A Secret to Bind Them Together (Preview)

Chapter One

Tessa kicked a clump of sedge in frustration and stared at the quarter-mile stretch of fence along the western ridgeline. All of the new fence posts were either leaning over or had fallen over completely. Gil hadn’t sunk them in deep enough. 

He looked at his feet. “I’m sorry, Tessa. I thought I could do it.” Gil was only thirteen and hadn’t had his growth spurt yet. His dark curly hair poked out from under his hat. “I’m in trouble, ain’t I?”

Tessa’s brown eyes softened as she looked tenderly at her younger brother. She couldn’t get mad at him for trying. “That’s all right, Gil. I know you’ve had to grow up fast since Father’s death—you’ve tried to fill in as the man of the house.” 

Those were big shoes for her little brother to fill.

Tessa continued, “You just need to have the posts in deeper, at least another eight or ten inches. If you don’t know how deep that is supposed to be, just walk up to one you didn’t replace and measure it to your body. It should be the same height for each post, at least until you grow another inch.”

“Do you think the materials can be salvaged?” he asked, sounding worried.

“I think so. We may have to replace some of the barbed wire. Unfortunately, I think we will have to dig new holes.”

Surveying the rest of the pasture, Tessa wiped sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand. The day was warm and sweat stains showed through her tan calico dress under her arms and along her neckline. 

She kept an eye on their horse, which grazed where it was tied up against one of the few upright posts. Two rifles within a few steps of them leaned against the barbed wire. As peaceful as the pasture appeared, Tessa knew the 400-acre ranch would occasionally spring unwelcome surprises on her and her family. 

The two returned to work on the fence line. Tessa dug the first hole and scratched a mark on the handle of the shovel to show how deep she dug. She handed her brother the shovel. “I made it easier for you, Gil. It’s not an exact measurement, but if you have your hole at least that deep and you make sure to pack the earth real tight around it, the post should be strong enough.” 

She rested for a moment and took a drink from the water bucket. In the distance, a trail of dust rose from the road that led to the house. “Gil, keep working on that fence and make sure you sink those posts. I’m going to the house to make sure Mother and Eddy are fine.” She grabbed her rifle and hopped up onto her horse.

Their home was not much to look at, but it served its function well. The simple, single-storied wooden-framed home was recently daubed with clay mud mixed with straw, and then white-washed on the inside with a mix of plaster and water. The white plaster coating lightened the inside and made it easier for Tessa and her mother to keep it clean.

Tessa entered the house, still armed with her rifle. A strange man dressed more formally than a typical ranch hand stood a few steps from her mother. He wore a pressed shirt and slacks, as if he’d come from the city, and seemed aggressive in his manner toward her mother. She had clearly walked into the middle of a tense conversation.

“You have your choice: either sell your ranch to me for the amount I told you, or leave the property. If you don’t, bad things may happen to you and your family.” The man opened his jacket over to show his holster and pistol.

Her mother spat her words back at the man. “You can’t threaten us like that. I won’t sell this ranch, especially not at that price you offered. You should be ashamed of yourself, to take advantage of a widow and her family.”

The man stepped closer to the mother. “I can take advantage of a lot more if I wanted to.”

Tessa cocked the handle of her rifle and pointed the barrel at the man. “If you would kindly leave this property, sir, and don’t come back.”

The man looked at her and laughed. “You, shoot that rifle? I bet you couldn’t hit the side of a barn with your shot.”

Tessa clenched her jaw. “I don’t need to hit the side of the barn. All I need to do is hit that pea-brain of yours. I’d aim for your heart, but I can tell that you don’t have one. I figure if I can kill a coyote at 100 yards, then hitting a pea-brain at ten feet should be pretty easy.”

The man’s smile vaporized into a look of shock. His hand slowly reached for his gun.

“I can shoot you dead before you even reach your holster.” Tessa held her breath, ready to shoot. 

The strange man put his hands up.

She heard another horse ride up and its rider dismount. Tessa cursed under her breath. She knew the situation could get bad if the person who just arrived was his backup. She backed herself against the wooden wall and kept one eye on the strange man and another on the front door.

“Tessa, put that rifle down. He won’t shoot.” 

Sheriff O’Day stepped into the entrance of the house. His mature face hid behind a bushy mustache, his dark brown hair peppered with gray. He held his one arm up to pacify Tessa. His other hand hung near his holster, just in case he had to use force. 

Adrenaline pumped through Tessa’s blood and her grip on the rifle tightened. “He just threatened my mother.”

