This absolutely gorgeous cover for my new book was done by No Sweat Graphics by Rachel A. Olson. I’m telling you she does the best covers around. As you have probably noticed, I changed the title from Marriage of Convenience to More Than She Bargained For. Once I reached the end of the book, I just knew the title had to be changed. You’ll agree, I’m sure. The book has been edited and is now being formatted. We’re hoping it will be up on Amazon by Friday! Today, I’m going to put up the prologue and chapter one of the book to refresh everyone’s minds.
The mysterious ruby ring shown above will play a very important role in the second book of the Widow Wagon series and threatens not only Daisy and Noah’s safety but their happiness as well. Defiant, troublesome, and naughty Daisy finally gets to meet her husband, Noah Jensen, a Danish immigrant who lives in Chimney Rock, Nebraska, (which is pictured on the front cover 🙂 Noah owns a horse ranch and is known to be friendly, kind, and hard-working, but he is also someone who is stern enough to make Daisy toe the line for the first time in her life. She expected a marriage of convenience but what she received was much more than she bargained for.
mare galloped down the road faster than necessary. Daisy’s long, raven hair flew
behind her like a black veil whipping in the wind. Exhilaration filled her.
from noticing something else — her father reclining in a rocking chair on the
front porch, waiting for her return.
more than a mere horse — halted in front of the stall, jer horse snorting and
prancing in place. They both shared the same spirit — wild, carefree, and on
many days, reckless. On more than one occasion, Daisy had been reprimanded for
her impulsive and shortsighted actions. She preferred to think of herself as
the dust and dirt from the trail off the pants that belonged to her husband,
Jesse. They were a bit big but fit her fine as long as she used a strip of
leather to tie them tightly to her small, delicate waist. She pulled the horse
into her stall, taking the saddle and harnesses off her. She cooled the horse
off with the cold water from the pump in the barn, brushing her down and
rewarding her with a large pail of oats.
stepping out of the stall , Daisy secured the latch behind her, taking one last
look at the beloved animal. “We had a good ride today, Molly. You’re a
good girl.” She rubbed the horse’s
nose and kissed her.
bounced off her father George’s chest. “Too bad her owner isn’t a good
death.” Daisy put her hand to her chest closing her eyes briefly, trying
to calm her suddenly racing heart.
death watching you gallop down the road at break-neck speed. You’ve been told over and over to not ride
that horse at that speed. Her knee is weak. She could’ve fallen, and rolled
right over you.” George pulled her into the middle of the barn, not
wanting to startle the horses in their stalls.
— and I’m married. I can, and have, been making my own decisions.” Daisy pulled
her arm out of her father’s grasp scowling at him. “It’s ridiculous!”
young lady. I don’t care that you’re eighteen years old. While Jesse is
fighting the war, and you’re under my roof, you’ll listen to my rules.” He
paused, staring at her his hands on his hips. “I’m sure you remember what
the consequences are in this house for breaking the rules and acting out in
serious! I refuse to be treated as a child!” Daisy put her own hands on
her hips. She’d been married for a year now and she had a house with
Jesse. However, since the war with the Confederacy
had begun, her parents asked – well, practically demanded — that she come back home once Jesse shipped out to fight
with the Union. They were worried about her and she readily agreed to it,
feeling lonely in the big house she shared with her husband. Besides, she missed the horses — and the
a child. It’s true, you are no longer a child and, therefore, you’ll be treated
as a grown woman. A grown woman who is acting like a child, and getting her
bottom blistered. Childish behavior isn’t tolerated and will be driven out
with a good hiding. I spoiled you as a
child, but you’re a woman now and need to learn a modicum of restraint and
common sense. You — or your horse — could’ve been seriously hurt today.” He
brushed past her, shutting and latching the barn door.
talking is over. You’ve been warned.”
