The rolling pasture land of Wyoming stretched away in gentle folds. The moonlight enabled Awendea to see where she was heading and hold the little girl in front of her on the pinto pony that carried them at some speed. The woman cast glances back over her shoulder from time to time, but there was no pursuit. She had watched the ranch where she was going and decided that it was the only way she had left to safeguard the life of the little one. The family who lived and worked there seemed to be contented. There were no shouts, cries, or gunshots from the homestead. There was a woman there with a daughter of her own.
Small trees and shrubs afforded cover as they rode, but Awendea knew there was little chance of anyone being out and about to see them. The tribe she had left behind was not interested in where she went, and although her heart was heavy, she knew it had to be done. Happiness for her was not written in the stars, but the one thing she had to do was safeguard the life of her daughter. Both of their lives were in danger at the tribal village, and there was only heartbreak for her to face day after day.
She drew the pony to a halt, and the two riders dismounted. They stood silently and waited to see if there was danger. Nothing stirred, and Awendea knelt down beside the little girl. She ignored the tears that ran silently down her cheeks and whispered to her daughter.
“Catori, I love you very much. When there is light in the sky, I will leave you here. The people will look after you and keep you safe.”
The little girl clung to her mother and said nothing, but Awendea could feel the little body shaking.
“I will come back one day. I promise you that from the bottom of my heart, and you will understand why we have to do this. Will you be brave for me, little one?”
Catori nodded her head and murmured that she would be brave, and the two of them clung together until the rays of dawn broke across the horizon. Awendea took her daughter to the gates of the ranch and led her inside. There was a log beside the barn, and she sat Catori down with a blanket around her shoulders.
“Stay there, and don’t be afraid,” Awendea told her and kissed the little one that she loved more than life itself. She closed the gate behind her, climbed aboard the pinto, and rode off at the fastest speed she could manage before she was tempted to go back and clutch her child to her chest.
Catori did as she was bid and sat quietly on the log with her arms clutched around her body to hold in the warmth and stop herself from shaking. She saw a man come out. He rubbed his eyes and then looked at Catori again. Then she saw him run to the house and knock on the door. Catori did not move.
Wynona and Peter Grayson came out of the house and hurried to see what the man had discovered. Their first thought was that it might be a trap or a trick, and Peter Grayson sent the man to rouse everyone else and check the whole place.
“Can you speak to me?” Wynona asked the child, and when there was no response, knelt down beside her. Peter continued to scan the surrounding area as his wife tried to coax information from the little girl. She saw the little girl start to cry and bravely try to stop the tears from tumbling down her cheeks, but they came anyway. Wynona Grayson’s heart reached out to this little lost soul who had been left on her doorstep. She held out her hands, but the girl just sat still.
“Well, you cannot sit here all day,” she said out loud and simply scooped the girl off the log and into her arms. “Let’s get you inside and see if some food makes you feel better.”
Her husband said that was the best thing to do, and he would check that the men had found nothing.
Inside the ranch house, another little girl was sitting at the table with her breakfast and came to see who her mom had brought inside.
“Claire,” her mom said, “this little girl is frightened. Can you try to make her feel better while I make her some breakfast?”
“Hello,” Claire tried to do what her mom had asked, but there was no reply.
Wynona brought some food and put it in front of the little girl.
“Have something to eat,” she said cheerfully and pointed at the food. “Eat yours, Claire,” Wynona added to her own daughter, “see if she copies you.”
It took some time, but eventually, the unexpected visitor ate some food and then found she was hungry and ate the rest. Wynona smiled and took away the plates. Then she came and sat beside the newcomer and asked her name. In the end, the little girl spoke, but it was not in English, and they could not understand what she said.
Wynona pointed to her daughter.
“Claire,” she pointed to herself.
“Wynona,” and then she pointed at the visitor and asked in sign language her name. She could see progress, and after several more tries, they heard her name.
“Catori?” Wynona asked, and the child nodded and for the first time smiled.
Peter Grayson stepped back inside his house, and the child shrank away. The man saw the reaction and sat down on a chair to make himself less intimidating.
