As Robert Henry reread the letter that his nephew had written him in the one thousand eighteen hundred and fifty-fourth year of their Lord, a quiet chuckle escaped his lips.
“What a fool,” he told the empty room. “What a perfect little fool.”
He admitted to himself freely that the young man might not be so very little. If Robert remembered his dates right, his nephew must be in his twenties or even his thirties by this point. He himself had just celebrated his fifty-fifth birthday.
And what a perfect present he now held in his hands.
Possibilities began to burst forth in his imagination as he stared at the letters in the correspondence he had received just that morning. Other envelopes sat around his desk, but this was the only one that mattered. It made him wish he had opened it first. Instead, he had taken his time perusing other matters that also required his attention.
This one was different. Special. He had been annoyed with the first letter that young Thomas Henry had sent his way. Apparently, the boy––or young man, whatever he might be––had been seeking him out for some time. All he had was his father, he claimed, and wished to bridge a connection with him.
A connection that Robert knew without a doubt that his own brother, William Henry, did not know about.
“Don’t worry, dear brother,” Robert muttered to himself. “You wouldn’t want to know the details of the matter anyway.”
William had severed ties with him countless years ago over some argument or another. Robert didn’t particularly care. Blood meant little in business, and William had lost himself in a clumsy marriage. They had parted ways with no regrets.
Except, apparently, that of Thomas.
One letter had been friendly. A second letter had given Robert an idea. At last, this third letter, had given him everything he needed to proceed with his plan.
Unable to resist the chance, Robert again read the paragraph that as now setting everything into motion.
‘We are bound once more for the Oregon Trail, Uncle. I talked to my father about it and we decided that is the best path for us to take. It shall take us past Fort Laramie, which is where I have been sending your letters. We are a smaller party this time––less than twenty wagons. The newest family, the O’Davis family, have just joined us and my father thinks they will be the last. Perhaps by then I may be able to talk my father into meeting with you?’
He couldn’t help himself but to laugh once more.
Throwing his head back, Robert slapped his knee and let his entire body shake. Fate could not have been kinder to him. He didn’t know why he was so lucky. But something or someone was looking down on him. And like any other intelligent man, he wasn’t about to question the gift.
No, he would take it. And he would take it gladly.
He stood up before tossing the letter aside. He would send a response tomorrow, hopefully getting a clearer time table. Not that it was necessary; his nephew’s last letter had been three pages long in describing the next journey that they would be taking.
While Robert was slightly surprised by his brother’s decision to start leading wagon trails west, he didn’t particularly care one way or another. If he had never heard from his brother or his brother’s family, Robert would have considered them dead. He had already done that for the most part before now.
But in a couple of months, he thought with a smirk, he could make certain of that.
“Mr. Henry?” A knock sounded at the door.
He turned his head but paused first at the small mirror set on the nearby bookcase. Leaning forward, Robert winked at his reflection. He was looking hearty and hale for a man of his age. Tall, large, enough hair he could keep slicked back without worrying about spots. Some might say he had a large nose, but he thought it fit him well. Anyone who actually opened his mouth was liable to have it closed for him.
Musing that his nephew most likely had the same large build and thick hair that had run in the family, Robert went to the door of his office to open it.
“Hardy.” His voice was flat as he narrowed his eyes on the young, thin man. Not caring he had forgotten about his assistant, he said, “You’re late.”
“I’m sorry,” Hardy Pendleton apologized. He glanced around on the busy street of Fort Laramie before chancing a look at Robert. Then he dropped his gaze. “I was, that is, my wife needed me to––”
With a shake of his head, Robert silenced the man. “I don’t care about your excuses, and I don’t care for them, either. Get my horse ready.”
“What? But your meeting with the mayor––”
The mayor this and the mayor that. If it wasn’t the mayor, then it was the judge or a captain or officer. There was always someone wanting his attention. Everyone wanted his input or needed his supervision to get something done.
As an upcoming politician, Robert had his hands in everything. But it didn’t mean that he came at another man’s beck and call.
