In Holle Berthold’s experience, love is a curse. She’s been engaged twice and a mail-order bride once but remains unmarried. Her first fiancé died, and the second one jilted her two days before the wedding. Then the man who paid for her train ticket to bring her to Montana as a mail-order bride rejected her because of her partial deafness. Abandoned, she must find a job and settles in a working-class neighborhood just like the one she hoped to escape.
Widower Eduard Lambrecht never thought he’d love again. He discovers his late wife’s Christmas quilt suffered in storage since the last season. He takes it to a seamstress shop, where he learns the woman with the skills to repair it is also the mail-order bride his cousin rejected. Unaccustomed to facing open hostility, he works to gain the woman’s trust and establish her in the town’s German community. A near tragedy draws them close, but is it enough to base a future on?
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What could he be apologizing for? The longer he paced, the tighter the air in her chest caught.
He dug a hand into his front pocket. “Here’s five dollars. That’s all I’m carrying. I’m so sorry.” After setting the coins on the bench beside her, he straightened. “I wish you the best, Miss Berthold.” Following his statement, he turned, settled the hat on his head, and walked out the depot door. Within seconds, he stepped into the street and disappeared in the wagon and horse traffic.
Sounds wavered. What am I to do? Her vision narrowed to the space right in front of her with blackness circling the edges. I have no money to go elsewhere. She collected the coins into her hands and held tight, hunching her shoulders. Rejected again. The tick-tock of the regulator clock on the wall provided a steady rhythm that she tried to follow and put order to her wild thoughts. Her belongings wouldn’t arrive for several days on the freight wagon. Until that time, she had to secure lodgings. But then what?
Holle’s breaths came too fast, and a trickle of perspiration inched down her spine. She rolled her shoulders and released her gripped fingers, one at a time, and assessed her situation. Abandoned in a strange town hundreds of miles away from anyone she knew.
How had she put herself in this vulnerable position…again?
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