May 1870, Arizona
Long journeys had a way of feeling interminable, especially when the traveler hadn’t wanted to embark on one in the first place. Elaina Nichols was one such traveler and had found herself in a quandary. On the one hand, she wished she would reach the end of this journey, and on the other, she hoped she never did. It was her destination, and what awaited her there, that filled her with so much dread.
It didn’t help that she had spent her month-long journey so far seated beside a woman who grated her nerves raw.
Evangeline Petty was a slight woman with brown hair, a broad flat face, and large blue eyes that were slightly too close together. In a certain light and with charity Elaina no longer felt inclined to give, she would be called handsome at most. But she was tickled pink to be traveling West because she was going to meet the love of her life.
Considering that Evangeline and her beau, Walter, had never met in the flesh, Elaina doubted this would be a match made in any kind of heaven. But what did she know? Clearly not much because out of the blue her father had stuck her on this horrible coach, intending for her to go to Utah and become the wife of some old friend of his.
The sting of that still smarted, and Elaina thought she might never speak to her father again. Perhaps, had he included some sort of explanation or even asked her if she wouldn’t mind going, or told her the reason that she was now being shipped across the country like a heifer, she might understand. She might find it in her to forgive. But no. He hadn’t said a word. And that bothered more than the trip itself.
She had always thought that she had a good relationship with her father. They had been good together, had gotten along just fine. So why she should be punished like this was a mystery she couldn’t seem to puzzle out, no matter how hard she tried. And she had certainly tried her best in the long hours of travel.
The stagecoach jolted, and Evangeline, who had been napping with her head on the window, jerked awake with a snort.
“Oh goodness!” she said. “I do wish the driver would at least try to find a track without so many bumps.”
Elaina thought she could point out that this was all wild land. In fact, since they had entered Arizona, they had driven over miles and miles of desert scrubland. Everything in it was hard, dry, and bumpy. She was amazed the wheels were still on the coach. Surely, they should have fallen off by now with all the holes and rocks and other things they seemed to have driven over with great regularity. She strongly considered pointing this out to Evangeline but decided not to. Pointing things out to her companion was pointless. Evangeline was determined not to consider other points of view or to change her mind about anything. This journey was a little tiresome, but she was optimistic it would all be wonderful in the end. Elaina didn’t share that sentiment at all.
“We’ll stop for a rest soon,” Mr. Hathaway said. He was a sober gentleman who always dressed in a gray suit and hat. He held his briefcase on his lap with a paperback novel open before him. Sitting across from him, Eliana could read the title of the book he was reading. It was Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
She had read it and found it to be a rather heavy piece of literature. Her own book, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, was a far less weighty choice of entertainment. Or at least it would be if a certain traveling companion let anyone get more than a half-hour into their book at a time.
“Oh? Do you think so?” Evangeline asked. She had a little girlish voice that had started annoying Elaina about three days into the journey and now was almost intolerable.
Elaina was surprised at her reaction to this harmless young lady. She was usually so charitable. It must be the stress of being forced into a journey she had had no intention of taking. If one were to be more accurate than that, then it might be well to say that she had never contemplated a journey like this at all, ever. And certainly not one ending with her marrying a man old enough to be her father. The mere thought of which made her shiver with disgust.
The conversation between Evangeline and Mr. Hathaway hadn’t progressed much. Mr. Hathaway was trying his best to get out of it, but Evangeline was having none of it. Seeing the poor man suffering, and against her better judgment, Elaina stepped in.
“Oh surely, it won’t be so horrific to stretch our legs,” she said in a falsely bright voice. “I know I could do with some time not spent on my rump.”
Evangeline considered her words. “I know, but I’m just so eager to see Walter.”
“Of course, you are,” Elaina said with a genuine smile and pat on the girl’s hand. “But we do need to keep our health, and bouncing around like this endlessly is not good for one. We need to give our innards time to settle.”
“Of course, you’re right,” Evangeline said, nodding in agreement. “You’re certainly very smart.”
Elaina shook her head. “Not at all.”
Mr. Hathaway, who had gratefully returned to his book, smiled in what seemed a self-conscious way and lifted the paperback to cover more of his face.
Evangeline rummaged in her handbag and pulled out a dog-eared envelope. From it she withdrew a couple of pages. The paper was disintegrating under the many finger marks, and the unfolding and refolding it had gone through countless times since being turned into a letter, placed into the envelope, and delivered to Evangeline.
