From Ireland to the New World — Pioneer Instinct

PioneerInstinctCoverArtEliza O’Malley and brother Allen travel from Ireland to join their father and brothers on an 1890s Wyoming homestead. Allen is almost destroyed during the voyage, but Eliza’s benefactors rescue them both from their father’s foolish carelessness and mounting debt.

When she has worked off her passage and built her own wealth, Eliza completes the journey, knowing that she has been called to fulfill her destiny as a Heartmark woman. She is immediately swept off her feet by the neighboring rancher Frank McGee. His sister Jude, her friend and business partner, harbors a secret that will nearly destroy the love between Eliza and Frank.

Clues from an ancient diary, the fierce intervention of animal helpers, and ancient artifacts play a part in the life of all Heartmark women, including Eliza. Will they be enough to overcome the horrible rumors spread by Jude and restore Frank’s love for her?

Excerpt

Could this man be the answer to her prayers? “Oh, sir, I am looking for someone to help me find my brother.” She turned to the door of the men’s quarters the man had just come out of, then turned back to him. “I haven’t seen him since we left port and I’m worried sick.”

The man blanched and alarm flashed across his face, then he gave her a gentle smile and she wondered if she’d imagined that first reaction.

He cast a quick look to the door of the men’s quarters, then cleared his throat and gave her his complete attention. “Well, tell me more about this brother of yours and we will see what we can do.”

Relief and hope eased the knot in Eliza’s stomach for the first time since her father had taken charge of Allen. “Oh, yes, thank you. His name is Allen O’Malley and he’s ten years old. He has dark hair and green eyes and is about this tall.” She put her hand at about her shoulder level. “He is thin and when I saw him last he was crying his heart out at having to leave home.”

A thin man, pale and looking worse for wear, pushed open the doors from the men’s quarters, heading to the rail of the ship. Eliza peered into the darkness below before the door slammed shut again. If only she could see him…

Her companion’s eyes followed hers.

“Tell you what, Lassie. You stand right here at the opening and call out his name. Tell him I’ll bring him to you. Maybe that will help me find him.”

Hope bloomed in her breast and she nodded eagerly. Mindful of his steps on the thin rope ladder, the stranger backed down into the darkness.

Mustering as much confidence as she could, she called out to her little brother. “Allen, I’m here. Come up on deck please. This nice man will bring you to me. Allen O’Malley, I’m waiting to see you, but I’m getting impatient. Do you want me to come down there after you?”

“Eliza?”

The call was so timid she almost missed it completely. Eliza fisted her hands to her chest to keep her heart from pounding its way outside her body. “Yes, Allen, it’s me. Let this nice man bring you up on deck with me and I’ll make sure you don’t have to go down there again.”

*****

Pale circles of light from the few lanterns which were hooked to the rafters were all James McWhorter had to guide him around the mass of humanity suffering from sea sickness below decks. He found the boy huddled in a corner. There was no lantern in this area, and it was too dark to be sure what he saw, but the smell was even worse in this corner. He put a handkerchief to his nose and tried to take shallow breaths. Feces, urine and – could it be blood? – crowded his nostrils and gagged him.

When James knelt beside the balled up little boy, his pant leg became wet with who knew what. “Son, are you all right?”

There was a sniff, followed by a long silence. “They– they hurt me. I’m scared.” The whispered, broken words tore at James’ heart.

Download now from Desert Breeze Publishing, where you can check out Books 1 and 2, Animal Instinct set in Missouri in the 1970s and Survival Instinct set in 2020 in San Francisco.timeaftertimeseries

Pioneer Instinct Released Today

PioneerInstinctCoverArtDesert Breeze Publishing has released the third book in the Time After Time series, Pioneer Instinct.

Eliza O’Malley and brother Allen travel from Ireland to join their father and brothers on an 1890s Wyoming homestead. Allen is almost destroyed during the voyage, but Eliza’s benefactors rescue them both from their father’s foolish carelessness and mounting debt.

