Spellbound by Her Loving Smile (Preview)


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Chapter One

It was a fine morning in May in Dakota, and Maddie Hiller had come outside to milk the cow. Instead of doing this, she was leaning on the fence and gazing into the distance. The ranch stretched as far as the eye could see and she knew her father had come there over twenty years ago and made a thriving ranch from the land with the hard work of his own hands.

That still didn’t endear ranch life to the twenty-two-year-old, even though she could appreciate the effort that had gone into it. Maddie dreamed of a life away from the ranch where she could maybe be an actress or a singer. She thought to herself that almost any job would be more exciting than life on a ranch.

Children who grew up on ranches had always been expected to be part of the workforce from an early age and Maddie, her sister and stepbrother were no different. The difference between Maddie and Susan was that Susan loved ranch life. She loved the stock and helping her dad. She had a dog that followed her everywhere and she would quite happily sit in a stall with an animal that needed help. The sisters were good friends and close but had completely different personalities.

The girls loved their dad and had always been close because their mother had died when they were young children. The man had coped with raising the youngsters and still working the ranch. Then he had married again several years later and their brother Jimmy had been born.

Maddie was a competent rider and could handle a gun if she had to, but yearned for pretty clothes and a life that did not include working around on a dusty ranch. The ranch was not very far from the town and her stepbrother could walk into school quite safely.

Her sister Susan came and leaned on the fence beside her.

“You were miles way again,” She said. “Mom is waiting for the milk.” Maddie suddenly remembered what she was supposed to be doing.

“It is a beautiful morning,” she said as she made towards the barn. “Wish I had a more beautiful life to go with it.”

Susan laughed.

“One day a prince on a white horse will come riding out of nowhere and sweep you off your feet. He will hear you sing and you will become an overnight sensation on the stages of the world.”

“He will be handsome and strong and I will join him in his exciting and adventurous life.” Maddie finished with a smile. “Gotta have a dream.” She added as she picked up the bucket and started to milk the cow, who knew what time it was and was waiting patiently. Susan called to the dog, Milton, as she set off to collect the eggs.

Maddie rested her head against the side of the cow and pulled on the udders as the milk squirted into the bucket. It was a job she had done hundreds of times and her mind drifted back to the daydream. It was warm and comfortable in the barn and easy to let your mind wander.

She was just seeing herself singing to a full theatre and the applause was ringing out when her stepmother’s voice broke into the dream.

“Maddie, if we are going to have breakfast, we do need the milk.” Diana Hiller said.

“Oh, Lord. I didn’t hear you there.” Maddie said and jumped up quickly. The bucket tipped and half of the milk had gone before she straightened the bucket and picked it up.

“Well, that was a waste.” Diana said and took the bucket from her stepdaughter. “Good job the bacon and eggs don’t need milk. Come on.”

“I am sorry. Mom,” Maddie told her. “I was singing on a stage somewhere famous.” She laughed at her own excuse.

Her relationship with her stepmom was usually good. Diana had once had dreams of her own and understood more than Maddie knew. That was not to say that there were never arguments. Maddie really thought that nobody believed in her hopes and dreams.

Diana linked her free arm through that of her stepdaughter and told her that dreams did come true sometimes.

“Meanwhile there is work to do.” She said and handed the oldest child the task of serving breakfast. Diana halved the milk and set some in the churn for butter before coming to sit at the table. Ten -year old Jimmy was already eating enthusiastically. Susan was nowhere to be seen.

“Stick your head out and see if Susan is out there.” Her dad said. “This will get cold.”

Maddie went to the porch and shaded her eyes. There was no sign of her sister. She pursed her lips and whistled. It was a pretty tune of a few notes but quite piercing and carried for a good distance. She knew if Susan was within earshot, she would answer with the same few notes. The repeat of the sound came back to her and her sister appeared from around the stable with Milton at her heels. She had a large basket of eggs and it stopped her from hurrying.

Maddie stepped back inside and said that Susan was coming.

