Romance under the Sapphire Skies of Montana

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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.

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