When she has worked off her passage and built her own wealth, Eliza completes the journey, knowing that she has been called to fulfill her destiny as a Heartmark woman. She is immediately swept off her feet by the neighboring rancher Frank McGee. His sister Jude, her friend and business partner, harbors a secret that will nearly destroy the love between Eliza and Frank.

Clues from an ancient diary, the fierce intervention of animal helpers, and ancient artifacts play a part in the life of all Heartmark women, including Eliza. Will they be enough to overcome the horrible rumors spread by Jude and restore Frank’s love for her? And what about Mildreth’s story? How will she arrive in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1890?

Excerpt:

“Hold it right there. Don’t come any closer.”

Mildreth froze at the sound of the woman’s no nonsense command.

“Okay, okay.” With great care Mildreth knelt, placed her sheathed sword on the ground at her feet, then, keeping her movements slow and non-threating she stood and turned and raised both hands in a gesture of meekness while she assessed the distance between her and this farm woman. She was about the same height and build as Mildreth herself, likely around the same age as well. She wore a long skirt, as modest in style as Mildreth’s although clearly not from the same era. A brimmed hat cast her eyes in shadow, yet her vision was clearly not impaired as she held the long gun steadily on Mildreth’s position. The confident stance, steady stare, and familiar way she handled her weapon warned Mildreth she was likely a really good shot. Mildreth would have to tread carefully.

 She forced her lips to curve into a timid smile and added a bit of a catch in her voice. “I’m sorry if I scared you.” Mildreth hunched her shoulders, strove to look vulnerable. “I’m lost and when I saw the smoke from your stove I–I hoped someone could help me figure out where I am. I’ve walked for ages and yours is the first cabin I’ve come across.”

The woman’s weapon did not waver. She pushed the rim of her hat up with an index finger and stared openly at the blood stains on Mildreth’s garments. “What happened to you?” Her eyes tracked to the sword at Mildreth’s feet then narrowed. “Whose blood is on your dress?”

She was more than a little surprised her slight injuries from Winter Parker and Mike Hunter’s animal helpers had remained through this last trip through Time. Mildreth pulled back the collar of her shirt and winced when the material of her blouse pulled at the rough, red scratches that marred her skin, left there by a cockatiel turned attack bird. She chanced a glance at the woman, hoping for sympathy.

Narrowed eyes and an impatient shake of her head was her only response.

Hmm, tough audience.

Mildreth mustered up a few crocodile tears, and let them slip down her cheeks. “I’m not sure where I was going or how I ended up out in the middle of nowhere.” She sniffed and pressed a trembling hand to her chest. “I don’t remember. I’ve been wandering around in the hot sun and I can’t think straight. If I could have a drink, maybe sit in the shade a bit, I am sure it would come back to me.”

Mildreth took a step closer, then another. The farmer woman didn’t soften and Mildreth wondered if she would have to change her tactics here. Clearly this woman’s heart was as hard as Mildreth’s own.

She studied her through tear-filmed eyes. She might have to make a grab for the rifle.

Then the farmer stepped back, making sure to keep the same distance between them.

To Mildreth’s relief, she nodded to a spot just past the barn. “There’s a well over there. Bucket’s on the rope, dipper on the side of the well wall. Help yourself.” She lowered the gun a little.

Mildreth smiled her thanks and made to reach for her sword.

“No you don’t.” The gun returned to its position pointed at Mildreth’s chest and the woman shook her head. “I’ll mind that for you while you’re here.”

Despite the suffocating heat of the late afternoon, goose bumps broke out over her skin. Sucking in a steadying breath, Mildreth nodded her acceptance, turned her back to the woman and her gun, and made her way to the well.

Although the woman’s steps were silent, the hair on the back of Mildreth’s neck raised and she knew the woman had followed her, that piercing gaze pinned on her. Mildreth deftly unwound the rope that held the bucket in place and dropped it down the well, controlling its passage. It was several seconds before it reached water. This was a deep well that would have taken considerable effort to dig by hand. She cranked the full bucket up to the edge of the well and set it there, then used the ladle for a deep, long drink, and then another. After she replaced the ladle she scooped up some water and splashed her face, then scrubbed at the grime there.

