“I think this is it.” Alice waved a letter in the air. Even though she wasn’t shouting and kicking up her heels the way Ellen would have done, Ellen knew her friend well enough to understand what she was feeling.
“Aren’t you going to open it?” Ellen asked, peering at the firm edges of the envelope. Alice fingered the envelope as she studied the wooden walls of the boarding house with something like trepidation.
“Maybe we should go in our room.”
Ellen ushered her friend through the door and plopped onto the bed she shared with Alice. “Now we’re in here. Open the letter already! I can’t stand to wait another moment.”
“It’s not even for you,” Alice laughed. She finally slid her finger under the flap, and the paper made a crinkling sound as the glue resisted then broke under the pressure. Squeezing her eyes shut, Alice pulled out a folded piece of paper. As she began unfolding it with that careful way she had of doing everything, something else fell to the ground. Ellen scooped it up before her friend could.
“Bully! He’s not so bad lookin’.”
“Let me see!” Alice reached for the picture, but Ellen held it out of reach, dangling it away from her like she had done with toys when they were younger. Even though they weren’t sisters by blood, they might as well have been having spent their whole lives together. Ellen finally relented and handed the picture over. Ellen watched her friend study the face of her possible future husband.
Alice’s brown eyes lit up just a little, and the corners of her lips turned up as she considered the possibilities of marrying Mr. Jeffrey Bailey.
“What do you think?” Ellen asked, trying to reach for the letter. Alice pulled it away from her without removing her eyes from the picture. Ellen smiled and reached out to tickle her friend’s ribs.
“You don’t have to tell me. It’s pretty clear what you’re thinking.”
“He’s closer to my age than some of the others,” Alice said. “You know I was most excited about hearing back from him. He’s always so gentlemanly, and have you ever seen a hand like this?” Alice held the letter just out of Ellen’s reach. Ellen had to admit that the man had a nice way of writing.
“It sounds like you’ve made up your mind then. Where does he live?”
“Fort Worth, Texas. He owns a cattle ranch.” Alice wrinkled her nose. “I wonder if it smells bad. All them animals.”
Ellen shook her head. “Maybe out on the ranch but not in the house. I’ve heard that out west people have so much land they have to walk half an hour to reach the barn. Could you imagine?”
“I can imagine that, just can’t imagine me being the woman in charge of it all.” Alice started chewing on her lower lip.
“Don’t be nervous. It might be a little strange at first, but I bet you’ll get used to it ‘fore you’re there a week.”
“Do you really think so?” Alice looked at the picture of the handsome man.
“I think you will,” Ellen said. She was acting brave, but she and Alice hadn’t been split up since they had found each other at five years old. She didn’t know what she would do when her best friend went to Texas. Still, now wasn’t the time to be selfish. They were both silent for several minutes as the clock in the hall ticked away the seconds.
“I guess I should write him back,” Alice said, sitting down at the writing desk in the corner with the letter smoothed on its surface in front of her. She reached for the fountain pen, selecting a clean sheet of white paper from the drawer. She held the pen over the paper, her eyes darting back and forth between the written letter from Jeffrey and the empty page she was sending him.
“Start writing already!” Ellen urged, worried that her friend would lose her nerve. Alice jumped, and the fountain pen dropped a blob of ink on the paper. Alice let out a huff.
“Now, I’ve ruined the letter before I’ve even written anything. We don’t have the money to buy paper only to throw it away.” She shook her head. “I’ll have to use the paper with the blob.”
“If you marry Jeffrey, you won’t have to worry about the paper anymore. You’ll rag out like a real woman whose only job is to cook and keep her husband happy.”
Alice tilted the fountain pen away from the paper so that it wouldn’t drip and ruin the paper more than it had already been ruined. “I don’t know if I can do it.”