“She has a big basket of eggs with her.” She added as she served her sister and herself with a good breakfast.

The family were all around the table and James Hiller was proud of them all.

“The family Hiller are a good working partnership.” He said, and they all looked at him suspiciously. “Okay. Okay. I do need some help.”

“I can stay off school and help.” Jimmy offered, but was told his lessons were more important. His face fell.

“I thought you and Garth Muldoon were doing a special story session today?” His mom reminded him and he cheered up.

He jumped up and kissed his mom on the cheek.

“Have you got the actual story?” Maddie asked him and he grinned and went to collect his bag to carry to school. “Make sure you speak out loud and clear.” She added, and he waved as he left the house.

“I do need Maddie to go into town later.” Diana said. “What do you need us for?”

James Hiller worked hard himself and expected everyone else to do the same. He explained that the hands were out with the cattle and that he needed to clear the barn.

“The stored vegetables will need to go into the smaller cabin, and I can fork the hay onto the cart and move it to the stables.”

“Oh Lord, that is a fiddly job.” Susan answered. “They will have to be restacked in dry straw.”

“I guess the sooner we start, the sooner it will be done.” Diana said as she cleared the dishes away. “I would appreciate a little weeding in the vegetable garden as well if anyone has a few minutes spare.” She added.

“I like weeding.” Susan said. “On your hands and knees, it is peaceful.”

“If I go into town does that excuse me from weeding?” Maddie asked her mom with a smile. Diana nodded.

“I have some sewing to take to Missus Jones. There are supplies to bring from the store and I have a message for Jenny Deaney.”

“Those things I can do, and I can ride in on Marigold. She needs some exercise.” Maddie answered. “I don’t suppose I could have some of the new material that has just arrived? I could make a new dress for going to church.”

“The going to church was added to bribe me.” James protested. “Bring some material to make Susan a dress as well.” Maddie got up and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“Thank you, Dad.” She said, and went with the others over to the barn to be emptied. With four of them working hard, the things were moved, but the hay forking raised a lot of dust and they were choking and covered in little bits of straw that stuck in their hair and clothes.

“Heavens.” Diana coughed and patted at her dress. The girls unpinned their hair and brushed out the dust when they arrived back in the house.

“It got the job done. Thanks girls.” James said, took a drink of water, and strode away to get on with the work.

“Have a lemonade and a rest before we start again.” Diana said. Stepmother and daughters sat in the kitchen and talked dresses as Maddie was going to buy the material. Susan preferred the blue and Maddie said that she liked the dark red.

Diana put the sewing for Missus Jones in a bag. All three of the women were good with a needle and thread and had made some small clothes for Missus Jones’ grandchildren. Diana told her the cost and gave her a list of supplies and an envelope for her friend, Jenny Deaney.

“You and Jenny are plotting something.” Susan said.

“Just a little get-together – maybe a hog roast or something like that. We none of us meet everyone enough.”

“You can say that again.” Maddie said with feeling. “I sometimes feel trapped in this way of life.”

“Don’t let your dad hear you say that.” Diana told her. “The place is his whole life.”

“You could sing at the get together if we had a band.” Susan suggested. “It would be practise for when your big chance comes along.” She grinned and Maddie threw a cushion at her.

“It is a good idea though.” Diana said. “Would you do it?”

“I suppose it is what passes for excitement in these parts.” Maddie told her and then smiled. “But yes. It would be a chance to dress up. If there was a band we could dance.”

“Tell Jenny all of that, would you, Maddie?” Diana asked and Maddie nodded as she stole a piece of cake on the way to tidy herself up.

“The prince on his horse won’t be able to lift you up if you eat so much cake.” Her sister joked. Maddie grinned and went to change.

Diana had rewritten the note to Jenny and had everything Maddie would need, as well as money to buy the supplies. She walked over to the stable with Maddie and held the bags as Maddie competently saddled Marigold and then tied the bags onto the pommel. She climbed on the fence to get into the saddle.