Her throat clogged with unexpected emotion from doing the familiar task.

Nay, she was not in her own land or Time, had long left ancient Scotland behind, but the routine was the same and a surge of homesickness almost sent Mildreth to her knees.

“If you want a bath the tub is there behind the well. There’s no one around and I’ve got a cow to milk, so you’ll have your privacy.”

Mildreth turned at the sound of the woman’s voice. “I appreciate it.”

She nodded once then turned to walk away. She did not have Mildreth’s sword and she wondered what she had done with her precious companion.

Mildreth was in need of shelter, food, and information, so refrained from asking about it.

She’d best get busy and gain this woman’s trust. She blurted, “My name is Millie.”

The woman paused, and turned back to Mildreth, her expression unreadable. Mildreth shaded her eyes with one hand, blocking the sun’s glare from behind the woman’s shoulder.

Some of the tension left the woman’s stance and the gun resting in the crook of her arm angled at the ground rather than pointing at her. Mildreth pushed her small advantage. “I’m afraid I don’t have anything to wear except this soiled dress. I would offer to buy a set of clothes, but it seems I’m without coin as well.”

Silence met her words and Mildreth’s heart thumped twice against her breast. Had she gone too far and scared her benefactor?

Unexpected empathy filled the woman’s eyes and softened her features. Then, in an almost timid voice, very different from the one that had threatened Mildreth when she approached, she said, “My name is Julia but I’m called Jude. I think we are close to the same size, although you’re taller. Maybe I can add some fabric to a skirt to make it fit.”

Mildreth did her best to hide her shock at the transformation of her host’s attitude.

Not heartless then. Okay, better. Mildreth would do fine here, for now. “Thank you, Jude. That is kind of you.” Mildreth poured the first bucket into the tub, then lowered it for another.

Jude nibbled on her bottom lip and cast an apologetic look at Mildreth. “It will take some time, though.” Her cheeks turned pink. “If you don’t mind trousers, I can bring you some of my father’s to get you by until we can sew something.” Her cheeks reddened further. “Sometimes, well, a lot of the time, I wear trousers to do the chores. It’s a lot easier than trying to run a farm in skirts.”

She snapped her lips shut, clearly embarrassed to have admitted to wearing men’s garments.

The complex woman was beginning to endear herself to Millie. Millie — why on earth had she fallen back on that old pet name? Only Colin had called her Millie. Now, however, she would need to think of herself by that name. Millie, not Mildreth. It was somehow a little kinder, a little more friendly and engaging a name.

Jude smiled at her. “Soap is in that can next to the tub. Better hurry, Millie. As hard as it may be to believe right this moment, the temperature will drop as the sun sets. I’ll be back shortly. I will find you a towel and something to wear, then I need to get the milking done.”

As if on cue, the cow gave a low moo.

Millie smiled and nodded to the cow. “Go ahead and milk first. She sounds uncomfortable.” Jude winced as if in empathy for the cow.

“I will, then.”

She would have to put the gun down to milk the cow. Okay, Millie thought, making friends with Jude, gaining her trust, should not be hard at all. She was pretty good at making friends with people she could use. She’d had lots of experience doing so through the centuries, after all.

Millie paused her tub-filling, and watched after Jude as she untethered the cow. She wondered if, contrary to the past eras, perhaps this friendship might not be a complete lie this time around.

Download today from Amazon or Dessert Breeze Publishing.

Pioneer Instinct coming soon — and we LOVE our cover

Cover Artist Gwen Phifer featured — and provides a sneak peek!

J. Morgan, one of Desert Breeze’s most engaging authors, interviewed our cover artist on today’s blog. Check it out.

timeaftertimeseriesAnd see the first public look at our latest cover. The Heartmark woman in this book is an 1890s Irish immigrant in Wyoming territory, loosely based on real events in my husband’s family. More to come!