“Are you getting anywhere?” he asked his wife, and she introduced Catori. Then she pointed at her husband.
“Peter.” They went through the whole thing again to Claire, Wynona, Catori, and Peter.
“Well, there was nobody around and only one set of hoofprints coming in and going away again. I am guessing she was just left here for us to find,” Peter remarked.
“Poor child. She must be terrified,” Wynona said. Her heart was aching for this little waif that was dumped helplessly in their yard. “We will just have to look after her and see if anyone in town has heard anything about why she might have been left here. Peter Grayson nodded. His wife would cope with the child, and he had a ranch to run. He left them to it.
Over the next few months, Catori, or Cate as they had all started to call her, became less frightened. She was a solemn and serious child, but when she did smile, she lit up the whole place. It was fortunate, or maybe her mother had known that there was another girl the same age, and it made the new life easier.
Claire had a naturally sunny nature, and like her mom, had a big heart. Between Wynona and Claire, there was enough love for this little girl to cushion the bad parts. Cate followed Claire around the place and soon learned about life on the ranch. The horses were especially attractive to Cate, and if she were missing, they would find her talking to the horses in the tribal language that nobody could translate. The hands got on with their jobs and Janet, the other woman on the place, who was married to the main cowhand, helped the little one as well.
Wynona Grayson rapidly became attached to Cate and fiercely protective of the little girl who had been left in her care. She noticed soon that Cate was clever. She picked up reading and writing very quickly, she enjoyed stories and books, but her brain worked really fast with figures. Her grasp of English was also amazingly speedy.
“Cate has to be properly educated,” Wynona remarked to her husband. “She has a really good brain inside that pretty little head.” Peter Grayson agreed, and little Cate went to school with Claire. There were some raised eyebrows that a small native girl was at school with the locals, but the Graysons were well thought of and liked. On top of that, Claire was fierce in her defense of her adopted sister if anyone made any trouble.
The two girls became inseparable.
15 years later
Claire and Cate Grayson walked happily along the main street in Fairbrush and looked in windows of stores. They stopped to talk to most people they met and all of the talk that day was about the upcoming rodeo. There would be all the excitement of seeing people taking part through the day and then a hoedown in the evening with a big roast steer and everyone for miles around getting together.
Claire and Cate turned into the store that sold materials, tapestries, wools, and anything to do with sewing, weaving, knitting, or anything else in that area. Mags Delaney was behind the counter and beamed when she saw her two best friends.
“Oh, what a lovely surprise,” she cried and called out to her mom and dad that Cate and Claire had arrived to visit.
Jeannie Delaney called back that they should come through and have some lemonade and they settled into comfy chairs with friends they had known all of their lives. Jim Delaney went to look after the store, and the four women exchanged all the gossip they had heard in the street.
“I am glad you are here apart from being glad to see you,” Mags said to Cate. “Would you mind looking at this pattern for me? I just cannot get it exactly right.” She handed Cate a sheet of paper with a design in cross stitch. It was for a wall hanging and quite large, but the pattern repeated several times to make the size.
Claire smiled as she saw the look on Cate’s face. Her sister could look at anything mathematical and make complete sense of it immediately. She looked at her dad’s figures for the ranch and knew roughly the answer without actually working it out. Cate always just said that figures made sense to her and saved her adopted dad lots of money on several occasions by spotting where mistakes had been made.
Cate took one look, ran her finger down the edge, and asked for a pencil.
“One line too many, Mags,” she said. She crossed the line out, and suddenly, the design looked correct.
“You are amazing, Cate,” Mags told her. “I have counted those stitches over and over again.”
“Who is it for?” Claire asked, and Mags answered that the design was for the hotel.
“What about the rodeo?” Jeannie Delaney asked, and the girls went into the plans for the day.
“Mags can take the day off and come with you,” Jeannie told them. “I guess we will keep open the store for at least part of the day. There will be lots of folk around.”
“Our cousin will be here by then,” Claire told them. “I wonder how the city man from Boston will manage at a rodeo.”
“We never met him when we went to Boston,” Cate added. “I wonder what he is like.”
