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Hannah: A Bride For Cowboy Warren (Mail Order Brides For The Doyle Brothers Book 1), страница 1


Hannah: A Bride For Cowboy Warren (Mail Order Brides For The Doyle Brothers Book 1)

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Hannah: A Bride For Cowboy Warren (Mail Order Brides For The Doyle Brothers Book 1)

  Hannah: A Bride for Cowboy Warren

  Mail Order Brides For The Doyle Brothers

  ~Book 1~


  Jenny Creek Tanner

  © Copyright 2015 by Jenny Creek Tanner and Fire Up Your Goals LLC. All Rights Reserved; no part of this book may be reproduced or used in any way without the written permission from the publisher. Exceptions include brief quotations for review purposes and/or for critical review articles. This is entirely a fictional work. All of the characters, names, events, story line and places are solely the products of the author's imagination and are completely fictitious in nature. They are not to be construed as real in any way. If there are any resemblances to real people living or dead, events, locations, or organizations, it is entirely coincidental. This book is licensed solely for your personal entertainment, and may not be resold. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it for yourself through legal means, then please purchase a copy of your own out of respect for the hard work of the author and publisher.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Thank You!

  Other Books By Jenny Creek Tanner

  “Mail Order Brides For The Doyle Brothers Box Set”

  “Homestead HEART: Winnie’s Story”

  “Homestead FAITH: Bettie’s Story”

  “Homestead COURAGE: Callie’s Story”

  “Homestead HOPE: Essie’s Story”

  “Music For His Heart”

  “New Beginnings”

  Chapter 1

  May 1880 | New York

  Hannah Parish blinked her bleary eyes, barely making out where her next stich needed to go. The hour was late and she needed sleep, but her workload had piled up faster than her nimble fingers could keep up with. It didn’t help that she needed to divide her time between housework to pay for her room and board in addition to her growing pile of mending.

  “It’s late.” The voice of her friend Josie startled Hannah and she pricked her finger.

  “Oh, Josie. Ouch!” She sucked on the wounded appendage managing to keep the blood off of the linen shirt she was fixing.

  “I’m sorry, Hannah,” Jose said with a sheepish look. “I just wanted to remind you, nicely, that you have to be up early for breakfast duty and you’ve stayed up late the last four nights.”

  Josie’s dark hair was tucked away under her nightcap, and she kept her wide eyes trained on Hannah. She was the older sister Hannah had never had.

  “Thank you for the reminder,” she said, “I’ll be done here soon. Good night, Josie.”

  Josie turned in a huff that was more of a resigned sigh and the room was left silent again. Hannah finished the last few rows of stitching and tied-off the end with a knot. She sat back to admire her handiwork. It looked as good as new, and that meant she was done for the night.

  “First things first,” she said to the quiet of the room, “Or is that last?” She bit her lip then shrugged. She knew what she meant.

  From beneath the pile of mended clothes she pulled out the letter. Her hands trembled at her nervous excitement but she forced them to be still so she could pry open the rough paper envelope.

  A letter slipped out and she briefly admired the writing on the letter she held. A strong hand had written it. The letters were dark and bold and the paper had several smudges on it. She smiled. She liked this man already.

  It was a ridiculous notion. She knew almost nothing about him, but the fact that he had allowed something in his life to be a part of his letter made her more aware of him. Like he was a real person. She laughed at her own foolishness—of course he was real.

  She swallowed and took a deep breath. This letter signified more to her than even she realized. Her life in the suburbs of New York had taken on a frantic reality. She felt the city become more and more crowded and her desire for escape more pronounced. It was part of the reason she worked so many hours. She was working to save so she could leave this life behind.

  She envisioned the open, free country of the West. Sweeping vistas and rounded hills were a welcome daydream amid the crowded streets, packed-in apartments, and incessant noise of the city. She wanted a place to belong, a place she could call her own. In New York, she was happy if she could make it out of the boarding house and back in one piece.

  The advertisements she had placed in papers out West had been expensive, and they depleted most of her savings. She would have to take on more work and scrounge and scrape every cent together, but she knew that someday it would all be worth it.

  She clutched the letter in her hands and wondered—and hoped. Was Mr. Warren Doyle the answer to her prayers?

  August 1880 | Montana Territory

  “Have you made your decision?” Pastor Jeff Huxley rested against the back of a pew in the last row. He had a confident but humble air about him that was unlike most pastors Warren had known.

  “I’m still not sure.”

  “Son,” the pastor said kindly, “It’s been three months. I think that’s enough time.”

  Warren laughed, but it was more from surprise than humor. “Three months? Enough time? I haven’t even met the woman.”

  “Your situation is unique, Warren,” Pastor Jeff said. He rubbed a hand along his jaw line. “And I’m going to tell you why.”

  Warren folded his arms across his chest and waited to hear what his pastor had to say.

  “The Good Book says, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing,” and I happen to believe that. You’re older, Warren, and when you first considered looking into the mail order brides, you came to me, did you not?”

  “I did,” Warren admitted. He tightened his arms.