This was his town. He was in control.
Impatience overcame him with Hardy’s hesitations. “Didn’t you hear me? I need my horse ready! The mayor can wait. It’s not like he has anything better to do. Now, Hardy, my horse.”
“But where do you need to go?” The confused man asked, glancing around again like he expected to pull the answer from thin air.
Leaning forward, Robert stared his assistant down until he heard the familiar gulp. “It doesn’t matter. I have to go out of town for the afternoon. Bring my horse out. Then you can tidy up my office. You left it a mess yesterday. Hurry it up, Hardy.”
“Right, yes. Of course, Mr. Thomas.” The man hastened off.
Robert smirked. His assistant would do whatever he asked and would never tell a soul. It made for a good helper.
All the same, he would leave Hardy behind when he went to speak with Gary Hardbrook. The name was ordinary and unassuming for the bloodthirsty madman that he met a couple of years ago. Now, the man and his gang were hiding out a few short miles from this fort.
As Robert considered the letter on his desk, he smirked.
His plan was coming along quickly. It would be perfect. Hardbrook and his men in the Bramble Bush Gang would do as he asked and soon, he would have everything he needed.
“What a fool,” he echoed his earlier words.
Revenge was a dessert that would linger for years. The thought made him smile. He would have his vengeance. Thanks to his nephew, he could have it on everyone he needed all at once.
So what if Colin O’Davis was dead in the grave? The memory of the old farmer and cardsharp send hot fury through his veins. Fortunately, the man’s recent death wouldn’t stop Robert. He might have taken his knowledge to the grave, but a map to the man’s money had to exist.
And Robert would find it. The man had family who was now headed west, and it would be the perfect opportunity to get the money and right all the ways he had since been wronged.
“Let the fun begin,” Robert muttered. He grabbed his hat and headed out the door, ready to take the future in hand.
As Amelia Davis looked ahead to the green valley below, she grudgingly agreed with her parents’ regular sentiments that this journey was rather beautiful.
Even so, she told herself, this trip west had not been part of her life plan. Few young ladies of twenty years of age dreamed of going west. At least, she hadn’t known any who did back home in Richmond, Virginia.
“Look! They’re stopping! That means we must be camping there for the night,” came her sister’s voice. Eleanor was a spry fourteen-year-old who quickly jumped off the wagon and started running.
“Eleanor,” Amelia started in annoyance.
But her younger sister had started something she couldn’t stop. Almost at once, her brothers who were supposed to be helping her with the oxen, left her. Although she knew one couldn’t control twelve-year-old boys, let alone twins, she still groaned as they scampered off.
“Wait for me!” Balthasar shouted.
“I’m coming too,” Benjamin cried out while waving his arms.
Then behind her sounded the last of their bunch, two-year-old Micah. “Me, me, me! Momma!”
“Oh darling,” their mother said faintly. “Hold on, dear.”
Hearing that, Amelia winced and tried to look back from where she sat on the bench where her hands were full with the reins. She couldn’t possibly move from where she was, though she could crane her neck to look for her mother and father situated in a corner of their currently uncovered wagon.
Since both of her parents had fallen ill in the past couple of days, it felt on Amelia’s shoulders to manage both their wagon as well as her siblings. Still, she was only one person. And the younger children didn’t care about listening most of the time.
She still managed to see her parents seated with her youngest brother between them who was flailing about. As usual, he wanted to be off with the rest of his siblings.
“Amelia? Can you…?” Her father trailed off with a weary smile.
“We’re almost there,” she promised, seeing the green tinge to his face. “And yes, I can take him. Come here, Micah. Do you want to drive again?”
It wouldn’t be easy keeping the toddler in her lap while managing the oxen, but Amelia knew it would be better for her parents. They needed any chance to rest that they could get. Already two people had passed away on their journey, and she couldn’t bear the thought of losing her parents.
Micah’s wiggling body made the transition difficult but soon she had him back in her lap. She held onto the reins as well as the squirming little figure who cackled in delight at the thought of being in charge of the animals.