Ellen tried to think of another way to animate her friend into making the decision to keep her happy. There was nothing in this city that could be called home. After leaving the orphanage at eighteen, they had been staying at the boarding house, doing work in exchange for a place to live. Neither of them had any family, and all Alice had ever talked about was getting married and having children. Ellen didn’t want her friend to lose that opportunity, especially when the man seemed as nice as Jeffrey did.
“What would make you feel better about it?”
“If I wasn’t alone,” Alice’s voice peeped up like a child asking for something they knew they couldn’t have.
“I would go with you.” Ellen sat up, imagining it all now. She and Alice would take on the world from Texas, see new places, and meet fresh faces. “I wouldn’t get married, of course. I need some more adventure before that happens, but I could go with you, live with you, and keep you company.”
Alice immediately lit up. “That would be the perfect solution. I know Jeffrey is a perfect gentleman from his letters. Surely, he would agree to you staying with us. I’ll write him to ask if that would be acceptable. I do hope he agrees.”
Ben strode into the general store with his best friend. Jeffrey had come every day for the past five days. He calculated eight days for his letter to arrive at Alice’s place back East, two days for her to write an answer (though he hoped she would write more quickly than that), and eight days for the letter to reach him in Fort Worth. Still, it didn’t help to check the general store a few days early, according to Jeffrey.
“How are you doin’ today, Bill?” Ben asked the general store owner, watching as his best friend asked to see if there was a letter for him. Ben perused the shelves in the general store, but he didn’t need anything at the moment. He and Jeffrey were planning to go to the cattle auction later that day. That’s where he would be spending his money.
Jeffrey smacked him on the back. “My letter came!” he said.
Ben nodded at him. “That’s good to hear, my friend. Did she stoutly deny you?” He was teasing, but he knew that by the hopeful look on his friend’s face that Jeffrey had never considered the fact that he might get a letter informing him she had chosen another suitor.
“I . . . haven’t yet opened it,” Jeffrey admitted.
Ben teased his friend some more. “I wouldn’t begin my celebrations just yet then. Of course, I wouldn’t be celebrating no matter what the woman told me. I’m not looking for a useless wife. If I ever marry, then it would be to a woman who can help around the ranch, get things done, you might say.”
Jeffrey was ignoring Ben and ripping the letter open. Watching Jeffrey’s face made it easy to interpret the letter’s contents. The woman back East had accepted his best friend’s offer. Ben was happy for them, he really was, if that was what Jeffrey wanted for himself. He just didn’t want the same thing.
Jeffrey’s face changed subtly, his eyebrows falling and the corners of his mouth turning down.
“Oh no, my friend. What’s the matter?”
“Certainly wasn’t expecting this.” Jeffrey refolded the letter and stuffed it in his back pocket, even though Ben had been expecting him to send the money for a train ticket right then and there. He’d been carrying it around just in case for the last three days.
“We’d better get on our way to the cattle auction. Tell me as we’re going.” The two men climbed into Jeffrey’s carriage and the horses took them at a steady pace out of town and to the ranch where the cattle were being sold. They wanted to have time to look at the cattle before the bidding began. Seeing their teeth always gave Ben a good indication of whether he would make an offer or not.
“Does she have a child you weren’t expecting?” Ben asked, taking his guess at what could have his friend so worried.
“No, no children, ‘least she didn’t mention one. She had the strangest request. She wants to bring her best friend into town with her, says she could live with us and keep her company.”
Ben’s eyebrows rose. “You’re right. That’s a bit unconventional, but I don’t know if it’s something to worry about, eh?”
“Maybe for you as you’re not the one getting married!” Jeffrey was teasing Ben a little, but Ben knew his friend too well. Jeffrey was worried about this woman. It was normal to be worried when one was going to marry a stranger. Seeing her picture was one thing, but having yet to meet her made the whole business a bit more nerve-racking.
“It’s a long way for a woman to travel on her own,” Ben said. “If you think about the situation from her perspective, she might just be a bit nervous about going to a new town. Once she meets you, she’ll settle down quickly.”
