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Category: Old West (19th Century USA)

Orphan trains, mail-order brides, mortgages and more — Under a Mulberry Moon

Mr. Clemens, Editor
Tea Time Tattler
Fleet Street, London

Dear Sam,

My news is certain to astonish you, sir. There’s a great deal to tell, some of it I can hardly believe it myself. I composed my thoughts while under a mulberry moon but now take pen in hand to inform you.

Eliza Wells, the millright’s daughter, was whisked off by her uncle Joseph Wells to visit him and her cousins in California after her grandmother suffered a stroke. Eliza doesn’t understand why her grandmother hasn’t responded to any of her letters. Her grandmother, worried because she hasn’t heard from Eliza, is nobody’s fool. She arranged for former railroad detective Kit Halsey to investigate. And a good thing, too, for Joseph has ulterior motives and Eliza is trapped. Can you imagine her dilemma?

Ruby is running from her parents and large family to the unknown of Charlie Ransom. She answered his ad for a mail-order bride and agreed to meet him at Sundown Ranch just outside of Duston, Texas. Hope rose in her heart as she thought of being loved by him and having a house to herself. She wasn’t afraid of work, but she wants it to be for herself and a loving husband. Sick of war, Charlie left Ohio and bought a ranch in Texas. Now Ruby won’t marry him until he can tell her he loves her. Will he find her love worth the wait when four orphans and a tornado of trouble surround him?

Mr. Clemens, don’t you grow sad knowing there are so many orphans in the world? Former orphan train child, now grown, Mercedes “Merry” Murphy Bird, is the successful co-owner of a boardinghouse in Mockingbird Flats, Texas. She sure seems to find rescuing three quirky orphans from the orphan train irresistible even if it isn’t quite legal. Merry is determined to give the children a better life than she endured at the hands of the Nebraska couple who adopted her. I figure there’ll be a family for Merry. Boardinghouse resident and lawyer Blake Woolfe has come to town to take over the law practice of his late uncle. Blake is the eldest of ten children and spent far too much time caring for them and his mother to want anything to do with children now. I’m sure you can sympathize with him.

Children’s Aid Society authorities don’t exactly know that Polly Friday Bird and her sister are single and neither woman is going to volunteer the information. Polly hated the life she and Merry led after they were adopted by a surly Nebraska couple who really wanted free drudges. Polly believes the boardinghouse she and Merry purchased is an ideal place to raise a family for Polly with a large yard, numerous rooms, and a good school nearby. Still, when the authorities appear, she may need a husband in order to keep her children. She is trying to convince Manford “Ford” Daily to marry her and then leave. This is humorous, sir, because Polly’s problem is that Ford won’t go. I must confess I laughed in many spots when I heard her story.

But, I shall move on to a serious part of my news. Poor dear Ada Weathered has only two weeks to pay the mortgage on the land her father left her. In spite of her working two jobs, she simply won’t have the money to pay by the deadline. Donal “Mac” McTiernan chased deserters to Brady City, Texas, and hoped it would be his last duty for the Army. When Ada and the Texas cavalryman met Mac was so taken with that redhead with green eyes that he isn’t sure he can complete his mission and help her save her land.  I’m sure you join me in hoping so.

Prepare yourself because the next tidbit is frightening. Anya Fleming’s son Willie-boy found his father hanged in their barn six months ago. The boy hasn’t spoken a word since and is now gravely ill. Anya is convinced her late husband haunts her son. Anya knows the only person who can help her when in comes a specter, her former love, Yellow Smoke, now a powerful shaman. Yellow Smoke was devastated when Anya married Lewis Fleming but doesn’t know Anya was forced to do so. I hope Yellow Smoke will overcome his resentment and help Willie. I know you’ll join me in my good wishes.

A bit of fun news is that a widow buys a groom. Katherine Parnell needed a husband to help her operate Maggie’s Baked Goods and raise her four-year-old son. She had no intention of remarrying until Jim Sutton landed in the Meadow Creek jail for defending her. He inherited land and was hoping to make this community his home. Jim has demons of his own and doesn’t want to get close to anyone. Join me, Mr. Clemens, in hoping these two can find happiness together.

After delivering his sister to Freedom, Matthew is ready to find Matthew’s freedom. He’s been running from a guilty conscience. Mr. Clemens, you and I know that it’s not possible to outrun our conscience. Brenna is determined to provide for her son—even though he fights her at every step. Jobs are scarce but men are plentiful and marriage may be the only way Brenna can survive. If Brenna and Matthew unite to save her son, will her the boy tear them apart?

