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From Author Mary Connealy – SOPHIE’S OTHER DAUGHTER (Part of the Hope For The Holidays historical bundle)
Laura McCellen rode her horse into the tunnel of doom.
When she’d told Beth she’d work for her—or rather when Pa lowered the boom—she’d never imagine she’d sink this low.
Visiting the Reeves.
Usually, she handled Pa perfectly but not this time.
As a rule, her pa never thought any man was good enough for her. But she’d turned down one he was mighty happy with and he said if she was determined to stay single it was fine but she needed to get a job.
Now she was nursing for Beth and Alex.
Laura didn’t want to be a nurse. And yet here she was checking on Grace Reeves, due to have her child any day.
And why a woman who popped out babies as easily as Grace needed a doctor, Laura couldn’t imagine. Beth said neither she nor Alex had ever attended a birth in Reeves’ Canyon and there’d been plenty of them.
The walls closed in around Laura as she entered the narrow canyon entrance. It was so tight it was hard to breathe. She shivered and it wasn’t because of the early December cold. Daniel got a wagon threw but it wasn’t a big wagon.
And there was something about this place that caught the wind and held it…and if there was snow in the wind, the canyon filled up and melted mighty slow.
Daniel had carved a path out over the canyon wall. But it wasn’t an easy climb. Even though most winters were fairly mild there was always the chance a cold snap and a heavy snow could seal the canyon. And Daniel reasoned it would be worse to be sealed out. Because of this, the Reeves family rarely appeared in Mosqueros during the winter. And it was especially rare in the years Grace had a baby on the way, that high mountain pass was hard enough when she wasn’t great with child.
More than most anything in the world, Laura didn’t want to end up spending the winter with the wild Reeves boys. She rode on anyway, knowing she was just looking for an excuse to bolt.
Then she was out of that smothering bottle-neck and turned loose in a mad house.
Not that any of the madmen were in sight right now.
She rode up to the house, which was a lot bigger than she remembered from her one and only visit here. Ma had mercifully learned to come visiting alone.
It stretched out so long she wondered if Daniel added on a room every time a child was born.
She tied her horse to the hitching post and knocked on the front door. A crash made her jump. Voices as loud and wild as a pack of wolves erupted and grew louder. She stepped back and it was a good thing because the door slammed open.
Here were the little lunatics now.
A little crowd of stair-step white-haired boys boiled out of the house, shouting and knocking against her as they rushed past her. She thought one of them shouted the word ‘snow’ but mainly it was just general screaming.
“Come in.” Grace Reeves, sounding calm and chipper. Laura had never figured out how the woman managed to remain so pleasant when she was surrounded by pure bedlam.
Laura stepped inside to find Daniel rising from the table and lifting a little bald-headed boy, from a high chair.
“Laura, thanks for coming.” Grace smiled.
Daniel frowned. “I asked for the doctor to come out.”
“Beth and Alex are both busy. A family east of town is down with a fever and they both needed to be there, so they sent me. They promised to come out as soon as possible. It will be a few days though.”
Grace rested her hand on her rounded stomach and sighed in a way that struck Laura as odd. Daniel didn’t notice and this wasn’t the first time he’d proved to be lacking in much sensitivity. Instead he scowled at Laura as if frowning enough would change her into a doctor.