“The thing is, and I’m not sure I want to admit this to her, so don’t you go saying nothing once she comes . . .”
Ben leaned forward.
“I don’t want another woman distracting my wife. I want my wife to cook for me, care for me, and not spend her days talking with her girlfriend. Maybe you’re right, though. She could just be nervous about traveling to a new town by herself. I could send the money to pay for her friend’s ticket, but I’ll be clear that she’s not to stay with us. Do you think that’s fair?”
Ben thought about his friend’s proposition.
“Seems fair to me. You’re being considerate of her feelings, but you’re also letting her know how it’s going to be. I think you have your answer, my friend.” Ben could see the auction in the distance. There were already half a dozen carriages in front of the field. Cattle were tied up all along the fence, and Ben was eyeing one near the far edge of the crowd. It looked beefy, and he needed some cows who could have babies. He had too many cows that gave milk but couldn’t get pregnant again. He shook his head. There were more difficulties than he would have imagined becoming a rancher. But then again, he wouldn’t trade his ranch for any other land in the world.
“Looks like they’re just starting,” Jeffrey said, hopping off and tying his horses to the fence. One of his horses eyed the cow on the other side.
“I’m going to take a look at some. Don’t leave without me.” Ben jogged off and started examining the cows up close. Jeffrey often got bored half an hour into these things once he had bought a couple of the very first cows. Ben liked to stay until the very end. Many people had already bought what they wanted, and the bidding didn’t go as high. It helped him get some good cows at a lower price. He just had to convince Jeffrey to stay that long. Jeffrey had a lot on his mind today, though, and Ben glanced over to see Jeffrey rereading the letter.
Ellen and Alice were in the fabric store, looking at different yards of fabric. Alice wanted to make a new dress for when she would marry Jeffrey.
“All of your dresses are new to him. It’s not as though he’s seen you wearing them before.” Ellen just thought about the hours of work it would take to make a new dress. Alice already had the pattern ready, and she was good at sewing. However, being cooped up and straining her eyes to make the stitches just right didn’t seem like something Ellen would enjoy doing. Hence, she was looking for adventure while her best friend was looking for a husband.
“Can you just tell me which fabric you think would look better?” Alice asked. It was rare that the friends fought, but Alice would sometimes get frustrated with Ellen’s happy-go-lucky outlook on life.
“I think the purple fabric looks more regal. You could be English royalty in that.”
Ellen shifted back and forth on her feet. Alice hummed as she ran her fingers over both. Even the shopkeeper was losing his patience. “I’ll give you both some time to think while I attend to my other customers.”
“I remember one of the other girls at the orphanage telling me that red is good for my skin tone. And since she said that, I have noticed that when I wear red, it seems to bring out my eyes.”
“You don’t have red eyes. How can it bring out your eyes?”
“Well, I suppose red and brown complement each other. But the purple is such a catching color. It’s brighter and seems to be more eye-catching.”
“Alice, it’s going to take you ten, twenty hours to sew this dress. If I were you, I would pick some fabric and get started immediately. What if you don’t finish and his letter arrives with the tickets?”
Alice’s eyes widened. “Oh! I should get started right away.” Her hand hovered back and forth over both fabrics. Ellen finally grabbed her friend’s hand, set it on the purple fabric, and nodded to the shop owner that they were ready to make their purchase. Once outside, Alice turned toward the boarding house, chatting about how she thought she could get the fabric all cut before the evening meal.
“Alice, I’m going to take a stroll around town for a bit. I’ll come to the boarding house later.” The two rarely split up as a woman walking by herself around town wasn’t very orthodox. However, Ellen had never cared what people thought of her. The sun was shining, and a slight breeze was blowing. She wanted to enjoy the fine weather before she moved to Texas, where she had heard it was dreadfully hot almost all of the time. Alice gave her friend a parting hug. Then Ellen was on her own. It gave her the opportunity to consider the proposal she had given Alice as she was writing to Jeffrey last week.