All the passengers on the two seats facing each other sagged. Here she went again, reading the damnable letter to them. She had no shame at all and was so proud of having found a man who was willing to marry her. Evangeline felt the need to have everyone share in her joy. The fact that it brought very little joy to everyone around her didn’t seem to register with her.
“My dearest Evangeline,” she read to audible groans. “Your last letter filled me with….”
And this was the point where Elaina forced her ears to shut down and her mind to wander. This would be the thirtieth, no…maybe the thirty-first time this letter had been read out loud in Evangeline’s slow, plodding manner.
Mr. Jeffries, a man in work clothes with a scraggly beard and calloused hands, pulled his floppy brimmed hat over his eyes and seemed to go to sleep. While Mr. Dun beside him took on a glazed expression that nevertheless included a slight hint of a smile and Mr. Hathaway sighed and turned the page in his book.
“You are the light of my life. I can’t imagine spending more time without you….” Evangeline read on, breaking through Elaina’s thoughts. She hurriedly changed tack and began to ponder her father’s actions. Always a good source of distraction.
William Nichols had always been a pretty good father. At least in Elaina’s opinion. He’d managed to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. He’d been marginally attentive and had never been overly harsh, authoritative, or even abusive.
So, why he’d packed her, his eldest daughter, into a stagecoach much against her will and sent her off across the country was a mystery to her. All she knew was that it had something to do with his time in the war. And that was something her father never wanted to talk about.
Elaina had always thought it was because the memories were too painful, but now she was beginning to wonder if that was truly the reason, or perhaps it was a cleverly thought-out excuse for not being honest.
The whole situation had her livid, upset, and feeling betrayed. It had taken a lot of introspection to arrive at the exact breakdown of emotions she’d felt. But then, she’d had a long time to think about it, sitting on her aching rump in the stagecoach she had never wanted to be in.
She began to wonder if this was also the reason why Evangeline, a blameless romantic, was rubbing her the wrong way the whole time? It could certainly be the reason for her feelings towards the poor woman.
Looking at Evangeline as she finished the recital, the letter clutched to her bosom, Elaina realized that was it. Under normal circumstances, she would have been far more accepting of the young woman as she was. She would never have judged her so harshly and been so rude.
They caught each other’s eye, and Elaina smiled at her. “It’s a lovely letter.”
“Isn’t it, though?” Evangeline asked. “I think Walter must be a wonderful man to write such fantastic things about me. And considering he’s never met me in the flesh, only in spirit. Our hearts were certainly made to be one.”
Elaina didn’t point out that they had met on paper and not in spirit and merely let her smile hang on a moment longer before it faded. Evangeline didn’t seem to notice at all and smiled on with a dreamy look in her eyes.
Part of Elaina squirmed in jealousy. Oh, to be that innocent and unsuspecting. To think that the world was full of butterflies and bluebirds. To be secure in the knowledge that someone loved you and would look out for you from now until death one day took you.
Before a month ago, Elaina would have said her parents loved her. She wasn’t so sure now. This had turned her world upside down, and she was frankly struggling to come to terms with it. There had never been a moment in her life when she’d thought she would be cast out and made to fend for herself, and the reality of it was upsetting. It left her feeling raw. But she would get over it. She knew she would. Once she came up with a plan. Because there was no way she was going to let her father do this to her and get away with it.
The coach rattled on and bounced over the uneven ground, knocking its passengers against each other before flinging them apart or rocking them from one side to the other. And on they went over the dry, dusty ground.
The scenery didn’t change much. Now there were hills, and then they were gone. Then cacti and low scrub, rocks and tiny little ground-hugging desert flowers that looked like tiny patches of color in an otherwise monotonous world of browns, reds, blacks, and tans. The desert world had a kind of stark beauty, but between the dust and heat, Elaina would trade it for a good rainstorm any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
Elaina could see clouds on the horizon. What looked like a large gray smudge, but it never seemed to come any closer. She longed to open the window and allow some fresh air in but doing so only filled the interior with dust, and no one liked that.
And then, as though by magic, the ground began to grow less even, and soon there was a range of mountains on their right. Well, she thought of them as mountains, but after seeing the majestic Rockies with their sky-piercing peaks, these were somewhat subdued, being merely rocky outcrops that reached up toward, but never attained, the sky.
A town came into view. It was set back from the track on the other side of several low hills. Only the roofs were visible above the tops of the hills.
