Edward Porter was leaving the hospital at last. The civil war had been brutal, but the confederates were losing now and Edward was glad to have been part of the struggle. He glanced over at Chas Addison, who was leaving for home as well. The two had joined on the same day and had been thrown together in some desperate situations. They had stood back to back and kept the enemy off in hand-to-hand combat. They had hidden in holes in the ground and shouted as they charged across hostile country.
“You’ll see Abigail again soon,” Chas reminded him.
“We have to keep in touch,” Edward answered, handing his friend a piece of paper with the address of his family’s ranch. Chas scribbled his own address down and the two men parted company at the hospital gates. This was the last hospital. The first had been a field situation in a tent, and both men were badly wounded on the same day. They had kept each other’s spirits up and were finally being sent home. Edward would always have a limp, although the slashing bayonet wound had taken a huge piece of flesh out of his leg, and some of the bone, as well. The bone had not broken, and he could walk again.
“Are you really going to walk all the way?” Chas queried, and Edward nodded.
“I need all the pay I saved to start a life with Abigail. The walk will make my leg stronger.”
“Cannot wait for my mom’s cooking again.” Chas grinned and the two men gave each other a final hug and started in opposite directions.
Edward had some dollars for food and the occasional lodging, but he intended to spend as little as possible.
Thinking about Abi will keep me going, he thought. Her pretty face, framed by her dark, curly hair, filled his mind’s eye and he smiled as he walked into the first freedom he had enjoyed in the last two years. He concentrated hard on that beautiful vision, because the ghosts of the horrors of war still threatened to make themselves felt. Edward Porter had seen things that no human being should see, and the images haunted just below the surface.
The life had been hard and the tents that the soldiers used as home offered no real sanitation. Camp was almost as bad as the fighting. There was disease everywhere and the long, long marches to yet another camp of horror made everyone footsore and weary all of the time. The fighting had been an assortment of slashing swords, muskets that were hard to load, revolvers and some of the newer Winchester repeating rifles. He’d had one of those at his side, and he had kept it, in the end.
The Gatling guns that spewed out hundreds of bullets were killing machines and made a huge amount of noise. Edward closed his eyes briefly to get rid of the images. I’m on my way, Abs. Should take me about another two months.
The first week was fairly easy. He started to enjoy the countryside and the open spaces. It was quiet and peaceful, and that meant a lot to a soldier going home. People saw the uniform and offered him help, food, and even lodging, sometimes. They said they were glad he had fought for them and wished him luck in the future. The nights were the worst, because the flashbacks to the dead and dying woke him in a cold sweat and it took several minutes to convince himself that it was all over.
“Oh, Abs. I wish I was home and holding you close,” he murmured into the air as he let sleep take over again. Then, sometimes, he would dream of their childhood, the wonderful happy times they had enjoyed and the friendship that had become a love affair. The two of them were together as often as life allowed and together, they had planned their future—their own ranch, maybe children, and never ever being apart. It was a match made in heaven and it seemed that heaven itself smiled on them.
The second week of walking started to make itself felt on his wounded leg, and the limp became more pronounced. Edward had to use all of his willpower and the vision of the woman he loved to keep going. It was not going to be easy.
Abigail, meanwhile, had to use all of the willpower she possessed, as well, to keep herself even getting out of bed in the morning. Her parents owned a local store and she helped out, but the store itself was not doing terribly well.
“Oh Eddie,” she whispered every time she opened her eyes. “I never thought you would be killed. My life is over.” She shed silent tears in her room, unable to imagine a future without the man she had loved almost all of her life.
It had been four months since the message had arrived from Edward’s family that he had been killed in action. The bottom had dropped out of Abigail’s world, and she knew it would never be whole again. The first horrific grief had been bad enough. She had gone from day to day in a dazed state of shock. Nothing seemed to reach through to her, although her sister did try, and still tried every day.
Eleanor loved her sister, and her heart broke every time she saw Abigail struggling to just put one foot in front of the other. It was hard to know what to do—and she could only try and be there if her sister needed a shoulder to cry on.
Now, after four months, their parents were not so understanding. They had worries of their own and the store was failing. Other businesses had started up and were taking the trade that used to be theirs. Jessie and Peter French had lost patience with Abigail, believing that by now, she should be moving on. They wanted her to start life anew and put the young love affair behind her.
Eleanor knocked at Abigail’s door, as she had made a habit of doing in recent weeks.
“Mornin’,” she said, peeking into the room.