What would she possibly do in hot Texas while Alice cared for Jeffrey and his household? She would find something to keep her busy, and the thought of exploring a new town excited her.
“Ellen!” the wife of the owner of the herbs shop called out to her. Ellen hurried over and greeted the woman. She didn’t remember her name, but they usually spoke for a minute or two whenever they crossed paths.
“Ellen, I’ve heard that you’re moving out West to get married. I would never have guessed you would be interested in being a mail-order bride.”
“Oh no! Not me!” Ellen said, waving her hands in front of her dramatically. “You must be confusing me with my friend, Alice. She is the one getting married. I may go out West, but I would never marry a stranger. If I marry, it will be for love.”
The shopkeeper’s wife smiled nostalgically. “I should have known what I heard was wrong. You have never been the type of woman to seek a man’s attention desperately.” Ellen wasn’t sure if the woman was implying that Alice was or not, but Ellen wasn’t one to get easily offended anyhow.
“I am leaving town. I’ll be going with Alice on the train, and I’ll spend some time in Texas.”
“Will you stay in Texas without a husband?”
“I’ve not figured out the plan past that point, but I would say that right now, anything is a possibility.”
“Even that you might marry one of the Texans? I’ve heard there are far more men than women in those settlements.”
Ellen shrugged. She didn’t want to talk about getting married. The topic made her uncomfortable. “I should get back to the boarding house now. Alice is working on a new dress for herself. I should probably help her.” Ellen knew she would do nothing of the sort, but she didn’t want to speak with the shopkeeper’s wife any longer. “Good day!”
“Good day!” the woman called after her. Ellen hurried away. Why did it seem that everyone was surprised she didn’t want to get married? Was getting married a woman’s only goal in life?
When Ellen reached the boarding house, she climbed the narrow back stairs just as the boarding house owner called her name. She had been spotted.
“It’s the second day of the week. You’re supposed to help prepare the evening meal for our guests tonight,” he reminded her with exasperation. She usually forgot when it was her turn to complete a specific task. It wasn’t on purpose. She simply didn’t keep track of the days of the week. It would be different if she were completing something interesting, but all she was doing was cooking and cleaning.
“I’ll be right down,” Ellen promised, washing up in the hall washroom. She splashed cool water on her face and hands, staring into her own eyes in the looking glass. They would only be there a few more days. Then, her adventure with Alice would really begin.
Ellen began cooking the evening meal. The owner’s wife rotated the same five meals every week, so Ellen was now an expert in those five, even though she had learned nothing about cooking at the orphanage. She was able to chop the onion into perfectly shaped tiny cubes. Then, she started on the carrots. For those who stayed only a couple of weeks, the meals tasted excellent, fresh. But for her, she would be happy if she never tasted another carrot.
“No, no, no!” Geraldine scolded as soon as she entered the kitchen. She was a middle-aged, slightly rotund woman who oversaw everything Ellen did. “How can you forget? You need the onions to cook through until they’re translucent before you add the carrots and water.”
Ellen sighed. So much for knowing how to cook all of the meals. Maybe she should be honest with herself. Nothing that included “womanly” tasks came easy to her.
“I’m sorry. I really thought we needed to boil everything. It is soup. Don’t the onions just cook in the water the same?”
“No, they won’t caramelize if you just throw them in the water. It only takes a few extra moments, but it changes their taste completely.” Geraldine sighed and stirred the pot. “I suppose we’ll eat it like this tonight.” Ellen sucked her cheeks in and bit back a scathing remark. She shouldn’t let Geraldine get to her. Geraldine wasn’t rude, but Ellen had trouble with criticism. It always made her feel self-conscious that she had grown up in an orphanage, learning nothing but how to survive and grow a vegetable garden.
“Next is the squash, right?”