“When you are rich and famous, you will not have the joy of riding around in this lovely country.” Diana said. “So, enjoy it.”

“I will.” Maddie said. “Good luck with the weeding.” She left the ranch and decided to let Marigold have a good run on the level road, but slowed up as the town came into sight and realised that she had enjoyed the ride as Diana had said. She swung into the main street but turned off to drop the dresses at Missus Jones’ house. Then she had to ride to the far side of town to find Jenny Deaney.

The woman was happy to see her and they talked about the ideas for the social get-together.

Maddie visited the store, heard some bits of gossip to take back to Diana and bought the supplies and coffee beans that she had been asked to buy. Then she put the supplies in the bag that she had brought, but the coffee beans were in a separate package that she tucked under her arm and set off to look for the dress material.

She was walking along with her head in the clouds as usual and thinking of which songs she would sing at the gathering when a horse right beside her snorted and she jumped. The coffee bean package dropped to the floor and burst open, scattering beans everywhere.

“Oh Lord.” Maddie called and then realised that the man on the horse had jumped down and was helping her to pick up the beans.

“I am so sorry.” He said. “I didn’t mean to frighten you like that.”

“So you should be.” She snapped back at him. She snatched the beans and put them back in the parcel as best she could but some of them were wasted. “I will have to go back and buy some more now.” She said in a very grumpy voice to this man who had spoiled her daydream.

“Let me buy them for you.” He offered.

“No, thank you.” She said, and walked back to the store.

She felt the eyes of the man on her back and straightened up. She had noticed that he was quite handsome in the short time that she had seen him.

Chapter Two

He had watched the girl stalk back to the store and smiled. She was slender and pretty with light brown hair, and he had noticed the hazel eyes that had flashed at him when the coffee beans spread everywhere. He knew that he did notice detail. It was something that made him good at his job. He also knew that he took time to be still and he observed everything and everyone around him.

He shook himself and went back to the business in hand. Buck Grady had arrived the day before and settled his things into the lodgings he had found. He had quietly walked around the place the evening before and taken in the spots that might cause him trouble. On the whole, Prospect Heights looked like any decent small town.

The sheriff’s office was in the main street and he tethered the horse, looking around before stepping inside. The retiring sheriff stood up from his chair.

“You must be Buck Grady.” He said and offered a hand. “George Harley.” He added his own name. Then he introduced the other man in the room. “Deputy Paul Junger.” The handshaking out of the way, Harley offered the sheriff’s seat and desk to the new man, and they poured coffees from the pot on the stove in the corner.

“Cheyenne would be a bit different from Prospect Heights.” The deputy said. “We heard that there was a lot of trouble to sort out.”

Grady nodded and said that he was ready for the change.

“We had a lot of bad men that we gradually caught and dealt with, but it was tough.”

“When you were recommended, we jumped at the chance of a man with experience to take over. I hope the place is not too quiet for you.” Harley told him. “I am ready to enjoy a bit of gardening and sitting on the veranda.”

“Before you go, I would appreciate a rundown from both of you on what to expect from the people here.”

The three men sat and Grady listened intently as the locals explained who was who in Prospect Heights.

“We have the usual drunks and small time robberies, but most of the time life here is quiet.”

“That is good to hear.” Grady said and thanked the retiring sheriff as he left to begin his gardening retirement.

“Shall we walk around and introduce you to folk?” Junger asked, and the two men put Stetsons on their heads and stepped into the main street. “Then there are the outlying places. When you get over the long trip from Cheyenne, we can ride out and show you those as well.”

The people in the street were pleased to stop and be introduced. Buck Grady started to think that he had maybe done the right thing in making the change. It seemed like a friendly place- apart from the pretty girl with the coffee beans. He saw a quick vision of her purposely making her way back to the store with a very straight back. He pushed the picture away as they stopped in the saloon and Grady made himself known. His experience told him that being on good terms with the saloon owners always helped keep the peace.