“Morning,” Abigail replied, but there was a dullness in her voice that could not be mistaken. Eleanor came inside.
“Shall we go and visit Mary later? We could see how the kittens are growing.”
Abigail knew her sister was trying every day to help her to keep going and she offered a smile, though it was a weak one.
“Why not?” she asked. “It will get me out of here.”
The two girls went out and ate breakfast together in the kitchen. It was not a wonderful meal, as Jessie was always trying to save a penny here and a penny there. Their mother sat at the table and dried her hands on a cloth.
“Aaron is dropping by later,” she told Abigail. “Tidy yourself up. You know the man is interested in you. He is a good man and he really likes you.”
“And has money to solve your problems here.” Abigail snorted ungraciously and stood up.
“Abigail French, that is no way to talk to your mother,” her father said as he came inside the room.
“Aaron Smallbone helps all sorts of people in this town. I have to think of this store and handing it on eventually to your brother.”
Her father went back into the store and Abigail went about the daily routine of helping her mother.
“I know you are still upset,” her mother said,” but it might help to actually start to do things again.”
“Abs and I are going to visit Mary and see the kittens,” Eleanor put in. “Maybe we will see Aaron when we come back.”
“That would be lovely,” their mother said in an attempt at encouragement. Abigail agreed that she would try and cheer up.
“I know I make you all miserable. I’m sorry. I will try, too.” Her mother gave Abigail a hug and the two girls went to tidy themselves up to visit their friend.
Mary was delighted to have visitors. She had married not long ago and when her husband was at work, she sometimes longed for company. The three friends played with the kittens and drank some lemonade.
“Why don’t we plan a picnic down by the river, and sit and read like we used to do?” Mary suggested. “It would do me good to get out of the house.”
“That sounds good.” Abigail smiled at her. “I really have got to try and make an effort.”
“Tomorrow,” Eleanor confirmed. “Let’s do it.”
“I suppose I should try and be pleasant to Aaron Smallbone. Everyone seems to think he is a good person around the town, but there is something about him. I don’t know what it is,” Abigail mused.
“I guess we all grew up here and know each other. He is a newcomer,” pondered Mary. “He has given money to the church, I think, and his ranch is supposed to be very luxurious.” She laughed. “If he invites you out there, go just to see what it really is like.”
“I guess that is more sensible than running away,” Abigail answered. “I did actually think about that.”
“Oh, no,” Mary cried and jumped up to wrap her arms around her friend. “You have to keep busy. Picnic tomorrow, and we can plan some more things to do.”
“Thanks, girls,” said Abigail. “Let’s go and be nice to Mister Smallbone.” Mary and Eleanor looked at each other. The sound of resignation in Abigail’s voice was hard to accept, but there was nothing more they could do.
The sisters linked arms up the street and stopped to look in a window that displayed jewelry and fancy items of clothing.
“Pretty brooch,” Abigail remarked.
“Then will you accept it as a gift?” A man’s voice surprised them; they had not heard him approach.
“Mister Smallbone. We didn’t hear you walk up,” said Abigail. He smiled at her.
“I have to sneak up, or you will run away.”
Eleanor laughed at the joke and the man offered an arm to both girls. “Come inside the store.”
The brooch was brought out, along with a matching bracelet. Aaron Smallbone bought them both, and another brooch for Eleanor. He handed the small packets to each girl with a theatrical flourish that made the storekeeper clap her hands.
“Come back any time, Mister Smallbone,” she crowed and held the door for the three of them to exit. He had a girl on either arm, walking them both back to the store that belonged to their parents. He ushered the girls inside and shook hands with their father. Jessie French invited him through to take some refreshments and the man swept another dramatic gesture to invite the two young women to step ahead of him.
In truth, Aaron Smallbone could be charm itself when he chose to be, and he turned on the full power of that charm. He declared that Missus French’s cake was the best he had ever tasted and talked business with her husband. He cleverly gave the impression that he was interested in another businessman’s opinion on something he was planning, and Abigail noticed that her father was visibly impressed. She couldn’t help but think the face the man showed everyone was not the real one.
Despite her lack of enthusiasm for anything at all since the news of Edward’s death, she had to admit that the man was adept at telling people what they wanted to hear. But there was still something, something she could not put her finger on, that was just not right. She gave herself a mental push and decided to play the game.
When Aaron suggested that she might like to visit his ranch, adding that her sister was very welcome as well, she surprised everyone in the room by agreeing to his proposition.
