LASSOING A BRIDE & LASSOING A GROOM
Two New Anthologies!
Coming from Prairie Rose Publications May 20, 2014
I’m so excited to announce my next two releases, new short stories that are set in the town of River’s Bend, Missouri. There’s one story in each of two anthologies being released on May 20! One features Martha Bittner & Sheriff Matthew Tate, whom we met in COMING HOME; the other introduces Rebekah Snow Redmann, who turns out to be the perfect match for Martha’s brother, Franz.
LASSOING A BRIDE has five new stories from five award winning authors. Here’s a little taste of my story.
NO LESS THAN FOREVER
Doctor Franz Bittner is satisfied with his life as it is. He has a good practice in a place where he is respected, in spite of his German birt
h. He has good friends and enough income to provide with him a few comforts. A wife would only complicate things. Then a tiny blond stranger is pulled from the river and everything changes. With one smile she captures his attention—and steals his heart.
Rebekah Snow Redmann barely survived her abusive husband’s attack. Though she was given to him to pay her father’s debts, she’d rather die than go back. Then she ends up in the care of the handsome local doctor and he stitches up more than her wounds—he mends her soul. With him, she discovers everything that she believes she can never have…a love that will last forever.
For the ride to the schoolhouse where the dance would be held, Rebekah sat close to Franz in the rear seat of the sheriff’s carriage. It might have been scandalous, but the heat of his body warmed her and made her feel safe. And the heat in his gaze made her helpless to resist. Glancing around her, she smiled. “I haven’t been in anything like this since I left Boston.”
“Did you grow up in such a lifestyle?”
“Papa liked people to see how important he was. I didn’t care, really, but I enjoyed not having to walk everywhere.”
“Ah.” Of course, he understood immediately. “Because of your hip.”
Rebekah nodded. Her disfigurement used to embarrass her, but she’d survived so much in the past four years, the fact that she limped now seemed insignificant. “I was thrown from a horse when I was five. Mama tried to tell Papa I was too small to ride alone, but he insisted that any daughter of his would be a natural horsewoman. Funny, I actually remember their argument more than my fall.” She fell silent, her parents’ angry words replaying in her mind. “Papa shouted at Mama and startled the horse. I couldn’t hold on. Fortunately my head landed on his boot rather than the stone of the courtyard, but I wasn’t able to walk right after that.”
“Then you must stay warm.” He leaned close to tuck the blanket around her and she took the opportunity to enjoy the spicy scent of his soap. Franz spent the rest of the short ride pointing out the things he most liked about River’s Bend. When they arrived at the schoolhouse, he helped her from the carriage and introduced her to the couple her stood waiting on the landing.
Mary Hawken was a sweet, bubbly, very pregnant woman. Next to her husband, Jericho, she seemed tiny. But the dress Rebekah wore fit perfectly and she knew she wasn’t small. Many times, Reginald had pointed out that he felt as if he had a clumsy giantess at his side. Pushing aside all thoughts of the man, she nodded at Mary & Jericho. “Thank you for loaning me your dress. It’s really beautiful.”
“That dress looks much better on you than it ever did on me. You should keep it.”
Rebekah was so stunned, she stopped walking. Even her own mother had never parted with a frock simply because it looked better on one of her daughters. Martha laughed and urged her forward, promising she’d get used to Mary’s way. Then they stepped inside the schoolhouse and all thoughts of gowns and gifts flew from her mind. She stared around her at the dozens of flowers and ribbons in a rainbow of colors. “It’s so beautiful.”
Martha seemed thrilled. “How very lovely it is.” Then Mary ordered the men to open the shutters—actually told those three, huge, strong men what to do! And they did it with laughter and smiles and jokes, not with arguments and fists and… No, she wouldn’t go there tonight. Squaring her shoulders, Rebekah joined the women who were now flowing into the room to see if she could help.
Franz left her alone for nearly an hour before he gently suggested she be seated. “You are not quite as healed as you feel right now.”
“You have already
done your share. There are others who can do this now.”
The women nearby assured her they would take over, so she allowed Franz to lead her to a chair away from the open door. When he leaned close in order to be heard over the musicians, a shiver that had nothing to do with a draft skittered down her back. He pointed out the mayor and the schoolteacher, the butcher and his wife, and a dozen others whose names she’d never remember. The musicians played a reel and her toes began tapping in rhythm.