The sheriff’s deep voice spoke truth and wisdom. “Some men are just plain heartless and stupid. They think they can take advantage of a widow without consequences in my territory. So far, those men are either dead or in jail.”

Reluctantly, Tessa lowered her rifle.

The sheriff exhaled a sigh of relief. He held the tip of his hat and bowed his head at Tessa’s mother. “Hi, Missy.”

The sheriff walked up to the strange man. “Dan, what are you doing here? I thought you left town.”

The man still held his hands up as he nervously kept an eye on Tessa and her rifle. “Uh, I was transacting business. I offered to purchase the ranch from Mrs. Baker.”

“And what did Mrs. Baker tell you?”

Dan stuttered as the sheriff unarmed him. “She… she told me she wasn’t interested.”

“If she told you she isn’t interested, then why are you still badgering her? I don’t know if you knew this, but this family has close ties to the Prices, as well as with my family. If you threaten them, you will make a lot of important people very upset. I suggest you leave and stay away from this ranch.” 

Nervously, Dan nodded his head. “Yes, sir.”

The sheriff stepped just inches from Dan and continued. “And if so much as a hair is harmed on Missy or her family, you are the first one I am going to find and hang from the nearest tree, regardless. Is that understood?”

“Y-yes, sir.” Dan exited the room sideways, his gaze fixed on Tessa and her rifle. Once he was out of the house, he ran to his horse and galloped off as fast as he could.

The sheriff removed his hat and shook his head. “Sorry about that, Missy. Word spread like wildfire about your husband’s death. My son works with the county’s surveyor and he told me all sorts of riff-raff have been inquiring about your property. But once they saw the ranch was in the middle of Reynold Price’s land, they usually lost interest. My son lets me know about the ones that continue to inquire.”

Tessa unarmed her rifle and placed it in the corner of the room. “Let me guess: Dan kept inquiring about our ranch?”

The sheriff nodded. “My son knew he was up to no good when he asked how many sons Tom had and what their ages were.”

Missy poured the sheriff a glass of tea. “I’m thankful you came out this way, Andy.” She smiled. “How’s Beatrice and the kids?”

Andy shrugged. “Doing well. Our youngest Gabe had a touch of a fever last week but he’s fine now.”

He took a sip. “I owe it to Tom to watch over you and your family. He was a good friend and I miss him. It’s not my place to say, ma’am, but you really should consider selling the ranch, or get a couple of burly ranch hands to work for you. It’s not safe for a widow and her kids to be running a ranch this size without the help and protection of a man.”

Tessa spoke up. “I think we can manage without one.”

“I’m sure you can. But eventually, you will marry and move away, as will the boys. That isn’t going to help your mother’s situation.”

Tessa changed the subject. “Who is this Dan fellow? He’s not from around here, is he?”

“He’s from out of town. He’s been seen loosely associated with a group of men that came in about the same time as he did. Up to now, they seem to be behaving. While I’m out this way, I’m headed over to Reynold’s to talk with him, to see if he knows who they are. If anyone gives you any problems, let me know. Good day ladies.”

Missy thanked him again. “Andy, please bring your family out this Sunday after church. I’ll make my fried chicken for all of you.”

Andy’s face lit up as he rubbed his hands together. “It’s a shame I have to wait five whole days to eat your chicken. You really should consider opening a restaurant in town. But until then, I guess I will have to wait.” He winked and then left the property.

Tessa held her mother’s hands. “I really don’t want to sell the ranch, but maybe it’s time to think about opening that restaurant, like we talked about?”

Tears welled up in her mother’s eyes. Since her father’s death, Tessa had noticed how much life had drained from her mother. Missy’s face looked drawn out. Dark circles accentuated her sunken eyes. She tried to be upbeat, but Tessa could tell from her red eyes and nose that she had been crying a lot. Her hair and clothes weren’t as crisp and sharp-looking as they used to be when her father was still alive. Tessa knew her mother was tired.

Missy let another tear slide down her cheek. “I don’t want to sell the ranch. This is our home. Your father built this house. It’s not much, but I feel like he’s still here with us.” She tenderly ran her hand along the fireplace mantle.

“I know. I keep thinking Daddy is going to walk through that door.” Tessa hugged her mother and wiped a stray tear from her eye. “Do you need help in the kitchen?”

“I think I’ll be okay.” Missy tucked a loose hair back into her bun.