He walked back toward her, gently grasping her arm and dragging her over
to stand by a wooden chair with a spindled back and side arms. “Untie that strip of leather around your
waist and give it to me. And you’ve been
warned about wearing pants before. I’m
thinking these are Jesse’s pants. Am I correct?”
situation and it seemed that respect and compliance would have to work in her
Daisy. Now.” He pointed to her waist. He was serious. The muscle in his jaw
twitched, his eyes narrowed.
expectant lift of an eyebrow.
welled with tears, her voice cracking.
loose knot she’d made with the thin strips of harness to keep her pants
up. Once the knot was worked free, her
pants started to fall off her delicate frame.
Holding them up with one hand, she offered him the strap with a
and hit his thigh with the formidable implement. “You might as well let those drawers
fall. They’re coming down anyway.”
bunching the excess material at her waist.
repeatin’ myself again.” He pointed to the ground. “Get ’em down. Now.”
pants, she bounced on the balls of her feet. But she knew she couldn’t tangle
with him. It would be better to obey. Letting
go, the pants glided down her legs, puddling at her boots leaving her in only her
pale peach pantaloons. Self-consciously,
she crossed her arms in front of her pelvis, tears tracking down her
completely. I don’t want you tripping
task more difficult than it had to be, a little sob escaping her lips. She stopped to swipe at her tears. Although
it was warm outside, the dusty wood floor of the barn felt cool under the soles
of her warm feet.
chair.” He pointed to the spindled
chair a few feet away, slapping the leather strips against his leg as he strode
up to her. “I want you to bend
over the back of the chair, hanging onto the arms. You’re going to need something to hold
again. I promise! Can’t we just talk about this? You can yell
at me all you want. I’m sorry.” Daisy wrung her hands in front of her thighs.
been warned over and over. This could’ve
ended in something serious. Bend
over.” He gently pushed between her
shoulder blades encouraging her obedience.
“Grip the arms of the chair, and those hands had better stay there
until I’m done.”
been a while since she’d felt that scared.
It’d been a while since she’d been spanked too. She knew he was right, but she loved going
fast. She loved the danger and
excitement, the adrenalin rush with the wind blowing through her hair, the
hooves thumping on the hard dirt, the occasional snort, the horse’s back
muscles ripping under her legs. But if
Molly’s knee had given way while galloping, Daisy would’ve gone down with her.
too.” Her father tugged at the ties
on her drawers.
to rise. “No! Oh God, no!
place while the other hand continued to undo the ties. “Yes, on the bare! I refuse to strap you with anything covering
your bottom. No sense in tanning
clothes. You asked for this,
her legs, softly landing at her feet.
Her stomach churned at the prospect of him striking her with the whippy
strip of leather, especially on her bare skin.
The air coming through the small windows in the barn wafted over her
skin and the moist lips of her sex. She
squeezed her thighs together to hide her quim from his view, knowing it would
be impossible to keep it secret in this position.
over her backside causing her to shiver, and goose flesh rising on her
skin. “You know Molly has a bad
knee. I’ve even asked you to not ride
her unless it’s a slow walk in the nearby pasture. But instead you take her to town and then
gallop home with her on the hard road.”
so hard her knuckles were white. “I know.
I’m sorry, Daddy.”
gonna be a whole lot sorrier in a moment. Trust me.” His boot tapped her
left ankle. “Open your legs further. I don’t want you clenching and
sob. Tears slid down the bridge of her nose onto the shiny wood on the seat of
the chair. Could this possibly be any more humiliating? She didn’t think so. She tried clenching her bottom, her position
keeping the muscles of her buttocks from squeezing quite as well as she’d have
liked. Instead, she felt her cunt drip with her juices.
Maybe the next time I warn you, the response will be obedience. I’m thinking
after this, you’ll listen better.”
felt him take a step back. She heard the whoosh of the leather slicing the air
a second before it struck her buttocks.
She’d never felt anything like it, a line of fire cutting across her
behind the chair, clutching her cheeks in both hands. “Oh, Daddy!”