Seeing signs of civilization, though limited, seemed to have a reviving effect on the passengers. After so much space with no sign that humans had ever set foot on that land, it was uplifting and exciting to know that beyond those few hills were other human beings going on with their lives.
Elaina watched the signs of civilization with a mixture of emotions. Her thoughts were in turmoil. This was the stop where she would catch the coach to Utah. It was, in essence, her last chance to avoid her fate.
If she was a totally selfish person, she would have gotten off the coach at the first stop and simply disappeared into whichever town that had been. But she’d been so worked up and angry she hadn’t thought of it until the fourth or fifth stop. Neither of those had appealed to her.
And by then, she’d calmed down a little and had time to think. She’d swung between her sense of duty as a good daughter and her sense of self-preservation. Those two had battled like the ancient gladiators of Rome, and their battle had been long and hard. Fueled perhaps by her sudden realization that this was her last chance to do something about her situation, Elaina found herself looking at this place, this town of Rattlesnake Ridge, with a critical eye.
Could she disappear here? Under what pretext? The other passengers knew her now. She hadn’t hidden her identity, only the reason for her journey, which she had said was to visit an uncle. All her father and Alfred Danville, her intended, would have to do was ask the coach company where she had parted ways. She’d be dead easy to find then.
But perhaps this place was isolated enough. Perhaps she could catch a coach going a different way. California was apparently very nice and a land of great opportunity. Maybe she could head out that way, be long gone before they came to look for her, and escape.
The idea was titillating.
The coach rattled on.
“Oh,” Evangeline said, looking sad. “I thought we were stopping in that town. Weren’t we supposed to?”
“I think so,” Mrs. van Dyke said. “Perhaps we should ask Clyde.”
Clyde was the driver for this leg of the journey. They’d had eight or nine of them so far. He was a solitary type and didn’t seem inclined to offer information but rather to keep it to himself as though it were precious.
“I can try,” Mr. Hathaway said, placing his book into his briefcase. “He might decide to ignore me.”
As he was sitting beside the window closest to the driver, this unsavory task fell to him. With a sigh, he unlatched the window and stuck his head out. The dust was quite phenomenal. Elaina, who came from South Carolina, a far wetter place, if it ever rained here.
A moment later, Mr. Hathaway retracted his head and wiped his face with a handkerchief he’d pulled from his pocket.
“It’s no use, over the noise of the horses and the coach itself, he can’t hear me,” he said when he was able to speak.
“Oh dear,” Evangeline said. She looked worried, her brow furrowing.
“It’ll be fine,” Elaina said. “I’m sure there must be another town close by that we’ll stop at. There will be a place to change coaches for sure because this is where we change over.”
“Of course, you’re right,” Mr. Hathaway said. “It’s most likely we’ll be stopping at a station this time and not merely at an inn to get something to eat. Although I won’t complain about having a hot meal not eaten in a jolting cabin.”
“I agree, sir,” said Mr. Jeffries, pushing his floppy hat up from shielding his eyes. “A proper hot meal would do us all wonders, I’m certain.”
Looking out of the window, Elaina noticed a group of buildings huddled together at the foot of the mountains. They seemed to be heading towards those buildings. She watched them come ever closer and wondered if this was the station they were to stop at. She certainly hoped so.
And then, as the coach began to slow down and rattle into the yard, she knew it was. This was it. Her moment of choice. She had run out of time to be indecisive. If she was to have any kind of life at all, she had to make up her mind now and decide which way she would go to escape.
May 1870, Goode Station
Goode Station stood in the shadow of the Cerbat Mountains. It was an oasis in the desert of Arizona. A place where people going east and west, north and south, could stop, find lodgings, succor, and a variety of other things to satisfy their needs.
At least, that was how Roland Goode’s father had described the place to him when they had moved out here to take over management. That had been eight years ago. Roland wondered if anyone found the station to be the supplier of all that goodness. He was, since his parents’ deaths three years ago, finding the place to be a rather large burden.
“So, you’ll be back before the East coach comes in, right?” Julia asked.
Roland eyed his younger sister. They had similar features, both having brown hair and green eyes. But something extra had been added to her. She had a way of asking more than the verbal question on her lips, with a whole host of other things buried underneath.
“Yes,” he said, nodding and gathering up his papers.
They were in his office around the back of the station. His tiny work cubicle was hardly bigger than a broom cupboard, and two people and his desk in the space made it feel claustrophobic. It was definitely that and had nothing to do with Roland’s fierce dislike for paperwork and figures.
