After a decade serving as a governess for a wealthy Chicago family, lively Fiona Carthage is ousted from her job and their house. She turns to the Matrimonial News and responds to an ad from a Colorado storeowner. Anson Lorentz, a man who prizes routine and a quiet life, sees the happiness a mail-order bride brought his friend and takes a chance on bringing a bride to Gunnison City. Fiona works to make his house into a real home. Her arrival sets his household upside down, which causes friction for this new couple.
Will Anson stand by his promise to provide Fiona a secure home, or will his newly discovered family ties sway his allegiance?
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Why hadn’t they written physical descriptions of one another?
A few more seconds passed before a woman with auburn hair topped by a black hat paused at the highest step. She glanced around the immediate area then rested her gloved hand in the porter’s to disembark from the railcar.
Although not a close observer of women’s fashions, he’d seen enough sketches in the Montgomery Ward catalog to know her long coat was a style normally worn by women in a big city. As he approached, he took in her short stature and worried she lacked a scarf or muff. A frown pinched his features before he forced a smile. “Miss Carthage?”
The woman started then looked up. “’Tis I. And glad I am to have finally arrived. Are ye Mister Lorentz?” She glanced at the porter and nodded then stepped forward and extended a gloved hand. “Happy I am to meet ye.”
The lilting cadence of her soft voice was as he imagined—similar to Vika’s, yet all her own. Anson accepted the handclasp and squeezed, liking the connection with this pretty woman. She barely came up to his shoulder in height. “As am I.” Her chin was a bit pointed, but her lips looked well shaped, and her nose was straight. But her doe-like, wide-set eyes held him captive. Fiona Carthage was here, right here in his hometown. A day-long knot that sat in the pit of his stomach loosened. He released her hand then swept an arm toward the back of the train. “What luggage did you bring?”
“This satchel I’m carrying and a single trunk. Not much in the way of worldly possessions, ye might say. Mostly because in me past position, me employers provided me with everything I needed.” She ducked her head, and her shoulders raised and dropped. When she lifted her head, she smiled. “But I’m here to start anew.”
He debated about taking the satchel but figured he’d need both hands for carrying the larger item. “We’ll collect the truck and be on our way to my store.” Knowing the reverend expected them at the top of the hour, he set off toward the baggage car where he saw luggage being unloaded. At the second car from where they’d met, he didn’t hear an echo of footsteps beside him and glanced over his shoulder.
“Mister Lorentz, me stride is a wee bit shorter.” Pale faced, she approached then paused, pressing a hand to her left side. “I fear I canna catch me breath.” Her eyes widened, and she swayed, bringing up a hand to her forehead. “Oh.”
What to do? He couldn’t let her fall, but would she object if he embraced her? At the shuffling of her shoes against the planks, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and supported her back. “Take it easy. Just breathe deep.”
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