She bent slightly, trying to press her scorched flesh into the palm of her
hands. The sting didn’t dissipate though, pain coming in fresh waves.
keep your hands gripping the arms of the chair. Get back over that chair and
hold on. If you get up again, it’ll be two lashes on your thighs. Now, move.”
He pointed at the chair again, then took a step toward her, and she hurriedly
bent over once more. She didn’t want to do anything that would increase his ire
any further. She just needed this whipping to end. Now.
barn air, leaving line after line of pain on her bottom. That bit of harness
marched up and down her bottom from the top of her thighs all the way up one
cheek and back down the other. She
squeezed the arms of the chair, shrieking and sobbing, the burn turning into a
smoldering, all-encompassing pain that covered her whole bottom.
until his hand gently rubbing her back brought her back to her senses.
stroked her seared bottom. “Do you think you’ll remember to listen and
obey my rules from now on?”
She let go of the chair for a moment to wipe her face.
your horse better from now on?”
breath hitched, her whole body was trembling.
leather tapped her bottom again. “Four more. That’s all.”
else it struck twice on the underside of each cheek. Her father tossed the
strap onto the barn floor just to the right of the chair, pulling her to her
burying her nose in his chest. “I’m
sorry, Daddy. I w-won’t do it a
the top of her head. “I’m sure you won’t, baby. It’s all over.” He swayed with her in his arms, kissing her
head, stroking her arms and back until her sobs subsided. Finally, he pulled away, tipping her chin
up. “Now, I want you to march your little striped bottom into the house
and go up to your room. After you put a
nightgown on, I want you to stand in the corner by your window with that red,
naughty backside showing. Ya hear?”
over to pull up her pantaloons. She
turned to walk away, but her father pulled her back to him.
Daisy. I just want you to be a mature, patient
woman. Go on up to your room and do as I
said.” He sent her off with a light
slap to her bottom.
bunny hopping out of reach. Daisy quickly made her way across the yard up and into
the house. She ran past her mother in the kitchen, but not fast enough to
Lord, did your father do that to you? Oh,
dashed up the stairs to her room. She didn’t want to anger her father by not
being in the corner when he came to check on her, so she quickly stripped and
threw a summer nightie over her head.
She resolutely walked to the corner and lifted her nightie to her
waist. She looked over her shoulder at
her very sore bottom, wincing at the angry red welts swelling larger by the
second. But she kept her backside on display as required and ordered.
deep in thought. She really was glad to
be home and enjoyed her family, but it just didn’t seem fair that her husband had
gone off to that damnable war and now she was subject to punishment for her misdeeds.
parents filtered up from downstairs.
“George, how could you? She’s a married woman. I never!”
pants down and strapped it with a piece of harness leather. And don’t say you ‘never.’ You were strapped
with a piece of leather our first year of marriage, if I remember
correctly. And if you keep it up, I’ll
be using a harness strap on your bottom too.
So watch it!”
her mother hissed. “She’ll hear you!”
if she does! Might make her mind better if she knows her mama gets her tail
tanned too. Be careful Mary Beth. You’re
this close to a paddling.”
stairs, the thumping getting louder and louder as he drew closer to her
room. He stopped just outside of her door. “Good girl. You stay there and think
until I holler up for you. Then I want you taking a nap until dinner. Ya hear?”
relaxed into her position in the corner, staring out the window, wishing she
was at her — and Jesse’s — house.
three to four people coming down the road. They were all carrying guns. As they
drew closer, she realized that they were wearing blue uniforms from the North.
Her heart jumped into her throat.
God. Did Jesse die? They’re coming to tell me Jesse died.
the stairs. “Daddy, Daddy! There are soldiers coming up the road. Union
soldiers.” She was openly sobbing by the time she hit the last step. “Oh, God! I think they’re coming to tell me about
herself into her father’s arms. Footsteps sounded on the steps of the front
porch, the loud rap of knuckles banging on the wooden door.
mother’s embrace, and opened the door.
