What a day this was, what a day indeed! Lisa-Jo Warrington was willing to bet her boots it would be one to remember and yet she’d been excluded from the whole thing. It was infuriating. A good deal of the proposal had been written by her, based on her own research that she’d spent hours and hours on for years, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered to the powers that be was that she was a woman and therefore couldn’t possibly be included in such delicate and vital discussions.
The impotent energy, fueled by an anger she could hardly articulate, threatened to overcome her, and so she was forced to pace. Back and forth, up and down the length of the living room she went, her boots thudding on the carpeted floor.
A knock came on the doorframe. It hardly warranted a glance from her. Until her father, Professor Warrington, came home with news, Lisa-Jo was uninterested in anything and everything else.
The knocker was annoyingly persistent. Eventually, Lisa-Jo turned. Mrs. Whitford, a plump lady of middle age with gray hair and a kindly face smiled at her from the doorway. There was a strain to the smile.
“Is something the matter?” Lisa-Jo asked.
Mrs. Whitford looked her up and down and cleared her throat. Lisa-Jo could almost hear the prim and proper housekeeper’s thoughts. Typical! Dressed in riding boots and skirt when it’s pouring out. Would it kill her to dress like a respectable young lady? She’d look so pretty in a dress with frills.
“Mrs. Whitford, is there something you need?” Lisa-Jo prompted. If the housekeeper remained silent, she might just as well continue pacing.
“Would you like some tea?” Mrs. Whitford offered. “Something to soothe the nerves? A tonic perhaps?”
Ah, Lisa-Jo surmised. She means to knock me out with medications. Clearly my pacing is driving her to distraction. “No, thank you,” she said.
The usually kindly visage began to take on the appearance of a steam kettle about to burst under extreme pressure. Lisa-Jo, who had started to pace again, completely involuntarily stopped and stared. “Are you all right, Mrs. Whitford?”
“I would be infinitely better if you’d stop pacing on the Persian rug,” she said, obviously realizing that tact and subtle hints were often wasted on Lisa-Jo.
“Oh,” Lisa-Jo said, and looking down, sighed. Yes, she’d trampled the rug, all the way from the Middle East rather badly. It’s once wonderful, shaggy pile was now flat as though a streetcar had run over it. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not me who you will be explaining this to,” Mrs. Whitford said. “Your father will be the one.”
“Yes,” Lisa-Jo said. “I suspect he will be.”
She bent down and began to roll up the rug. It was a long runner of a carpet sporting a most intricate and captivating design. They had picked it out from a seller in what remained of the Ottoman Empire on their last trip abroad. Why her father had insisted it be placed in the center of the sitting room floor, where everyone was bound to tread on it, destroying its beautiful pattern, was beyond her.
Mrs. Whitford helped roll it up, and soon the afflicted floor covering was safely out of harm’s way, and Lisa-Jo was certain she could commence her pacing once more. In peace.
Mrs. Whitford wasn’t one to give up, though, and she hovered for a moment, watching Lisa-Jo fiddle with the cuffs of her cardigan, pulling them down over her hands. It was a cold rainy day, and the world seemed washed out and gray. No matter how she stoked the fire, Lisa-Jo found she was simply cold through. Perhaps it was nerves. She’d waited to hear about funding before, but this time … this time, there was a lot at stake.
“Well, how about some chocolate chip cookies?” Mrs. Whitford said, her demeanor once again that of a gentle woman and not an avenging Valkyrie.
Lisa-Jo considered this. The housekeeper’s cookies were amazing. Almost as good as Fumiko’s hanami dango she used to make when they had lived in Japan. Lisa-Jo had tried several times to explain to Mrs. Whitford how to make Fumiko’s recipe for the sweet rice dumplings, but the lady of British descent considered such things to be “dangerously foreign” and would never make them. Lisa-Jo had found her chocolate chip cookies to be acceptable surrogates.
“Yes, please,” Lisa-Jo said. “That would be lovely.” She hesitated. “Could they come with some coffee?”