Stuffing the ledgers and bills into his father’s briefcase, he sighed. “I’ll get done as fast as I can,” he said.
“Good, because I can’t be left here all alone,” Julia said, wiping her hands on her apron. She had flour up to her elbows and all down her front. He briefly wondered what she’d been doing in the kitchen. From the look of things, she must have been throwing flour around all willy-nilly. “I still have a lot of baking to do to make sure there’s bread for the next coach. You know how travelers like their bread to sop up their gravy with.”
Roland nodded. “Sure. I’ll be back in time. Mr. Blakely promised me an early appointment.”
Julia raised an eyebrow. “And the day he actually sticks to his schedule will be one for the books,” she said testily. “I don’t like him.”
His sister’s dislike of most people was well-known in town, and Mr. Blakely hadn’t escaped her judgmental nature.
“I know,” Roland said, picking up the now packed briefcase and heading past her to the door.
“Will you get some supplies while you’re in Rattlesnake Ridge?” she asked.
This was not what he wanted to hear. The station wasn’t doing well enough to make up for his sister’s gift for spending. She had a way to make everything sound urgent and necessary even when he knew it wasn’t. He shrugged.
“Give me the list, and I’ll see what I can do,” Roland conceded.
She handed him a penciled list, and he headed for the front door.
Goode Station consisted of the office and store block, a little house around the back that was Roland and Julia’s home, and a large, well-built stable and barn. The store itself was split in two. One section was more like a trader with shelves of goods that travelers often needed, including hats, mittens, and canned goods.
The other section was set up like a dining room mixed with a parlor where travelers could sit down to a home-cooked meal on soft, comfortable chairs. That had been his mother’s idea. She had said that no one wanted to eat beans from a can leaning against the wall after a long journey, and so she’d come up with the Resting Parlor.
Roland had to agree. Even locals who lived a couple of towns over would often stop and grab a quick meal, usually soup or stew, and then go on their way.
Looking into the room as he passed, he spotted a family of five, two parents and three children, enjoying plates of sausage, eggs, and bacon. They had arrived an hour ago in a wagon.
Roland continued to the front door and stepped out onto the wide porch that looked out over the front yard, where the coaches drove up to the station to disgorge their load of human beings before moving around back for the horses to be seen to.
Davey Fields, Roland’s thirteen-year-old stable boy, had his horse ready and waiting for him at the bottom of the steps. The boy was very bright and had secured himself a job at the station in the long summer months and on weekends to earn extra to help his family send him back East to university. He wanted to be a vet.
Roland thought Davey would make a splendid veterinarian.
“Morning, Mr. Goode,” Davey said brightly. “I got Serenity all ready for you.”
“Thank you, Davey,” Roland said with a smile of his own. “She looks great.”
Davey took pride in his work, and the compliment made the boy’s cheeks color slightly. It was good to see.
Roland fixed his briefcase to the back of the saddle and then climbed up onto Serenity’s back. She was chocolate brown, glossy and beautiful. She also had a delightful temperament, quick to obey and fleet of foot. Exactly what he was looking for in a horse. He patted her neck before flicking the reins and beginning his journey.
Rattlesnake Ridge was the closest town to the station at a good half-hour’s ride. They would take it easy, though, as Mr. Blakely was notoriously never ready for visitors before nine-thirty in the morning. If all went to plan, Roland should arrive in Rattlesnake shortly after nine-thirty and find the bank manager ready for him.
The ride into town was a pleasant one at this time of year. May was a good month. Not as hot as July or August, which could be brutal, it was nevertheless still cool enough at night to make up for the day’s heat.
Having been raised in Boston, he wasn’t used to such extreme temperatures. And the dryness was quite alien to him. Even now, eight years later, he still longed for and missed the ocean and the rain. When it did rain here, it tended to be in brief, violent thunderstorms that felt as though the heavens had a grudge against the earth and were dead set on exacting their revenge with every weapon in their formidable arsenal.
He checked the sky as he rode. Nothing but blue from horizon to horizon. Good. He had been caught out in storms before and didn’t relish the idea of ever doing that again. Some of the hailstones could get rather large. The size of hen’s eggs, kind of large.
