Spring is wedding season!
In the 1800s, I have a feeling spring weddings had something to do with the availability of beautiful flowers, and the (ahem) need for a wedding after the long, cold winter. Tomorrow is release day for Western Spring Weddings of which my story, His Springtime Bride , is roped with two other novellas, each involving a spring wedding. I am offering a print copy (or Kindle copy) to one lucky person leaving a comment today. (See guidelines on upper right of this page!) Here’s a little bit about the plot and an excerpt that occurs near the beginning of the story.
Released from prison, half-breed 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 trust the man she once loved so completely.
Years of old hurts and his violent past make it impossible to forgive and allow him back into 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 her son should a part of his future?
Excerpt ~ His Springtime Bride
“Name is Coulter. I want to talk to Frank Rawlins.”
“Johnson. Foreman.” His gaze narrowed and he scratched his scruffy dirt-colored beard. “Coulter? From around these parts?”
Gabe lifted his chin in acknowledgment.
“Most Injuns never make it to prison if they kill a white man. And if they do—they don’t make it out.”
Gabe stiffened. He’d heard the same thing before from guards at the prison—their tone much uglier. It wasn’t the only time his father’s blood had saved him, but it was the most important time. In a world where both whites and Indians looked upon him with suspicion, he had quickly learned to trust no one. He had fought it when he was young, trying to fit in, but it did no good. Now all he wanted was to be left in peace. Obviously, Johnson had heard of him and didn’t care about that.
“Then it’s a good thing I’m half-white. Tell him I’m here,” Gabe said. By his tone, he made it clear he wasn’t asking.
The foreman eyed him for a moment longer and then clomped up the steps and, after a sharp rap on the door, let himself into the house.
Three minutes later, Johnson ushered him inside.
Gabe had been in the house a few times when he was young. His folks had been invited to a ten-year wedding anniversary party for Rawlins and his wife. That’s when he’d first met Riley. He had been quiet and she had been all gangly tomboy arms and legs and talked up a storm. He remembered swinging on the rope swing that hung from the old oak in the side yard with her and a few other children. He had never seen blond hair before that, and each time he tried to touch her braids, she would whip them around just out of his reach to tease him. She laughed and the other kids laughed right along with her, which made him mad—mostly at his own awkwardness.
Had Riley ever come back to visit her father? Once she had loved the ranch and vowed never to leave, despite her mother’s schemes to position her for a rich husband back east. By now she probably had that rich husband along with a baby or two. With effort, he pushed his memories of Riley to the back of his mind. Thoughts of her would only complicate the confrontation ahead with Rawlins.
He squared his shoulders and followed Johnson. The foreman stopped in the hallway before the study and indicated Gabe was to enter. “No such thing as a half Injun,” he said, his eyes cold as Gabe passed by. “Bad blood taints the good.”
Rawlins sat behind a massive cherrywood desk, his expression inscrutable. He had to be in his early fifties now, with silver-streaked hair and black hawkish brows over striking blue eyes. A small amount of paunch around his middle where there hadn’t been any before spoke to his more sedentary days of late. As Gabe stepped farther into the study, Rawlins walked slowly around from behind his desk and hiked one hip onto the corner to sit. “So you are out.”
Gabe wasn’t here for small talk. “I was down to my land today. Saw the sign. Looked new.”
Rawlins nodded…watching him carefully. “The sheriff in Nuevo mentioned your release. I thought you might head this way. I also thought you should be clear about the situation here.”
“You mean the part about not owning my own land?”
In the doorway, Johnson straightened, alert to the underlying tension in the room. He rested his hand lightly on his gun handle.
“Taxes hadn’t been paid in three years,” Rawlins said. “I paid them.”
“Stole the place, you mean. And you know why I couldn’t get them paid.”
He nodded again. “Your incarceration was mentioned in the newspaper. I had my eye on that property a long time, Coulter. Has a nice little stream running through it down from the mountain this time of year.”
“I noticed your cattle were enjoying it.”
“Hasn’t been grazed in years. There is a nice thick carpet.”
Of course it hadn’t been grazed. After his father’s death by the cougar, Gabe’s mother had had to slowly sell off the stock to make ends meet. Few would do business with a Kumeyaay woman and her kid. He blew out a breath, unused to having to ask for anything and not liking that he was going to now. He’d best keep calm. “What will it take to get it back?”
Rawlins tilted his head. “Who says I’m interested in selling?”
His Springtime Bride/Western Spring Weddings Anthology © by Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.
For a different excerpt from this novella, visit my website!
My favorite part of weddings is hearing the heart-felt vows. Now it’s your turn!
What is your favorite part of a wedding?
Comment for a chance to win a copy of Western Spring Weddings!