“Good day, Gentlemen. Thank
you for your service. What can I do for you?”
men from my company.” His gaze
shifted to Daisy. “Ma’am, are you Mrs. Jesse Anderson?”
Yes. He’s dead isn’t
he?” She screamed, falling to the
floor in a heap.
George said, his voice solemn. “We need
to know, don’t flower it. Just spit it
loudly. “Yes, Ma’am. He died in the line of duty. We were in Georgia when he was shot by Rebel
as if she’d left her own body. She shrieked repeatedly at the horror of the
news, unable to make herself stop.
brought her to the parlor and gave her a glass of whiskey to calm her
down. The Captain knelt in front of
her. “Ma’am we brought some of
Jesse’s belongings for you. These were
the things we found on him.” He
handed her his wallet, his money clip, a tattered picture of them on their
wedding day, his wedding band, and a beautiful gold and ruby ring.”
to the soldiers. “We need to be
leaving, Sir. My company needs to meet
up with our regiment.”
us. We appreciate it.”
been in touch with your aunt Mae in Independence, Missouri.” George grasped her hand in his large one.
“Your options are limited as a widow, but we want you to be happy. You’re
only eighteen and you deserve to start your life over.”
to the Oregon Territory and all the people looking for gold out west, there are
men looking for mail order brides. My sister says there is a covered wagon that
books safe travel on the Oregon Trail to head out west. It’s called the Widow
Wagon. It only takes on widows and brings them to men along the trail that are
looking for a wife.”
face, her head beginning to spin.
“You want me to leave and go West?
Is that what you’re saying?”
we know that it’d be the right thing to happen. It’s a way for you to start
your life over. Find a new man, have a
husband — and have children. We’ve purchased a stagecoach ticket for you to go
to Missouri. You’ll stay with your Aunt
Mae until it’s time to leave in the spring on the next Widow Wagon.”
know it, we’ll be able to take the train to visit you yearly. Until then, we
can purchase a ticket and travel out to you by stage coach.”
herself in Independence, Missouri, answering an ad from one Noah Jensen in
Chimney Rock, Nebraska.
dinner, finally together in the dining room, when the dogs out front began barking,
a loud knock sounding at the front door. Ben, answered the door, finding a Confederate
soldier standing on their porch.
Gibson,” the soldier said.
Gibson, Sir. I’m Bobby’s father.”
my company commander’s already been out to give you the sad news, but I just
wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss. He was a good man, a good soldier.”
giving him a little nod.
shot and killed a Yankee, but unfortunately, that same man killed Bobby with
his rifle before he died.” The soldier reached into his pockets. “I
have some of his personal belongings and wanted to get them to you.” He handed over
a wallet, some pictures of family, and a folded document.
and reading it. “It’s a… map. A map of
Georgia?” He tapped one corner of the map. “What’s this red X mean?”
throat. “I don’t know, sir, but I have
some other information that may be of interest to you. And I regret to inform you Ben that those
damn Yankee soldiers got to your son before I could and they took his money out
of his wallet. They even took a ruby ring that was with this map. They said
that they were going to give the ring and the money to that soldier’s
wife. Bobby showed me the ring himself
not a day before he died. I have a feeling that the ring is attached to this
map somehow.” The soldier drew a piece of tattered paper from his breast
pocket. “Bobby also had this letter in his shirt. I’m not sure why the Yankees
didn’t take it too, but fortunately they left it behind. It’s a letter from
someone named PGT Beauregard. He was the man who sent the map, and I’m thinking
the ring too.”
have to get in touch with PGT.” Ben stared at the map, his eyebrows knit, shaking
going to give that ring to Jesse’s wife. A Mrs. Daisy Anderson? They said she
lived in Boston. I’m sorry, I ain’t got any other information than that.”