Bart, the manager in the Rocky Gold Saloon, was an older man who looked as if he could take care of himself but was happy to meet the new sheriff. He waved as a man came out of the double doors and introduced the owner of the saloon.

Aldous Strange was a heavily built man with wispy hair and quite a prominent nose. He shook hands with the new sheriff and offered to help in any way he could. The man was smartly dressed in clothes more suited to the city than a small town. The high collared shirt looked really quite formal and the jacket was a similar style, but he was civil. The man was obviously doing something right as his business seemed to prosper.

Grady was polite and told him that he would remember the offer. The sheriff and deputy left to continue their walk around the town.

“Mister Strange owns several businesses. Minds his own business as far as I can tell. We never knew where he came from but it doesn’t seem to matter.” Paul Junger told him as they made their way to the next place. Grady asked what the businesses were, and was told that the livery stable they were about to enter was one of them.

“Good to meet you.” Matthew Porter told him. He was a pleasant man, and his wife and daughter came out to say hello as well. The daughter was a slightly rounded girl of about eighteen with a pretty smile and blonde hair. She held Grady’s hand slightly longer than was necessary.

They continued their way around the town, which was bigger than Buck had first thought.

Lots of folk stopped to pass the time of day and he met a woman who was introduced as Jenny Deaney. She was a cheerful soul and chattered away about the sheriff getting to know folk.

“My friend’s daughter came with plans for a get-together and then she came back to say that a man on a bay horse had made her drop her coffee beans. From her description-,” Buck Grady smiled at her and nodded. Jenny noted that it gave his quite sombre face a different look completely.

“Yup. That was me. She would not let me pay for them and went away with her head in the air.”

“They live on the Hiller Ranch.” “Junger said. “We can take that in as we show you around the whole area.”

“I can apologise again.” Grady said to Jenny Deaney. Jenny told him that she betted that Maddie had been walking along in a daydream.

“The girl dreams of being a world-famous singer.” She laughed. “She’ll sing at the hog roast. She does have a lovely voice.”

Jenny had walked along with them as she talked. She was an easy woman to get along with and persuaded him into agreeing to come to their get-together. She had also managed to find out where he came from, how long he had been a sheriff in Cheyenne, and that he had no family and his parents were passed away. She went away to the store.

The new sheriff and the deputy went back inside the office. There were arrangements to be made for how they would work together. Buck was well satisfied with this small town and the deputy was a man he could get along with. They were about to go and find something to eat when a man rode up the street in a hurry and told the sheriff that two men were at the farm where he worked and he thought they were threatening the family.

Both men felt for their guns and found horses to follow the rider back to his place of work. The farm was not far and the men left the horses outside of the gates and went inside quietly. There was no noise from inside the house and Buck looked cautiously into the window. The two women inside were crying and leaning over a man on the floor.

Junger called out that it was the sheriff outside and not to be afraid. They pushed open the door and the girl on the floor had a shotgun pointed directly at them as they entered. She started to shake when she saw it was friends and dropped the gun. She started to tremble and the man who had come for help went to pick her up and take her to a seat. They pulled aside the older woman from the body on the ground and found the farm owner bleeding badly and very still.

“Water.” Buck commanded, and the woman snapped into action. He squeezed some water into the man’s mouth and found a towel that the woman handed him to staunch the blood.

“Paul, go and get the doc as fast as you can.” Grady called and the deputy took off at a run. “What happened?” He asked the woman and the girl who he presumed was the daughter. They told him that two men had come in with guns in hand and demanded money.

“Dad refused and they shot him. I got the box where he keeps the money and they took it and rode away.” The girl told him. “Will my dad die?” She ended on a whisper.

“I honestly don’t know but the bleeding has stopped and the doctor will be able to do more.”

“It is still daylight. When the doctor comes, I will try and follow the tracks. Can you tell me what they looked like?” Between the two women he heard enough to be able to recognise the pair if he found them, and the man on the ground moaned and opened his eyes.

“Stay still.” Buck told him. “The doc is on his way.”