Mrs. Whitford’s blue eyes grew steely. “Last thing you need is something to make you more agitated.” And with those words she turned and left.
Lisa-Jo sighed. Seemed she was getting tea, no matter what she said.
It was times like this that she missed Fumiko terribly. The gentle, willowy Japanese lady had been her nanny and tutor from age five to eleven. At that time, Professor Warrington had been working on a project in the Far East for Cambridge University in England, his Alma Mater. He’d been studying certain aspects of Japanese history. It was then that he made a truly startling discovery. It changed everything he knew and linked events that had seemed totally random when he’d studied them before. It was positively eye-opening, and since then, he’d been on a single mission.
As Lisa-Jo had grown and shown herself to be extremely bright and, above all, teachable, he’d brought her into his discovery. Together they had made great strides tracking their prize through more than a thousand years of history and across four continents. And now, finally, they were close to finding the prize itself. All roads led to Colorado, and that’s where they were going.
Well, hopefully. If they secured the necessary funding, which was hard to come by for historians. If only her father had become a bone-hunter, archeologist, then funding would have been easy. That was why he was teaming up with Professor Franklin Thompson, a friend of his from back in his Cambridge days.
Professor Thompson was an anthropologist and archeologist, which meant he could put together a dig, something Professor Arthur Warrington couldn’t do. Unless he was heading for a library that was under years of dust.
The clink of china on wood roused Lisa-Jo out of her reverie, and she turned in surprise to find Mrs. Whitford, whom she’d completely forgotten about, setting out the tea. It was Earl Grey and had been steeped for far longer than Lisa-Jo could stomach.
If she were honest, she’d admit to missing Japanese tea. The way it was poured and fussed over had always made it seem special. Now in the civilized West, tea leaves were dumped into a pot, water poured, and the most ceremony it got was having milk and sugar added. Oh well. She didn’t live in Japan anymore, she lived in the United States, and that was something. She had a lot to be grateful for even as a girl who had lost her mother when she was only three months old.
Perhaps that was why her father traveled so extensively. He’d never told her as much, but Lisa-Jo suspected that was why he had traveled as much of the globe as possible when she was little. Because England was too full of memories of her mother. Deep in her romantic heart, which she would never own up to having, she liked to think that her father had missed her mother so much he’d had to quit England and move away or be drowned by endless sorrow.
“Come on,” Mrs. Whitford said. “Come away from that window and have your tea. You haven’t eaten enough to keep a grasshopper alive today. What has you in such a tizzy?”
Had she forgotten?
“Father is meeting Professor Thompson and the investors today,” Lisa-Jo said.
“Oh, what for?” Mrs. Whitford said, busying herself with Lisa-Jo’s cup and sugar and milk.
Lisa-Jo stared at her incredulously. Had they forgotten to tell the housekeeper about their plans? Surely, they had mentioned the expedition to her? Lisa-Jo sighed. “Didn’t Father tell you? There’s a new expedition. Or at least we hope there will be. That’s why he’s meeting people with money today.” She sighed and perched on the arm of a chair. “I hope they approve our proposal.”
Mrs. Whitford gave her a look and slid onto the seat of the chair. “Oh, so he’ll be off for a while then?” the housekeeper asked, pouring the tarlike substance into Lisa-Jo’s cup. The cup sported a delicate pattern of little pink flowers. It hardly deserved such treatment, being filled with bitter sludge.
“We’ll be away,” Lisa-Jo said, taking a cookie to stave off the time when she’d have to sip the tea.
Looking shocked, Mrs. Whitford turned to her, frowning for all her worth. “What do you mean? You aren’t going with him, are you?”
“Of course I am,” Lisa-Jo said with a light laugh. “I always go with him.”
“But surely not now that you’re in decent company,” Mrs. Whitford said. “You have to join society as a young lady. By your age, you should have been out in society for years already.”
“Good gracious, why?” Lisa-Jo asked, noting the reference to her age, as though twenty-three was ancient.
