In the three years since his beloved wife died, rancher Chad Rutherford has done the best for his family. But with his sister leaving the family ranch to get married, he needs to find someone to keep house and tend his kids so he places an ad for a mail-order bride.
Left on her own by her brother’s murder, spinster Vika Carmichael must find a way to life. An ad for a mail-order bride from a widower with small children seems like the perfect fit. Until she arrives in Gunnison, Colorado Territory, and wonders if room for her exists in their hearts.
Will two proud individuals find a way to work together, or will their marriage vow be broken before Christmas?
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After scooting away from the steps, she scanned the area and focused on a tall man with a wide-brimmed hat shading his face. He stood against the depot wall, away from the crush of people, with a small child clasping both of his large hands. His height and bulk dwarfed the wee ones. A thick coat hung unbuttoned from broad shoulders. From the angle of his body, she assumed he looked in her direction, but she couldna be sure. Lifting the front of her skirts, she took slow steps, inching her way through the crowd until she stood only a few feet away and tipped back her head. She gazed into the darkest eyes she’d ever seen. “Mister Rutherford?”
He nodded. “Miss Carmichael?”
The relief of arriving and making the anticipated connection tumbled her stomach. “I am pleased to be making yer acquaintance.” Seeing no offer of a handshake greeting, she dropped a shallow curtsey then glanced at the wide-eyed children now pressed against their father’s legs. “Oh, and the wee bairns. What be their names?” Smiling, she glanced upward to see his dark brows slam into a frown. Reviewing what she’d said, she realized in her excitement, she lapsed into her native brogue. “Sorry, I meant children.”
Mister Rutherford shook his left hand. “My son is Lance, and he’s five years old.” Then he wiggled his right hand. “My daughter is Guinie, and she’s three.” He crouched down to their level and glanced between them. “Children, here is the woman I told you about. Miss Carmichael has come to live with us.”
“No, Daddy! Want Auntie Caro.” Guinie shook her head then buried her face in her father’s neck.
Vika stiffened. Never in her thoughts of her new life had she worried about having to win over the children…only their father. Hoping for a friendlier reception, she looked toward the boy who stared with an unflinching, brown-eyed gaze. “Making new friends is hard.” She glanced at the father who patted his daughter’s back and wished the right words sprang from her lips. But she was so tired and hungry she couldna think straight. From a distance, she heard a faint yip and turned toward the back of the train. Biscuit. Of course. “I brought a surprise I think ye’ll like.”
Mister Rutherford straightened. “We’d best collect your luggage. Come along, children.” He urged them forward.
She was left staring at the backs of the three people who looked like a self-contained unit. Did room exist for her in any of their hearts?
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