Another frightening situation occurred when Aurora Cavender went off to Utah in search of her twin brother, Jason, who was reported dead. She didn’t expect to encounter the cad who abandoned her at the altar years ago, Garret Mosely. He insisted he wasn’t Garret though and calls himself Nebraska Joe of the Hell’s-Gate Gang. Aurora knows her twin isn’t dead, but believes he’s injured. Well, I tell you! She was captured by a ruthless gang and had to rely on Garret to help her rescue Jason and escape Robber’s Roost.  The outcome of it all is that the lady lassos an outlaw.

I do so hope you’ve enjoyed my news. Until next time, I remain,

Your faithful correspondent,

Caroline

Only 99 cents for a limited time! Amazon buy link: http://a.co/99Odsch

Excerpt from A FAMILY FOR MERRY:

Tears burned the back of Merry’s eyelids when she surveyed the children. They lined up as if going to slaughter. Some wore hopeful expressions, some fearful, some so downtrodden their eyes were those of old people in young faces. Several in particular tugged at her heartstrings—the ragtags, the unadoptable. What would happen to them?

A scrawny little girl whose nametag said Abigail limped. Problem was, she sometimes changed legs. She hovered around a toddler labeled Tamara. Occasionally, Abigail brushed against Tamara and the baby would cry.

Merry suspected Abigail pinched the baby to make her appear disagreeable. Tamara was a pitiful sight. Mucous drained from her nose and red spots were on her exposed skin. On closer examination, Merry decided the spots were from a paint crayon.

Sorrow and mirth warred inside Merry. What an ingenious child Abigail was. The poor girl must be frantic thinking she’d be parted from Tamara.

A boy whose nametag read Calvin stood with feet braced, arms crossed, and a stubborn expression locked on his face. His age would be around nine. He glared as if he dared anyone to adopt him. No one did.

Merry got Abigail’s attention. “You must be tired from standing on your bad leg while taking care of Tamara. Why don’t you both sit here beside me?”

Abigail pulled at a lock of her disheveled hair. “Both of us? You mean Tammie can stay with me?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.”

Abigail picked up Tammie and deposited her at Merry’s side then promptly sat beside her so that she and Tammie were mostly obscured by the skirt around the table.

Merry motioned to the boy. “Calvin, I can see you don’t need anyone to look after you, but would you help me by standing beside Abigail to make sure no one bothers her or Tammie?”

He didn’t move for a full minute before he inhaled and released a deep breath. “S’pose I can.” Slowly, he ambled to stand behind Abigail and Tammie, as if daring anyone to touch the girls.

Merry wrote the names of the three children on the list and her name as the person adopting. To mask the fact there was no husband, she wrote her first name and then sort of scribbled her middle and last name in what she hoped passed for a husband’s name. Murphy Bird could be a man’s name.

Beside Merry, Polly whispered, “What are you doing?”

“You know exactly. I am not deserting these children to chance.”

Polly’s eyes sparked fire. “Neither am I. You can put my name down for Evelyn and Noah. You know that no one will adopt a boy who’s mute, at least not for any decent purpose.”

Polly rose and stepped over to the two she’d chosen. “Evelyn, Noah, I’d like you to come live with me.”

Hope sprang into Evelyn’s eyes as she clasped Noah’s hand. “He don’t never talk but he’s good and real smart.”

“I’m sure he is. He won’t have to talk at our house unless he wants to.” She took Noah’s free hand and led the two to the table.

The two children sat on the floor beside Polly’s chair as Abigail and Tammie did at the table’s other end.

When Polly had reclaimed her place, she leaned near Merry. “Can we really get away with this?”

“Proceed as if everything is secure and above board. We can do this, Polly. We can’t let these children suffer as we did just because we don’t have husbands.”

“They’ll each have a wonderful home with us. We’ll love them as if we’d given birth to them.”

“Exactly. And we have the room and a good place for them to live and grow. Aren’t you excited?”