father shook the soldier’s hand. “It’s a tough job, I know it. We thank you soldier. Now I’ll have to tell
his ma and the rest of the family. I’ll be in touch with my brother, General
Beauregard. Then it looks like we’ll be
making a trip to Boston to find out who this Daisy Anderson is — and where my
son’s ring went off to.”
in the small hotel room in Independence, Missouri. The noise from the busy
street down below filtered through his window, which was open to allow a small
breeze to flow into the stifling heat of the small room. He had to find Daisy Anderson. He’d been looking for months, trying find out where
Jesse Anderson’s wife lived. He hated lying to all those soldiers, but he
couldn’t very well say why he was
looking for her. He had lied to them all and said she was his cousin. On top of it all, he embellished the story
and said he needed to find Jesse’s wife to give her something from the family —
another bold-faced lie.
tattered map in his hands, and he just wanted to leap forward in time and somehow
be at that final stage of is search – his reward. He deserved it. He had worked
hard, and yet nothing had ever seemed to work out for him This was his time. He
had watched all his brothers in Louisiana.
They had all become successful, living their dreams — while he still
waited. All of that was about to change
though. Once he found Daisy and got the
“key,” his dreams would finally be within reach.
after the Yankee soldier, Jesse Anderson died in the war — by his own brother’s
bullet—Daisy had been notified and given his personal belongings. But one of
those mementos belonged to his brother, Bobby. He’d rectify that soon.
had moved from Boston to live with her aunt in Independence Missouri. With that
news, he had hopped onto a stagecoach making his way to Independence. Once
morning came, he’d find her Aunt — and take one step closer to making his
dreams come true.
Topeka, Kansas to meet her mail order husband, Daniel Weston. . Daisy moved to
the back of the wagon, reaching for her carpet bag, tucked in amongst the
cooking supplies buried in a dark corner in the back. She rooted through the
bag again just to make sure the ring was still there, she was worried that
Sophie may have taken it. She didn’t
want to get in trouble or have the other women see it. After the ruckus at the mercantile before
embarking upon their journey, she had every reason to be secretive. Angus and Sam had told her that she couldn’t
bring her bag on the wagon. The rules for weight were stringent — but she
didn’t care. Daisy was used to doing what she wanted to do, regardless of the
rules. However, she quickly learned that
Angus wasn’t someone to tangle with. Once they had discovered Daisy had brought
the bag along anyway, she’d received a whipping for that bit of disobedience.
she’d hidden the large carpet bag, regardless of the orders and another possible
whipping. She found the ring, holding it up to look at the shiny gold. Even in
the shadowed light filtering through the canvas covering the wagon, the jewel
glittered. She thought she knew all the personal belongings Jesse had, but when
the soldiers came to the house to disclose Jesse’s death, they had given her a
beautiful ruby ring. The same ring she now held in her hand.
slid to the side, revealing a tiny hidden key. The red ruby gleamed when
exposed to the light. For the hundredth time, she pondered the purpose of the key,
wondering what it opened. She didn’t know quite why she was fascinated with it,
but she was. Jesse didn’t have many belongings, which made this ring even more
precious to her. She liked putting it on her thumb and watching the light glint
off the brightly polished gold band. The soldiers had said that it was on
Jesse’s body, but she didn’t know where it had come from. She didn’t remember
seeing the bejeweled ring during their marriage. She supposed that someone
could have mailed it to him, perhaps an uncle or a cousin, but Jesse had never
had anything this extravagant on his hand during their short marriage. But there
was one thing she was certain of — she didn’t want the other women in the wagon
to see her playing with that ring.
upset with her for wanting to bring that bag along, but the ring was the reason
for her defiance. If she left the bag, she would have had to leave the ring — and
that just wasn’t going to happen. She wrapped the ring in the white, lacy
handkerchief Jesse had given her, putting it in a pocket of the bag.
Clara’s little girl, undetected by Daisy, climbed into the wagon and crawled
over to Daisy. “What are you doing?”