“Because, it is expected,” Mrs. Whitford said. “All the other housekeepers with young ladies in their care speak of nothing but balls, outings, and such that their ladies go on. And all you do, if you’ll pardon me a moment, is read, study, and follow your father about. Now, of course, that’s not your fault. A girl should never be raised by a man alone. Your father did you a disservice by not remarrying.”
That little speech shocked Lisa-Jo. She’d never thought her father had done anything wrong with raising her. She didn’t want to go to balls and outings doing nothing but trying to entice some dull man into taking notice of her. Lisa-Jo’s ambitions were far higher than that.
She shook her head. “Well, I’m quite happy as I am. I’m sorry it causes you distress, but if you like, we can discuss the sack of Rome, or the Viking colonization of Iceland, or …”
Mrs. Whitford looked scandalized.
“Oh, don’t look like that,” Lisa-Jo said kindly, taking the older lady by the hands. “It’s just that dances don’t interest me. I’d much rather be on another adventure. Father and I have been on many together, and I think they are far more exciting than a mere dance could ever be.”
“Yes, well …” the housekeeper said. “That’s only because you weren’t raised anywhere civilized. And it shows. What kind of match will you ever make if you gallivant around like that? No young man of good breeding wants a wife who can’t stay still.”
“And who says I want a young man of any breed?” Lisa-Jo asked. “It’s eighteen ninety, Mrs. Whitford; women have options now. We’re even allowed to study, officially. Please don’t be angry or upset. I just don’t find romance particularly interesting. The pursuit of history however …”
“And the pursuit of a husband?” Mrs. Whitford asked. “They are necessary.”
“Are they, though?” Lisa-Jo asked.
“Yes, they are my girl,” Mrs. Whitford said sharply, waving a cookie at her. “They are. Women can’t own property and can’t run businesses. How will you support yourself when your father is no longer around, God forbid? What will you do then? You need to consider these things and find yourself a nice, honest, upstanding young man with a good job. Someone who can keep you.”
What really infuriated Lisa-Jo was that Mrs. Whitford was, to some degree, correct. Although great strides had been made in making women equal citizens to men, with the same rights and privileges, there was still a long way to go to achieving that goal. In some ways, the only freedom a woman could hope to have was what her husband allowed her. And no man would ever allow her to traipse across the world when he wanted his dinner on the table by six.
Perhaps it was her father’s liberal upbringing that made her so vehemently against the norms of society. He’d never treated her as a girl. From the moment she was old enough to hold a pen, she’d been learning things usually saved for male students. Of course, this had led to her developing a thinking, bright mind, and she couldn’t bear the thought of not being allowed to use it.
After having traveled the globe, hiked mountains, visited ancient tombs, the last thing she wanted was to be chained to a house. All this flashed through Lisa-Jo’s mind in a moment, and she turned determined eyes on the housekeeper who herself was looking stern.
“I want no man,” Lisa-Jo said hotly. And then, after a moment’s thought in which she admitted to herself that she might one day decide to marry, she added, “If I ever took a husband, it would be on my terms.”
“Is that so? And you’re going to reshape society? Pull the other one, dearie,” Mrs. Whitford said. “You’ll end up an old maid if you’re not careful, and that would be a waste. A pretty woman like you shouldn’t have to search for a man. In fact, I’d bet you some of your father’s graduate students only come by the house after hours to see you.” She waggled her eyebrows.
Lisa-Jo was horrified and a little excited at the prospect. She imagined what Cleopatra must have felt like having men fawn over her.
“They do not!” she said.
“Oh, they do,” Mrs. Whitford said. “You would do well to dress more like … well, like a lady, and I’m sure you’d catch one in no time. The clock is ticking; you need to think about that before you end up barren and old.”
This was all becoming far too much for Lisa-Jo, who found her anger rising again. Why was marriage all women were good for? She hated that about the society she lived in. She’d rather grow old alone and be a hag than bow to the dictates and restrictions that men had placed on the world.