  “And what did I tell you?”

  “That if I went ahead with this, I needed to consider it could be a situation of mutual benefit for us both.”

  “I stand by those words, son.” He shot Warren a pointed look. “You have a lot to offer a woman, and from what you’ve told me of her she is in needed of something too. Security, a home, maybe even a family if it’s God’s will. That’s something within your means to provide. What more do you need?”

  Warren wasn’t sure. He didn’t have an answer for the pastor because he couldn’t think of anything more he did need. He’d ignored the topic of marriage so long he’d started to see it as a pointless endeavor. Yet, with Pastor Jeff’s wise counsel he was beginning to see that maybe it wasn’t just about him either.

  “I think you make some good points, Pastor.” He uncrossed his arms and put his hands in his pockets.

  “’Course I do,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve got the Lord on my side, and don’t you forget that.”

  They both laughed at the pastor’s familiar joke and Warren felt some of the weight lift from his shoulders. He still felt ill at ease but it had nothing to do with Hannah Parish and everything to do with him.

  “I’ll see you next Sunday, Pastor Jeff.”

  “See you around, son.”

  Warren left the old church and the warmth of the sun soaked into him. He pulled the reins of his horse from the hitching post and climbed into the saddle. He turned in the direction of his father’s ranch. His ranch.

  The ride on the dusty road through the flatlands near the base of the mountains always took Warren’s breath away. He’d grown up in Hay Creek and hadn’t known anything but living and working at Ruby River Ranch until he
d gone off to try his hand at gold mining.

  He took off his Stetson, wiped his arm across his forehead. A slight breeze came in over the hayfields on either side of him, and it cooled his damp brow. It always smelled sweet here. He wondered why he’d ever left, but was glad to be here again. He put his hat back on and words from one of Hannah’s letters came back to him.

  I’ve never had a home to call my own.

  She hadn’t written to gain his sympathy. In fact, he had the impression she didn’t want him to feel bad about her situation. She’d proved herself and was making ends meet with her hard work and persistence, though he had to believe it was taking its toll on her.

  Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing…

  He groaned, readjusting his seat in the saddle. He had set out today to gain wisdom from Pastor Jeff and he had found just that.

  Warren knew what he needed to do.

  Chapter 2

  October 1880, Montana Territory

  Hannah clutched her reticule in her lap. Every muscle ached from the constant jarring she’d endured during the long hours in the stagecoach. She’d take traveling by train over this constant, jerky motion any day. She was close to the end of her trip. The driver had announced they were only an hour from Hay Creek.

  The scenery through the small, dingy window was breathtaking despite the dust and grime. She spent most of the ride staring outside and dreaming, and spent the rest of the time in restless sleep.

  She wondered what Warren Doyle looked like, and what his voice sounded like. Would he enjoy her cooking? How would he act when he saw her for the first time?

  So many questions plagued her, but she was excited nonetheless. She had done it. She was out of New York City and was moving to a new town, and God-willing a new life. Even now she felt goose bumps raise on her arms at the thrill of it all.

  She felt the coach slow down and she straightened in her seat and looked out the window. Through the dusty haze she could just make out the rough outlines of buildings. They had arrived in Hay Creek.

  Her heart thudded with excitement and nervousness. She bit down on her lip to keep from squealing, but a small sound eked out. Thankfully the squeaks of the stagecoach covered the sound of her excitement.

  When the coach stopped, the door opened and the driver reached in to help her out. She unfolded from the small space amid swirling dust and blinked several times to adjust to the brightness of the chilly October day.

  Warren had not sent a picture to her, so she could only guess at his features. She imagined what he looked like from his letters, but that was no guarantee. She searched the crowd gathered near the coach, but she had no idea if Warren Doyle was even there. Her excitement soon turned to nervousness as she pondered that possibility.

  She swallowed hard. If he wasn’t there, what would she do? He had paid for her travel fare and she had used the last of her money to purchase fabric for a new dress and a few necessities for the trip. She was penniless once again.

  Then from the back of the crowd she saw some movement. The large family to her left shouted out greetings to one another. As she took her attention from them, she saw a man walk around another group of people in the small crowd.

  It had to be him.

  Hannah didn’t know how, but she could tell. He hadn’t described himself aside from mentioning his height in one of his letters, but when her eyes fell on him she knew.

  The man was taller than most men in the crowd. He wore a black cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes and beneath it she could see strong, chiseled features. His arms were thick and strong, and his shoulders were impossibly broad. This man was accustomed to hard work.

  He was the most handsome man Hannah had ever seen.

  “Hannah Parish?”

  She blinked and watched him approach. This handsome man was talking to her.

  “Are you Miss Hannah Parish?” he asked again. He took off his hat and smiled at her with his eyes.

  “Y-yes, that’s me.” She tried to smile but was still awe-struck by the man before her.

  “I’m Warren Doyle. Welcome to Hay Creek.”

  He held out his hand, and she took it. It was warm and welcoming and she found herself not wanting to let go. Just from that touch she felt the strength of him. Lord, is this really the man that will be my husband?