“This is the new sheriff.” The woman told her husband. “Some welcome to Prospect Heights this is.” She added.

“No such thing as a really quiet town.” The sheriff answered and heard the doctor run up the steps to the door.

“Come on, Paul. Let’s see if we can follow the tracks.” Grady said, and the two lawmen went searching the ground for clues.

It was not easy to see, but between them they did pick up the trail of two horses heading away from town.

Taking turns to jump down and look for signs, the men saw the tracks turn off into an entrance.

“You know where we are?” Grady asked.

“This is an empty homestead.” The deputy told him. “Hasn’t been lived in since the old man here died.”

“Hide the horses.” Buck said, and they went on foot with guns in hand to a small and tumbledown cabin. It was tumbledown and out of use but there was a light flickering in the window. They crept up to the window and tried to see inside. Buck pointed to some bushes and they retreated to the cover.

“Only two of them.” Paul said. “What should we do?”

“Let’s look for another way in and surprise them from two sides.” Paul nodded and the two of them carefully found a broken window at the rear. They opened it quietly and the sheriff leant down so that the deputy could climb up to get inside. “When you hear me shout, come in from the other side.” Then he went around to the front.

Buck Grady took a deep breath, kicked the door open, and went inside shouting at the men to put their hands up. He had a gun in each hand. One man went for his gun and Buck Grady shot the gun from his hand. Paul Junger burst through the door from behind and shouted out loudly as he came. The two men had been eating and were not expecting to be followed. They both dropped their guns. The sheriff and deputy slapped handcuffs on them and found the money from the farm.

When they arrived back at the farm with the money and two captives the family were amazed.

“Well we have a fantastic new sheriff.” The woman told them. “My husband is a lot better. Thank you so much.” The captives were taken into town and lots of folk came out, curious to see who had been captured. The doctor had already returned and the story had gone around like wildfire.

The men were put into cells and sheriff and deputy decided that they would finally have that meal.

“What a start to a new job.” Buck Grady said, but the steak came free and took his mind off the reason he had taken the job in the first place.

Chapter Three

The next morning on the Hiller ranch was like any other. After the early chores were done, Susan went back to weeding as Maddie helped Diana in the kitchen. The men were off on the range and the place was very quiet. They all heard an arrival at the gate and came from various chores to see Jenny Deaney in a small carriage.

“How lovely.” Diana called, and went to open the gate to let her friend drive in. The girls saw to the horse and the two older women went inside. The two girls found them in the kitchen and all four of them sat around the table to find out why they had the visitor.

“Well, several things really.” Jenny said. “I met the new sheriff yesterday as he and Paul Junger were walking around to introduce him to the place.” She smiled and looked at Maddie. “One of us had already met him.”

Maddie looked puzzled and then put a hand over her mouth.

“The man who spilt the coffee beans?” Was that the new sheriff? Lord, I was quite grumpy with him.”

Jenny nodded and told her that he did not seem worried.

“In fact, he seems like quite a decent sort of man. I talked him into coming to our hog roast.”

“What else did you find out, Jenny? We all know how good you are at getting folk to talk.” Diana pressed her with a smile.

“He’s from Cheyenne, where he cleaned up the place apparently. Wants a more peaceful life. No family and his parents are both passed away.” She rattled off the details that she had learned and the others all laughed.

“Our very own newspaper, Jenny.” Diana stopped and looked at her friend. “There is more?”

Jenny told them about how the man from the farm had ridden in and the brave new sheriff and deputy had found George Pinder shot, money gone, and Marilou pointing the gun at them.

“How is George?” Diana asked.

“Pulling through the doctor thinks but-,” She paused for dramatic effect. “The sheriff and Paul Junger followed the tracks, surprised the men at the old homestead that was Hardcastle’s, broke in.” She halted again. “Apparently when one of the men drew his gun, the sheriff shot it out of his hand. They slipped handcuffs on them and they are sitting in the cells.”