The anthology UNDER A MULBERRY MOON contents are:

  • A FAMILY FOR MERRY, Caroline Clemmons
  • A FAMILY FOR POLLY, Jacquie Rogers
  • ADA AND THE TEXAS CAVALRYMAN, Carra Copelin
  • COMES A SPECTER, Keta Diablo
  • MATTHEW’S FREEDOM, Cissie Patterson
  • MILLRIGHT’S DAUGHTER, Zina Abbott
  • THE LADY LASSOS AN OUTLAW, Charlene Raddon
  • THE WIDOW BUYS A GROOM, P. A. Estelle
  • WORTH THE WAIT, Patricia Pacjac Carroll

Check out the blog and Facebook page:

http://Facebook.com/UnderAMulberryMoon

http://underamulberrymoon.blogspot.com

Bio for Caroline Clemmons

Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To make up for this tragic error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a small office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their rescued cats and dogs. The books she creates there have made her an Amazon bestselling author and won several awards. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.

Click on her Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Follow her on BookBub.

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?

Pah-Ute War: in A Long Trail Rolling!

“Oh my goodness, Edith, will you look at this?” Mabel said, as she rushed through the garden gate.

“What is it?” Edith picked up another of her husband’s shirts from the basket and shook it out.

“Wasn’t your sister coming west from St. Joseph by stage?” Mabel’s voice rose as she spoke.

“Yes?” Edith paused, a clothespin in her mouth.

“Says here,” Mabel went on, “the Pah-Utes are on the warpath again.”

Edith swallowed hard and bit her lip. “Do you blame them, after those idiots in Williams took those poor Indian girls captive?”

“Yes, well, you’re one of the only ones feeling sorry for them. No stage’ll be coming this way for awhile—it says nearly every stage and Pony Express station has been attacked, station keepers killed, and stock run off or taken—for nearly a hundred miles!”

“Where?” Edith peered over her friend’s shoulder at the Deseret News. “Which stations are they talking about?”

“Says from Schell Creek nearly to Carson Sink.”

Edith let her breath out. “Oh, thank God for that. That’s west of us. No stage runs west out of Salt Lake.”

“Oh,” Mabel said, visibly deflating. “But it’s still bad news, nonetheless,” she said defensively.

“But bound to happen,” Edith said, her mouth a firm line.


A Long Trail Rolling

Long Trail Rolling

She didn’t expect to become a target…but she is one now.

In the Old West’s Utah Territory of 1860, Aleksandra is trained by her father in the Cossack arts. She finds herself alone, disguised as a Pony Express rider, running to keep her pa’s killer from finding their family’s secret. And that was before she galloped full speed into the middle of the Paiute Indian War.

Xavier isn’t about to let anyone get too close, especially a woman, while he bides his time as a Pony Express Station Manager in the middle of a desert, evading his heritage as the eldest son of an old Spanish Californio family. His history taught him women are not to be trusted. Letting this slip of a stroppy, yet alluring, girl get under his skin is not on the cards.

The villain is coming closer, with his sights set on Aleksandra. Thrown together in an ever-worsening situation, despite their own agendas, can Aleksandra and Xavier overcome their differences before the ever-increasing odds overtake them?

 


Excerpt from A Long Trail Rolling

In A Long Trail Rolling, due to circumstances best left unsaid until you read it, Aleksandra rides the Pony Express—as a boy. Things went from bad to worse and she rode through some of the worst part of the attacks of the Pah-Ute war. Here’s an excerpt from the story. Aleks is just about to leave a Pony station in to the west of Salt Lake City in Utah Territory.

Enjoy!


‘You take care out there through the canyon. Horses and riders don’t just disappear by themselves.’ Peter shook his head, his lips a firm line below his furrowed forehead.

‘I promise.’ Thanking him, she vaulted on and the mare laid back her ears and fairly flew on toward Overland Canyon.

The trail entered the canyon from the flat valley floor, meandering gradually upward in a wavelike fashion, sage-brush and early sprouts of grass growing along the creek next to the trail. Aleksandra was just wondering why everyone thought Overland Canyon was so dangerous when the trail became abruptly steeper and began to twist and turn tightly as the hills closed in. Sitting straighter, the blood beginning to pound in her ears, she picked up her reins and scanned the mountainsides flanking the track as they rose higher and higher, ensnaring the pathway within a narrow gorge of exposed strata and tumbled stone bluffs.

Bluffs just meant for ambuscade, with caves big enough to shield a man.

Aleksandra gulped. Giving the little mare her head, they raced on through the canyon.

She glanced left up the mouth of a small ravine as they surged past it.

Blood Canyon.

She shuddered, remembering its name from stories in the Indian village, glad she didn’t have to ride through that even narrower defile winding its way to the top of Blood Mountain.