Buy at Desert Breeze Publishing or on Amazon. All the Kindle books are on sale at Amazon.

Primal Instinct – Coming December 2015

My name is Meredith McCann. I’m but nineteen years of age, yet I’ve lived countless lifetimes.  I’ve been sentenced to spend my existence seeking out the Heartmark women, descendents of my brother Colin and his wife Aleena. Why? There is one reason and one reason only. To destroy their chances of finding, and holding onto, true love.

I am forbidden to harm the women – or the men they love — physically. So for each lifetime where I find the Heartmark woman I must use whatever means may be at my disposal.

Sometimes I shock even myself with my cunning and cruelty.mildreth

Shifted against my will from one Time to another in search of my nieces, I’ve seen things, done things, which would see me condemned to death  if those in my era were to learn of them.

You must be wondering why I must spend lifetime after lifetime searching for these Heartmark women?

I’ll tell you.

As punishment for a crime I committed. Aye, I admit to my crime, having drawn blood from my very own brother with my jealous sword– but I did so in a moment of fear, insecurity and loneliness.

Colin was all the family I had left, you see. My brother was the only one in my heart, and the one I’ll likely never see again. Not that he would wish to lay eyes upon me even if it were possible.

And why would he? After all I’ve done.

I was so afraid the love he held in his heart for Aleena would crowd out any affection he may have held for me, the sister he’d raised since I was five and he seven and our parents slain before our very eyes by an enemy chieftain.

He and I against the world, that’s how it had always been… until Aleena came into his life.

Colin’s heart, his time, his world, shifted from me, his own flesh and blood, to her. Leaving me lonely, so very lonely.

I tried to tell him, I really did. But he brushed off my words, my tears. He ignored my pleadings that he should cast her aside so we could go back to how we were before she came along.

Now, countless lifetimes later, I understand I did not truly have anything to fear from his new marriage. Now, countless lifetimes later, I understand that a man’s heart, a woman’s heart, can hold many different kinds of love in them, for countless people.

If only I’d known then what I know now….

Yet I didn’t know then and now, well, now I’m so tired. Exhausted really, and do you know what? I’m just as afraid, insecure, and lonely as I was that fateful day in Colin’s chambers, where I struck out at my beloved brother and set into motion this wretched life I now live.

I’ve destroyed countless Heartmark women’s loves. I always leave those times feeling almost as empty as the nieces I left behind.

Regret scorches my heart, but what am I to do? My whole purpose in being in their lifetime is to see them fail.

There have been even more Heartmark women and the men who loved them who stood strong against me, halting my efforts to destroy them at every turn. And once they utter the words I fear I myself will never be allowed to utter, the words ‘I do’, I am swept away, to another day and time, to begin my search for the Heartmark woman all over again.Those times when I leave, emptiness again fills my heart, but it is compounded a hundredfold by sadness and bitter regret.For I’ll never have the chance to find my own true love. How can I when I have no control over where or when I will be whisked away?

But just in case I’m wrong, just in case I may someday be able to seek penitence for my crimes against my brother and his wife, I have fiercely held on to my innocence.

Oh, in many of the Times I’ve lived there were those who would swear that innocence was far from me, a thing long past.

They’d have been wrong.

Just in case — just in case pity should ever be shown to me, and I can stop my relentless pursuit of the Heartmark women–at last leave them in peace, then, aye, then I can find the person who fills my heart the way Aleena fills Colin’s.

I vow I will go to my new husband pure– in mind and body, and I will belong to him and him alone forever more…

If, that is, pity should ever be shown to me.

Coming December, 2015

Paradise Pines series of Western Romance

Photo of author

Photo of author

 

Dusty bearded men in miner’s boots and faded shirts, gamblers in fancy vests and frock coats, a ghost or two tossed in for good measure – these are the characters who come to life on Paisley Kirkpatrick’s pages.  Mix them with strong, independent women of the Gold Rush era who delight and tempt their heroes to take a chance on love and, voila, it’s romance.