“Go! Go! Go!” he chanted in her ear.
“We are going,” she mumbled with a sigh. “Careful, Micah. If you fall out, it won’t be very fun.”
They had been traveling all day since making a short stop in a small town of St. Joseph. The wagon leader, Mr. William Thomas, had taken them slightly off course. They should have wound up in Independence the day before, where they would have been able to purchase more supplies for the rest of their journey––or at least until they reached another town.
That would probably take weeks, if not a lifetime.
Holding back the urge to grumble and complain, Amelia shook her head. She didn’t have time to think while driving a wagon and holding onto her little brother. This required all of her attention until she was finally able to bring the wagon to a standstill.
“Eleanor! El, take Micah, would you?” she shouted.
Her sister huffed before coming over. “Fine, but I can’t babysit him forever.”
“I’m not asking you, too. Just for a short while. Unless you wish to take care of the oxen?” When her sister wrinkled her nose, Amelia managed a short laugh. “I didn’t think so. And help Momma and Papa out of there.”
As she walked away, her sister called out, “You could say please when you ask for help.”
“I shouldn’t have to ask for your help,” Amelia pointed out.
“Girls,” her mother called out weakly. “There’s no need to argue. We’ll be just fine.”
Shaking her head, Amelia continued walking away with the oxen at her side. It wasn’t her parents’ fault that they were sick. As for her siblings, they were just children. She remembered what it was like to want to be free and play without cares. No, there was no one she could blame for her anger and frustration over everything.
And yet, who else was she supposed to turn to?
“This is not my idea of fun,” Amelia said as she glowered at the oxen. The main tethers were removed so they could eat on the nearby grass, while their ropes were secure around their large backs to keep them together tied to their nearby wagon.
Once they were settled, she paused to watch as the other wagons continued to make their way to the clearing. The ground was still a bit slanted, but there was space for all twenty or so wagons to gather around and make their nightly circle. It was strange to make camp with so many strangers, but Amelia was beginning to get used to this temporary life of theirs.
Except, of course, when she stumbled over large rocks.
She flung out her arms for balance and winced when her ankle rolled. “Ow.” It took her a few painful steps to stand up straight.
“Are you all right?”
Amelia nearly tripped again in surprise, whirling around to see who had come up behind her. She jerked at the sight of a brown horse right in front of her face. After shifting back two steps, she looked to the rider and frowned, wondering if he was doing this to mock her.
“Are you sure?”
She crossed her arms. “Thomas Henry, I don’t need any help.”
He hesitated before saying, “I wasn’t going to ask you that.”
“It’s all you ever say.”
“Well, my Pa is wagon leader. I’m supposed to be offering aid. But if you’re certain that you don’t need any help…” he trailed off, clearly unconvinced.
Since her mother was still trying to convince her that the young man was quite handsome and obviously unwed, Amelia carefully avoided him.
Which was difficult because he was everywhere.
Although he was older than her by some years, Thomas Henry was a polite young man who did everything he could to assist everyone on the wagon train that his father led. He was somewhat charming, Amelia conceded, due to his readiness to help lift heavy things or create flower crowns for the younger children like her sister.
Those looks of his only helped further his cause. He had fine features that made her think of the mighty angels in the scriptures. His brown curly hair had grown lighter during their journey in the sunlight, and his green eyes were always bright.
But looks, she had learned were not enough.
Thomas Henry was just like all of the other men in her life these days, Amelia knew. The first words that he had ever said to her was asking about offering help when she was putting a barrel in the back of her family’s wagon.
Did she look weak? She was a little taller than most women her age. Perhaps her arms were a tad thin, but surely it wasn’t obvious that she would need anyone’s help for anything.
“No, I don’t need help,” Amelia said and crossed her arms as she stuck her chin up. “And you should stop offering so much of it.”
Pulling back, Thomas looked at her in surprise. “Why should I stop?”