The trail finally opened up into rolling sage-brush covered flats, Canyon Station dead ahead.

Feeling faint, Aleksandra gasped for a breath, wondering how long she’d held it through the last gauntlet. Laughing shakily, Aleksandra leaned forward, giving the puffing mare a heartfelt hug, then sat up and mumbled sweet nothings to her, scratching her withers as they trotted slowly into the station.

Aleksandra left there on a gray colt, keen and ready to run. The keeper, his jaw set and a frown deeply embedded in his lined face, hadn’t seen the Eastbound Express rider either.

The trail ran gradually uphill ahead of her along the little creek, then left it, rising up the center of a long, open valley. On her left, two prospectors looked up from working their rocker in the creek to wave at her. She reined in for a moment.

‘Good afternoon gentlemen!’

‘And to you! Safe through Overland, are ye?’ shouted a big bear of a man.

‘Yessir!’ she shouted. ‘You haven’t seen an Eastbound rider in the past few days, have you?’

‘No.’ He turned to the other, who shook his head. ‘No, we haven’t, sorry, lad!’

‘Okay, thanks. Having any luck?’ She smiled at the pair.

‘Luck’s all good, Boy! All good!’ the other one added in a shrill voice.

‘What are these workings, please?’ Aleksandra remembered to lower her voice this time.

‘This here’s Clifton Flat, best gold workin’s in the territory!’ He puffed up his chest. ‘Major Egan found gold here a few years ago and we’re in his employ, workin’ it for him!’

‘Excellent, thank you, enjoy your day!’ she replied with a wave and loosed the reins. The colt, needing little encouragement, shot off like an arrow from a bow.

‘Hold on to your hair!’ The burly prospector bellowed over the wind in her ears, as the horse bolted on up the valley, then over the top of the next ridge.

Hopping off at the top, Aleksandra looked out over the expanse spread out before her in awe. The track arced steeply down the mountainside for several miles, with good visibility in every direction, before coming to rest in a huge, fertile-looking wash that seemed to go on forever. Her papa had called the place by its Indian name, Ibapah.

‘Guess we’d better start down that hill,’ she said to the colt, and began running down the track beside the colt, who snorted and skittered beside her until he became accustomed to trotting alongside her.

The Deep Creek Station keeper had no word of the missing rider either. Feeding her well, he sent her out on a pinto Mustang, who loped across the flat valley floor, heading for Prairie Gate. Only four more stations until she was done for the day.

On a keen horse and free to enjoy the day.

She finally let her mind wander back to Xavier and her heart sank, the only shadow in her day. She wondered how he fared with his family and if he missed her as she missed him.

With a gulp, she realized was time to face it. Ahead was a good three hours of open and clear trail to ride. It was time to work through it.

She took a deep breath to try to dispel the anxiety that immobilized her when she thought too hard about their relationship. Every time they seemed close, it all slipped away. She feared nothing she could do would ever hold it together.

Her thoughts circled throughout the day as they traversed the dry sage-brush flats, passing Prairie Gate and Antelope Springs Stations. She repeatedly gripped the buckskin bag beneath her shirt, desperate for guidance.

In the distance ahead stood the Antelope Range. The pass they needed to traverse wasn’t particularly high, but the rocky divide lined by cedars and piñón pines was still challenging. The fresh scent of the evergreens tingled in her nostrils when she brushed them in passing, clearing her head.

At Spring Valley Station, the worried keeper handed her two thick sourdough muffins filled with salt pork.

‘Hope it don’t spoil yer supper over at Schell, but it’s a long slog over that mountain.’

‘Always enough room for more food,’ she said with a grin.

‘Anyways, I’m givin’ you the best little horse I’ve got, Aleks.’

‘Thanks, Patrick.’ She took a deep breath and looked at the little black Mustang. Her eyes shone with a quiet intelligence. She was evenly muscled and solid, her legs clean.

‘She’s the toughest horse I’ve ever known. She’ll take good care of ye over Shellbourne Pass and get ye to Schell Creek in no time!’ He puffed his chest out as he stroked the mare’s neck.

‘I’m thankful for all the good horses and the men of the stations. They’ve always got a smile for me and a pat for the horses when we ride out.’

His brows drew together and he tried for a smile. ‘You take care out there, won’t you? We don’t want another missing rider.’

‘I’ll see you on the way back. We’ll be fine.’ Aleksandra gripped his hand firmly, then vaulted onto the mare and set off for Schell.