Where’s your ma, and what’re you doing up in the wagon?” Daisy pushed the
handkerchief wrapped ring further into the pocket, closing the bag tightly and
jamming it under the blanket where she had initially hidden it.
wanted to know if you was okay. She sent me to find you. Are you all right,
ma’am?” Nellie tilted her head, looking at her with large doe eyes.
it’s none of your business. You should be outside with your mother and
sister. I don’t need you coming in here
and bothering me. I don’t care about you
and what you’re doing. You shouldn’t care
about me either.” Daisy stood,
waving her hand to dismiss Nellie.
“As an adult, what I do is none of your business! Just skedaddle
out of this wagon before I forget that you’re not mine and take a switch to
out of the wagon and running to her mother, Daisy close on her heels.
questions and then she said she’d switch me!” Nellie buried her face against
her mother’s chest.
crying daughter, clenching her teeth as she scowled Daisy’s way. “Did you
say that to my child?”
said, with the tilt of her chin. “She
had no business coming into that wagon asking me what I was doing. It’s none of
her business. I don’t answer to a child. I’m not a child anymore, and I don’t
need people checking on me either!”
now that I’m old enough to be your ma.
I’ve known many women to have a child at sixteen years old, and I’m the
one who sent Nellie to check on you.”
Clara cocked her thumb at herself, her voice rising. “I’m the one
who wanted to know what you were doing. And I wasn’t checking on you to be
nosy. I wanted to make sure that you were okay.” She gently pulled Nellie aside, and took two
long strides toward Daisy. “I knew you and Sophie had become close, and I
wanted to make sure that you weren’t upset at her leaving. But I’ll tell you right now. Don’t you ever think you can come after my child!
I swear, as God is my witness, I’ll take that switch outta yer hand and put it across
your bare backside. Are we clear?”
threaten me like that!” Daisy took a threatening step toward Clara, though
she still kept her distance.
thinking you ain’t never been switched — or you wouldn’t be stupid enough to
threaten someone else’s child with it. But I reckon I’m more than happy to
introduce you to it, if you keep it up.” Clara wagged her finger in
Daisy’s face, then turned, tucking Nellie under her arm and walking away.
came walking out of the mercantile into the bright sunshine, turning he saw
little Nellie crying. He hurried down the store’s front steps, his spurs jangling.
He stopped Clara, laying a hand on her arm. “What’s going on here? Are you
damn women caterwauling again?”
It’s that…that woman over there and I use the term loosely!” Clara pointed toward Daisy. “I should
say that…child. Daisy just threatened my Nellie with a switching, and I just
told her that I won’t allow it. I swear,
Angus, I will take it from her hand and switch her instead.”
toward Clara. “Now you listen here.
I ain’t gonna say it again! Ain’t nobody
going to fight, or do any switching around here but me, is that clear?” He
readjusted his stance, his hands on his hips as he turned toward Nellie. He
gently put his thumb and forefinger on her chin, raising her gaze to his.
“How about you tell me, little girl. What happened back there, and why
Daisy thought you might need to be switched.”
toward her mother. Clara nodded, giving her permission to speak. Nellie swiped
her tears away and with a deep breath relayed what had happened. “Well, my
mom had told me to go check on Miss Daisy to see if she was all right. We knew
she was close to Miss Sophie and we was worried that she was feeling mighty
sad.” Nellie turned a furtive glance at Daisy. “Then I climbed into
the wagon to make sure she was okay.”
ribbon on her dress, nervously twirling it in her fingers. Angus waited for her
to continue her story. After a few seconds, Nellie raised her gaze to him again
and said, “Miss Daisy has something in her bag. I saw her looking at it
when I came into the wagon. When she saw
me, she wrapped it up with a handkerchief and put it in her bag like she was
trying to hide it from me. She looked afraid that I might see it.”