As the town came into view, Roland noticed how bland it was. But then, it wasn’t a planned town. It supported the local industries, which happened to be mining, the coach road, and cattle ranchers. Copper had been found in the hills about fifteen years or so ago. Since then, this patch of unremarkable land had grown into something truly miraculous.
The wondrous thing wasn’t that Rattlesnake Ridge was here, it was that it seemed to be in a state of constant growth. With the home station and the constant passage of travelers heading all over, this place seemed destined to become one of the major connections, connecting people from all over through the complex schedule of stagecoaches that traversed the wastes beyond.
If looked at in that light, the town was almost magical. Existing in a place that was harsh, mean even, and unfriendly to humans who preferred kinder temperatures, abundant water, and fertile ground. This was the exact opposite, and yet, here they were. Booming.
With wood at a premium and forests less than abundant, the buildings were made from a mixture of sun-bleached wood and stones. All had large porches with wide roofs to keep the sun off as much as possible.
He steered Serenity along the main street and then turned down a street. There was a shaded paddock down at the far end of the street that held a cobbler and the bathhouse. He left Serenity there, out of the sun, enjoying a good drink of water and some hay. He thumbed the boy manning the place a couple of coins to take extra special care of her. He beamed, and Roland noticed he was missing his front teeth.
The walk up to the bank wasn’t long, and Roland enjoyed stretching his legs. The bank was not grand in any way. In fact, it hardly differed from any of the other buildings except that it was made of more stone and fired brick than the others. It also had far more secure doors and smaller windows. Right beside it was the post and telegram office.
That the buildings should be right up against each other in such a snuggly way was no coincidence since Mr. Blakely ran them both. He would split his time between the bank and the post office, moving between them through a connecting door. Rumor had it that only he had access to the door and that the staff, should they need to go next door, had to exit one building and enter the other through its front door.
Roland, holding his briefcase casually in his hand, mounted the steps to the bank. There were several customers inside already. They were lined up in front of the tellers waiting for their turn. Roland pushed the door open and walked up to the reception desk on the right-hand side. A dour young man about his own age sat behind the desk. He was sporting a thin, wispy mustache giving the impression he was having trouble growing facial hair.
“How may I help you?” the man asked.
“I’m here to see Mr. Blakely. I have an appointment,” Roland said.
“Your name is?” the young man asked. He had pulled a black leather-bound book from under some papers on his desk and consulted it.
“Roland Goode,” Roland said.
“Right, take a seat,” the man said and indicated a row of stiff-backed wooden chairs along the far wall. There were a couple of people seated there already.
Roland went over and sat. He held the briefcase on his lap and watched the goings-on in the bank for a long while, waiting. It always struck him as odd that this was how things worked, and people in positions of power could make a busy man wait for hours for no apparent reason.
It was irksome. There was so much he still had to do before the next coach came in.
Before his need to be up and doing things could eclipse the very real need to meet with the bank manager, Mr. Blakely appeared through a doorway and smiled at him.
“Ah, Roland, so good to see you,” he said. “Come this way, please.”
Roland stood, and once again, with his briefcase in his hand, he followed the bank manager through to his office.
Mr. Trevor Blakely was a thin man with a sagging middle, a soft under-formed chin, and silvery blonde hair. He wore a navy suit and highly polished shoes. His smile was both friendly and distant, as though it was designed to welcome a person into the room but not to make them relax.
His office was a good deal larger than Roland’s and had a huge desk. The chairs in front of the desk were reasonably comfortable, and Roland settled into one at Mr. Blakely’s invitation. He had been Roland’s father’s banker, and so this made things a little uncomfortable for Roland. He was acutely aware that his father’s education and that of Mr. Blakely outstripped his own quite considerably, and that made him unsure and nervous in this room.
“Well, let’s take a look at the books, shall we?” Mr. Blakely asked, pulling a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles from his jacket pocket and placing them on his nose.
Roland swallowed. The room seemed suddenly awfully close and hot. He pulled at his own shirt collar wishing fervently that he could take his jacket off and roll up his sleeves. Or perhaps that he could run screaming from the room.
But no such luck. This had to be done, and that was it.
The problem was that when Roland’s parents had come to the station, they had noticed it lacking in certain things. Being the conscientious people they were, they had written to the coach company asking for funds to improve the place. But the company hadn’t been interested. And so, the Goodes had taken out a personal loan from the bank, had bought the station outright, and made all their alterations with an eye on paying the loan back as fast as possible.
Sadly, fate had other plans for them, and they had both died before managing to pay much.