Aleksandra wasn’t sure which of them she was trying to reassure.

Her heart sang as the nimble mare climbed up through the trees to the top of the 7000-foot high pass. As the sun neared the horizon, the air began to cool and she hopped off, jogging down the descent to warm up and get some feeling back into her feet.

As she prepared to mount again, a movement back down on the flats caught her eye. Spinning toward it, she saw only a herd of antelope, now motionless, eyes staring and ears perked to scrutinize her passing. She gave a shaky laugh and the antelope disappeared into the dusk.

Aleksandra swayed and jerked back upright, coming awake from drowsing.

Not a good idea.

A station showed, about a mile away.

Must be Schell Creek. Think about something to stay awake.

Her mind flicked back to Xavier and she cringed.

And stop avoiding the challenge with him. Think it through, focus. Try to resolve something, before we get to Schell.

She shook herself.

It finally clicked. In her impatience, she’d driven him away by asking for more closeness than he could give. The emptiness in the pit of her stomach overwhelmed her, and the thought she might never have a chance to see him again, much less get the opportunity to make, no, let this relationship work.

Life is indeed short in the West.

As they neared the station, her choices suddenly became clear as a mountain lake.

How did I miss them before?

It was as if they were written on a wall before her.

You can’t make someone love you,

you can’t fix anyone,

and there’s nothing you can do to change it.

Fervently she vowed to offer Xavier, and others in her life, the time they needed to learn to trust, fully knowing she might never get the chance to try again with Xavier. Her desolation ran deep and tears poured down her cheeks as she rode into Schell Creek Station.

It might have been the mare that did it, stopping dead in her tracks, nearly dropping Aleksandra over her shoulder, or maybe it was the flies that buzzed around the blood pooling beneath the butchered man in the Express station doorway. Whichever it was, it got her full attention.


I hope you enjoyed that!

Long Trail Rolling

To read more, you can find it here

 

To read more about the rest of the series or Lizzi’s other works, stop by her website here

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Is a Publishing War Brewing?

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I write to request your assistance in correcting a grievous wrong. Your publication is highly regarded in all circles and any cause you endorse must be regarded as just, right and worthy of action. The wrong against which I need your assistance is the devious and unprincipled revelation of a character’s life story without requesting permission from the character so revealed. This heinous invasion of privacy has happened to every character I know and even to some ‘real’ persons who have suffered the embarrassing and often difficult consequences of unauthorized biography.

One Night's Desire by Rue Allyn

This is the book in which Ms. Allyn cruelly details the demise of my family and my testimony against my father.

My own case is typical, and I along with all the private details of my life will soon be exposed. Thus, I use my experience as an example of the outrageous lengths to which these invasive authors will go.

My name is Elise Van Demer—yes, that Elise Van Demer. I am indeed the woman who as an innocent and untried girl on the cusp of adulthood reported to the law her own father as a liar, cheat, thief, and murderer.** My public involvement in that scandal was unavoidable. I was after all a witness to his crimes and swore testimony in a court of law, which placed every detail of that humiliating experience on public record. Public record, mind you, which is no invasion of privacy no matter how mortifying the details.

Also a matter of public record is the fact that my father subsequently and spitefully disowned me and denied me my birthright. He actually imagined that I was in the wrong to report his crimes. Confessing that a parent, an individual who is supposedly an example and protector, is a criminal of the worst sort is not an easy thing. There are characters who have tarred me with my father’s brush, and despite the unkind rumors they spread, I persevere in my attempts to restore my birthright and my good name.

As you can see even the public facts of a character’s life can be difficult. However, the sort of invasive authorship to which I firmly object and against which I seek your hearty endorsement involves the exposure of very private details to the reading public. The guilty party in my case is a Ms. Rue Allyn. She has a history of investigating the most intimate details in a character’s life then presenting those details to the public thinly disguised as a romantic novel. I say thinly disguised because she does not even bother to change the names to protect the innocent. Note, she had the gall recently to pen an article claiming that she herself chooses the names of the characters in her books. (https://wp.me/p2d2BX-CT). Balderdash. I know my name and knew it long before ever encountering this conscienceless female. But I digress.

ShAMEtext.

Kissing-Couple-Silhouette

The artist has more sensitivity than Ms. Allyn and refused to show our faces when he captured this moment of passion between Boyd and me.