“Well, as he is coming to set up a trading post of some sort, I guess he will be all business and no fun,” Claire surmised.
“He might be gorgeous,” Mags mused. “You never know, do you?”
“Mags, you always think that the real romance is just around the corner. “Life is not quite so easy,” Claire told her friend with the air of an old maiden aunt.
“Claire Grayson, you are turning into a middle-aged lady.” Mags laughed. “That Jonny Caruso will not wait forever.”
“Humph,” was Claire’s reply to that. “He’s an idiot.”
“An idiot for thinking she might let him come courting,” Cate added with a rare smile. Then she added that if Carson Lander took an interest, it would be a different story. Claire gave her sister a push on the shoulder.
“The right man will come in the end,” Jeannie told them all. “Just enjoy yourselves while you can.”
That sent Mags off to find the dress she had decided to wear for the hoedown.
“That is lovely,” Claire said. “Maybe we should look at dresses before we go back home.”
“At least, since the railroad arrived, there are more to choose from. I went and looked at them and then made a copy for myself,” Mags added.
“I guess I will just buy something,” Claire said. “I am not good with a needle like Mags is.”
“And not enough time for me to make you something,” Mags commented.
After a few more minutes, the sisters set off for the stores that might have dresses and were halfway down the street when they spotted a little girl on a pony having great trouble and looking ready to be thrown off. The child was by herself.
Cate ran across and grabbed the head halter. She whispered in her native tongue to the pony, and it calmed down immediately. Claire arrived and helped the girl down from the saddle as the parents arrived at a run.
“What are you doing?” the woman screamed at Cate. “Leave the horse and my daughter alone.” The little girl started to protest that Cate had saved her, but Cate simply handed the reins to the man and started to turn away as Claire took up the argument.
“Excuse me, Missus Sulker, my sister just saved your daughter from being thrown from this pony.” She took a breath, “And where were her parents when this happened, I may ask? Nowhere to be seen. The girl was left to cope on her own with a pony she cannot control. Then you dare to shout at my sister who helped her.” Cate laid a hand on Claire’s arm, but it did not stop the flow. “You might think about your care for your daughter, madam. Find her a pony that behaves properly and look after the child.” She took Cate’s hand that was still on her arm. “Let’s get away from this woman.” Claire finished and allowed Cate to link her arm and walk across the street. On the sidewalk, the man that Cate had mentioned earlier was watching from the door of the hotel.
He came forward.
“I think you both need to step inside the hotel and have a drink,” Carson Lander told them, offered them both an arm and took them into the hotel lobby.
“Thank you, Carson,” Cate said and glanced at Claire. “You okay, now?” Claire nodded and sat on a seat. Carson went off to the bar.
The man came back carrying drinks and sat beside the girls.
“Schooldays all over again.” He grinned at Claire, who had the grace to look suitably embarrassed.
“I know. I should keep my mouth shut,” Claire answered. “Thanks for the drink.”
“No. You were right, Claire,” Carson answered. “Folk should look after their youngsters, and we all know that Cate here has taken insults like that all of her life.” Cate gave the man a slight smile.
“I don’t let it bother me,” she said.
“But it bothers me,” Claire remarked.
“And me and all of the friends you grew up with, Cate,” Carson told her.
“Thank you, Carson,” Claire said and laughed. “There is not a pony around that would dare to defy Cate even if the people are nasty.”
“What about the rodeo?” he asked. “Are you riding, Cate?” She shook her head.
“No, I have decided to be a lady and watch everyone else,” she told him, and he laughed.
“And the dance?” he asked Claire who, to Cate’s amusement, blushed. She broke in to save Claire from herself.
“We were going to buy dresses when we saw the pony rear up,” Cate said. The man offered them both a hand up in a gentlemanly way and said he would claim a dance from each of them, but Cate noted that he looked at Claire as he spoke. He strode away, and they watched him go.
“Always was a nice boy,” Cate observed and looked at her sister. “You definitely need a new dress.” She took Claire’s arm, and they resumed their trip to the store. Of the Sulker family, there was no sign, but they found Mags outside searching for them.