There was a stunned silence as the other three took in her tale. Jenny was pleased with the effects of her story. Then all of them spoke at once and chattered on about how good it would be to have a sheriff that could really look after the place.

“Anyway, you are all up to date with the affairs in town and we have to decide when this hog roast will be.”

“I haven’t actually asked James yet.” Diana confessed.

“Dad will say yes.” Susan said. “When will it be?”

“First week in June.” Diana suggested. “The ranch will be quiet and the farms won’t have started harvest.”

“I’ll check with the band that everyone likes. When we know they can be there we can make a definite day.” Jenny told them. “That was lovely cake, Diana.” She said as she stood up. The girls went to find the horse and slip her back between the carriage shafts, and Jenny Deaney rode back to town.

The women hurried around to prepare a meal for the men returning and were kept busy. The food was prepared and the place seemed to be full of men as they all rode back in ready for chicken pie and vegetables. Susan loved the bustle of the ranch and the talk between the men of the problems with steers, fences and things that could go wrong as they worked. She stopped to join in the talk and went back to the barn to help with one of the horses.

Diana caught James before he disappeared with his work and asked if it was okay to have a hog roast at the ranch some time in early June. He hummed and hawed but she knew he would give in and let her have her way. He went off and Diana found Maddie dreaming again over the dirty dishes. She was humming a little tune and her mind was obviously not on the job in hand.

“Let me do those while you grind some coffee beans for me.” Diana told her. “You’re obviously thinking about songs for the get together.” Maddie nodded and dozed her way to the coffee grinder, still singing under her breath. Her mind was not on the task in hand and the new beans had some grit in with them from where they were scooped up from the ground. Maddie didn’t notice until the coffee grinder stopped completely and made a nasty scrunchy sound.

“What on earth are you doing?” Diana asked and came across to the table. “Good Lord, girl. You have stones in amongst these beans.”

“I cannot do anything right, can I?” Maddie snapped back. “Housework, coffee grinding, weeding. This is a dreadful life.” She shouted back and ran from the house to the barn. Diana sighed and let her go. Then she started to fix the coffee grinder.

Maddie threw the saddle onto her horse and pulled at the girth hard. Then she took a jacket from the peg in the stable and a Stetson from the side as well. They were not hers but she borrowed them anyway, climbed into the saddle and kicked poor Marigold into action. Marigold was a good mare and quite spirited. Maddie was an excellent horsewoman and as soon as she was past the barns, she let the mare have her head and went off at a tearing pace.

Some of the hands watched her go.

“Shall I go and check she is okay?” One of them asked James but he shook his head.

“I guess she just wants to work off some argument.” He answered. “We have to go that way later. We will probably meet her coming back.” Marigold had covered quite a lot of ground before Maddie reined her in to a steadier pace. They were a long way from the ranch house.

“Thank you, girl.” She said and patted the horse’s neck. “Take it easy now.”

The chestnut mare walked sedately along the side of the fence and up a rise in the ground. The land spread out in front of them and Maddie stopped to look at the view. It was quite wonderful and even though she longed to leave ranch life, she still knew beauty when she saw it. The cattle were scattered as far as the eye could see, peacefully eating their way across the landscape when she noticed several of them moving to one side at a faster pace.

Maddie had grown up on this land and knew it extremely well. She had also been taught how to look after herself and how to read the movement of the stock. She might not like ranch life but she knew all about it. Her eyes scanned the area that the cattle had left and she saw a rider. Even at that distance, she knew it was a stranger and not one of the hands. A cold shiver ran down her back and something told her to move away.

Even as she thought it, she saw the man turn his horse in her direction and start to gallop. She turned Marigold on the spot and kicked her into action. The mare was a good one and could move fast but if the man was on a bigger and stronger creature, he would catch her up.

Instead of running in a straight line back towards the ranch, Maddie swerved off into some trees and when she came through to the other side doubled back and headed through a rocky cut to put herself on another route towards the house. Then she pulled Marigold to a halt behind the rocky outcrop and sat still with her ears strained for any sound. There was none, and it seemed like an eternity before she allowed herself to think that she had fooled the rider. Her hands were shaking but she calmed herself so that the worry would not pass to the mare. Then she walked sedately away from her hiding place and onto the trail that came back home from the other side.