“Yes,” Geraldine sighed. Ellen could already tell that Geraldine would be upset most of the evening. Meanwhile, Ellen would wait for an opportunity to sneak upstairs to speak with Alice. She could check on the progress of her dress and perhaps tell her about her interaction with the shopkeeper’s wife. Alice would enjoy a good laugh. She had been wound too tightly ever since she knew for sure that she would be moving out West.
Alice entered the kitchen halfway through dinner preparation and tapped Ellen’s arm. “I need to talk to you for a few minutes,” she said to Ellen.
“Ellen is busy cooking dinner,” Geraldine said from where she was kneading bread dough. “You can talk as long as you stay in here and help her.” Apparently, Alice’s request hadn’t been quiet enough.
Alice shook her head. “Ellen, can you come up to our room when you get the chance?” Ellen peered into her friend’s dark brown eyes. They were watery, and Ellen knew that something terrible had happened. Her mind spun out of control as she finished preparing the soup. Had Alice received news that something had happened to Jeffrey? She knew that carriage accidents could happen. He was working on a ranch. Perhaps a bull had gotten mad and charged at him. Ellen winced. She hoped it wasn’t too graphic for Alice’s sake. However, there were still three other men who had responded to her ad. She would still be able to get married, and maybe she wouldn’t have to go as far as Texas.
“The soup is done,” Ellen announced. “All it needs is a good stir every once in a while.”
“And you’ll be here to give it that stir,” Geraldine said, wiping at her hands with a towel.
“My friend really needs me,” Ellen explained. “I’ll be back down shortly.” Ellen raced up the back steps, knowing that her footsteps echoed through the wood as she pounded up quickly. She raced down the hallway to their room and flung the door open, her dress askew and her hair out of place. She looked nothing like a lady.
“Alice, what’s the matter?” Alice was staring down at the partially cut fabric with a trembling lower lip.
“I received word from Jeffrey today,” she said.
“He won’t allow you to stay with us.”
“He’s still alive?” Ellen confirmed.
Alice whipped her head up and stared at Ellen with a confused look.
“Still . . . alive? Why, of course!”
“I didn’t know when you came down to the kitchen, and I suppose my imagination got the best of me again.” Ellen thought about telling her friend the strange notion she had had of a bull running him through, but somehow, she didn’t think Alice would find it as funny as she did.
“To make sure I understand the situation correctly, Jeffrey is still very much interested in taking you as his wife?”
“That’s correct, and he sent the money for my train ticket. Yours too.”
“My train ticket too. Alice, speak straight to me. You told me not three minutes ago that he said I couldn’t stay with you. I need to know what the letter says.” Ellen didn’t wait for her friend to answer. She snatched the letter from where it lay upon the writing desk and scanned the lines for herself.
Jeffrey would allow her to travel out to Texas with her friend if she wished to keep her company on the journey. However, once the two were married, she would not be allowed to stay there, nor would Jeffrey be responsible for what she did or where she went. Suddenly, the kind and caring man that Alice had selected didn’t seem as kind or caring.
“I understand if you don’t want to go. I can go on my own and return him the money when I arrive in Fort Worth. I’m sorry, Ellen.”
Ellen smiled and shook her head. “I’m going with you, Alice. Let me see the money.” Alice took the money from the writing desk drawer and handed it over. Ellen nodded at the amount. According to the letter, it was definitely enough for two train tickets plus a little more for food on their journey.
“Ellen, I would love for you to come, but what will you do without a place to stay or some sort of employment? I’ll be on the ranch. I’ll have a place. But you . . .?”
“You don’t worry about me. I’ll get things figured out before we get to Fort Worth. I have a bit of money saved up. If I need to buy a return ticket, that’s what I’ll do. But I wouldn’t count on that. You know me and how resourceful I am.”
“Resourceful isn’t the word I would use to describe you.” Alice smiled. “I would use clever and sneaky before resourceful.”
“Use the word you like but know that I’ll go with you. When shall we leave?”
