Monday, July 28, 2014

RUNAWAY COWGIRL by Cheryl Dragon

RUNAWAY COWGIRL by Cheryl Dragon

Emily isn’t about to marry just any man, but falling in love with two hot ranchers might be more than this respectable young lady can handle.

Emily St. Claire is wealthy, beautiful, young and very eligible to the single men of Manitou Springs, Colorado. The Wild West isn’t safe for a woman alone, but she isn’t about to marry for anything but love. Her charitable efforts put her in touch with all manner of people, and while she’s respectable, she causes gossip around the small town as she tries to help prostitutes and orphans. Still, she does want a family of her own.

Two handsome young men catch Emily’s eye, but Jack and Henry are so close. How can she pick one of them without destroying their friendship and their partnership? When she finds them in a compromising position, she’s shocked and intrigued. Emily never considered herself conventional, but the men open her eyes even more to how inclusive and varied love can be. Society would never approve, yet it doesn’t feel wrong for the trio. Being courted by two men at once is wild, but committing herself to them is pure madness and pure ecstasy as well. They must keep their ménage secret until they’re sure how to plan a future together so no one will suspect or discover the truth. 1878 isn’t ready for what they have to offer.



Copyright © Cheryl Dragon 2014. All Rights Reserved, Total-E-Ntwined Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.

Manitou Springs, Colorado, USA—1878

When the Reverend Young finally dismissed the congregation from Sunday service, Emily St. Claire breathed a sigh of relief. She kept her composure and exited the small wooden church painted white. Smiling at the ladies, Emily appreciated the sympathetic nods.

“We’re all so very sorry about your father, Miss St. Claire. But we’re very glad you’re back,” said Mr Young.

“Thank you. Lovely sermon today.” Emily felt the eyes of the town on her as she waited for her companion Alice Lange, to finish a conversation.

The young widow had been selected by Emily’s father as a companion to his single daughter when he fell ill. It worked out perfectly until Mr St. Claire died and Emily was compelled to spend the mourning period with her sister and brother-in-law in Denver.

Sheriff Drake tipped his hat. “I’m sure being back here is dull compared to life in Denver. Do you intend on moving there to be with your sister? I can deputise some men to secure your belongings and escort you and Mrs Lange.”

“Thank you, but I won’t be moving. My father loved Manitou. He struck his silver and copper near here and built that lovely home for me.” She’d been putting out rumors of her leaving since the day she returned.

Alice walked up to Emily, and it was a relief. The pair headed for Emily’s home not far from the church on the same end of town. The lovely spring day made the exercise delightful but as men fell into step behind the pair, she wished they’d brought the wagon.

“What could they want? The men were staring at me all through church,” she whispered to Alice.

Alice glanced back casually and cleared her throat. “The mercantile owner, the sheriff, the reverend plus a few other single, respectable men are all following us.”

“This is ridiculous.” Emily walked faster, but avoided breaking into a run.

“Your new wardrobe is the envy of every woman in town. The trimmer silhouette and subtle bustle is most becoming.” Alice dabbed a handkerchief over her brow.

“Men don’t care about fashion. They’ve not lowered the necklines.” Emily toyed with the slightly belled cuff at her elbow. The lavender gown was new from her Denver days. She owned a great deal of black, but had put a portion of her substantial inheritance into a new wardrobe and some bolts of fabric for future replacement pieces. The newer fashions were more comfortable. More practical jackets complimented the layered skirts with a slight bustle. It was much better than the hoop skirts of her youth.

“You’re a lovely young woman who is staying in Manitou,” Alice said.

The demure choker around Emily’s throat felt a bit tighter. “They can’t be serious.”

“Some of those men aren’t in town except for church and supplies. They won’t have much opportunity but to call today. Not all are objectionable,” Alice said.

The women ascended the porch steps. Her home was the grandest in Manitou with etched glass and no expense spared. The housekeeper opened the door for them.

“Hello, Sarah.” Emily stepped a foot inside and saw the old woman warily eyeing the men out front.

“You’ve got callers, Miss St. Claire.” Sarah nodded.

Emily turned and plastered a ladylike smile on her face. “Gentlemen, what can I do for you?”

“Miss St. Claire, your intention to stay is a blessing to the town,” said Young.

“Thank you.” She knew her charitable efforts could be considered excessive, but it was useful, and she employed some individuals, of course. She also shopped liberally.

“However, you must take certain factors into account. For your reputation,” the sheriff added.

“My reputation? Mrs Lange is my constant companion. You doubt her respectability?” Emily asked curtly.

Young held up a hand. “No one doubts anyone’s honour or respectability. However, a single woman alone is a danger. In a big city where they have women’s boarding houses or in Denver with your sister, that’s a different situation. Out west in a town like this, with so many single men, and helping—”

“Orphans and fallen women need help too. I don’t need your permission to be charitable with my money.” Emily’s headstrong antics often gave her father fits, but staying in a big city like Denver had proven she wasn’t a fool. Growing up with a dreamer for a father, she watched him rise to a man of status because of his mines. The world had changed its view of him. So change was possible and rules were meant to be broken.

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...