A CHRISTMAS BELLE
October 1877, Wyoming
Was this really what it took to find a husband?
Amanda Geoffrey heaved a deep sigh and brushed dust from her traveling gown. She turned to one of the other mail-order brides jouncing on the buckwagon’s wooden seat beside her. “Yes, from my earliest memories people esteemed me as a mind-reader. I do possess a knack for reading people’s fleeting involuntary expressions.” She smiled. “People immediately erase those swift reactions hoping to mask their true thoughts.”
“Your ability sounds like a gift.” Though they’d been riding in the wagon almost eight hours, Henrietta’s eyes sparkled.
“When I concentrate, I can almost mind-read. But, after some awkward experiences, I’ve pretty much learned to keep the knowledge of my gift to myself. I’m trusting you not to tell a soul.”
“You can be certain I’ll keep your secret. I hope we can become friends. Please tell me more about your gift.” Henrietta arched her back and rubbed gloved hands just below where the buckboard’s backrest ended.
“Expressions truly are the window to the soul, and I knew how to peek into that window and discover whatever the owner wants to hide.”
“That is frightening, Amanda. Can you read my thoughts now?” Henrietta turned a pretty face toward her.
“Like me you’re tired, hungry, thirsty, and frightened at what we shall find at the end of our long journey. These are not the fleeting expressions I’m speaking of. What I do is hard to explain. I study the emotions people try to hide. The emotion appears for less than a second and then the expression is hidden.”
But Henrietta didn’t, of course. She, like most people, never glimpsed those swiftly hidden feelings. Amanda so wanted her new friend to understand. “When we reach Angel Vale I’ll concentrate as if my life depends on what I see in my groom-to-be’s face.” Amanda gripped the tapestry purse jiggling in her lap until her knuckles whitened. Because her future did depend on what she identified in his expression.
Henrietta nodded and then leaned against the hard wooden backboard and closed her eyes. “I’m so glad we’ll be friends.”
Amanda pulled in a deep breath. Her heart beat fast. If only she could relax. After upending her life, she faced a fork in the road. And she’d use her gift to discover the best path to her new life.
She straightened her shoulders, stiffened her back against the wagon’s wooden seat, and planted her pointy-toed boots on the floorboard. Her gift gave her an advantage, but she needed every ounce of help she could secure. She had this one chance. So much could sour with this bridal agreement. So much could go wrong.
A headache pounded behind her eyes.
She rubbed her neck, trying to relax her rigid muscles. The wagon’s hard ride scrambled her insides. She dug her hankie out of the large handbag on her lap and wiped dust from her face. “Such a long, dirty trip from Merville, Maine. I won’t miss that smelly fishing village.”
Without opening her eyes, Henrietta murmured, “Oh, I’m sure I will.”
Amanda’s pulse raced faster than the rugged western countryside moving beneath the long wagon. After the punishing eight-hour ride from the train station in Cheyenne, the other mail-order brides jammed in with her looked as fatigued as she felt. But exhaustion couldn’t dull her foreboding, which grew greater the closer they rode to Angel Vale.
She so dreaded meeting the cowboy. Neither Aunt Bessie Mae, when she lived in Atlanta, nor Uncle Stephan, when she lived in Merville, had wanted her. She had never been good enough for either of them. What if she wasn’t good enough for the cowboy either?
What about you?
In A Christmas Belle, Amanda has been jilted at the altar. Have you ever had your heart broken by a
man you loved?
If you lived in 1877, do you think you would prefer to marry a Southern gentleman or a Wyoming Sheriff?
Anne is giving away an autographed copy of A Groom for Christmas, and an autographed copy of Daredevils, and an autographed copy of Lord Bentley Needs a Bride. Answer one of the questions above to be entered in the giveaway!
ABOUT ANNE GREENE:
My home is in the quaint antiquing town of McKinney, Texas, just a few miles north of Dallas. My dear husband is a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. My little brown and white Shih Tzu, Lily Valentine, shares my writing space, curled at my feet. I have four beautiful, talented children, and eight grandchildren who keep me running.
I’ve traveled in every location of each book I’ve written, and each book is a book of my heart. Besides my first love, writing, I enjoy travel, art, sports, reading, sailing, snorkeling, movies, and way too many other things to mention. Life is good. Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly.” Whether writing contemporary or historical, my books celebrate the abundant life Jesus gives.
I’ve written several other novellas. AVOIDING THE MISTLETOE, is included in the Mistletoe, Jingle Bells, and Second Chances Collection. My novella KEARA’S ESCAPE is included in the Orphan Train/Spinster Collection. DAREDEVILS is included in the North Carolina, 50 States Collection. SPUR OF THE MOMENT BRIDE is included in the Wyoming, 50 States Collection. A CHRISTMAS BELLE, is included in the Christmas Mail Order Angels anthology. THE MARRIAGE BROKER AND THE MORTICIAN is included in The California Gold Rush Romance Collection. My novellas, A FOOL FOR LOVE, A GROOM FOR CHRISTMAS, and A TEXAS CHRISTMAS MYSTERY are stand-alone novellas.
Moody Press published my first book, TRAIL OF TEARS. I love writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer, and about gutsy heroines. My Women of Courage series spotlights heroic women of World War II. You might want to begin with the first book ANGEL WITH STEEL WINGS. Read my private investigating series, Handcuffed In Texas. The first book is RED IS FOR ROOKIE. Enjoy my award-winning Scottish historical romances, MASQUERADE MARRIAGE and MARRIAGE BY ARRANGEMENT. I hope my stories transport you to awesome new worlds and touch your heart to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. Buy my books on http://www.Amazon.com. Anne Greene.