Amelia supposed this might count as their second real conversation. He frequently rode by to offer his support, but she would tell him it was unnecessary, and he would move on. A few words couldn’t count as a conversation. Now, she wasn’t particularly eager to be having another.
It had been a long day and talking with the young man didn’t do much to help her temperament. She was bothered by how nice he could be and how patient he was with everyone.
“Because we would have made it a lot further today if you hadn’t done anything with the Hommel family. That’s why,” she told him.
“The Hommels? Well, they needed help with the broken wheel.”
She shook her head. “They put us behind schedule all day. Your father said we should have made it another three miles. That could impact the rest of our journey if we’re not careful. But you wanted to help them instead of insisting they stay behind and wait for another wagon party.”
It wasn’t that she had anything against the Hommel family, only that she wished they were on schedule.
The Hommels were another large party with a husband and wife, the wife’s sister, and four children between them; Amelia wasn’t certain who belonged to who. She didn’t know where they came from, either, only that they spoke in broken English and kept to themselves for the most time.
But they were also slow, and that troubled her. If Thomas let them slow down so early in the journey––they had only been on the trail for two weeks––then they would end up taking all year long at this rate.
Everyone had told her the horror stories of folks traveling west. There were so many risks and countless dangers. If they slowed down too much, it meant something was more likely to happen to her family.
And she couldn’t let that happen.
“Because we committed to helping them,” he pointed out to her. “I had to do something.”
Huffing, Amelia shook her head. “If we don’t make it to Nebraska before winter, then that is your fault.”
It was no use to talk with someone like him. Everyone thought he was a saint whereas she was frequently scolded for having too many opinions.
Not that it had been a problem all the time. Her opinions used to make her family laugh. But then her parents had started talking about going west since her uncle wrote them a letter, and then Hugh Parley started ignoring her, and somehow everything she did was suddenly wrong.
Exhaustion swept over her.
“I know we slowed down, but it is important that we help those around us.” Thomas spoke in a low voice as he glanced around before focusing on her again with those bright, green eyes. His voice was gentle as he reminded her, “We should always be kind to those who struggle because someday we may be in their place. Besides, people can surprise you.”
It was a scolding. A gentle scolding, but one nonetheless.
Feeling properly chastised, Amelia dropped her gaze and mulled over his words grudgingly. She knew she should be kinder. There were plentiful blessings as her parents reminded her every night to be grateful for all that they had.
But the stubbornness within her refused to be cowed entirely.
“Some people might, but most people are set in their ways,” she muttered at last. “As I said, I don’t need any help. If you want to do anything, you and your father should talk about having more guards at the ready. Three men cannot protect all twenty wagons.”
Then she hurried away before he could say anything more.
Back to her family, and back to their wagon. She would need to get the twins to help set up their tarps for the night and talk Eleanor into helping them prepare supper. Hopefully, her parents could manage Micah while they rested some more. She didn’t think riding in the wagon during the day was all that helpful, but it was better than having to walk.
Amelia groaned and rubbed her brow.
They were in a beautiful wilderness, free from society’s constraints and troubles. Her family’s Irish roots weren’t welcome back in Richmond and it had made life difficult for her family in several ways. Trying to keep them safe, Amelia had raised walls around herself and clung to the anger to keep herself from falling apart.
Reminding herself she didn’t have time to do that, not when she needed to protect them from so much else, Amelia went to her family’s wagon.
“Look at you go!” Eleanor cried, clapping as she watched Micah clumsily try to hop on his own. “Go, Micah, go!”
Amelia stopped in her tracks. All of her family was cheering on the youngest as he laughed and clapped and tried to hop all at once. Though she knew everyone was exhausted, she saw the light in his eyes, and it melted her heart.
She hurried over to join in the moment of fun. Supper could wait a few minutes. “Wonderful jump, Micah! Can you do it again?”
Life wasn’t easy, she knew, but there was still goodness in it so long as she kept her eyes open. Amelia hoped she could remember that as their journey went on. There was no telling what might come next.
After helping the Wilsons bring their wagon to a halt right next to the Davis one, Thomas Henry took a moment to catch his breath.