To continue my example, I have worked very hard to erase the name of Elise Van Demer from the memories of characters throughout the world and most especially in the Wyoming territories. I have managed to disguise myself as a muleskinner (no one would expect delicately reared Ms. Elise Van Demer to be driving a mule team that hauls necessities to outlying Wyoming ranches and farms). This disguise has allowed me to remain in Wyoming, developing helpful connections, and gathering resources and information with the purpose of regaining my birthright. However, along comes Ms. Allyn, poking her authorial nose in where it most definitely does not belong. (Can you imagine, she even discovered intimate details, physical details, regarding my relationship with former Pinkerton agent, Boyd Alvarez.) She is ruining everything.

MULEteam

I include this image to prove to you and your readers that I know whereof I speak regarding mules and driving mule teams.

For myself, my only hope is that she is unable to publish her insidious narrative before I accomplish my goals. That has been the saving grace for most of my character friends. Ms. Allyn is no fly-by-night author. She is meticulous, if invasive, in her research, thus causing much delay in the publication of her supposed novels. I am now in a race to succeed with my plans before she can expose me and ruin all that I hope for.

You may ask why I reveal so much to you and your readers, if I still have a chance for happiness before Ms Allyn publishes her torrid tale? My purpose is to warn the public that thousands of unprincipled authors like Ms. Allyn exist. They must be stopped. Also, I regret to say, that while the Teatime Tattler is very popular in Wyoming Territory, we often receive copies six to twelve months after the periodical’s publication. I sincerely hope to have achieved all my aims before anyone in Wyoming can read this particular article.

Hopefully the experiences I’ve related will prompt you to wage war in print against authors such as Ms. Allyn, and gain respect for a character’s right to privacy.

*Note to the readers of the Teatime Tattler. In fairness, I have offered Ms. Allyn the opportunity to rebut Ms. Van Demer’s claims and will publish said rebuttal as soon as I may receive it.

**Ms. Van Demer’s involvement in her father’s trial is detailed in a novel by Ms. Rue Allyn titled One Night’s Desire which can be found at various retailers most notably, Amazon along with all of Ms. Allyn’s other currently available novels.Author Rue Allyn Head Shot

About Rue Allyn:  Award winning author, Rue Allyn, learned story telling at her grandfather’s knee. (Well it was really more like on his knee—I was two.) She’s been weaving her own tales ever since. She has worked as an instructor, mother, sailor, clerk, sales associate, and painter, along with a variety of other types of employment. She has lived and traveled in places all over the globe from Keflavik Iceland (I did not care much for the long nights of winter.) and Fairbanks Alaska to Panama City and the streets of London England to a large number of places in between. Now that her two sons have left the nest, Rue and her husband of more than four decades (Try living with the same person for more than forty years—that’s a true adventure.) have retired and moved south.

When not writing, learning to play new games, (I’m starting to learn Bridge) and working jigsaw puzzles, Rue travels the world and surfs the internet in search of background material and inspiration for her next heart melting romance. She loves to hear from readers, and you may contact her at contact@RueAllyn.com She can’t wait to hear from you.

What Rue likes best about the belles is their can-do spirit. This group isn’t afraid to try anything the publishing world can dish out. The only other place I’ve found such completely supportive energy is with my fellow sisters-in-arms, the RomVets.

Heard on the Boardwalk of Camp Floyd

Camp Floyd, Utah, 1860

“Did you hear about the other night at the saloon?” Miss Mora whispered, then forced a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes at a tall, dark, and handsome passing them on the boardwalk.

“No, whatever happened?” Miss Alamander, dressed in blue, sidled closer to her friend, if you could call her that, and together they took refuge behind her fan. Miss Mora’s lips made a moue at the back of the man who had just passed them without sparing the ladies, in their glittering (if slightly stained) dresses, another glance.

“I’d gone with Mr. Sorley for an evening of fun and cards at his cabin, entertaining him and his friends,” Miss Mora gave the other woman a wicked smile, “and—“

“I’ll bet you made a pretty penny for that night’s work,” Miss Alamander cut in, her lips tight.

She just smirked.

“Okay.” The woman in blue crossed her arms and waited, but Miss Mora just stood with one brow raised. Her curiosity eventually got the better of her, even over her annoyance at Miss Mora’s good fortune at the potential expense of hers. “What happened?” she finally asked.

“You wouldn’t think it, would you, but that big blond brute of a man, Jackson—”

“Yes?” she breathed, egging Miss Mora on.