Alice looked considerably more cheerful once she heard Ellen’s announcement, and Ellen was glad that she could animate her friend into doing what she had always wanted to do. “I still need to complete the dress.”
“Nonsense! You can work on the train. What else will you have to do while we travel?”
“I suppose we could buy the tickets tomorrow for the next train leaving.”
“Tomorrow it is, then. Let’s plan to leave for the train station early. Now, I have to go below and stir the soup.” Alice laughed and hugged Ellen.
“Thank you so much for being such a stupendous friend. I don’t think I could do this without you.”
Ben had promised Jeffrey he would be back in Fort Worth for his wedding, but he had other matters to address right now. He had received a letter of his own but not from a prospective bride. His sister had written to him and let him know that their mother was not feeling well. The town’s doctor didn’t have a positive outlook on the situation, and she suggested he come quickly. Knowing how long it took letters to move from town to town, even with the fastest horses, Ben had set out immediately as soon as he heard.
He was on the second day of his journey, and he hoped to reach his family’s ranch before that evening. As he rode along, he hoped and prayed with all his might that he wouldn’t be too late.
He had five brothers and sisters, and they had all followed the typical pattern. Their father had started paying them a wage once they turned eighteen, and after saving that money for a time, they had each purchased ranch land to begin their own businesses. Ben’s ranch wasn’t too far away, but some had left the area altogether and traveled far into the West.
Ben saw a light in the distance and knew it must be his family’s ranch. They didn’t have any close neighbors. Feeling a bit encouraged, he nudged his horses forward and rolled to a stop in front of the door.
“Elizabeth!” Ben called. He knew that his sister would be mindful of any approaching visitors, even though it was late at night for anyone. She came out immediately, barefoot as always.
“You’re too old to be walking around like you haven’t got a family to provide shoes fer ya,” Ben scolded his sixteen-year-old sister.
“And you’re getting too big for your britches,” she teased. “You act like you think you’re a real man now.”
“A real man? I have my own ranch. What do you think I am? A real woman?” They both laughed, and Elizabeth unhitched his horses. She turned suddenly serious.
“I’m glad you got my letter. Mama’s not doing well, but she hasn’t gotten any worse.”
“I’ll go see her. We can catch up later.” Elizabeth padded off to one of the fields, and Ben went inside, his eyes adjusting to the lamplight.
“Mama,” Ben called softly as he approached the door of the bedroom she shared with his father. He heard some rustling and waited until his father answered the door. When he saw it was Ben, he threw his arms around his son.
“You’ve come!” he said, a bit loudly.
“Who is it?” he heard his mother call from inside the room.
“It’s Ben. I told Elizabeth not to write to him, but here he is. That girl never listens.”
“Well, I’m here now, and I was overdue for a visit anyhow. Mama, how are you doing?”
“Come in. I don’t want to shout across the room.” Ben entered the room and settled into the rocking chair by the head of the bed. His mother’s Bible was on the tiny table next to it. Did she still have the same habit of getting up in the early morning hours to read the good book?
“How are you doing? Elizabeth made it sound urgent.”
“The doctor doesn’t know what has a hold of me. I’ve had a fever but not such a high one that I’m out of my mind. My stomach feels upset, and I’m barely able to get out of bed as my joints are so swollen.”
“What did the doctor do to help?”
“He’s given me some snake oil, and that’s helped with the inflammation. It doesn’t help with my stomach, though.”
“Maybe the snake oil’s making your stomach queasy,” Ben joked. His mother didn’t think it was funny. He turned serious again. He hated sickness because there was no way of really knowing what was going on in a person. He had lost one of his sisters to a fever when she was ten. He couldn’t stop thinking about her as he sat holding his mother’s hand.
“You think it’s catching?” he asked.
“If it’s catching, I would have gotten sick already,” Ben’s father said.
Ben’s mother sat up and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment before opening them and trying to take the hospitable role she always did. “Are you hungry? Do you need something to eat?”