He held onto his horse’s reigns, having climbed down to fix the tangle reins. Mr. Wilson had passed only five days ago, and his new widow with her grown sons were still struggling to gather their bearings. Not that he blamed them; everyone had been shocked when the strong man had been taken down by a snake bite.
It was a harsh and unforgiving world out here, Thomas admitted, but there was such beauty in the wilderness that made everything worthwhile.
His heart pounded in his chest as he looked about.
“I’m going to catch you! I’ve almost got you!”
An absent grin crossed his face as he heard the squeals of laughter. It had been a few days since he had heard anyone this cheerful. And it was the first time he had heard Amelia O’Davis laugh.
“Oh no!” she cried. “You’re getting away!”
Davis, he reminded himself. His father had told him a few days ago that the family was removing the first part of their name to make it simpler like many immigrants did to gain acceptance in the country. While Amelia’s parents spoke with thick accents, she did not.
He wondered if she had ever been in Ireland. That thought led to several others as he tried to imagine her racing across the country side or helping in a shop like her parents had owned or laughing loudly at someone’s joke.
“Ah! I’ve got you!” Amelia grabbed her little brother and tossed him up into the air before catching him, hugging him tight.
Watching her from afar, he paused to see the way her face lit up when she laughed. It was an open and unguarded expression that lasted only a moment. But that was a sight to behold.
Thomas prayed to never forget it. The young woman had long red hair she had braided around her crown that morning. She wore freckles from her days out in the sun that dotted every inch of her skin. Her wiry build made her look thin, and yet he could sense she was rather strong.
When he had first met her, he had hardly known what to say to such a pretty face. His father said that a man should always be ready to aid others and so that was what he had done.
The problem was that help seemed to be the last thing Amelia desired.
Her sharp tongue kept him at bay, never particularly certain what to say in the hopes of appeasing her. He feared it was his fault. She was laughing now with her family. Clearly, he was doing something wrong when they were together.
Or, Thomas supposed, she just couldn’t be bothered to give him the time of day.
She had a fire in her. Maybe it came from her family’s past troubles or maybe it came from her hair, he didn’t know. Thomas wasn’t sure that it mattered. He just worried that someday that tongue of hers was going to get her in trouble.
This wasn’t his first wagon train. He had been on several; each had taught him how much a person could change from day to day while on a long journey. People did what they had to survive.
For Amelia, the sharp words might be what kept her going. He could respect that. It was evident from her play and care with her family that she had a good heart. Someday, if he was lucky, she might be kind to him in return.
“What are you looking at?”
He restrained a flinch and turned around to see Patrick McHare, the other man his father had hired to help provide security for their wagon train. The three of them moved regularly along the trail and around the wagons to patrol the area and provide any assistance along the way.
“I’m just keeping an eye on everyone. But I think I’ll go back,” he added hastily, not wanting to be caught watching Amelia. “The Hommels are bringing up the rear today.”
Patrick grunted. “Right, those folks.”
He was a large Scotsman who drank more than he did anything else. Yet Thomas heard his father talking up the man who was an excellent shot and understood the wilderness better than anyone. If the man had said skills, then he was worth the occasional grunting or rudeness.
“Did you need anything?” Thomas asked, trying not to sound irritated. “Or are you just sitting around again?”
“No one needs my help. Unless you need me to shoot something?”
Ignoring the sarcasm, Thomas shook his head. “I never do, Patrick, but thank you for the offer.” He climbed into the saddle and moved back up the trail where the last three wagons were still on their way to join the circle they’d created in the clearing.
He tried to forget Amelia as he started off up the valley, knowing there were other people who needed his assistance and would gladly accept it.
Then he reminded himself: once they were settled for the night, he’d have a few hours alone on the evening watch. That was always his favorite part of the day. It meant he didn’t have to work, take his father’s orders, and could pull out his book to read.
All he had were three books, but they made for decent company. Especially since the only person here who interested him had no desire to spend a second near him.