They arranged that Aaron would send a carriage for the sisters in two days’ time, after Eleanor explained that they had planned a trip out with Mary for the next day. The visit to the riverbank was a friendly interlude and almost felt like they had turned back the clock. Abigail made a real effort to be relaxed like she used to be, and the girls dipped their toes in the cool water and lay back to read the latest stories. Then, they lay back and just talked. It was almost like nothing had changed.
The sisters left Mary at her door and walked back home.
“You look more like your old self,” her mother commented to Abigail as they laid the table for dinner. Then, Abigail went to her bedroom and lay on her bed to let the sobs silently shake her body. Edward had been the love of her life, and she could not turn it off no matter how hard she tried. She read the two letters that he had managed to send from the battlefield, then hugged them to her chest, wishing it had never ended. Her life stretched ahead of her, but it was empty, and she didn’t want to tread that path without Edward. In the end, she slept and, when morning came, lay awake looking at the ceiling and thinking about the decisions that she had to take.
Breakfast over, she helped her mother, and then the girls dressed themselves for a day at the ranch.
“You both look a picture,” Jessie told them. “Enjoy yourselves.” Then she fussed over Aaron Smallbone like an excited mother hen and waved the girls off in his carriage. The man had a driver and sat beside his guests. He kept up a cheerful conversation and finally welcomed them into his humble abode.
The humble abode was anything but and Aaron knew the effect that it would have on the girls. He pretended to act as if the place was just another ordinary house, but from going up the steps to the enormous veranda to entering the gigantic living room, it was certainly not ordinary. The house was built in wood, as most ranches were, but it had a stone porch with stone steps and looked very grand. It was a two-story building and from the far side of the living room, a wide and polished wooden staircase swept up to the second floor.
The two girls stopped inside the room.
“It is magnificent,” Eleanor breathed.
“It is a very beautiful room, Aaron,” Abigail told him. “You must have imported these furnishings.”
“Yes. Well spotted, Abigail,” he answered. “Do you approve?”
“How could anyone not approve of these beautiful sofas and chairs? The rugs are like nothing I have ever seen,” she said.
“All the way from Persia,” he declared proudly. In fact, he was very pleased to show off the things that he had bought specially. Aaron Smallbone liked good things around him. “Come and see the kitchen and my office.”
The kitchen was almost as large as the living room, fitted with all of the latest equipment from the city. The water was pumped directly from the well to the water bowl and the scrubbed table was big enough to seat twelve people.
“I admit to not knowing much about ranching, but the man who works for me is an expert.” Then, he made that theatrical flourish with his arm. “Not something I usually do, but I would like to show you ladies the bathroom.” Eleanor giggled and Abigail smiled as Aaron led the way up the sweeping staircase and opened the bathroom door.
“Well, it is worth showing off,” Abigail admitted.
“Water pumped directly to the water bowl,” he told her, “and a bath brought over from England.”
“Well, it is very impressive. You have taken a lot of trouble with it,” Abigail told him, and he gave her the benefit of his brightest smile. He held out a hand. “My bedroom is next door, and you will see that I like my comforts.”
The two sisters did realize that he loved soft cushions and woven blankets, and there was a large fireplace if heat was needed. Everywhere was clean and well looked after. This was no working ranch, with cowboy boots and hats around the place.
Downstairs, he offered them seats and rang a bell for a young woman to bring out refreshments. She was pleasant and asked them to just ring if anything else was needed.
“Morag worked for me in the city,” he explained and sat back to entertain his guests. A walk around the place afterwards showed them that the foreman did know his job. Fences, corrals, and barns were sound and kept tidy, and even the chickens were contained, not allowed to run everywhere as usually happened. There were a couple of men working at one of the barns, and the sisters discovered they knew one of them.
“Hi, girls,” Hank said.
“The men are making a new house because we are expanding,” Aaron explained, and Eleanor queried what sort of house. “Hank, take Eleanor and show her your handiwork.” Aaron took the opportunity that had offered itself and walked Abigail on towards the main house.
“Abigail, now that I have you alone, will you please agree to let me take you out for meals or walks or anything else that you would like to do?” He held his hands out in one of those gestures that he has found worked well for him, giving her his most charming smile.
“I will not be good company, Aaron. You know that I have been mourning the death of Edward Porter. It is still very hard for me.”
“I understand that, but maybe just talking and going out is what you need. I would like to come courting, and I am sure your father will agree.”
“I will say yes to your question and I will try to be cheerful.”
“That is just what I wanted to hear,” the man said, then kissed her hand. Eleanor returned to find Aaron beaming and Abigail trying hard to smile.