The Sierra Mountain Range of California is a perfect place to discover the mysteries of a wild time in history.  Placerville, known as Old Hangtown in 1849, provides a virtual hive of tales that Kirkpatrick cannot resist working into her stories.  Underground tunnels, mine shafts, and rumors of ghost sightings provide perfect backgrounds and add a bit of spice here and there. 

Come explore these glorious parts of California’s past with Paisley Kirkpatrick.  Meet the pioneers who dared to live life with gusto.

Her husband of 43 years and she are fortunate enough to live in the Sierra Mountain Range of California where this colorful time in history took place. Exploring gold mines, inspecting the stately historic homes, and traveling through tunnels zigzagging underground stirs the imagination and brings reality to her stories. To write and create has always been her dream. Joining Romance Writers of America twelve years ago MarriageBargainCoverArt72dpi (1)nightangelcoverart72dpi__49216.1359521482.1280.1280opened the door to achieving what she was born to do.

Visit Paisley’s website or her Amazon Author Page to learn more about her.

Future Releases by Paisley Kirkpatrick:

Paradise Pines Book Three: Forever After – October 2013

Paradise Pines Book Four: Broken Promises – May 2014

Paradise Pines Book Five: One-Eyed Charlie – December 2014

Buy Books One and Two at Desert Breeze Publishing,  Amazon, or Barnes and Noble
 

New Release — second in Paradise Pines series of Western Romance

MARRIAGE BARGAIN second book in the Paradise Pines Series, release date March 21, 2013

MarriageBargainCoverArt72dpi (1)Marriage Bargain is set on the dusty trail of a wagon train traveling from St. Joseph, Missouri, to the California gold rush area at Placerville, California, in 1849. Betrayal and embarrassment drives Darrah Benjamin to run away from home to take a tutoring job in San Francisco. Darrah finds her journey a pathway to love and forgiveness when an arranged marriage to the wagon scout becomes much more than a convenience. Chase challenges her determination to keep their marriage in name only with his promise — she’ll give him her heart and invite him to her bed before they arrive at their destination. Darrah has an immediate attraction to the rogue, but holds her emotions tight because she doesn’t want her heart broken again.

Charles Danforth, a scout known as Chase, leads a wagon train of emigrants west through plains plundered by murderers. As an undercover agent of President Polk, he has sworn to stop the massacres.  Darrah’s inadvertent comment gives him the clue he needs to achieve his assignment. His Sioux blood brother helps Chase end the killings, but almost ruins Chase’s chance of winning Darrah’s heart when he takes matters in his own hands to demonstrate the depth of love Chase has for his wife.

 EXCERPT:

Footsteps crunched on the rocks a few minutes later. He spun around and froze on the spot. The drowned rat? At least he thought the young woman walking toward him was the drowned rat. Her appearance was a far cry from the woman he’d saved during the storm. Unable to pull his gaze away from the gentle sway of her hips and the firm round breasts pressing against her crisp white bodice, he shook his head trying to clear his thoughts. Light filtered through the branches giving her an ethereal appearance, and touching on pouting lips begging to be kissed. All logical reason vanished. His reaction staggered him as his mounting desire for the woman coursed through him. She was everything he’d remembered and more. She was a liar.

He dropped the last of his gear alongside Cappy’s wagon as she stopped in front of him.   “What’s your game, lady?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Cut the act, Rose. You know very well we’ve met before. Or maybe you were such a good actress I actually believed you were in trouble during the thunderstorm.”

Her eyes grew wide as saucers. Her hand pressed against her bosom as she gasped. “You can’t be the man who rescued me.”

Cappy cleared his throat. “What’s going on here? Who is Rose?”

“I didn’t tell you a lie, Captain. My name is Darrah Rose Benjamin. It’s true your friend pulled me off my runaway horse. I was cold, wet, and tired. He suggested I remove my clothes before he kissed me, and then he had the nerve to invite me under his fur.” She glared at him. “Under the circumstances I chose not to tell him my full name.”