But it would do no good to try to sway the housekeeper to her point of view. The lady was stuck in her ways. So, Lisa-Jo let out a long breath, rubbed her hands on the front of her cardigan, and turned to the window again.
“I wish he’d come,” she said. “There are so many things we have to organize, and summer will soon be here. That will only give us four months or so to search in. It’s not a lot of time.”
“Four months? Good heavens, what are you searching for?” Mrs. Whitford asked. “You’re not looking for bones, are you?”
Lisa-Jo turned to her, all smiles now. “Bones? No never. It’s a treasure we’re after,” she said. “Well, not one in the traditional sense of treasure, but it may prove to be worth more than all the gold and jewels found up to now.”
“My goodness,” she said. “Who would think something could be so grand?”
Lisa-Jo smiled. “Grand indeed.”
She didn’t want to tell the housekeeper all about it. The lady had a loose lip and tended to gossip with other housekeepers. It wouldn’t do to have rumors of a treasure of gold and jewels in their future. That led to trouble with would-be thieves and ruffians. They’d had experience of that before.
“Well, I can see this is pointless,” Mrs. Whitford said. “Please don’t tell your father I spoke out of turn like that. I just care about you both so.”
Lisa-Jo patted the housekeeper’s hand. “I won’t say a word.”
Mrs. Whitford smiled and bustled out of the room. A moment later, Lisa-Jo heard the clanking of pots and pans coming from the kitchen. Mrs. Whitford was more than likely annoyed at her not wanting to conform, but the lady did care, and that was sweet. She was rather fond of her and wouldn’t trade her for anyone. Well, maybe for Fumiko, but that was unlikely ever to happen.
Just then, Lisa-Jo heard the front door opening and the sound of her father taking off his boots and raincoat in the entrance hall. He was back.
Lisa-Jo dashed from the room.
Mud squelched under Chase Hardcastle’s boots as he climbed the steps to the saloon’s porch. The Golden Nugget was a regular stop for him when he was in Denver on business, and this time was no exception. The place was seedy and rough, just like the clientele, and he knew his father would go gray instantly if he knew Chase was a regular there, but that didn’t bother the young man much. After all, what his father back in Philadelphia didn’t know, wouldn’t make him worry.
He and Chase hadn’t spoken to each other in six years, yet he still popped into Chase’s mind from time to time, like an unwanted fly buzzing about.
Chase made his way past the tables where men drank, ate greasy food, and played cards. The saloon wasn’t full that afternoon, it having only recently hit lunchtime, but the establishment was still doing a decent enough trade.
The barkeep and owner, Elias Jack, was a tall mountain of a man with a bald head and piercing gaze. He eyed Chase and nodded a greeting.
“Usual?” he asked in a low, gruff voice.
“Thank you kindly,” Chase said, sitting on one of the well-polished stools at the bar. “How’s business?”
Elias shrugged and gestured at the room beyond with the glass he was about to pour a measure of amber liquid into for Chase. “As you see it. The rain sure came down earlier. I think it scared a few folks off. Sent ’em scurrying back into their holes.”
Chase nodded his understanding and took the glass when Elias placed it before him on the counter.
“So, what brings you to town this time?” Elias asked, now polishing the bar. He only had one other client at the bar itself, and that man sat at the far end staring off into space.
Chase took a swig of the whiskey he’d been served. It was fiery stuff, and he waited a moment before answering.
“Oh, just securing some work,” he said. “Summer’s coming, and so are the academics.”
Elias nodded. There was good money to be made in Denver in summer if one was in the right kind of business, and they both were. Summertime brought travelers into the mountains for all kinds of reasons. Many of these were professors and their graduate students from universities all along the Eastern Seaboard. Chase knew all about them. He’d been one of them, and he knew how to secure their business and get their cash into his pocket. His friends didn’t do too badly from the arrangement either. In fact, a large portion of Elias’ summer profit came from housing humble travelers Chase sent his way.