He shook his head to clear his mind of Amelia. Since committing to this work with his father, Thomas was determined to do his best.
“Ah, there he is,” cried out Mrs. Sonder. She waved to him from where she was riding one of their horses. “I knew Thomas would be here to help.”
Nodding, he waved to the husband who was pushing their cart while their son drove the wagon. “Hello again. Is all well?”
“Very well. It’s been a lovely day,” Mrs. Sonders reassured him. “We are just enjoying ourselves. Aren’t we, boys?”
One look at her son and husband said otherwise. But Thomas did his best not to get too closely tangled with anyone. Though his father had driven two wagon trains west, this was only his second. He had so far learned that being too friendly could have its dangers as well as being a stranger.
“Can I do anything to help?” he asked. “You said something about that when I came over.”
“Not yet,” said Mr. Sonder with a tightness in his tone. “One of our wheels doesn’t seem right. It’s working, but it might be bent.”
Thomas nodded, his brow furrowing. “Is it affecting the cart?”
“A little,” the man admitted.
“Then why don’t you pull it to a stop here? Everyone else can carry on, but I would hate for it to get any worse,” he explained.
Mrs. Sonders cheered. “How good of you to care! You know, Thomas, I don’t mind staying behind with you. What do you say of that, dear? Do you want to take the horse with Gerald onto camp?”
The way she looked at him made Thomas pause. She was a very complimentary woman. But he worried she might be a little too friendly. It appeared that her husband felt the same way; soon it was just Thomas and Mr. Sonder working on the wagon. The quiet older man said little, just offering to move and do as Thomas requested to inspect the wheel.
“There’s a crack, sure enough,” he said grimly. “Right along the rim. It hasn’t affected the axel, however, so we can count that a blessing. If you have any supplies, I think we could fix this up quickly.”
“I have them,” Mr. Sonder assured him. “I’ll get them out now.”
Since they only had about three hours left of daylight, the two of them worked quickly. Little had to be said between them. Thomas had more experience, but Mr. Sonder caught on quickly. It didn’t take long for them to have everything patched up.
When they were done, Mr. Sonder straightened up and offered him a hand. “Thank you for, young man. I don’t know what we would do without you.”
Thomas had half-expected the man to say something about his wife and was glad when he didn’t. He grinned, nodding. “Here to help. Is there anything more I can do for you before you make your way to the group? It looks like there’s one space left open for the wagon.”
Both of them glanced downhill where a large circle had been established with all of the wagons and carts. The horses and oxen and three cows were spread out to graze, every one of them roped to stay close.
Everyone was settling down for the evening. Fires were built and folks were moving around. Although Thomas didn’t think they were too far off, the people looked like ants.
“I suppose they’ll eat without us if we don’t move soon. And your father is coming.”
Mr. Sonder clapped him on the back before getting the wagon moving again. As Thomas returned to his horse, he swung in the saddle. But he didn’t move, seeing that the other man was right. His father was on his way toward them.
“Good evening, Mr. Sonder. I hope my boy isn’t slowing you down?”
“No, no, no such thing. He was a good help. You’ve got a strong young man here with a good head on his shoulders,” the man added.
Mr. William Henry, Thomas’s father and the wagon master, shared a short smile and nod. “I thank the Lord for that fact every night. Let’s get on down to the party, shall we? Don’t want to leave any stragglers behind.”
As Mr. Sonder started down the valley, Thomas lingered behind. He could see his father was wanting to talk just from the look in his eyes.
“Thomas.” His father rode over and pulled back his large hat. “Is anything wrong?”
The Henry family only contained men now that Regina, Thomas’s mother, had passed away four years ago. Her absence had left a hole in their family that Thomas felt every day. But whenever he tried to talk about it to his father, the man wouldn’t say a word.
Maybe that was why Thomas had gone searching out for family, writing to the uncle he barely knew existed.
Considering that they were both tall, large men with dark curly hair and strong features, Thomas wondered again if his uncle looked like them. He felt the unease in his gut once again as his father came over. Since he had sent his first letter last year, he wanted to tell his father everything.