“What happened?” she demanded. “Somebody came in and said a horse reared up, and you were hurt.”
Claire shook her head and laughed.
“Folk just make up stories.” They told Mags what had actually happened and Cate made sure that Mags got the part of the story where Carson Lander intervened.
“Cannot wait for this hoedown,” Mags told them and went back to reassure her mom that the girls were safe.
The dresses were bought and carefully packed. The two girls retrieved the old buckboard that they had driven into town and set off back home.
“Well, Reilly, the man from Boston, arrives tomorrow,” Claire observed. “Dad is driving into town to meet him.”
“I never really liked Boston very much,” Cate confessed. “All of those tall buildings and people rushing everywhere.” She looked at her sister. “I wonder if he can ride a horse.”
“Maybe he will be short, ugly and bad-tempered.” Claire laughed.
“Or smart, with beautiful clothes and his nose stuck up in the air,” Cate responded. “Anyway, he is only here for three months until he opens this trading post. His father must think there is money to be made.”
The girls unloaded the small wagon and took in the supplies Wynona had asked them to collect.
“We went mad and bought dresses for the hoedown,” Claire confessed, and Wynona smiled. She loved both girls to be happy. “Let me see them,” she added, and the dresses were displayed and then put safely away. The two girls swung into the routine of the ranch because all of them did their fair share of work around the place. Peter Grayson’s ranch had done well over the years. It had expanded, but the whole family all pulled together and did whatever needed doing.
Both girls could cook for the hands if need be. They collected eggs, milked cows, and swept out barns. It was all part of living on a busy working ranch. Then the family collected around the big kitchen table and ate together in the evening. Wynona had heard from Claire about the little girl on the horse and tucked away the information about Chloe Sulker. Nobody treated Cate badly and got away unscathed although she knew that Claire would have been the first to tell the woman what she thought.
The following morning, Peter Grayson took the old buckboard back into Fairbrush, saw to some business that needed to be done and met the huge steam locomotive that hissed and rumbled its way into the depot. He had not seen his nephew for many years but knew straight away which was the man he had come to collect.
His sister had married William Shaw in Boston, and they were a rich and successful family. The business built on import and export. Peter himself, had left the city to find a life elsewhere and been successful in another line of work, but he saw the man who was his sister’s son and his likeness to his mother.
“Reilly,” he said, striding over and holding out a hand. “Welcome to Fairbrush.”
The young man shook the hand, and Peter Grayson caught the flash of unhappiness that his nephew could not hide when he saw the dusty, wooden buildings that were a far cry from the city.
“Been a long journey, son.” Peter tried to make him feel better. “I know how tiring it is. Come and let me get your bags onto the buckboard. It’s only two miles to the ranch.
Reilly Shaw was grateful to his uncle for meeting him, but his heart sank at the wooden buildings and the old buckboard that was his ride to the ranch.
Two miles.Only two miles. What have I come to here in the back of beyond? he thought and not for the first time that his father had been just plain nasty to send him out here into no man’s land.
It is far away from Thelma, he thought with a flash of humor. That little plan to merge their business empires might be over. Thank heaven for small mercies.
The journey seemed interminable to Reilly as his uncle pointed out various landmarks and told him about the ranch. They rode through the open gates and came to a halt in front of the ranch house. Wynona and Claire came out of the house to say hello as Cate closed up the gates behind the cart. She came across as well, and Wynona introduced the young woman simply as Cate.
Reilly glanced around the place. It was clean, tidy, and obviously well looked after. That, at least, was a relief. He shook himself and wished that he was not so rumpled from the long journey. He looked at Cate and even as he took in the fact that his aunt had hired a native woman as help around the place, noticed that she was stunningly beautiful.
Cate was a tall, slender girl with shining dark brown hair tied back in a tail for convenience sake. As she came to shake hands, she was almost on a level with the man. Her dark brown eyes looked steadily into his hazel ones without any shadow of concern. She spoke without any trace of an accent in perfect English.