“What’s she talking about?” Cappy’s voice cracked with anger. “I raised you better.”

Chase shrugged. “It didn’t happen exactly as she says, Cappy. I may have misjudged the lady.    She was such a fetching little thing I couldn’t resist kissing her. Besides, she needed thawing out.”

“Wipe that damned grin off your face, boy. You get into town and find a Justice of the Peace. There’s goin’ to be a wedding tomorrow.”

“Hold on a minute.” Darrah grabbed Cappy’s arm. “If this man is the scout you want me to marry, I won’t do it. He obviously doesn’t trust me or believe in bathing.” She stalked toward the clearing where she’d tethered her horses.

Watching her march across camp, Chase wished he’d handled the situation better. Cappy’s glare shot daggers at him. He’d been a fool for stomping on her pride. Damn, but she’s far too high-strung and beautiful for her own good.

“Why’d you hurt her feelings and how will you fix the mess you made?” Cappy asked.

He set his attention on the old man. “Me?”

“You’re the one who acted an ass.”

“Wait one damned minute. I told you this was a foolhardy idea in the first place. I only agreed I would talk to the girl, nothing else.” His gaze slid over the gentle sway of her hips. He remembered the soft touch of her lips and the seductive way she looked with her hair in ringlets around her shoulders when she dried her hair by the fire.

“You can’t let her walk out of our lives.”

Chase took off his hat and raked his fingers through the tangled mess. “You’re a stubborn old man. It’s not so simple. I was close to being drunk the night of the storm. When lightning struck the ground in front of her horse, I thought I was hallucinating. Her screams brought me to my senses so I went after her. While I had her on the horse with me, she wriggled that little bottom of hers against my crotch until I was nearly out of my mind. Once I got her settled in camp, I went after her horses. It gave me a chance to cool off. She looked so damned desirable dripping wet I couldn’t think straight. When she stole away from camp early the next morning, I figured I was done with her.”

“You didn’t cool off enough, boy.”

“Dammit, Cappy, I’m not proud of my actions.”

“Talk to her. What if she hooks up with someone else? If she attempts the trek on her own as she’s threatened, she could die. I couldn’t bear the weight of another death.”

He didn’t have room in his life for a woman and he sure as hell didn’t have time to babysit. At this point he wasn’t ready to tip his hand and let her know his true identity.

Download Marriage Bargain and read it right now!

Is there room to write?

MARY GALUSHA loves to tell adventurous romantic stories. She is descended from immigrant homesteaders, and draws from stories told and retold Mary Garound the kitchen table to make history and romance come alive.

Mary, you spent some time living in Montana, where Sapphire Skies is set?

Yes, I was born in Little Big Horn county. I have always been fascinated with my home state and the adventurous stories of the brave settlers there. I’ve always dreamed of their stories and in the last few years I have begun writing them into novel form.

 I have spent some time in that country, too. It is always interesting to read about people living through the settling of the American West. Is Sapphire Skies an inspirational story in terms of faith?

Strong faith has always lived in my family and carries through into my stories. It is natural to write from that foundation of faith when I think about the rough world my characters live in. They are strong men and equally adventurous women who build loving relationships while facing the unknown to realize their dreams in the settling the Wild West.

 Mary, you write from home. Tell us about your writing space.

I write in our study, my husband has half and I have the other. It’s a small room. My half is getting more like a cave every day. I’ll have to do something about that. Someday.

 Ssapphireskiescoverart72dpi__27473.1357185032.1280.1280o tell us, why do you write? What drives you?.

I love words and the rhythm of the written word. Plus, I think I have something to say that might make people think.

 What other authors do you enjoy reading?

Writers I enjoy reading are Alexander McCall Smith, Mary Kay Andrews, and for mysteries, John Sanford and James Lee Burke.