“Nothing’s wrong,” he said at last. “I wanted to get the wheel repaired before it could make anything worse. Every inch counts, that’s what you always told me. They should be fine now.”
His father, William, nodded in satisfaction. “That’s my boy. Come on, let’s get to camp.”
Such ease made Thomas hesitated. “Right, sure.” Was this all his father wanted to talk about? He glanced around warily before nodding, nudging his horse along.
“One more thing.”
Thomas bit the inside of his cheek, tugging on the reins of his horse. He was forced to crane his neck around while his father took his time riding on over. “What is it?” he asked.
“Mrs. Sonder is a… well, a cheerful woman. You’re not taken in by her, are you?”
Eyes widening, he shook his head. “Pa! She’s a married woman.”
“That she is. Some folks don’t seem to let that stop them. I’m sure it’s innocent fun, but try not to get close, will you? All the ladies fall for the Henry clan. It’s our lot in our life. But I don’t want you causing trouble or playing with the hearts of anyone here.”
Thomas wished the sun had gone down enough to hide the blush he felt burning his cheeks. “Pa, I’m not playing with anyone.”
“I know. But you’re a handsome fellow and the ladies look. I’m just asking that you do your job,” his father said pointedly. “Don’t give special attention to the married ladies and the single ladies neither. Is that too much to ask?”
“It isn’t,” Thomas muttered through gritted teeth. “I’m not doing anything.”
“Am I embarrassing you?”
He heard the grin in his father’s voice. “Are you sure about that?”
He cut his father a look. “Pa.”
Chuckling, William leaned over to give his knee a pat. “That’s my boy. If you can keep your eyes on the road ahead, you’ll make a fine wagon master someday yourself. Let’s get down there. The Hommels are feeding us tonight and I’ve got a feeling we’re in for a treat.”
“Right,” Thomas said. He didn’t need to add anything more as his father started riding off.
With a shake of his head, he followed. The day was coming to a satisfying close. Feeling his stomach growl, Thomas pushed his horse a little further on.
His relationship with his father wasn’t perfect, he knew, but he thought they were close. They had been through a lot together. They relied on one another and leaned on each other when necessary.
So hopefully, when they made it to Fort Bridger, his father wouldn’t be too disappointed to run into his brother.
Thomas exhaled. He nodded to himself and muttered, “It’ll be fine. I’m sure it’ll all be fine.”
Everything would change for them in three weeks. He held onto that hope as he followed after his father. Thoughts of family shifted upon reaching the camp. Mrs. Sonder was far out of mind, but another young lady claimed his thoughts while he brushed down his horse for the night.
They had months to go together on this wagon train. Thomas expected it would all go according to plan, and nothing would happen.
Except, of course, where his uncle came in.
“Love’s Journey Beyond the Trail” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Amelia Davis, a spirited and resilient young woman, embarks on a treacherous journey westward yearning for a brighter future for her and her family. When a ruthless gang’s attack shatters her family’s wagon party, Amelia finds herself thrust into a world of desperation and danger. Amidst the chaos and while the motives behind her kidnapping still remain shrouded in mystery, a chivalrous young man feels like her only hope…
Can she put her trust and her heart in his hands?
Thomas Henry, the son of the wagon party’s leader is content with a quiet life, believing his duty is merely to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, when fate entangles him with Amelia, he gets entangled in a perilous web of mystery and danger far beyond his comprehension. As a secret from his past emerges, he must summon the strength to confront his own demons, if not for himself, then for the spirited woman who has captured his heart.
Will he find the courage to become the hero she needs?
Together, Amelia and Thomas must forge an unlikely alliance, their fates intertwined in the face of adversity. Weakened and wearied by their harrowing experiences, they confront not only external physical hardships but also the shadows of doubt and betrayal that loom over them. Will Amelia and Thomas’s growing love be enough to unite them against a sinister conspiracy, or will it crumble under the weight of the challenges they face together?
“Love’s Journey Beyond the Trail” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.