“Let me take you home ladies,” Aaron offered, “and tomorrow, maybe I can take Abigail for a drive and a picnic?” The ride home heard Aaron in full flood about his ideas for the future with his businesses and he made arrangements to collect Abigail the next day.
Her parents were delighted with the news and, in the end, Abigail escaped to her bedroom and read Edward’s letters again.
“Why, oh, why did it have to be this way?” she whispered into the air before falling asleep still fully dressed.
The picnic was not as bad as she had thought it would be, and Abigail directed Aaron to the riverbank where she knew there were beautiful spots to stop. He asked her about growing up in that area and she talked about school and friends, then reversed the question.
“Tell me where you grew up and what your family was like,” she asked him. Aaron paused and thought about it.
“My father was a factory worker and my mother died when I was fourteen,” he started. “I ran errands for people, carried parcels, cleaned anything that needed cleaning, chopped wood and made a little money. When I realized that you were better off working for yourself, I started to offer to find things for people. I bought from one person and sold to another. Started small and kept going.”
“That sounds very smart,” Abigail noted. “You have done well.”
“There was money to be made in the city, but I wanted a more peaceful life,” he told her. Then, they planned for her to visit the ranch the next day. Aaron was happy to send the carriage to collect her, and she tried very hard to look forward to a pleasant day out. She had to admit, although she still felt there was something not quite right, the man was trying very hard to make her life enjoyable.
Maybe that is the best I can hope for in life, she thought, and forced herself to think about building a life for herself that she had never expected to have to do. She set her mind to being friendly.
He met her as the carriage came in and helped her down. As they went inside the house, he told her to treat the place as her own. Then, he gave her a small, neatly-wrapped parcel. Inside was a jacket that had obviously not been bought locally.
“Oh, that is pretty, but far too expensive to accept,” Abigail told him. Aaron smiled and took her hand to bring her to her feet.
“Do me a favour and just enjoy it,” he pleaded. “I like to buy nice things for you. Try it on and see if it fits you.” Abigail was wearing a dark dress and the jacket was a green velvet that sat on top of the dress nicely. It fit well and he gave her a twirl around as if they were on a dance floor. “You look wonderful,” he told her.
Abigail said the jacket was beautiful and thanked him for it. She wrapped it back up and said that she would keep it for a special occasion, and pushed away from the guilt that she felt accepting something expensive from a man she really didn’t like very much.
“If you would like to wander about and explore, just do it,” he suggested. They sat and talked for a while, then took a gentle walk around the ranch.
“Do you ride?” he asked as she held out a hand to the ponies that came to the fence.
“I do, but my parents don’t keep any horses.”
“When you come back again, we can ride out and take a small picnic. You can see what the ranch is like.”
They were back in the house when Aaron’s foreman said some people had come by, asking for him. Abigail told him not to worry about her, she would sit and read some of the books he had on the shelves. He apologized and left the house, closing the door behind him. She did pick up a book and sat idly turning the pages. The voices outside were getting louder and louder.
In the end, she could not help but listen to what was being said. It was clearly a man and a woman, who were very upset. She could hear Aaron’s voice as he tried to calm them down, but he lost patience and she suddenly heard a very different tone in his voice. It sent a shiver down Abigail’s spine as she picked up the vicious menace in his replies.
“Perhaps I was right about him all along.” She thought.
The woman begged him to relent and he told her no and instructed his hands to get these ridiculous people away from his house. It seemed Aaron then walked away, but he did not come inside the house, so Abigail moved to the window. He was going into the barn, and his hands were pushing the two people roughly out of the gate where their horses were tied. Abigail didn’t know the men who worked for Aaron. They were not local, apart from Hank. One of them shoved the woman, and she fell to the ground with a cry. Abigail put her hand over her mouth and watched the man help his wife to her feet and onto her horse. The couple was quite young, and both looked very upset. They rode away and the hands went back to work as if nothing unusual had happened.
Abigail had resumed her seat and started reading when her host came back inside. He had reverted to the charming Aaron Smallbone, suggesting they go into town for a meal at the hotel.
“Those people have spoiled our day here. Let me put it right.”
Abigail was happy to agree to that but asked him if whatever the people were upset about had been fixed.
“The woman seemed upset,” she added.
“They owed me money and cannot pay. I am afraid they have lost their house, but they knew what would happen all along.” He took her hand. “Forget about it. They brought it on themselves.” He handed her the jacket. “Don’t forget to take this with you.”