“Yeah, it’s heading to that time again,” Elias said. “What you got this time? A archological metorwhatsit, or something?”
Chase smiled and shook his head. “A group of cartographers and geologists,” he said with a laugh. “They’re mapping the mountains and studying the rocks.”
Elias sighed and shook his head. “That’s crazy. Rocks is rocks.”
Shrugging, Chase lifted his glass again. “Yeah, but it pays the bills, you know what I mean?”
“Sure, sure,” Elias said. “That it does. I’m just amazed at how you always know what to say to those academic types. You talk all fancy like them, and suddenly they think your word is gospel. You know I keep tellin’ my wife, Sadie, that you got a gift for it, Chase, a real honest gift.”
“Thanks,” Chase said, feeling a pang of guilt.
His fortune with the academics wasn’t a gift, not at all. Born as Douglas Remington Hardcastle, youngest son of the Hardcastle Empire run by his father Charles Remington Hardcastle, he had been born speaking to the kind of folks heading out to Colorado. It was his natural environment, associating with them, and he fell into the old, practiced manners like a duck who had been on a long voyage slipping into a pond.
Turning from him, Elias went off to place his food order in the kitchen. Chase always had the special, whatever it was, when he came to town. It was usually biscuits and beans with a side of sausage or chicken pie with salad and beans. Sadie, Elias’ wife, and the Golden Nugget’s cook, was good at her job, and either meal was hearty, filling, and given at a good price. Thanks to his degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Chase was a savvy businessman, never paying more for something than he should.
Chase ran a hand through his blond hair and leaned on the counter. Today was a good day. He’d have lunch then head off to the post office and see if there was a telegram for him from a Professor Tyne from the University of New England. It was just a last confirmation. Chase was confident he had the job. After all, no one else offered his services at the great prices he did, and he had an added advantage.
It was his secret weapon.
“So … been misleading fine folks again?” a voice asked.
Chase turned and found the man from the far end of the bar had moved a lot closer. He was now two seats from Chase and staring at him. He hadn’t given the stranger at the end of the bar much more than a cursory glance on entering, and now he wished he had. He might have been prepared for this then.
The man’s name was Butch Flinders, another adventurer and gun for hire. He and Chase were business rivals.
“Butch,” Chase said, taking a sip of his whiskey. “Good to see you.” He made a point of always being extremely cordial with the man, even though the mere sight of him boiled Chase’s blood.
Butch, a dark-haired man with a thick mustache, looked around him theatrically. “Where’s your buddy, the brave?”
And this was why Chase hated him.
“Mr. Swiftfoot is out on business,” Chase said formally.
“Right,” Butch said scornfully. “What’s he doing, huh? Tracking butterflies and faeries?”
Chase turned away from him, deciding not to engage. There was no sense in getting into a fight. Then Elias would be forced to step in, and he didn’t want that. He and Elias were on great terms, but a bar fight would strain that. Not good for business because the tale of it would travel far and wide. He had a reputation for being a levelheaded, straight-shooting kind of fellow, and he liked that. That was great for business.
“Oh, I get it …” Butch said. “It’s top-secret, huh?”
“Butch,” Chase said with a sigh. “Why don’t you shut your trap and let me buy you a whiskey? Huh?”
“You’re gonna buy me a drink?” Butch asked, sliding one seat closer. “Really? But shouldn’t you be counting your pennies? After all, it’s May, and as I hear it, you ain’t secured a commission.” He leaned on the bar, smiling like an alligator waiting to pounce.
What did he mean? Chase was pretty certain he had this contract in the bag. He’d sent word to his guys not to accept jobs with anyone else and started getting supplies together. It was practically a done deal. Butch had to be baiting him into a fight; that was the only possibility.
“Don’t worry about my pennies,” Chase said. “I have it on good authority I’ve a got a commission coming in.”
“You sure?” Butch asked, his grin growing wider.