“I guess I’d better check on Gil and help him with the fencing. We’ll be back around supper time.” Tessa hugged her mother again. “Everything will be okay. Just stay strong.” She left the house, praying for a miracle.

As Tessa’s horse drew near to the fence line, she noticed a tall, thin man near her brother. He pounded the spade into the hard earth with his foot.

“Uncle Joe?” Tessa pushed her brown hair away from her face.

“Hi, Tessa. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen you. You’ve blossomed into a beautiful woman.” Uncle Joe hugged his niece and smiled. “And Gil, you were still in diapers when I last saw you.”

Tessa tilted her head. “What brings you here?”

“Well, I heard about my brother’s death… I’m so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I was in the area and thought you and your mother could use a hand on the ranch.”

Tessa eyed him with suspicion. “Have you talked to Mother yet?”

“Not yet. I was riding up to the house when I saw Gil working on the fence. It looked like he was struggling, so I stopped to help. I guess I should stop by and offer my condolences to your mother.” Uncle Joe dusted himself off and rode over to the house.

Tessa watched her uncle head down the hill as Gil asked, “How come Pa never spoke about his brother?”

“I don’t think they were very close.” Tessa held her tongue. She wasn’t going to badmouth her uncle to Gil, but Uncle Joe had to prove his worth to her before she would trust him. Her father had told her Uncle Joe could never hold a job for very long, and whatever money he had slipped through his hands even faster. Her father had never trusted his brother, even when they were younger.

The two siblings worked the rest of the day on the fencing. They rode back to the house and as Tessa cared for the horse, she noticed Uncle Joe’s horse was also resting in the barn. She washed up and stepped inside.

Her youngest brother Eddie sat at the kitchen table with Uncle Joe, staring at him with amazement as Joe entertained him with a disappearing coin trick. Their mother cradled a hot stew pot as she carried it to the table. She started to ladle out the stew and passed the bowls around the table. “Did you two wash up? Supper is ready.”

“Yes. Gil is scrubbing as we speak.” Tessa poured milk into glasses for the boys and herself, and coffee for her mother and Uncle Joe.

Gil bounded in and sat down in his seat.

“Your Uncle Joe is going to be in town for a couple of days and offered to help us on the ranch. I hope you don’t mind, but I offered for him to stay in the spare bedroom.”

Tessa shrugged. “That’s fine. We could certainly use the help around here.”

Uncle Joe grabbed a biscuit and passed the bowl around. “So, other than mending the fence, what work needs to be done here?”

Tessa took a long drink of water before she answered. “The priority is the cattle. We need to bring hay out to them tomorrow. They’re in a patch of land that doesn’t have a lot for them to graze on around this time of year. Until we can get that fence fixed, we can’t move them into the lower pasture.”

She continued as she watched her uncle for any reactions. “Also, the grass and hay on the east plot needs to be cut and bundled this week, and the bales moved into the barn for the winter. And the roof to the house needs new shingles.”

“That’s a lot of tasks that need to be done.”

Tessa shrugged. “I guess that’s the life of a rancher.”

Uncle Joe took a bite of the stew and shook his head. “I always thought my brother married the best cook in the state. Missy, your cooking is spectacular. This is the best stew I’ve ever eaten. And how do you get your biscuits so fluffy?”

She blushed and shrugged. “Practice, I guess.”

Uncle Joe looked at Tessa. “Do you need me to help feed the cattle? I know that’s a two-person chore, with one driving the hay wagon and the other breaking up the bale and spreading it onto the ground.”

Tessa shook her head. “I think Eddie can help me. He’s old enough he can drive the cart with a little guidance.”

“Then if you don’t mind, I think I’ll go help Gil out with the fencing tomorrow.”

“Thank you.” Gil beamed.

Mother’s face looked relieved for the first time since her husband’s death. She leaned over to Tessa. “I think everything will be okay now.”

Tessa looked at her uncle as he stole a glance at her mother and picked at his stew with his fork. His face twisted into an odd smile, as if he was pleased with himself. When he saw Tessa staring at him, he changed his demeanor and ate another bite of stew. 

He was up to something, she just didn’t know what.

Chapter Two

A hired carriage pulled up to Reynold Price’s house. In stark contrast to the home of his widowed neighbor Missy Baker and her surviving family, the Price estate was extravagant for a ranch homestead. The two-storied house with a wrap-around covered porch had whitewashed shiplap wood, groomed bushes, and plants. The lane that led up to the house was lined with imported trees. Inside, hand-plastered walls were decorated with elegant, embossed silk velvet-paneled wallpaper and matching curtains in deep, rich colors.