Edward Porter had at last, made it almost home. He had finally spent a little money on eating some proper food and staying at guesthouses and he felt stronger the nearer he came to home—and to Abigail. He was picking up the pace and knew it would take just another few days to reach his family home. The image of Abigail was in his mind constantly, and the war was receding day by day.
Abigail was glad to reach town and ate her meal at the hotel. She tried to put the couple at the ranch out of her mind, but started to think about Aaron’s attitude to the people who worked for him. She mentioned her worries to Eleanor, who was interested in hearing about the couple.
“Did you recognize them?” she wondered, but Abigail shook her head.
“They were not from around here. I would recognize them if I saw them again, though. Aaron can change in an instant and is not so charming when that happens.”
“Just try to see his good side and leave the business part to him,” Eleanor suggested. Abigail nodded and said she knew he would ask her to marry him.
“He has talked about what I would do if I lived in the house and asks my opinion about things. On the surface, it is all an opportunity, but I do not know If I can face life like that.”
Eleanor hugged her sister.
“I know it’s hard, but things will get easier as time goes on. Just think about that.”
“Nobody will ever replace Edward and I have to just accept life for what it is,” Abigail admitted sadly. “Aaron says he will help dad with the business. I guess that is a sort of bribe.”
The two girls went to help their mom and then, out of the blue, Aaron arrived at the store. Missus French was always overwhelmed when the man came to visit, but stopped short when he gave her a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
“Would you mind very much if I spirited Abigail away for a few minutes?” he asked. He held out a hand for Abigail and they went outside and around the corner to where there was a garden seat and a pretty view.
“I know this is no surprise, Abigail,” he started. Her heart lurched uncomfortably in her chest. “Would you please consent to become Missus Aaron Smallbone, and make me a very happy man?”
Abigail had known this would be happening at some stage and had an answer prepared.
“Thank you, Aaron. You are kind enough to know that I am still in mourning, but I must think ahead. The answer is yes.” The man was elated and kissed her on the lips for the first time in their courtship. It was all she could do to return the kiss sedately and not pull away. He never noticed, but took her hand and urged her back inside to share the good news.
Her parents were ecstatic, and Eleanor wished them well.
“You can plan the wedding and, of course, I will pay for everything. No expense spared for my beautiful fiancée,” Smallbone told them. He left them to plan and said that he would take the whole family to the hotel for a meal that evening.
Abigail left her mother jabbering plans for the event and went to her room where she lay and sobbed silently. It was not the reaction that should come from a proposal of marriage to a rich and, apparently, well-intentioned man.
The days passed in lots of planning and visits out, and Aaron Smallbone took the opportunity to make himself popular with almost every business and family that he met. He was giving lots of trade to the town and everyone spoke well of him. They told Abigail what a lucky girl she was, and Aaron showered her with gifts that he bought locally or had imported from the city.
There were things that worried Abigail, though, and she talked to her one confidante about them. Eleanor listened and worried as well because Abigail was realizing that Smallbone was not as good to his employees and the people he made his money from as his appearance would suggest. She wondered if he made his money entirely legally, and remembered pieces of information that she had picked up from the papers that lay around his house and the conversations she overheard with his staff.
The two girls were even more surprised when stock for the store started to arrive from the city and her father unpacked it all and put it on display. Abigail wanted to know how things had changed for the family and asked her mother. They hesitated, but in the end said that their son-in-law to be had financed the stock and ordered it for them. He had given them a big loan to keep the business going—she had saved the family business by marrying well.
Abigail was speechless. It was unbelievable that her parents had taken money from Aaron, as he was already paying for all of the wedding expenses. Her mother had ordered fancy clothes for the wedding day and both of her parents seemed completely happy to have Aaron foot the bill. It occurred to her that she couldn’t even run away and not marry him, because he would take the loan back from the store. She was completely trapped in a situation that she could not change. She went off down the main street to go and talk to her friend Mary and just get away for a short time.
She wished, yet again, that Edward had not gone to fight and been killed. She still sometimes expected to see him walk towards her or see a gesture that someone made that reminded her so much of what she had lost. A man walked around the corner and out of sight and her heart did that leap that wondered if it could possibly be him, followed by the familiar realization as she remembered that she would never see him again.
Mary listened and offered sympathy but there was nothing that anyone could do.
“I should be happy,” Abigail confessed, “but I am miserable and a little bit frightened.” Mary held her close and tried to bring some comfort. Then Abigail pulled herself together.
“I will just have to get on with it,” she said resolutely, and thanked her friend for listening.