“I do,” she admitted, “although I’m not very good at it because of my hip.”
Rising, Franz held out his hand. “Will you try a few steps with me?”
Oh, how she wanted to say yes. To take his hand and join the bouncing line of laughing dancers. But she had to work very hard at not showing her limp when she danced and she was too tired to do that. “I don’t think—”
“I don’t care that you do not walk perfectly. I only want to hold you for a moment or two.”
His gentle words stole her breath and sent her heartbeat racing. “I would love to dance with you, Franz.”
And featuring six short stories, LASSOING A GROOM—
WANTED: THE SHERIFF
Martha Bittner may be considered a spinster at twenty-seven, but she’s not planning to stay that way. For four years, she’s wanted the sheriff of River’s Bend, Missouri, to notice her as more than a friend and a really good cook. With the first annual spring dance only week
s away, Martha decides to announce her intentions—and declares the sheriff a wanted man.
Sheriff Matthew Tate always thought he was better off a bachelor. Growing up in Boston society, where marriage is a business transaction and wealth his greatest asset, he’s learned to distrust all women’s intentions. None of them even catch his eye anymore—until pretty Martha Bittner tells him exactly what she wants… and he wonders why he ever resisted capture.
“How can I help? I’m not as talented as you in the kitchen, but I can be useful.”
Martha brandished the sharpened knife, pointing to the bowl of potatoes. “Peel.”
“Yes, ma’am.” With a smart bow to her, he dropped onto the bench at the big, scarred table and set to work. “This is a lot for three of us.”
Martha returned to her basting. “Franz invited the blacksmith to join us.”
“Ah, Daniel Arnault. I see. Do you want these whole or cut in pieces?”
Surely, she only imagined disappointment in his tone. Turning to Matt, she stared at the sight of the tall, handsome sheriff peeling potatoes at her kitchen table. Then, his question registered. “Pieces, please. About the size of your thumb,” she clarified. “That way they cook faster, and dinner will not be late.”
On cue, his stomach growled in anticipation. “Obviously, we can’t have that.”
Martha laughed with him, enjoying the moment. She could so easily imagine them in the kitchen together every night, talking over his day, sharing dreams and plans and—
“Martha, what do you think?”
“What?” Had he asked her a question?
“You always look as if you enjoy singing, and Mr. Hart seems to know his business.”
She took a breath to calm her nerves. He asked about singing. “Yes, I do enjoy being in the church choir. Mr. Hart is a fine director. He has helped us all be better singers and chooses music that enhances the Reverend’s message. I believe Sunday mornings are more enjoyable now for everyone.”
“And Reverend Oltmann seems to have shortened his sermons a bit to allow for more songs. Yes, I think I will.”
Matthew grinned. “Join the choir.”
Martha just knew her mouth was gaping open like a landed trout. “You sing?”
“I did, many years ago. Rather enjoyed it, as I recall. It will be a good way to meet more of the townspeople, don’t you agree?”
“Ja, I mean, yes.” She moved to take the meat from the oven, but Matthew reached around her to lift the heavy pan.
“On the table, please.” She spread several large towels to protect the surface from the heat. “Thank you.”
Matthew turned and stepped just a little closer. “My pleasure, ma’am.”
His voice was deeper, rougher. It sent pleasant chills chasing along her skin.
“Matthew! Come back, now.”
The sheriff flinched at the sound of Franz’s voice, then retreated a step. Obviously, he didn’t wish to be found standing too close. Martha licked her suddenly-dry lips, fascinated when his eyes narrowed and followed the movement.
“Martha.” His voice was soft as a wish, making her tremble. Moving slowly, he brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. “I’m looking forward to dinner.” His gaze, deep and intense, held hers for several seconds before her turned and strode from the room.
Martha stood rooted to the floor as his footsteps faded. Even knowing she was alone, she couldn’t seem to break the spell he’d woven. He couldn’t wait for dinner? Was that all he wanted?
The spattering of boiling water on the hot stove forced her into motion. Mechanically, she went about whipping the potatoes with milk, butter and salt, and adding flour and butter to thicken the gravy. Hadn’t she seen something more in his eyes than desire for a meal?
Having so little experience, she wasn’t certain, but she thought Sheriff Tate was interested in more than beef and potatoes.
That should be a good thing, ja? But what if she was wrong?
Mark your calendar and place your order for LASSOING A BRIDE & LASSOING A GROOM, both coming May 20, 2014.