“If you’d let me finish,” she harrumphed, “Jackson stumbled into the saloon late last night, drunk as a skunk, and…” She broke off and smiled over her fan at a man passing by, then resumed, “he stormed across the room toward this boy, and he so young he hadn’t a hair on his face.”

“And…?”

“Well, the young lad had his hat on, a big ten-galón hat, you know, like the caballeros from Mexico wear?”

“Get on with it,” Miss Alamander said crossly. We don’t have all day.” She smiled at a filthy man riding his horse past them, his stench following him, and swallowed hard.

“That boy, he got the best of him!” Miss Mora whispered.

Miss Alamander looked up from the blue bodice that just barely covering her bosom and blinked. “But no one gets the best of Mr. Jackson! That’s impossible, how did he do it?” She hissed as Miss Mora turned away from her to make eyes at a man walking down the street leading his mules not a yard away from them.

The gentleman’s accoutrements bespoke his success in the goldfields—not only his exquisite, if dusty, clothing, but the fine wood and leather cases piled high over his pickaxes, shovels, and pans. His waistcoat alone must have cost more than her wages for a month. She gulped and took a breath deep enough to nearly bust herself out of her bodice, but he never looked her way as Miss Mora strode boldly toward him.

“And how might you be today, sir?” she asked him in a throaty tone, somehow wiggling her top half at the same time she floated off the boardwalk and through the mud.

“All the better for seeing you,” he said, with a chuckle. “Will you ladies be here long?”

At least this time, he included Miss Alamander in his glance.

“That depends upon what you have in mind, sir,” Miss Mora continued, as she slithered up to him and stood between him and Miss Alamander, as if on purpose. Her gliding was made all the more difficult by the half-foot of slop which the locals deigned to call a “street” here in Camp Floyd. The soldiers didn’t seem to mind, but the ladies did.

“What do you say you come along with me for awhile,” he said, then nodded at Miss Alamander, still standing on the boards, “and then you can rejoin your friend afterward?”

The woman in blue took a deep breath and unclenched her hands and smoothed the silk down over her abdomen and joined them demurely before her. She gritted her teeth and forced a smile at him, then turned to face the other men passing her by as the stores closed for the day.

No one was up for a tussle at this early hour, at least the locals, and the soldiers would be at their mess up at the fort, so Miss Alamander cooled her heels for what seemed a month and fought back a smile.

This was going to be fun.

She schooled her features to look impatient as Miss Mora finally returned, a bit less tidy than when she’d left. She was missing a few hairpins, but wore a big smile. She jingled as she hopped up onto the boardwalk.

“So stop looking like the cat that ate the cream,” Miss Alamander said, pursing her lips, “and tell me! How did a mere boy best big old Jackson, especially when he was in his cups?”

“He cut him.” Miss Mora gave her a sideways smile. “Jackson stormed toward him, and you know how big he is, but this boy, his waist no bigger around than that brute’s leg, just stood up at his table, cool as a cucumber, knocked his glass on a table, even with his arms held behind his back by one of Jackson’s henchmen, and cut him. Sliced his arms and then those of the despicable man behind him, and bolted out the door! No one’s seen the boy since.”

“No.” Miss Alamander did her best to look shocked, but it would be nothing to what she was about to see on her friend’s face. She couldn’t wait.

“Yes,” Miss Mora said, nodding her head emphatically.

“You don’t say,” Miss Alamander said. “Now I remember. I heard something about that… I heard it wasn’t a boy at all… it was a girl!

Miss Mora’s chin dropped until it came to rest on her ample and exposed bosom. For once, she was speechless.

Wow, what a woman, if it was one! Who could she be? You’ll have to read A Long Trail Rolling to find out!

About the Book

Camp Floyd

A Long Trail Rolling

She didn’t expect to become a target…but she is one now.

Just orphaned, Aleksandra holds the family secret her father died for. She hides by joining the Pony Express as a boy, where an alluring Californio sees through her guise and offers help—and more.

Xavier’s conviction that women cannot be trusted is deeply rooted in the reasons he left his birthright. But Alex is like no woman he has ever met.

With the killer getting closer and an Indian war brewing, Alex and Xavier must decide whom they can trust, and what they really want.

Lizzi is one of the newest Bluestocking Belles!

Lizzi

A Long Trail Rolling is the first book in

The Long Trails series, out now!

Find the book here:

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