Angus’ eyebrows furrowed and he took a deep breath, throwing an irritated scowl
Thank you little lady, you did a good job. If Miss Daisy — or anyone else for
that matter — gives you any trouble you come look for me, you hear? Ain’t
nobody here going to hurt you. As long as you behave and do as you’re told, you
have no reason to be afraid on the Widow Wagon. I’ll be talking to Miss Daisy,
and I’ll get this taken care of.”
handing it to Nellie. “Now, you go over to the mercantile and get yourself
and your sister some candy. Don’t let anything that happened in that wagon
upset you today.”
hand. “Thank you, Mr. Angus, for being so kind to my girls. I appreciate
it and I’m glad you’re talking to Miss Daisy for me. I meant what I said I’m
not going to tolerate her going after any of my girls.” A muscle in Clara’s
jaw clenched, and she raised her chin. “They’ve been through too much and
I have to protect them.”
you. And I understand what you mean. But like
I said, I won’t tolerate any
fighting. If I find you women fighting,
you’ll all get switched.” He
wagged his finger in her face. “I don’t care who caused it and who was
defending who. I’m not putting up with any fighting from women on this
wagon.” Angus raised his eyebrows, as if waiting for some sign of
acquiescence from Clara.
hint of the blush rising on her cheeks. “Yes, Sir. I understand. There…
won’t be any fighting.”
get the candy for your girls. And you
both behave!” Angus turned and walked away, his spurs jangling as he
sauntered his way over to Miss Daisy.
Daisy sitting on a bench on the walkway in front of all the different shops on
Main Street, not far from the Widow Wagon. Her arms were crossed over her chest,
her lips pursed into a pout. She scowled at anyone who would happen to look her
large booted foot up on the bench, resting his brawny forearms on his knee. He
stood in this manner for a while, regarding her. “So, let’s talk more
about the trouble between you and little Nellie. You care to explain what
happened between you two?”
anything to discuss! That little brat came into the wagon sticking her nose in
my business, and I let her know that I wasn’t going to tolerate it. End of story!”
Daisy stiffened her back looking away in a show of indifference to Angus.
wasn’t going to tolerate it either. “Look at me.” He waited until she
returned her gaze to him. “I hear there is more to the story than what
you’re saying. Did you threaten little Nellie
with a switching? And little Nellie says
that you’re hiding something in the wagon.
So, how’s about we discuss those two things?”
flared, her lips a thin line. “Why
that little witch! I’m not hiding anything in that damn wagon!”
forward, pinching her chin between his fingers. “You watch your language,
girl, or I’ll paddle your bottom right here in front of all these fine people
on Main Street. Is that what you’re looking for today?”
pull away, but his strong fingers held her fast. Tears filled her eyes.
“No! That’s not what I’m looking for today! But that little brat needs
someone to take her in hand. And if her mama won’t, then maybe it’s up to me to
to you women the first day. It’s my job to make sure everything here is by the
rules and that everyone is behaving. And if someone is misbehaving — as you
already know — then I’ll take on the chore of handing out a good tanning. It hasn’t been that long since your backside
started healing, so if I was you, I’d start trying to figure out how to follow
the rules around here.”
“I’m not looking for trouble, Sir.
I just want people to stay out of my business. And if you can help me
with that, it’d be most appreciated.”
her chin. “Now, that’s better and more like what I want to hear. I’m more
than willing to help anybody on the Widow Wagon but I need to know what’s going
on first. So how about you tell me what you’re hiding in the wagon.”
anything. It’s mine. I didn’t steal it, and I didn’t take it from anybody. It’s rightfully mine. It’s a ring. A ruby ring that my husband,
Jesse, was wearing when he died. The
soldiers gave it to me. That’s all! I
didn’t want anybody on this wagon to steal it, so I’ve been hiding it. And I
was just checking to make sure it was still there, in case Sophie took it
before she left.”
head, listening to her words. “Why would you think Miss Sophie would steal
something from you? I didn’t know her for long — and you didn’t either — but
she ain’t that kind of woman.”