One of the largest cattle barons in Wyoming and the richest rancher in the area, Reynold Price was extremely successful with his cattle ranch, and even more so in obtaining grazing land for his ever-growing herds.

Stepping out of the carriage, he took in the landscape with green eyes peeking out from under the brim of his top hat. His clothes were as well-groomed as was his mannerisms. He pulled a pocket watch from the waist pocket of his dark green silk vest, and snapped it shut after he made note of the time. He tipped the driver as his luggage was untied from the carriage and placed on the driveway.

An elderly man and two others in black suits scurried to meet the young man. “Mr. Henderson, welcome home. I hope your trip went well?”

“Yes, thank you, Conrad.” His British accent seemed out of place in the wilds of the west. Henderson took off his hat and placed his gloves in it, then handed it to Conrad. The two walked inside and up the stairs.

“You will be in your old bedroom; it has been prepared for you. Dinner will be in about an hour. Your father has invited several colleagues over for a dinner party and he told me to remind you to dress appropriately.”

Henderson rolled his eyes and sighed. “Wonderful. I don’t even get a moment to reconnect with my family before I have to entertain guests.”

“Unfortunately, sir, you won’t have much time to rest. Just enough to freshen up and change before the meal will begin.” Conrad unpacked his suits and slacks and hung them in the closet. He laid out a black tuxedo and a French linen shirt with a stiff, high collar on the bed, and placed a pair of polished shoes on the floor next to the bed. He pulled out a white silk bowtie and laid it next to the shirt. 

As he dressed, Henderson talked to the butler. “Do I really have to go to this party?

“Your father specifically requested you attend, which is why you came back from New York.” Conrad brushed a piece of fluff off of Henderson’s back. 

Henderson reconsidered his feelings about the dinner party. If his father was trying to impress his guests, he might get a reprieve from his father’s incessant badgering about finding a suitable wife.

He dreaded the thought of seeing his father again. They had nothing in common. Henderson had never liked working on the ranch. The work was hard and dirty, whether in the unbearable heat of summer or in the freezing cold of winter.

Even though he would no doubt be working by his father’s side and not in the fields, he had plenty more reasons why he didn’t want to go into the family business. He knew he would never be able to run the business the way he thought it should be run—at least, not without running the ideas by his father for approval first.

His biggest reason to not work for his father was one of ethics, and one that drove him to become a lawyer. Henderson was almost positive his father’s ethics were questionable when it came to acquiring new grazing lands. The man’s dealings were shady at best. His older sister had thought the same when neighboring ranchers were accidentally killed in a fire in their home, or would suddenly vacate their property and move back east. 

She had voiced her concern to their father. But, to her and their mother’s dismay, his sister was soon engaged and married off to a wealthy earl in England and rarely heard from again. Since then, his father’s business affairs were always conducted behind closed doors.

Henderson hid his disdain for his father and his dinner parties well. He breathed in deeply and plastered a fake smile on his face before he walked into the room. He was surprised to see his friend Marcus and his parents there, as well as another couple and their daughter.

Reynold strode across the room and heartedly slapped his son on the back. “Henderson! I’m so glad you made it home in time for the dinner party. I think you remember Mr. Walter Ingram, his wife Dorothy, and daughter Alice. I believe Alice just celebrated her eighteenth birthday.”

Henderson shook the father’s hand. “I’m glad to make your acquaintance again, Mr. Ingram.” He then held the mother’s hand and bowed his head before doing the same to Alice. A giggled bubbled up from the smitten girl. He heard his best friend as he cleared his throat from across the room. Henderson’s appearance was well-practiced. His attention stayed with the Ingram’s, and their daughter.

Despite Alice’s eligibility to marry, she was far from his idea of a perfect wife. She flaunted her father’s wealth with the finest dresses from the East Coast and Europe. Her overweight frame and boisterous personality were well known even when they were younger. She exhibited the worst of traits in public and bragged how pampered and spoiled she was. It was not uncommon for her to throw a fit in mixed company when things were not to her liking.

“It is very nice to see you again, Mr. Price,” Alice said flirtatiously.

“May I offer you a belated happy birthday—I hope you were able to celebrate it?” Henderson was always good at small talk.

“Yes. I had several men brazenly try to court me at my party. The food was spectacular. The cake was made by a French baker Daddy had brought in from Denver. It was three tiers and so light it was like eating air. Everything was so wonderful. But I had hoped to see you there as well, Mr. Price.”