Edward had made it to the gates of his family’s ranch and paused to take a deep breath. He would much rather have gone on to find Abigail and take her in his arms, but he knew he had to see his mother and father first. He walked up to the ranch house and his mother came to the door. Edward smiled at her and held out his arms. The woman went into a dead faint on the veranda and Edward rushed forward as his brother came out of the house to see this apparition from the dead.
His mother came around and his brother, Gerald, sent folk running to find the rest of the family.
“It is unbelievable,” his mother whispered. She clung to his arm to prove that it was real and solid, and not a figment of her imagination. “We received a letter to say that you had been killed in battle.”
“Oh, Lord,” Edward exclaimed. “I was wounded. There must have been a mix-up.” Then, he gasped. “So, Abigail thinks I have died?” His mother nodded, still clinging to him.
“She has mourned for you for three months.”
“I have to go and see her.”
His mother held onto his arm and shook her head. “No. No. She has promised to marry Aaron Smallbone.”
Edward sank onto the sofa, dropping his head to his hands. Tears rolled down his cheeks unheeded and his mother came and sat beside him.
Even after the effects of the horrendous battles, being wounded, and walking home to save money for Abigail and himself, this blow was worse than anything else that had gone before. The family looked at each other, unsure of what to say or do.
In the end, his mother made food for everyone and made them sit and eat. She told Edward that he must get some rest and then he could decide what to do. He gave in to the suggestion and fell into his old bed.
“Sleep might make him feel better,” Hannah Porter explained to her husband. She barely even been able to process the fact that her son was not dead, but alive and back in his bedroom. “We should be happy that he is home, but what an awful situation.”
In the morning, he lay in his old bed, staring at the ceiling.
Who on earth is Aaron Smallbone? he wondered as he swung his legs out of bed to find out some answers from his mother.
Hannah told him what she could and sat at the table with a mug of coffee cupped in her hands.
“Abigail was devastated. She was inconsolable, and nobody could make her even come out of the house. Her sister seemed the only one she would talk to.”
“Smallbone?” Edward queried.
“This businessman bought the Railton Ranch, but I don’t think he is a rancher. He has a foreman that runs the place, and he spends money as if it grows on trees. A lot of the people who work for him came from whatever city it was that he came from. He gives the place a lot of business, but,” she paused, “I have met him a couple of times and he is just a bit too good to be true.”
Edward’s brother, Gerald, came and joined the discussion.
“Hank Malone works over at the Railton place, and he told us Smallbone came from Denver. Hank never says a lot if you see him in town, but he is paid better than he has ever been before.”
“Abigail came to see me a few times after we received the letter from the army and she knew that man was interested in her but she didn’t want to even think about it,” Hannah added.
“I wonder what changed her mind,” Edward pondered. “Abigail was never one who craved a lot of money.” He thought for a few moments. “I should go and see her.”
“Take a little time to get over your journey,” Gerald advised him. “Get your strength back.”
His mother agreed, and Edward decided to stay at home until he had come to terms with the news that the one thing that had given him the desire to make it home was now out of his reach. He took a coffee and went to lie on his bed.
How can life be so cruel? he thought. Two years of blood and hardship and the struggle back, only to find the love of his life was engaged to somebody else. Eventually, he made himself help around the place and rode out to check fences for his brother, but really, it was just an excuse to be away from everyone. He knew they did not know what to do about things.
In the evening, he refused an invitation from the men to go for a drink in town and retired back to his bed.
Maybe I should just leave again, was his last thought before he went to sleep.
“Her Sunray in the Storm” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Abigail French has just found out that her childhood sweetheart was killed during the war. Her whole world and dreams are falling apart. She is broken-hearted, and cannot think of life with anyone else. When her parents insist on her getting married to a rich rancher in order to secure her future, will Abigail manage to find happiness in this man’s arms? When her thoughts get darker and darker how will an unexpected arrival brighten Abigail’s day?
The only thing that allowed Edward Porter to survive the war was the thought of the girl he is in love with. However, this painful experience traumatized him for life. Now that he is finally free to go back home and ask Abigail in marriage, he feels ready to put everything behind and write a new chapter. To his misfortune, he will soon find out that Abigail is engaged to another man. Will he have the courage and strength to fight for her? Will he help her escape from her misery?
Abigail and Edward would do anything to be back together. The circumstances though are far from ideal, and there are too many obstacles to overcome. What is the secret that will bring them closer? Is getting back together even an option or their fate has already been predetermined?
“Her Sunray in the Storm” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.