Whether it’s by shotgun or another equally pressing reason, sometimes proposals and weddings don’t come at the right time – even if they’re the right thing. Here are Donna Alward and Mary Connealy with glimpses into a few forced unions from their books!
From THE REBEL RANCHER (June 2012)
“I thought about it all night, Clara. Thought about you and the baby and Diamondback and I know what we have to do.”
She wasn’t sure she liked the sound of this. He seemed very sure of himself and considering she’d already explained her proposal this meant he wasn’t likely to go along with it. She tangled her fingers tighter together and replied, as evenly as she could, “I already told you what I’d like to do. This doesn’t have to change anything, not really. I can keep my life and you can keep yours, and we can work it out so that our baby has both a mother and a father. Right?”
Another step closer, and this time he was shaking his head. “That doesn’t work for me, Clara. I can’t be a father hundreds of kilometers away.” He reached out and pried one of her hands loose, clasping it in his strong, warm fingers. “What makes the most sense is…”
He paused, then got down on one knee while her mouth fell open. No, no, no! This couldn’t be happening. He couldn’t possibly be proposing. It would ruin everything! She didn’t want to get married. Didn’t want to lose herself in another relationship where she wasn’t loved in return. Why couldn’t he just be reasonable?
She tried to slide her fingers out of his but his grip was too firm. Oh God, he was looking up at her with those heart-on-his-sleeve eyes and she couldn’t look away.
“I want you to marry me,” he said softly. “Come home to Diamondback, and we can raise our child together.”
Panic threaded its way through her body. “We don’t have to get married to be parents,” she answered, adding a nervous laugh to the end that fell completely flat. Ty’s brow furrowed and a wrinkle appeared just above his nose.
He got to his feet and Clara realized once more how very tall he was. Ty had such presence that he tended to fill a room with it without even trying. It was hard to go toe to toe with that. But the truth was Ty had mentioned absolutely nothing about love. He had asked her but for all the wrong reasons. And it would be a disaster to marry without it. They would end up resenting each other and then what sort of parents would they be?
She had to make him understand that somehow. “Ty,” she tried, praying for calm, “getting married would be a mistake. We’d end up regretting it, I’m sure of it. And then there’d be a child stuck in the middle. If we’re calm and practical now, it’ll be so much better, can’t you see? We’ll make rational decisions rather than running on emotion.”
“Of course there are emotions involved. We’re not talking about buying a car or taking a job. We’re talking about a baby here. My baby.”
“And mine,” she reminded him.
A muscle in his jaw ticked. This wasn’t going the way she wanted at all! It had never crossed her mind that he’d propose. He didn’t love her. She wasn’t a naïve little girl after all. She knew that one night of passion and grief did not a love affair make.
“You’re asking me to make an impossible choice, do you realize that?” He ran his hand through his hair. “I either have to try to be a father on special occasions and holidays, or…”
He dropped his hand. “Damn,” he muttered.
“Or what?” she asked, wondering what choice she’d possibly forced.
“Or leave Diamondback.”
Her lips dropped open. “You’d do that?”
The chocolatey eyes she’d drowned in earlier now hardened. “What choice would I have? You should know me better, especially after everything I told you.” His voice turned accusing. “You know my history. You know how I feel about what my parents did. Thank God Virgil and Molly were there, but what if they hadn’t been? Don’t you think I know how it might have ended up for me? Maybe this was unplanned, but I could never turn my back on my own child. I could never put them second in my life and I thought you understood that.”
And now she saw his eyes glisten with the barest sheen of moisture before he blinked and turned away from her.
“But you love Diamondback,” she said weakly.
“Yes, I do.” His voice was hoarse with emotion. And he didn’t need to say anything more. If she insisted on staying in Saskatchewan, he would leave the ranch behind. His birthright. His family.
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And now here’s Mary, with an excerpt from CALICO CANYON:
“I can’t be out here alone with you wearing a nightgown.” Grace clutched the blankets. “It’s not proper.”
Daniel’s fair skin turned an alarming shade of pink as he stared at her. “I’ll bet it wasn’t proper of us to sleep together either.”
“It most certainly was not.” The deep voice from behind hit them at the same instant the cold did.
They all turned to face Parson Roscoe.
The boys wheeled fully around. Daniel sat up. Grace clutched the blankets to her chest and looked into the startled eyes of the kindly parson and, just behind him, his gentle-hearted wife, Isabelle.
“Parson, it’s not what it looks like,” Grace said.
“Oh, thank heavens,” Mrs. Roscoe said. “Because it looks like you and Daniel spent the night together in this cave.”
“Then it is exactly what it looks like,” John said into a silence more frozen than Grace had been last night.
“Well, yes,” Daniel said. “We did spend the night together, but…”
“Daniel,” Grace gasped in horror.
Daniel looked away from the parson, his skin now fully flaming red. “Well, we did. Do you want me to add lying to the parson in on top of having you in bed…I mean, sleeping together…I mean…” Daniel lapsed into silence.
“Pa brung her home to be our ma, but he tried her out for the night and he decided to return her,” Mark said.
Parson Roscoe stepped fully into the cave. “Both of you get up immediately.”
“In front of the children, Grace? I’m shocked.” Mrs. Roscoe came in and shut the door behind her. The plump woman clutched her hands together in front of her chest as if desperate to get away and spend an hour in prayer just to wash the shock out of her mind.
Grace climbed to her feet. She fumbled with the blankets, there were too many of them to hold. She tried to drop a few of them and managed to drop them all. She caught at them and almost fell forward trying to keep herself covered.
In a voice that seemed to promise eternal flames, Parson Roscoe said to Daniel, “We’ll get on with this and no one will have to know what exactly went on here last night.”
The parson gripped his big black Bible in both hands as if he needed to physically hang on to his faith in the face of this indignity. “Do you Daniel take this woman…”
Daniel was staring at her, his eyes so wide Grace would swear the man had seen a ghost, shook his head.
“I don’t even know how I got here.” Grace flung her arms wide, narrowly missing backhanding Daniel in the face.
“I do.” Daniel grabbed her hand to protect himself.
“About time.” The parson turned his fire and brimstone eyes on Grace.
“No, I didn’t mean…” Daniel dropped her hand like it had sprouted cactus bristles.
“Do you Grace take Daniel—?”
“We told you we aren’t keepin’ her for our ma.” Mark turned on Grace. “You want out of here as bad as we want you out of here, don’t you?”
Grace nodded frantically. “I do.”
“Hallelujah!” The parson raised his hands to heaven.
“I now pronounce you—”
Mrs. Roscoe threw herself, weeping into Grace’s arms, whispering ‘congratulations’.
The parson, whom Grace had always liked, and his wife who seemed like such a sweet-natured woman in the normal course of things, swept out of the cabin. The door slammed shut.
“But I need a ride back to town,” Grace called after them.
“You’re not getting a ride back to town, woman. You’re married!”
Daniel might as well have been a cougar trapped in this cave with her, she’d have felt no safer.
“I’m what?” Deafening silence followed her question.
“To who?” Mark shoved himself to the front of the pack of boys.
Grace looked at Daniel, and it hit her. She was the mother of five—including two ten-year-olds. And she was only seventeen. Grace sank onto the floor and pulled all six blankets over her head.
Mary’s giving away signed copy of her SOPHIE’S DAUGHTERS trilogy! Just leave a comment to be entered for the draw!