“Unfortunately, I had my head buried under stacks of books, studying for my exams.”

Alice continued her flirty conversation. “Now that you’re back in town, I hope to see more of you?”

“Possibly, Miss Ingram. I have several business affairs that must be tended to. And I’m sure my father will keep me busy with other duties, as well.”

Conrad walked into the parlor. “Dinner is ready.” He stood by the dining room door as the guests filtered in.

Henderson allowed the guests into the dining hall first and briefly closed his eyes in disbelief at the obvious seating arrangement. His father sat at the head of the table, flanked by the two men and then their wives. His friend Marcus sat on the opposite side of the table, and then Henderson’s younger brother Wyatt. His mother sat at the foot of the table.

Henderson held Alice’s chair as she sat and then took his seat next to her. He looked over at his mother Abigail and leaned over and whispered. “Really, Mother? Could this be any more flagrant?”

“It’s not my doing.” She tilted her head toward his father. “Just enjoy dinner. And try not to argue with your father.”

The sumptuous meal of four courses consisted of consommé, a terrine of river trout, and a crown rib roast. The roast was served with popovers, roasted potatoes, creamed pearl onions, and glazed carrots. A selection of desserts finished the meal and, in Henderson’s opinion, were much more spectacular than the conversations. 

Still, Henderson was careful not to roll his eyes or yawn at the superficial discussion about the cattle and weather. During dessert, Mr. Ingram looked down the table at Henderson. “Your father tells me you just graduated from New York University with a law degree.”

“Yes, sir.”

Henderson’s mother Abigail chimed in, “He graduated valedictorian of his class and was offered a position by some of the most prestigious law firms in New York.”

Alice giggled. “Oh, how I love New York. The city is so vibrant and alive. Don’t you agree, Mr. Henderson?

“They may seem that way, Miss Alice, but I feel the familiarity with the community and a personal connection to its people are more vibrant and alive than an overcrowded and noisy city.”

Mrs. Ingram asked, “So, you will be working in New York?”

“No, ma’am. I intend to open up my own practice here in town.”

Reynold froze mid-bite. “I thought you were going to return here to be with me and help me manage the ranch.”

Henderson shook his head. “We discussed this the last time I came home, Father. I told you I have no interest in cattle or ranching.”

“But with your law degree, you could make the family’s business very lucrative.” Reynold elbowed his friend, Mr. Ingram.

Henderson gritted his teeth. He breathed in and calmed himself before he spoke again. “The emphasis of my degree is in business law.”

Reynold threw his hands up. “So your studies are perfect for our family business.”

“If you need contracts drawn up, or need for me to look at those contracts, I can help you. But my understanding is that you don’t use contracts in most of your business dealings.”

Reynold briefly glared at his son, then shook it off and changed the subject. “I talked to Ben Richardson. He would be happy to have you in his firm.”

Henderson was about to retort, but his mother squeezed his hand. He decided to save his argument for another, more private time with his father. “Thank you.”

Reynold joked with his friend. “Now all I have to do is to find a wife for my son, and I will be happy.”

Henderson dabbed his mouth with his napkin. “My apologies, Miss Ingram, for my father’s table manners. These are subjects he should not be discussing in mixed company.”

“Agreed. Ladies, if you will excuse us men, we will be in the study having our brandy.” Reynold got up, as did Mr. Ingram and Marcus’ father.

Henderson mentally rolled his eyes as he sipped his water. He found his father predictable; when he was found at fault, he would evade the truth—usually by leaving the room or changing the subject. And he rarely apologized.

After a minute, Marcus and Henderson excused themselves from the table, as well. They walked down the hall toward the study and noticed the door was closed. Marcus joked, “Apparently, we aren’t considered men, yet.”

Henderson put his arm around his friend. “I’m sorry, Marcus. It’s my father’s way of telling me I’m not welcome to be in his company. But I didn’t want to go in there, anyway. Come with me.” 

As he led his friend away, he glanced back at the closed door, and an old emotional wound opened up in his heart. His father never accepted him for who he was or had become. He had surmised a long time ago that his father only cared about his own affairs and only would be interested in any of his children if they followed the path he felt they should follow.

Henderson was much happier in New York, as far away he could get from his father. He had a group of friends and had befriended a young lady named Catherine, whom he’d met while attending the university. He’d kept the relationship merely social, as he wanted to keep his focus on his studies. By the time he had graduated, she had met another suitor and was engaged.