“Pleased to meet you, Reilly. It is a long and tiring journey from Boston.” Then she told Peter that she would unhitch the horse and walked away. Reilly Shaw was a good-looking man with black, slightly curly hair and a well-muscled body under the city slicker suit and coat.
Cate released the horse into the corral and washed her hands before going to help Wynona with the meal. She thought to herself that maybe Mags dream had come true.
“Sit yourself down, Cate. The food is ready to eat,” Wynona told her, and Cate saw that the man was surprised and unable to hide the fact that the Indian girl was eating with the family. She glanced at Claire and knew that she had spotted the same thing.
“I think that you did not know that I had a sister,” Claire said mischievously. Wynona smiled and let the girl have her fun.
Reilly knew that there was something he had missed but wasn’t sure how to respond. These people were relations, but he didn’t really know them. He was a well-mannered man and asked her what she meant.
“My sister – Cate,” she added. He looked from one to the other around the table and Cate, herself saved him further embarrassment.
“Yes, you are correct. I am native Indian from a local tribe. When I was a small child, my family abandoned me here on the ranch. I don’t know why, but my real family, Wynona and Peter took me in and brought me up as Claire’s sister.” She smiled. “She really believes I am her sister.”
“That was fifteen years ago, son,” Peter added. “We are all used to the idea.”
“If you do not like it, I will have you shot,” Claire said still in mischievous mode because she had sensed that the city man might really think that she could do that. She saw from his face that she was right. Wynona intervened.
“Ignore Claire, Reilly,” and to her daughter, she added, “behave yourself, Claire. Reilly is a guest here.”
“I’m sorry, Reilly,” Claire said immediately. “We had an incident in town.”
“And Claire is on the defensive,” Cate added and gave one of those rare smiles that made it seem like the sun had just broken through a cloudy sky. Reilly smiled back instinctively, and Cate felt a little twist in her inside that she had never felt before.
“What happened in town?” Reilly asked, and they told him about the girl on the pony.
“Is the town unfriendly?” he asked anxiously. “I have to set up some sort of trade center here.”
They assured him that Fairbrush was a safe and thriving place with the railroad increasing business every day.
“We have horses here that you can borrow to take you into town,” Peter told him, and Reilly felt another surge of worry.
“I can drive you in, Reilly,” Claire suggested.
“My riding skills are well out of practice,” he admitted.
“Cate is a genius with horses and riding. She can give you some lessons,” Wynona said.
Cate felt the same little flutter in her chest and started to clear away the plates.
Peter Grayson took pity on his guest, asked him what sort of place he was looking for to make this trading post, and also offered to drive him into town the next day. Claire said that she had already offered.
“I need to visit the bank and make sure the funds are in place,” Reilly told him.
“Come and let Cate and I show you around the ranch and introduce you to the folk who work here,” Claire suggested.
“Pair of my boots at the door if you want to keep the shoes smart for the bank manager,” Peter suggested, and Reilly knew the offer was meant to help and pulled on the boots.
The two sisters talked about the ranch and who did what. H was introduced to Roger Sturdy who was the main assistant to Peter Grayson. He and his wife had a small log house on the ranch. There were a bunkhouse and a cookhouse as well as stables and barns where the chickens scratched about freely.
The men in the bunkhouse were a friendly group of mostly youngish men who spent their lives on horseback. Reilly was pleasantly surprised to find that they accepted him as a friend and said he was welcome to a game of cards any time or join them for a trip into town. They joked with Cate and Claire and treated the two girls like workmates rather than the employer’s daughters. It was an eye-opener for Reilly Shaw, and he said as much to the girls as they stopped off at the stables.
“Dad always said that a happy ranch got more work done and although he spoils us, we still have to do our share of the work,” Claire told him as Cate went down the row of stalls and spoke to the horses.
“Will you need people to work for you at the trading post?” Cate asked as she stroked the nose of her favorite mare. “This is Bessie,” she added. The horse stretched out, and Reilly patted the horse’s neck. He was rewarded with a whinny.
“She likes you,” Cate said with a smile. If Cate Grayson had to make her mind up about someone, it was how the animals liked them. So far, she had not been sure, but Bessie thought he was alright.
