. Although that is the total of known poems he wrote, it sealed his fame as the poet bandit. The other intriguing fact that marked his individuality is that, being afraid of horses, he always traveled on foot.

His final holdup took place in the exact same spot as his first in 1883, this time for his largest haul – $4200 worth of gold. In the years between, Black Bart did well financially as a highwayman. He would hold up a stage one day and the next day be fifty miles away. As he became more well-known, amateur sleuths would rush to the site of the hold-up to try to trace his tracks, only to obliterate them before the detectives could arrive.

Concord Stage

Concord Stage – Wells Fargo Stagecoach
(Creative Commons)

Since he always wore the flour sack over his head, it took many years to put together a description of the gentleman bandit. Individuals who had talked with him in passing could not believe him to be the Black Bart. He was simply too pleasant, a “devilish nice fellow!” It was by a fluke that he was caught (and that is another story!) Wells Fargo detective J.B. Hume and detective H.N. Morse finally caught up to Black Bart.

Upon being processed for his sentence in San Quentin, he showed his spunk. On the form he is described as being five feet, eight inches, light complexion, and with a nearly white mustache and hair. He weighed 160 pounds. He declined using tobacco or alcohol or opium in any form. He didn’t use foul language. When asked about his education, instead of answering with the number of his completed grades, he simply replied, “Liberal!”

He spent four years of his six-year sentence and was released on good behavior in 1888. After that, he faded into legend—literally. People would say they had seen him, but he would slip away before anybody could be sure. Copycat poets and small-time bandits would say they were him. A Robin Hood-type legend sprang up.

Since then, Black Bart has been the fodder of dime novels, songs, stories, TV shows, and commercials. Roads, festivals, and parades, inns and restaurants have been named in his honor.

* * * * * * * ** *

 I think it might be quite interesting to sit down and have a chat with Black Bart.   What about you? Who would be your choice to talk with in history?

Western Spring Weddings

Comment for a chance to win a copy
of my newest release

Western Spring Weddings.  

 

For more information on me and my books visit my website at www.kathrynalbright.com

Second Chance at Love

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What is it about reunion / second chance at love stories that make them a favorite? There are a few readers here who have mentioned knowing a boy in school, only to then be separated by circumstances, and then to come back together at a class reunion, a wedding, or a chance meeting years later. I’ve read of some couples in the newspaper where they reconnected after sixty years and a marriage in-between, tying the knot again at eighty years of age! I LOVE such stories!

What is their draw? Is it hope? Is it that love truly can conquer all? Or is it that we never forget our first love…and the rush of new emotions and experiences that made up that roller coaster of a time? The romantic in me say it is all these things.

My newest release (April 2016) is a story about second chances. It is a novella in the Western Spring Weddings Anthology ~ His Springtime Bride. I hope you enjoy the excerpt here…

His Springtime Bride 

Blurb ~

Released from prison, Gabe Coulter must work for his enemy to earn back the deed to his own ranch. But when his boss’s daughter, Riley Rawlins, returns home with a rebellious son after years away in the east, nothing will stop him from discovering the truth.

Riley no longer trusts the man she once loved so completely. Years of old hurts and his violent past make it impossible to forgive and allow him back in her life or that of her son.

But one thing Gabe has is pure cowboy grit. Will it be enough to make Riley see that she and his son should be a part of his future?

Western Spring Weddings

Excerpt ~  

The coach rounded a rocky bend in the road and the village of Nuevo came into view. If she remembered correctly, the station and pen with fresh horses stood on the south side of the dusty town. From his seat overhead the driver called out announcing the place. The stagecoach slowed and finally pulled to a stop in front of the change station.

The dirt yard was empty; however, a buckboard sat off under the shade of a juniper tree. Perhaps that was her ride. The caw of a Steller’s jay broke the silence of the afternoon. A lean, broad-shouldered man stepped through the station door and out into the sunlight. She recognized him and froze. Scuffed boots, brown canvas pants, a cotton shirt with rolled-up sleeves, a green bandanna at his neck and the darkest brown eyes Riley had ever seen under a tan felt hat. Gabe Coulter.