Suddenly Chase’s blood ran cold. What was going on here? Butch was always a pain in the rear, but he was being especially painful today.
Reaching into his pocket, Butch pulled something out and slapped it down on the counter. He placed his index finger on the folded piece of paper and, smiling, slid it to Chase.
“You see, you think you’re the greatest gun for hire out here,” Butch said. “You think you can come here and step on local, hardworking men’s turf, and nothing will happen.” He patted Chase’s cheek, making the young man grit his teeth. “Well, this will teach you to be so full of yourself.”
He lifted his finger, and Chase picked up the paper. It was a contract, a standard piece of writing that bound him and his client to the terms they agreed to. Chase used one similar to this. He read the names and stopped, his breath catching in his throat.
“How?” Chase asked, staring at the signature on the bottom of the piece of paper.
“Well, now I ain’t gonna tell you that,” Butch said. “That would spoil everything. No, I’m gonna leave you wondering.” He reached over Chase’s shoulder and pulled the paper from his now numb fingers. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, some of us have clients to get ready for.” He placed his hat on his head, and grinning like a cat that had swallowed all the mice in the barn, strutted out of the saloon.
Waiting until Butch had gone into the street, Chase banged his hand on the counter. “Dammit!” he swore.
“Hey, now!” Elias said, coming out of the back. “What’s that for? You know I like people to keep a civil tongue in my establishment.”
“Sorry,” Chase said. “That weasel stole my commission right out from under my nose, and I don’t know how he did it.” He shook his head, trying to dislodge the image of Professor Tyne’s signature on the document.
It seemed this was not a good day after all.
After sampling the lunch he’d ordered but had no more appetite for, Chase went to the post office. There was no telegram, but rather a letter was waiting for him. The blasted thing carried the news that, although his proposal was good and he came well-recommended, the professor of geology felt it prudent to use someone who was a born and bred local for the job of finding the best routes through the mountains.
“Of course, when you all end up dead in a ditch …” Chase grumbled, crumpling the letter in his fist.
Drat that Butch Flinders! It was considered bad form to poach business from one another and yet Butch always seemed hell-bent on doing just that. He had a reputation for it that never seemed to reach the ears of prospective clients.
What was he going to tell the guys? And Ray?
Chase climbed on his horse and set off in a westerly direction. He was heading for Ridgetown, where he’d put up stakes and made himself a home. It was a quiet little place, mostly farmers, hunters, a few placer miners, and folks of that ilk.
Not what his parents would call suitable associates for him, but he loved it there. People were people, and they were far less pretentious out West. The people he’d met there were good, down-to-earth folks who worked with their hands and made things other than just money. All his father seemed to do was make the latter without using his hands at all.
Charles Remington Hardcastle was son to the shipping titan Horatio Phillip Hardcastle, the man who had built the merchant shipping company Hardcastle Shipping, up from nothing. Having retired to some island in the Caribbean, Horatio had left his company to his three sons, and Charles, the middle child, had received his share and branched out into several industries. He had made a fortune.
Naturally, Charles expected his three sons to follow suit. Only Chase’s sister, Evangeline, was exempt from having to go into business. And yet, between her and Chase, she was the most suitable for it. She was actually interested in running the family companies. Pity she was female.
Chase couldn’t think of anything duller than board meetings and paperwork. No, no stuffy offices for him. Give him the open air, the mountain breeze, the drizzle falling freely on his face. Give him days of trekking into the far mountain reaches, escorting rich sons under the watchful eye of their professors. Give him sleeping on the soft turf under the vault of heaven that never failed to delight. Give him nights spent by his campfire swapping stories and drinking a fair amount of whiskey. Give him a life with color and texture and keep the laurels and silk sheets, the embroidered waistcoats, and all the nonsensical trifles of the supposedly civilized world. All Chase really wanted in life was to be free.
This life was as close to freedom as he’d found. And it even had perks. One of which was living at Mrs. Minnie’s boarding house.