“I need a three-story building really with storage above and an office on the ground floor. Once it is working, I will need help in the office and men for the warehouse part.”
Claire and Cate looked at each other, and both girls said ‘Carson Lander’s dad’. Then they laughed because they had spoken at the same time.
“Three-story empty building behind the blacksmith. It is empty and belongs to the father of someone we went to school with,” Claire explained.
“Claire could show it to you in the morning,” Cate added. The three of them were standing in a stable patting the horses in the stalls, and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to be talking to two girls about possible business premises. Reilly Shaw would not have believed it possible just a very short time ago.
Tex Madison brought in the rest of the horses for the night and stopped when the girls asked if he knew if the Landers building was still empty.
“Sure is,” the man answered. “I heard he would do a good deal, just to have it used for something.”
“Now that sounds good,” Reilly said. “Thanks.” He reflected again how strange this situation was that had him talking to a cowboy about a building that he might rent. “I wonder how much rent he has in mind.”
Tex stopped on his way out and said that Mister Lander was also prepared to sell.
“Carson mentioned it in the saloon.”
The girls took the visitor back to the house and shooed the chickens into the barn on the way. Inside, Reilly thanked the family for their hospitality and the help.
“You are family,” Wynona told him. “Just feel at home. I am sure the business will do well for you.” They asked Peter what he thought of the Landers’ building, and he agreed it would probably fit the bill.
“There is another empty place on the far edge of town beside the depot. Might be easier for things coming in and out but you will get a good and fair deal from Lander,” Peter told him. Reilly went off to bed feeling a lot better about the possible business, and the place settled for the night.
In the morning, the man had so much breakfast put in front of him that he wondered how anybody managed to move after such a feast, but he thanked Wynona and collected his papers to take to the bank. Outside he saw the buckboard was ready at the door. Claire came out with him, but the surprise he felt was at the sight of Cate on the driving seat holding the reins. He had no option but to climb aboard and sit next to her while Claire sat on the other side. Cate clicked the horse into action, and they headed for Fairbrush.
Apart from the sensation that he felt from feeling the warmth of Cate’s leg against his own, Reilly was worried about driving into town with an Indian girl. They did pass a lot of folks as they drove down the main street, but by the time they pulled up at the bank, he had seen how the people waved and called out to both of the girls. It was all completely strange to Reilly because he had heard that she had been insulted by people as she grew up, but what he saw were people who made her welcome. Obviously, Fairbrush lived in a different world completely to Boston. He would have to take some time and get to know the place.
He wondered briefly about the tales of savages that he had heard in the city. It just did not fit with the woman who sat at his side.
“If you see to the business in the bank, we will leave the horse behind Mags store and then we can show you the building,” Claire told him.
“Thanks,” Reilly said and jumped down with his briefcase. Cate clicked the horse into action, did a full turn in the street and headed behind the Delaney store. Claire went inside, and Cate left the horse in her friend’s corral. Inside, she found Mags excited to meet this stranger from the city.
“We will go and collect him and come here to say hello and then show him the Landers’ building.” Claire laughed. “We have to satisfy your curiosity.” The sisters went back down the street to the bank and sat on the steps until Reilly came outside. He found them deep in conversation with another girl and her mom. Nina Ripley was asking Cate if she could find time to give her daughter some riding lessons. Claire introduced their cousin from Boston, and Reilly shook hands.
“Good to meet you,” Nina Ripley told him. “I hope your business does well. If you are looking for workers, my husband would be interested. He is working as a stockman but would rather be in town.” In the pause before Reilly replied, Cate broke in.
“The grapevine in this place works faster than a streak of lightning. Everybody will know that you are here, where you stay, and what you are planning.”
“Secrets are impossible in small towns, but we are keen to be a big town,” Nina Ripley told him. “The more businesses that start up, the better.”
Reilly said that he would definitely need help and would get back in touch once he had found a place.
“We will meet up later,” Cate added to the girl called Connie. “You just need a bit of confidence.” Nina and Connie walked off, and Claire pointed down the street.