shrugged. “You never know. Looks
are deceiving. You can’t trust what you see with your eyes. I just had to know
that it was still there. And it was. I was putting it back in my bag when that
brat came in asking if I was okay. I was afraid that she was going to see the
ring, and see how it’s so pretty. I didn’t want her deciding to steal it, and
that’s why I threatened her with the switching.”
her. “I said it before, and I’ll say it again — nobody around here is
going to be switching that child but her ma or me! You’ll not put a hand anybody in this Widow
Wagon, is that clear?
clear, Mr. Angus. And as long as everybody stays away from my bag, and those
damn brats leave me alone, we’ll be fine.”
bag? Are we talking about the bag that we tussled over on the first day? The
one you were forbidden to bring — and the one you got a whipping for that first
from the bench, and began to move away, as if she wanted to put distance
between them. He stalked her as she walked though. “Miss Daisy, are you
telling me that damn carpet bag is still
on my wagon? Maybe that whipping I gave you wasn’t harsh enough?”
speak, but vigorously shook her head.
so? So, are you saying that bag isn’t in the wagon? Or are you agreeing that your
whipping wasn’t hard enough?” Angus backed her up against the wagon wheel,
leaving the woman no place to run.
to her throat and she pressed her backside against the wheel. “Uhm… well, Sir. I think the whipping was harsh — very harsh.
And…” She turned, looking up the
street to see if any of the passersby were watching their confrontation.
worry about those people. Your only concern right now is me. What about the bag, bad girl?”
sorry… it is in the bag. The one I was
supposed to get rid of. I didn’t.” She
lowered her gaze, taking a quick glance up at him, then looking down once more.
“I kept it. I hid it in a corner of the wagon next to the bags of flour. I
had to keep it. I didn’t want to leave my ring out. I had to have a way to hide it. Protect it.
And… well, I have a pocket in the bag. I’m sorry. Am I getting a whipping
are one troublesome woman!” He
sighed loudly, throwing his head back and looking up at the sky for a moment.
“You definitely should be whipped.
But I understand about personal things, and wanting to keep them
safe.” Angus grabbed her chin
again, raising her gaze to his as he leaned in close. “You keep your nose clean and stay out
of trouble. I won’t whip you this
time. But if I have to do it later, this
sin will be added to the tally.
promise. I won’t do anything
wrong.” She gave him a quick nod of her head, then quickly walked away.
where she was going, but getting as far away from Angus as she could was a
damned good start. She cut across the street, holding up her skirts, dodging
a coach, its driver barking an irritated
her as she reached the far side of the street. “Don’t you go far! I want
to get a move on and I want to make good time today so that we can get to
Courthouse rock tomorrow.”
abruptly, looking back at him a moment, but not speaking. That would mean she
would be meeting her husband. According to the Widow Wagon schedule, Noah
Jensen — her future husband — was supposed to be meeting her at Courthouse
Rock. When she started this journey in Independence, Missouri it seemed so far
away. At first, she wasn’t worried about meeting Noah Jensen. Now that it looked like she would be meeting
him tomorrow, anxiousness churned in her belly. She didn’t know what to expect
from this thirty year old immigrant from Denmark who would take her as his
wife. She hoped they would get along. after all, he had been in America for
five years. Surely, it was long enough to acclimate — or so she hoped.
than her eighteen years; being a widow at such a young age made a person feel weary
beyond their years. It didn’t help that she had to wear her mourning dresses
for over a year. She longed for her ball
gowns and date dresses in shades of red, blue, purple, and yellow. How would
she be able to impress Noah wearing a plain black dress? But that wasn’t really
the point of mail order brides. Mail
order brides were there to meet a need. He needed a wife to help him on his
horse ranch, and she needed a husband so that she wouldn’t be forced to resort
to desperate measures for her existence. This wasn’t a match made out of love,
but a match made out of convenience.
going far,” she finally called out to the strict driver. “I’ll be here when
you’re ready to leave, Angus.”
to the day when she’d no longer be under a man’s thumb.