 Mary Galusha graduated from Stephens College and the University of Arizona. She taught elementary school, counseled in high school and raised her family on an avocado ranch in southern California. Now she is writing, which has always been a dream. When not working on historical novels, Mary can be found attending book groups or playing hilarious games of bridge where the rules are observed, sometimes. She and her husband enjoy their family, friends, and movies. Download her debut novel, Sapphire Skies from Desert Breeze Publishing. It is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and other book sites.

 You can find Mary on the web at www.marygalusha.com

Romance under the Sapphire Skies of Montana

sapphireskiescoverart72dpi__27473.1357185032.1280.1280

Historical and Inspirational Fiction

Austrian immigrant Lili Kohl wants to get a homestead In Montana for her family to live on when they come to the United States. But someone in the town of Cedar Creek is using their influence to keep the property from her.

Homesteader Gabriel McCall has put a hold on the property adjoining his, hoping his younger brother will homestead it later, fulfilling a promise Gabriel made to their dying father. Meanwhile he tries to be helpful to Lili, because he sees her as a greenhorn. After he rescues her from abductors and they stay warm in a cave, their attraction to each other grows.

Then her parents arrive unexpectedly and her father disapproves of Gabriel, who has finally given up on farming with his brother. Now Lili fears losing her family’s approval by loving Gabriel.

EXCERPT

“Do you need a place to stay?

She sure did, and hoped it would not be too expensive. “Yes, sir, I do.”

“The hotel has reasonable prices.”

Lili took a deep breath, hoping her English would be correct. “Where may I find it?”

“Right up the street, the building with the wagon in front. I can have your trunk sent there.”

Lili thanked him, and picked up her valise.

“Now, remember, there’s a train going east next week, in case you want to go back.”

She thanked him and walked toward the hotel, conscious of the men milling about outside, some of them looking her way. She prayed her uncertainty didn’t show.

Approaching the double oak doors of the hotel, Lili noticed a man in a white shirt leaning against a post near the entrance. His broad chest tapered down to a leather belt, and jeans covered his long legs. Rolled up sleeves accentuated his muscular brown arms folded across his chest. She tried to see his eyes, but a wide brimmed hat shaded his face. As she came closer to him, he removed his hat and held the door open for her. This unexpected polite gesture caught her by surprise.

Lili glanced up into smiling brown eyes, and her heart stopped. Why? His skin looked darker than most of the men outside. His kindness unsettled her.

Her voice failed. She gave him a brief smile and went into the hotel.

In the lobby, comfortable looking chairs surrounding a low table holding a bouquet of flowers in a glass-canning jar. Overhead, a fan turned in slow circles. Tantalizing smells wafted from the dining room located near the manager’s desk.

How much would it cost to stay here? New York City was a long way off, but if her plans for a homestead in Montana didn’t work out, she might be on the next train going back. She needed to watch her spending.

After renting the cheapest room and being told there was no work in Cedar Creek at the moment but at the local saloon, Lili knew she had to at least try.

After saying a prayer for guidance, she left the hotel and crossed the dusty street. The same man who had held the door for her earlier stood talking to some other men near the saloon. He turned and tipped his hat to her. Dark hair edged his collar. For a moment his gaze held hers. Her heart slammed against her ribs and not knowing what to do, she turned away and tried to steady herself before going into the Silver Spigot Saloon.

Visit Mary at her website, and download her book today from Amazon or her publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing. Come back tomorrow to learn a little more about Mary.

The blizzard of 1890 – Wyoming turned deadly

downloadEliza was unprepared for the bone-chilling cold. The snow began to fall and the wind blew it horizontally across her view. The barn, which had been clear to see just moments before, faded into a hulking, indistinct shadow as the snow came between them.

“’Liza, wait.” David O’Malley turned and took a long rope from a hook beside the door. He tied one end of it to a high hook at the roofline of the house. “Let me go first,” he offered as he unwound the rope behind him. “Hold on to me with one hand, and to the rope with the other.”