“Come and meet our best friend, and then we will show you this building, and we can look at the other one as well.”
Mags with her parents made the visitor welcome, and Claire said she would come back later while Cate gave Connie Ripley a riding lesson.
They were stopped twice more before they reached the blacksmith because the news of a new person in town had gone around. Reilly felt a bit like a specimen in a jar but knew that it was well meant. The blacksmith waved, and they passed the noise and heat of his workplace to see a tall building set well back from the main street. Claire pointed.
“Is that what you had in mind?”
Reilly walked all around the building and noted that there was plenty of access space for wagons. It was out of the way of the main street but not so far away to be inconvenient.
“It looks just right,” Reilly answered. “I wonder what it’s like inside.”
“We can tell you, but we might as well go and ask Mister Lander for the keys,” Cate suggested. They showed him the other building as well, but he felt it was too near the railroad and might be too noisy.
“I am not planning on moving livestock. That would need to be close to the depot.”
“Come on, then. Let’s visit the Landers,” Claire said and set off at a sharp pace behind the houses and other buildings to a house set in large gardens a little way from the others. They paused at the gates.
“Well, that is the best building I have seen so far,” Reilly said.
“Better than our ranch?” Cate asked in a joke, and he stuttered an apology. She waved her hand and smiled at him. The thought came unbidden into his head that she was unbelievably beautiful. Then he wondered what it said about him to have these sort of thoughts. He pushed it to one side and concentrated on this possible building.
“You are right. A house built in stone is unusual out here,” Claire told him and walked up to the porch. Missus Lander came to the door and smiled at the two girls.
“What a lovely surprise. Come in, girls. Come in.” Claire introduced her cousin from Boston and asked if Mister Lander was around. Missus Lander laughed.
“That is unexpected. I thought you might be looking for Carson, but my husband will be delighted.” She ushered the visitors into a beautiful sitting room and went off through the house to find her husband.
“I always think this room is so lovely,” Cate said quietly.
“Agreed,” Reilly said and stood up as the two owners came in through the door. Jasper Lander held out his hand.
“Pleased to meet you, young man. You’re from Boston, I understand.”
Reilly nodded and said that was the case, and he was interested to know if the building behind the blacksmith was still available.
Cate noted that Reilly had changed from a man uncertain in a strange place to a person with confidence who knew his business. He had straightened up and taken charge of the situation. Lander said that the place was empty and offered to show Reilly around if he was interested. When he heard that Reilly was Reilly Shaw of the Shaw import dynasty, the man was visibly impressed.
Reilly struck the right note of reply when he said that his father expected him to make a success of a new trading post here.
“I can only hope that I can manage it,” he added modestly, and Cate smiled inwardly. Reilly was ticking the boxes in her head for dealing with business.
“We will do anything we can to help,” the man answered and found his Stetson. “Let’s go and see if it is any use to you.”
The door opened, and Carson Lander’s head looked around to see who was there.
“Mesmerized by a Horse Whisperer” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Cate is a native girl, that was left 18 years ago outside the ranch of the Graysons. They adopted and raised her, while the townsfolk gradually accepted her and overcame their prejudices. Her life is about to turn upside down when Reilly shows up as a guest to her house. She knows that a love affair with a rich white businessman is never going to succeed. When her fears turn into reality and Reilly leaves her heartbroken, her past will resurface and make her choose between two lives. Now that she has found out the truth about her origin, will she have to choose between her old and new family?
Reilly Shaw is sent to a small cowboy town to prove himself worthy of his father’s business. He thought Indians were savages but when he met that educated, well-spoken and beautiful girl, he instantly fell in love. He fought those feelings as hard as he could, but when his strict father found out, he forbid Reilly to have any contact whatsoever with Cate. Will this be the end of everything? Will Reilly choose to sacrifice his comfortable life to be with the love of his life?
They both feel confused and torn between two lives. Will true love triumph over his cruel father and her complicated background? Is there a way for Cate and Reilly to overcome those obstacles and live happily together?
“Mesmerized by a Horse Whisperer” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.