For the next hour, Mr. Blakely went through the monthly expenses chatting away in his friendly manner, apparently oblivious to Roland squirming in front of him.
“Well, Roland, it seems that we won’t be able to make much of a dent in the loan repayment this month,” Mr. Blakely said.
“Oh, but…we had a good April. We were so busy,” Roland said, utterly flabbergasted. He’d been pretty certain they’d at least made a profit last month. It seemed people couldn’t wait for spring to come to get moving, and they had had a really good month. To find out that wasn’t so was disconcerting.
“Oh, you did,” said Mr. Blakely. “It was quite wonderful, an increase in business and no mistake.” He tutted then and shook his head. “Sadly, it seems the expenses also went up rather dramatically.”
Roland sighed. He bet he knew where some of the excesses came from. Julia was no good at watching the pennies. She came up with grand schemes, and he supposed he could shut her down, but what was the point? She’d only scowl and moan and say it wasn’t her fault, and he’d be left in the same situation only with a grumpy sister to deal with.
“Perhaps this month will be better,” Mr. Blakely said with a consolatory expression. “Then we can start making more of a payment into that loan. It’s becoming quite urgent. I have bosses too, Roland, and they are looking at the accounts with eagle eyes. I can’t keep hiding that you’re underpaying.”
Roland nodded. “I understand. I’ll make a plan.”
Mr. Blakely nodded. “I know you will.”
Leaving the bank, Roland stopped at a newspaper vendor and bought one. He contemplated stopping for a coffee and a pie at Mrs. Schumer’s Pie Shop but decided against it. They were watching the pennies, after all. He could hardly scold Julia for her spending if he did the exact same thing, now could he?
The ride back to the station was a lot less enjoyable. Roland didn’t want to tell Julia about their financial problems. Anyway, she was going to marry Albert Woods, a local farmer, in a couple of months, and Roland didn’t want to worry her. Perhaps, when he no longer had to deal with Julia’s natural gift for spending, he might be able to pull the station out of the sinkhole it was in.
When he reached Goode Station, he found that the family and their wagon had left and been replaced with two marshals and a coachful of people milling around in the store or sitting at tables in the parlor.
Roland knew the marshals. They were rugged men in travel-stained clothes, their guns sitting on their hips and their badges flashing on their chests. They were the marshals for the area and stopped by frequently on their rounds.
“Good day, gentlemen,” Roland greeted them as he passed through the Resting Parlor to the kitchen to see Julia. “Good to see you again.”
“Roland, there you are,” Marshal Cook said. He was a tall blonde with blue eyes and a full beard. He was the younger of the two. “Julia said you’d gone to town.” They were seated at a table, clearly having just finished a meal of soup and bread. Their bowls sat on the table waiting for Julia to collect them.
“Yeah, just arrived back,” Roland said. He was acutely aware that he was still clutching his father’s briefcase. It made him feel a mite silly. He should have gone to his office before trying to track Julia down.
“Blakely still giving you a hard time?” the other marshal, a man named Thomas Ward, asked. He was older, graying slightly at the temples, and sported a wicked sense of humor. He grinned.
Roland nodded. “I think he takes a great deal of pleasure in it.”
Both men laughed. “Don’t take it so hard,” Marshal Ward said. “He’s crooked as a crowbar. You just have to outmaneuver him.”
Roland thanked them and walked through into the kitchen.
“Running To His Warm Embrace” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Elaina Nichols has been in despair ever since her father arranged for her to marry a vicious man, against her own will. Reluctantly, she begins her journey to meet him, but everything changes when the stagecoach stops for a break at a home station. Eager to escape her predetermined fate, she asks for a job and decides to cut her journey short before her future is sealed once and for all…
Will she find the courage to trust her heart and defy everything?
Taking over the station after his parents’ death, was the last of Roland’s plans. Yet, he is determined to save the business from bankruptcy although his heart is lost in a dark secret that holds him back. When Elaina suddenly appears as a ray of sunshine in his darkness, he gets trapped in a painful dilemma…
Can he sacrifice his own needs in order to give her what she truly deserves?
Roland and Elaina stumble upon each other and love begins to blossom. Despite their powerful bond, neither can run from their past nor from what lies ahead. When secrets begin to emerge, the couple finds themselves in a dangerous situation. Ultimately, will they break all the barriers that wish to keep them apart, or will internal battles and outside forces prevail?
“Running To His Warm Embrace” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.