Now here’s my entry in the “Grandma’s Wedding Quilts” series. I set this story in my “Dorado, Texas” world so many of the secondary characters are known to my readers. But that won’t stop your enjoyment–the story stands on its own merit.
When Ione Forrester calls off her wedding, she becomes the social pariah of Des Moines. Much to her society parents’ chagrin. To escape the gossip, Ione accepts a teaching job in Dorado, Texas, vowing to avoid scandal at all costs. Relocating from a doctor’s household with cook and maids to a room in a boarding house is quite an adjustment. Then she has to face her biggest challenge—a schoolhouse full of students.
Carpenter Morgan Shipley’s business is doing well and now he’s looking for companionship. An ad for a mail-order bride brings a deluge of letters, which prove more than he can handle. To his surprise, an intriguing woman from a big city arrives in his small Texas town. Correspondence is nothing like interacting with a flesh-and-blood woman every day. But gossip-leery Ione wants nothing to do with Morgan’s attempts at courting, which makes him try even harder.
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Morgan tracked the woman’s progress around the backs of the occupied chairs to the empty one to Penn’s right. He noticed everyone else watched her movements, as well. Strangers in this small town were always objects of speculation—like he’d engaged in hours earlier. Lowering to his seat, he again forced himself to look away to avoid appearing rude.
“Ivey, will you announce tonight’s menu?” Missus Treadwell unfolded her napkin then started serving big spoonfuls onto plates and passing them.
As she pointed to the meat platter, Ivey grinned. “The main course is a ragout of pork with mushrooms, wild onions, and turnips.” She gestured toward other bowls. “Mashed potatoes with chopped garlic and parsley, pickled beets and artichoke hearts, buttered corn, and rolls.” She removed the cover from the closest bowl and scooped a spoonful of potatoes onto the plate before handing it to her left. “As is probably obvious, I’m the cook here at the boardinghouse.”
“Berg Spengler, town blacksmith.” The bear of a man ducked his head as he passed the plate.
“I’m Maisie Treadwell, and I’m the maid.” The woman with honey-blonde hair served a portion of beets and handed the plate top the next person, quickly repeating the gesture with the next one.
“I hope the potatoes don’t have too much garlic.” A dark-haired boarder giggled. “I have to work tonight.” She added a serving of cut corn and passed the plate. “Oh, I’m Olivia Domingo, and I am a barmaid at the Golden Door.”
Morgan glanced across the table in time to see the new woman’s eyes shoot wide and her backbone straighten before she passed the plate to Penn.
Then she pulled her expression back to neutral. “My turn, I suppose.” The stranger leaned forward and gave a little wave.
Ah, she speaks. Morgan savored the sweet sound of her voice.
“My name is Ione Forrester, and I have been hired to be Dorado’s new schoolteacher.”
“Welcome to Dorado, Miss Forrester. We’re glad you’ve joined us.” The rapid words spewed from his mouth before Morgan gave them any thought. Which made him look like an awkward schoolboy.
Anyone leaving a comment here or on my post on the Sweet American Sweethearts blog today will have a chance at winning an e-copy of Wandering Home, the first novella in the Dorado, Texas series.