Her breath whooshed from her like a deflating balloon. What was he doing here? When had he been released from prison? She stared at him, captivated and at the same time annoyed that after all these years he had grown more handsome. His collar-length black hair framed a face chiseled and sharp with angles, his nose straight as always, his jaw firm and square. The only thing not hard on the man was his lips…and they looked exactly as she remembered…enticing and kissable.

Abruptly, she pulled away from the window, hoping that he would walk away and never know she was there. Her heart raced. He still packed quite a presence. She swallowed, angry with herself for feeling anything at all. No amount of time was sufficient to make her forget what he’d done. She would never forgive him.

The driver placed the box step and swung open the door. “All out! Nuevo!”

She didn’t move.

“Aren’t we going, Ma?” Brody watched her.

She took a steadying breath. Perhaps it was silly to be nervous about running into Gabe after all this time. Hadn’t she just been telling herself to leave the past in the past? This was a test of her resolve. That’s all. Nothing more.

She tugged down on the hem of her shirtwaist and then straightened her straw bonnet. Ready. She stepped through the doorway and onto the box the driver had set for disembarking passengers. The bright sunlight blinded her. She wobbled slightly, her legs unused to activity and stiff after riding for four hours.

A strong hand grasped her upper arm, steadying her. The grip hardened to steel. “Riley? Riley Rawlins?”

His voice was richer, deeper, than she remembered, and he sounded astonished. Careful to keep all of her colliding thoughts contained and squashed deep inside, she looked up and met his eyes. “Hello, Gabe,” she said with cool reserve.

Gigi Hadid: Actor inspiration for Riley Rawlins (Photo by Dave Lee)

Then she stepped down to the ground and promptly stumbled.

He grabbed hold with his other hand and steadied her. Both grips were tight bands on her upper arms. He stared at her with unveiled shock in his eyes. “You are the company that Rawlins is expecting?”

She stiffened. “I am.”

He let go immediately. “Then I guess I’m here to fetch you.”

Her pulse raced. Her entire body felt on edge, as though half of her wanted to bolt one way and the
other half run another. “You are working for my father now?”

“Started not too long ago.”

With their exchange of letters, her father had known for over a month that she was coming home and yet he had hired Gabe? It didn’t seem possible. Years ago when he discovered they were involved in something more than friendship, Father had been dead set against them being near each other. He also knew how upset she’d been when Gabe had deserted her. Was this his own brand of retribution he was forcing on her?

She squared her shoulders, resigned that this “new beginning” had taken a decided turn for the worst. “Very well.” It wasn’t the most gracious of responses, but at the moment it mirrored how she felt.

His eyes narrowed as he took a closer look at her.

It was as if he was reaching back through the years and trying to read what had happened to her since then…and perhaps wishing she would return to where she had come from. Heat mounted on her cheeks under his scrutiny.

“Ma.”

She startled at her son’s voice behind her and turned to him. “Brody, this is Mister Coulter…a ranch hand of your grandfather’s.”

Gabe’s brow raised at the last, just the slightest bit, but he turned and watched Brody disembark. If Brody’s size…nearly five feet six inches…surprised him, not a muscle moved on his handsome face. When her son lifted his sullen gaze, all Gabe did was thrust out his hand.

Her son hesitated but then grasped Gabe’s hand in a firm shake.

“Brody,” Gabe said, as if testing his name and committing it to memory. His shake slowed and he glanced at Riley with a question lighting his eyes. Then he let go. “I’ll get your bags transferred to the wagon.”

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Tom Welling: Actor inspiration for Gabe Coulter.

“I can do it,” Brody said, his voice challenging. He scrambled to the top of the coach and tossed down their traveling cases with enough force Riley worried they might break open. It didn’t seem to faze Gabe as he caught them. What was her son trying to prove? When he had climbed back down and Gabe had left them to carry two of the cases to the wagon, she took Brody aside. “What was that all about?”

“I don’t like the way he looked at us—at you.”

It wasn’t the first time her son had acted protective of her, but it had been a long time since he had even cared—more than year.