Memories of his uncaring father momentarily flooded Henderson’s mind. He shook them back and guided his friend to the rear of the house, where they sat on an outcropping of rock. “Who wants to be stuck inside a room full of cigar smoke and old men talking about bovines when we have this?” He pointed up into the sky. “Besides, the view here is much better.”

“I can’t believe your father is still nagging you to find a wife. You just graduated from the university last week.” Marcus undid his bowtie and let it hang around his neck.

Henderson laughed. “He claims if I don’t hurry, all the available women left will be dowdy and old. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in love before marriage.”

Marcus chuckled at his friend. “If all the eligible women left are women like Alice Ingram, then maybe you should put a solicitation for a wife in the paper. At least you have a chance that your mail-order bride will be better-looking and more even-tempered.”

Henderson punched his friend in the arm. “You, sir, are almost as bad as my father. He seems so fixated on my marital status that love no longer seems to matter in his search. As long as the female is alive and breathing and not already married, he considers her a valid candidate for engagement.” Henderson chuckled, and Marcus laughed.

Henderson was about to jab his friend’s arm again when he froze in thought. “But maybe you’re onto something. I could do that and court a woman who answered my solicitation. At least that would quiet my father down.”

Marcus laughed. “His silence would only last a breath before he found something else about you to complain about. He’ll probably start asking you why you won’t work with him on the ranch.” His friend laughed again, but Henderson didn’t join in. “I was joking with you. Are you seriously thinking about going through with a mail-order bride?”

Henderson grinned. “Why not? I have nothing to lose.”

Marcus shook his head. “For one, we live in a pretty small community. I don’t know if putting an advertisement in the paper will do you any good. Your family is known throughout the state for being successful and wealthy. Once you correspond with the interested party, I’m sure your name will leak out—you will have every leech and desperate woman running after you.” His friend laughed hard.

Henderson stared at the stars for a minute while he thought through Marcus’ idea. “I could change my name for the correspondence. Perhaps use my middle name and my mom’s maiden name: Andrew Martin. No one will know who that is. And if I get a mailbox at the post office for the correspondence, that would help with my anonymity.”

“That might work. But once they see you…”

“Hopefully the person won’t know who I am—and even so, by then, I hope we would have established a relationship and I could trust her to keep it private. Now, the bigger question is, what should I say in the advertisement?”

“It depends. What kind of characteristics do you want in your future wife?”

“Someone smart, moral, and a good cook.”

Marcus took out a small piece of paper and pencil and jotted his note. “Single male age 24 seeks to marry pretty woman of similar age with high morals who is smart and a good cook. Do you want me to run this into town and submit it?”

“Why not? I can take my time and choose carefully from the correspondence. Maybe it will give my father time to change his mind.” Henderson looked back at the house. His father had not changed his attitude toward him for as long as he could remember. 

Reconsidering his return home, Henderson wondered if he’d made the right decision.

My new novel “A Secret to Bind Them Together” is coming soon! Stay tuned for the announcement!

“A Secret to Bind Them Together” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

After her father’s tragic death, Tessa Baker and her family are left with a ranch that is slowly falling apart. When her uncle shows up wanting to marry Tessa’s mother, he seems like the perfect escape from their living nightmare… only for reality to prove them wrong. When he starts selling off their assets, Tessa tries to confront him, but he stuns her by quickly sending her away as a mail-order bride. In a strange turn of events though, she finds herself pleasantly surprised when she meets her handsome husband-to-be. Feeling drawn to him in a way she hadn’t anticipated, she’s even more astounded when he agrees to help her family. Will Henderson be just the helping hand Tessa desperately needs or could love be in the cards for her too?

Henderson Price grew up as a privileged son of one of the wealthiest cattle barons in the west. Seeming to be constantly at odds with his father, and tired of his incessant badgering about him getting married, Henderson places an ad for a bride. When he receives a response from Tessa, his family’s neighbor, he can’t help but wonder what circumstances drove her to do such a thing. He quickly becomes smitten with her but is soon shocked and dismayed to discover that she was tricked into this situation. Immediately feeling compelled to help her, will he manage to protect her from her devious uncle’s plans?

Within a very short space of time, Tessa and Henderson feel completely captivated by one another. Their mutual determination to stand up to her scheming uncle will bring them even closer and eventually a powerful connection will flourish. However, when a long-buried secret comes to the surface, their relationship will be put to the test…Will their growing feelings still have a chance to turn into true love?

“A Secret to Bind Them Together” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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