There was nothing quite like getting back after a grueling expedition and finding his sheets clean, his room aired, and a good solid dinner on the table. All for a modest fee. That was the life. Chase loved it.
Of course, how long he could keep it up if he didn’t make anything for an entire season was debatable. Luckily, he’d put some savings aside and invested in a few ventures that should pay off soon. He might be able to get by. And if all came to naught, he could always head back east with his tail between his legs and ask his father for forgiveness.
But that would leave Ouray Swiftfoot, his best friend and business partner, all alone. Chase could never do that. Not when Ouray, who went by the name of Ray, was not on speaking terms with his family either.
It was that, and the two of them escaping the clutches of a band of ruffians, that had brought them together. A friendship born out of the need to trust one another, it had saved both their lives on more than one occasion. Ray had never let Chase down, but now as he rode home, he couldn’t help feeling he’d let his friend down. They were back at square one, and he’d have to start looking for work all over again.
May was a little late to find an expedition to join and supply scouting and security services to. Most of the scientific types, those hunting bones mostly, would be heading out in a week or so to make the most of the fine weather to come. They would have a guide and group of fellows good with guns by now.
Perhaps, something would come up. Chase had never gone a season without work. He’d seen others struggle with it, but he’d never had the misfortune to have a lean time. In all honesty, he’d never thought it would happen to him. Born under a lucky star, Chase always thought he’d come up Aces.
This was a hard knock to take. He’d have to make it up to Ray.
Ridgetown nestled in a valley with high snow-covered peaks all around. Currently, a band of thick black clouds was hanging over one of them, and Chase thought it might rain again later. May was always a muddy time of year in this part of the country that was otherwise pleasant to live in.
He steered his horse down a track and over a small hill. Below him lay the town, and Chase felt his pulse quicken slightly. Soon he’d have to talk to Ray, and that was not going to be a good conversation.
As towns went, Ridgetown wasn’t bad. It was small, but that was good. At least Chase thought so. Growing up in Philadelphia had been all right, but it hadn’t really been what Chase liked. He loved the stories of the old cowboys and gunslingers that seemed to dominate the West. He’d heard the tales of high adventure from stories and newspapers, and to his young mind, everything west of Utah was overrun with bandits and lawmen having violent shoot-outs over ill-gotten gains.
It wasn’t the lawlessness that drew him; it was the possibility for adventure. Every day back home had been like toast with nothing on it. The same, dry and dull. But since he came west, things had certainly changed. After surviving being kidnapped and finally escaping, Chase had decided to make his home out in the Rocky Mountains, and he’d never looked back. Of course, his father and brothers couldn’t understand this. How could they when their idea of a high-stakes deal was the risk of making no profit. For Chase, high stakes was losing his life. Or telling Ray they had no work for the summer.
“The Quest to Reach Her Soul” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Lisa-Jo Warrington is a daring adventurer who has been endlessly chasing The Sky Chest with her father around the globe. When the opportunity arises to finally lay hands on this elusive treasure, she wants nothing more than to take part in the challenging quest. Determined to silence the whispers about her gender, she swears to never let herself seem vulnerable. Fate, though, throws in her path another obstacle to overcome; a man whose eyes capture her heart. Will she hide her feelings and risk losing the treasure of pure love?
Chase Hardcastle has spent the last few years setting himself up as a reliable guide to adventurers heading into the Rocky Mountains. When an archaeological expedition comes his way, he quickly secures the contract, believing that it will be an effortless task. To his absolute surprise, there is a woman in the group; one who attracts his attention like a magnet. On top of that, as their adventure unfolds, it proves itself more perilous than he first anticipated. How will Chase deal with these unexpected hardships? Could this spark he feels for her, scatter the threats that lurk around?
Love has never been in the cards for Lisa-Jo and Chase, but it seems that only devotion and companionship will get them through the trials that lie ahead. Will they be able to outsmart the curse that looms on the treasure and all those who seek it? Will love and truth prevail, or will darkness and greed win the day?
“The Quest to Reach Her Soul” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.