“I hope you are a bit friendlier upon meeting your grandfather.” She also hoped her father was a bit friendlier than Gabe had been. Then squaring her shoulders, she braced herself for the long ride to the ranch and followed her son to the buckboard.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gabe’s entire body was shaking on the inside when he settled the luggage in the wagon bed. Riley was back—and with a son! Just the thought of her with another man made Gabe knot up inside, stupidly jealous of something that happened years ago. He hadn’t expected her to stay unhitched. She was too beautiful to stay single for long. He darted a look at her as she walked toward the wagon. Still slender, still with that long, wavy, honey-colored hair—although it was up in a knot under her hat. He’d never forgotten her eyes—gray-green with long dark lashes. They’d haunted him for as long as he could remember.

He helped her onto the wagon seat, irritated that his hands tingled when he let loose of her. Brody gave him a penetrating look before climbing up beside her. It wasn’t hard to decipher the stare. Gabe had felt possessive often enough with his own mother whenever Rawlins had come slinking around. The boy didn’t have a thing to worry about. As much as he had once loved Riley, he had learned his lesson there. He was just the hired help in her family’s opinion and nowhere near good enough for her.

His Springtime Bride/Western Spring Weddings Anthology   ©  2016  by Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

For more information about Western Spring Weddings or my other books,
please check my website ~  www.kathrynalbright.com

Now ~ I’ve admitted to my favorite kind of stories. I also love coming-of-age stories and the-underdog-wins stories. What about you? What type of story draws your interest over and over. If nothing strikes you ~ just name your favorite book from the past five years…( I always need new recommendations for great reads!)

Comment for a chance in my drawing! I’ll give away one copy of Western Spring Weddings (or another story from my backlist) to one lucky commenter. 

Simpler Times

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“Be careful what you own.

Your possessions just might own you.”

This is a quote from my father that I’ve remembered throughout my life. In this spring season of garage sales and Craig’s listings, I look around my house and see that the blessing of living into today’s consumer world is also a responsibility. It is time that I ‘lighten’ my life. Can you relate?

A scribe using quill and Black Oak ink.

A scribe using quill and Black Oak ink.

In this process of trying to simplify and organize my life, sometimes it seems overwhelming and I begin to wonder if it is really possible. There are books on this topic—even a best-selling one. (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by  Marie Kondo.  Hint: I really need this book!)

This is probably why I enjoy reading and writing stories. First off, stories are a neat little package with a beginning, a middle and an end. Stories are ORGANIZED. Also, things get ACCOMPLISHED in a story. The hero gets the girl, the villain gets his or her just desserts, the underdog saves the day. (This sense of accomplishment does not happen when I clean!)

Macktown Rendezvous

A man much like Stephen Mack

Second, since I read and write historicals, besides learning history along the way, it fascinates me to see how people lived in a “simpler” time. Even before the cowboys and cattle drives of the “west”, there were fur traders and mountain men and native Americans. These men and women knew how to get along with very little of the ‘extras’ in life that I would be lost without. Flint and a striking stone for fire. A horse. A basket to carry water. (No computer? No electricity? Are you serious?)

I recently attended a re-enactment of this ‘simpler’ life held right here in my hometown. Rockton has a history that dates back to the early 1800s when the French traders would come to trade with the native Americans that lived here. The re-enactment happens annually at the end of April and is called the “Rendezvous.”

Whitman Trading Post

Whitman Trading Post – 1846

Stephen Mack, Jr. is the first known white settler here in the Rock River valley. He came west in the early 1820’s as a fur trader for the American Fur Company of Detroit. In 1835, after the Black Hawk War, he settled down here with his Potowatami wife, Hononegah, and established a settlement which eventually came to be known as Macktown. In 1839 he built a ferry across the Rock River and later built a bridge. His home, a large frame house that he built in 1839, still stands, along with the Whitman Trading Post which he built from the local limestone in 1846. After Stephen Mack’s death in 1850, Macktown slowly faded away while at the same time across the river, Rockton grew.

I took Western Spring Weddingsthese pictures at the Rendezvous. I hope you enjoy them.

 

Do you have any tips for simplifying life?

Pass one along in the comment section for a chance to win a copy of my newest release ~ Western Spring Weddings!

 

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015