For once, she was very glad to see the buildings and house. She came into the front gates of the ranch and took Marigold to the stable to remove the saddle. She was turning the mare into the corral when her dad came over to ask where she had been.

For some reason, she decided not to mention to her dad about the strange rider that had come riding towards her. She knew that he would be furious that she had gone that far from the house by herself.

“I rode right out to the open view but came back through the trees and the rocky cut.” She told him, which was perfectly true. James Hiller knew his daughters and he gave her a quizzical look but didn’t ask any more questions.

“I know that the two men the new sheriff caught are in jail but I think you should stay close to the ranch.” He said. Maddie went and kissed his cheek.

“I know you worry. I’m sorry.” She told him. “I’ll apologise to mom for losing my temper.”

She was rewarded with a rare smile from her father. The ranch and taking care of things did cause a lot of work and worry.

“I am coming back to scrounge a cup of coffee.” He said, and put his arm across her shoulders. She put an arm around his waist and they walked back to the house.

“Well, this is a show of togetherness if ever I saw it.” Diana said from the doorway. Maddie ran and gave her a hug.

“I apologise.” She said. “For my bad temper and for making you all worry.”

“Accepted.” Diana said. “I hope you all realise that this coffee took a lot of fiddly sorting out before I could brew it.”

“Oh, my fault again.” She halted. “Or maybe more like the new sheriff’s fault. It was him that startled me into dropping the packet.”

“You could go in tomorrow and find me some more beans.” Diana said. “I threw a lot away.”

“And we know that the hog roast will be the first week in June. Can we make the new dresses by then?” Susan added.

“I will find out from Jenny about the band and maybe we can fix the date.” Maddie said.

“Have you decided which songs to sing?” Diana asked. Maddie shook her head. “Try one out on us for practise.” Maddie looked around the table.

“Really?” They all nodded and sat back with Diana’s cake and fresh coffee as Maddie did what she loved to do and sang them two of her favorite pieces.

The song finished and the family gave her a round of applause as a knock sounded at the door. Tubs Malone stuck in his head.

“Didn’t want to interrupt.” He said. “It sounded real good but there’s a man at the gate asking for you, Boss.”

James pushed back his chair and went out with Tubs.

The women all looked out with curiosity to see who was there. It was a stranger. James opened the gate and took the man across to the bunkhouse.

“Must be somebody looking for work.” Diana said.

“I am going to cut out the dress if nobody is using the table.” Susan said, and brought the blue material from the cupboard.

Maddie shivered and stoked the fire.

“Spellbound by Her Loving Smile” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Maddie Hiller lives on her father’s ranch but has always daydreamed of becoming a famous singer, following her late mother’s steps. All these years, her father’s strong disagreement has left her feeling alone and hemmed in a miserable fate. However, everything will seem vain when her family is being threatened by dangerous criminals, and she will have to face the hardest dilemma. Luckily enough, she will quickly find an ally on Buck’s face who will accompany her to an unbelievable adventure. Will she manage to put her life back on track and follow her lifelong dream? How will her feelings affect her decision?

Buck Grady is the new sheriff in town who is determined to pursue justice with an obsessive approach due to his dark past. Personal affairs have no significance to him until he meets Maddie and gets carried away with her spirit and inner fire. Under dangerous circumstances, they will have to come closer and work together. Will he stay focused on his target or will he get lost in unprecedented feelings? Will he realize that chasing the past will only keep hurting him, while true happiness is right in front of him?

Maddie and Buck are oriented towards completely different, if not opposite directions. Fate, though, has a way of changing how they feel even when they do not expect it. A crime bringing back hurtful memories and the concern for their families will bring them together. Are these enough to keep them on the same path? Will they choose love over their dreams?

“Spellbound by Her Loving Smile” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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