She did as he said, and closed her eyes against the sting of ice mixed with the snow. The ground underfoot became slippery. Even mostly covered, her face stung. She could no longer feel her toes and fingers, even though she moved them to keep them warm.

It was impossible to talk in the whining wind, so when they reached the fence Papa gestured that she was to go to the barn. He tied the rope to the fence, she realized, so they could find their way back to the house. She groped along the fence line toward the barn. Icicles formed along the top rail.

Fancy called out to her with a loud neigh when she opened the barn door. She would have to leave it open so Papa could drive the animals from the pens into the barn.  She closed it as far as she dared to limit the cold air coming in. She climbed the ladder into the storage above the barn and pitched hay – a lot of hay – down to the floor of the barn. The sheep and goats that were in the pens began to trickle in through the door. In the dim light she piled the hay into a corner and put grain into the feed troughs. When she checked the water there was plenty, but it was already beginning to freeze.  She broke up the shell of ice that skimmed the surface and hoped that the animals could get enough to drink. She opened the stalls for the horses in the barn so that they could press close to each other for warmth. It was all she could do.

The stream of animals had stopped so she gritted her teeth and stepped out the barn door, closing it behind her. She reached out with her hand to find the fence rail. She needed to find her father and they needed to get back into the house before they were too cold to move. She’d never known the cold could penetrate so deep into her bones, that she could move inch by inch down the invisible fence, finding her way by feel, and could not see or feel anything at all. If Papa had gone back to the house without her she would never find her way.

He hadn’t. He was slumped over the fence at the place where the rope connected to it.

She tugged on his arm and for a moment she feared he had frozen as he stood by the fence and waited for her. Then, moving slowly, he straightened and felt for her hand. He put one of her hands on the rope and the other grasping the back of his coat. Then he led her back to the house, step by agonizing step.

And suddenly they were there. She bumped up against her father’s back as they ran into the wall of the cabin. She continued to hold on to his coat as he shuffled along the wall to the left, feeling for the door. At long last a sliver of light penetrated into their dark, cold world and they were able to push through the door then slam it shut on the dark, cold, dangerous storm behind them.

PioneerInstinctCoverArtAllen turned bleak eyes to them from his place at the stove where he fed sticks into the flames.

“I couldn’t see. I couldn’t get any more wood,” he pronounced solemnly. “I was lost for a moment, not two steps from the house.”

“We’ll need to close off the bedroom, bring all the blankets and clothes, everything we can find, into this room. We need to keep each other warm until the storm passes.”

Eliza and Allen did as he asked, and carried everything that could provide warmth into the main room. They piled the mattresses around as well as under them, and each put on several layers of warm, dry clothes. Eliza’s fingers began to thaw as she worked in the relatively warm cabin. She found several pairs of socks and gloves for each of them. Then they lay down on the mattresses, pressed close to each other, and covered up with the blankets they’d gathered.

Then they lay there and listened to the wind continue to blow, and heard the snow mixed with ice crystals as it struck the windows. Snow sifted in through the space under both doors and formed a little drift of snow on the floor.

“What happens to the cattle when they are caught in a storm like this?” Eliza thought of the brown animals scattered across their ranch. She loved riding Fancy to the top of the hill and looking out at all the stock dotting the hillsides. “Will they be smart enough to huddle up and keep each other warm?”

“Probably not.” Her father’s voice was gruff. “We will be lucky if any survive, even the ones in the barn. We weren’t ready for a blizzard this early in the year. I never even thought to put the cattle into the pens this early.”

“Papa, what about Davy and Hugh and Ed?” Allen’s voice was small and scared and squeaked with his nervousness.

Eliza began to calculate in her head. It took at least two hours to get to the road, then another three on the road to get into Cheyenne. There was no way they could have made it all the way into town before the storm hit.

A shudder of fear ran through her and chilled her to the bone.

Buy Pioneer Instinct and other books by Lynette Endicott and Tami Dee at Amazon or Desert Breeze Publishing.