  “I’ve rented a room for you for tonight in the hotel. My ranch is a long way out of town and I thought the last thing you’d want to do is take another ride in a wagon today.” He glanced down at his feet, and she sensed he was a little uncomfortable. “I thought you might like to rest before our—our wedding day.”

  A slight pink hue tinged his cheeks. It was subtle but she’d been staring up at him and saw it by chance. She wanted to laugh, but she hardly knew this man. Months of formal letters seemed to fade out of existence as she faced him now in person. The freedom she’d felt to express herself was momentarily gone.

  “Thank you, that’s most appreciated. It was a long journey.”

  “I’m sure it was,” he said. His eyes searched hers for a moment longer before he looked away. “Do you have a trunk with your belongings?”

  “Only that small valise there.” She pointed to the lone piece of luggage left in the dusty street. She felt the shame of all that she didn’t have, but tried to push the feeling away. Warren hadn’t agreed to marry her for what she owned.

  “Follow me,” he said. He picked up her valise and with a backward glance and a nod of his head he walked around the stagecoach.

  She followed him down dusty street until they reached what she assumed was the newer portion of town. The boarded sidewalks offered a relief from the uneven dirt, but they were also crowded with people. Rather than attempt to walk next to Warren she stayed behind and barely managed to keep up with his long strides.

  When he stopped abruptly, she slammed into him with a surprised grunt. A waft of beeswax and wood smoke met her nostrils and she involuntarily reached out a hand to steady herself against him.

  “Sorry about that,” he said. “Are you all right?

  “Yes, I’m sorry about that.” She stepped back and a crowd of people maneuvered around them.

  “This is the hotel.” A pair of large doors advertised the Hay Creek Hotel. Warren opened one and held his hand out. “After you.”

  The street noise disappeared once they were inside, and Hannah waited while he retrieved the key to her room. The sitting area was much more elegant than she’d expected, and she adjusted her worn traveling jacket.

  “Here’s your key,” Warren said. “You can take your meals in the dining room over there.” He pointed down a hallway then stepped back.

  An awkward silence enveloped them as they looked into each other’s eyes and smiled. Warren rocked from side to side with his hat held in front of him, and Hannah clutched her reticule at her waist. They each hoped in secret that they would get to know each other better to avoid this kind of situation in the future. Warren broke the silence.

  “Well, if you have all you need, I guess I’ll get back to the ranch and, um, see you tomorrow.” He fidgeted with his hat, and she noticed his dark brown hair for the first time. She could see better into his brown eyes as well.

  “I’ll be fine. Thank you for your kindness, Warren.” She looked down at her reticule. “And I look forward to tomorrow.”

  He hesitated, and she looked up at him again. With a nod he said, “Yes. I’ll see you tomorrow.” In one smooth motion he put his hat on and turned and he was gone.

  Warren rode out of town and his gut clenched and his mouth was dry. Tomorrow, he was getting married to a woman he hardly knew.

  Hannah Parish was nothing like he’d expected. Then again, he really hadn’t known what to expect. She was short, petite, and had dark hair with hints of red flecks in it. Her eyes were hazel and held mischief and excitement about…everything. He’d never seen anyone with eyes so alive.

  It unnerved him, to be honest. Would she find that life at Ruby Riv
er was too dull for her after living in New York City? Would that vibrancy fade with the hard life of work on a ranch? He hoped not.

  He kicked his horse to a faster trot and rode on. The house came into view and when he was closer he called out, “Benjamin, where’s Pa?”

  His younger brother looked up from chopping wood and propped the axe on his shoulder. He ran his hand over his forehead to wipe away some sweat. “Inside. He hasn’t had a good day.”

  Warren groaned. He hated when his father was having a bad day. That usually meant he was in a lot of pain. Warren always thought if he could do one thing, it would be to take away his father’s pain.

  He slid off his mount, tied her to the post and bounded up the steps. “Pa?” he shouted. “I’m back.”

  “In here,” came a grumbled reply.

  Despite his poor health, his father still insisted on working or doing anything to help around the house. Warren saw harnesses draped over the backs of the chairs and spread out across the kitchen table. His father worked at a bridle with saddle soap.

  “I see Lewis put you to work?”

  His father grunted, eyes staying on the piece of tack in front of him. “Anything to take my mind off this darn pain.”

  “I’m sorry Pa. Anything I can get you?”

  “Don’t be sorry, son. Just don’t grow old.” The old man let out a laugh that turned into a cough before he quieted down. “How’s that lass you’re going to marry?”

  Warren swallowed before answering. “She’s…fine.”

  “Fine?” His father put down the bridle he was working on. “That’s all you’ve got to say is fine?”

  Warren ran a hand through his hair and wondered what else he could say. She was prettier than he’d expected, and he sensed she had spirit—both things Pa would find out sooner than later.

  “I don’t know, Pa. What more do you want to know?”

  Pa turned his head to the side and sized up his oldest boy. “Seems to me like you’re not excited about this marriage.”

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