“Elizabeth can get me something, Mama. You need to rest.”
“What about your ranch? You shouldn’t have come to visit us. What will happen to your ranch?”
“I have some workers who are going to take over the ranch for a couple of days, and I haven’t seen my family for almost a year. I’m so close by, but I don’t visit as often as I should.”
“You’re a busy man. It takes a lot of hard work to make a living. I hope I taught you everything you needed,” his father said. Ben assured him that he had. Elizabeth finally came in from the barn and fixed him something to eat. His stomach was rumbling up a storm, and he gratefully took the food. It had been so long since he had seen his family.
“Any suitors?” Ben asked Elizabeth as she watched him eat.
She shook her head. “Not yet, but I know they’ll come with time. And you haven’t found a wife yet? You’re twenty already and unmarried.”
Ben made a face at his younger sister. He knew that most men married by this time, especially men that had something to offer such as a successful cattle ranch. “I won’t marry a woman for her pretty face.”
“What’ll you marry her for then? Her pretty legs?” Elizabeth wiggled her eyebrows at her brother. No matter how old he got, he still felt like a child when he was with Elizabeth. He reached over and pinched her arm.
“Not quite what I was thinking, pigeon.”
“You can’t say you’ll never marry.”
“Oh, I’ll get married one day, but if I marry a woman, she has to be someone who can help out around the ranch, someone who’s not afraid of getting dirty.”
“Good luck with that.” Elizabeth didn’t look very hopeful. “Pa says that’s why I haven’t got any suitors. No man wants a woman who can’t wear shoes.”
“You can wear shoes.”
“But I shouldn’t have to unless it’s winter. It feels so nice outside this time of year. Why would I want to wear shoes like I live in the city?”
Ben smiled. Why was it so hard to find other women who thought like Elizabeth?
“Anyway, if you do find some woman who you fancy, you’ll be inviting me to the wedding, won’t you?”
“‘Course I will, Elizabeth. You shouldn’t have to ask me that.”
“Just been so long since we heard from you. I thought you kinda forgot about me living here with Mama and Pa.”
“I could never do that.” Ben settled back into the chair after he had scraped his plate clean. Elizabeth took his plate behind the house and washed it. People could say what they would about Elizabeth, but she was a nice girl, and she would make anyone a happy wife one day. Ben had a full day to spend with his family. Then he would have to head back to Fort Worth in time to catch Jeffrey’s wedding. He wouldn’t miss it for the world.
“When Love Comes in Disguise” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
After meeting in an orphanage many years ago, Ellen and Alice promised to stay close and protect each other, no matter what. When Alice attracts the attention of a kind man who wants to marry her, Ellen follows her to Fort Worth without a second thought… not even about where she will stay in this new town. Fearless and determined, she quickly comes up with an outrageous plan; she disguises herself as a man and gets a job at Alice’s husband’s ranch. Yet she never counted on meeting a handsome man there who complicates her thoughts and feelings. Should she risk telling him who she really is? Or should she keep her secret and never even have the chance to be with him?
Ben is happy helping at his best friend’s ranch, learning a lot and guiding the new ranch hands. When his best friend finds a wife from a newspaper ad, Ben thinks he’s quite careless to marry someone he has never met. His thoughts are completely forgotten though the minute he meets a mysterious woman in town and becomes determined to learn more about her. Much to his frustration, she disappears and reappears at the ranch out of nowhere, visiting a friend and always seeming to keep her distance from him. Where did she come from and why doesn’t she allow him to spend more time with her? Can Ben solve this riddle and earn her trust?
Both Ellen and Ben feel a strong pull to each other from the very first moment their eyes meet. Ellen’s heart flutters during their fleeting moments together but sinks as soon as she has to disguise herself again. When everything inevitably comes to light, will it shatter their growing connection forever? Or could their feelings be enough to keep them together?
“When Love Comes in Disguise” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.