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Comanche Canyon

By: April Hill
Published By: Blushing Press
Copyright: �2013 by Blushing Books� and April Hill
7 chapters, 39,000 words
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With no means of support and a young son to care for, strong-willed widow Abigail Lindemann agrees to marry Eben Donahue, a Texas rancher she's never met. On her arrival, though, mail-order-bride Abby finds the isolated ranch primitive and lonely and her surly new husband a rare presence. When their cabin is attacked by a band of hostile Comanche, Eben is killed, and Abigail and her son are rescued by Eben's friend, former army scout Daniel Cameron. After a perilous trek through Comanche territory, they reach the home of Daniel's adoptive parents, Elijah and Martha.

When Daniel returns to the cabin to see that Eben is properly buried, Abby tries to follow him, an error in judgment that results in their being captured and forced to live among the Comanche until they're either ransomed or sold. To protect Abby from being claimed in marriage by a vicious war chief called Smoke, they pretend to be man and wife. The ruse works, but Abby soon learns firsthand how hard the life of a Comanche woman can be in a world where a husband holds absolute authority over his wife. The couple is guarded day and night by a querulous old woman who has grown suspicious of them, forcing Daniel to play the role of stern husband convincingly - by taking a strap or a switch to his often disobedient and disrespectful "wife."

With their lives in constant danger from Smoke, whose growing lust for Abby has made him a treacherous enemy, they plan an escape, aided by a sympathetic young Comanche woman - Smoke's pregnant wife.

As Abby and Daniel make their way home across the arid plain, fighting hunger and exposure, their mutual antagonism begins to grow into love. Their stormy relationship is complicated, though, by Abby's stubborn streak and by Daniel's determination to protect the woman he has grown to love from her impulsive and often dangerous actions. Always ready to argue her point, even when she's dead wrong, Abby soon learns that the man she loves is just as ready to argue his point - by locating the nearest hairbrush and taking her across his knee.

CHAPTER ONE

It was still winter, but even with the windows open, the train felt hot and close. During the day, the cramped second-class coach was noisy with the continual drone of overlapping conversations and the sound of crying children, making it difficult to concentrate. She had hoped that the long trip west would allow her a bit of time to rest and to plan�to think clearly about the new life she and twelve-year-old Jamie were about to begin. The journey had proved to be anything but restful, though, and the days hectic and tiring. At night, with most of the exhausted passengers slumbering, the car became strangely peaceful despite the uncomfortable accommodations. People slept as best they could, curled up in their cramped, threadbare seats, trying to stay warm by huddling under thin blankets and well-worn overcoats. Heads lolled uncomfortably, and the narrow aisles became a maze of outstretched legs and misplaced bags.

As the train rushed on through the long, cold night, moving through shadowy canyons and dark forests and alongside steep gorges with rivers whose names Abigail didn't know, she covered Jamie with her shawl and the striped woolen blanket and then slipped her hands inside her coat to keep them warm. Outside the windows, the black shapes of trees whirled by swiftly, gone before she could even make out their variety. Sometimes she caught brief glimpses of animals in the pale blue moonlight�elegantly still deer, coyotes, and once even a small black bear scrambling away from the trembling tracks as the train rumbled past. When she asked the conductor, he explained that they were drawn to the perilous tracks by the scraps of leftover food tossed out the windows by the passengers, but mostly they came for the carcasses of the creatures killed that day by the trains. Abigail shivered and drew her coat closer about her face.

While it was dark most of the others seemed to sleep, worn out after the difficult day, and only an occasional snore or low groan interfered with her silence. Alone in the quiet darkness, she was finally able to think, and to plan, and to remember.

* * * * *

Abigail Lindemann sighed and leaned her head against the worn velvet of the seat. After her husband Clare's death six months ago, there hadn't even been time for a decent period of mourning, let alone for making plans for the future. There was no money, either, and by the time Clare was buried properly and the grocer was paid what was owed him on account, there was even less in the little metal cash box in Clare's old leather trunk than she'd expected. The decision to remarry to a man she had never met was a hasty one, but at the time it had seemed like the only reasonable solution.

Clarence Lindemann had been a very good man, as men go. Abigail had always said that�would have said it to anybody, but he had no way with money at all. They lost the farm when it didn't rain for so long that the crops had withered and died. After that, he got the idea of opening the mercantile, using every penny they had left in the world. But Clare was softhearted and gave credit to a lot of people who had no way of ever paying their bills; the mercantile went under after only eighteen months. He had worked hard at it, no doubt about that, but nothing ever seemed to come of his efforts. They still lost the store, just as they had the farm. Afterwards, he thought about a barbershop, but Clove City already had one barber, and even the one barber didn't seem to do that well in a town where most men rarely even shaved. She had talked Clare out of that idea as quickly as she could. That last year had been hard for him, watching the store sold.

And then, one day six months ago, Clare had simply gone to sleep and never woke up. His heart, Dr. Hutchinson had said, even though he was only forty-one.

Her own Ma had died the year before, and nobody else in the family was any better fixed than they were, so what else could she have done but this thing she was doing now? Abigail reasoned, not altogether sure of the wisdom of her decision, even now. She was a strong woman, and healthy, and could still bear more children if it came to that, so when she saw the advertisement for a "wife wanted" in the newspaper, she wrote to that gentleman�a Mr. Eben Donahue�that very afternoon. He wrote back and sent her the money by Western Union, to come and be his wife and live on his farm in Texas. More a ranch than a farm, he had explained. He didn't mind about Jamie, either, and said it'd be just fine; a big boy like that could be a real help on the farm.

Jamie missed his Pa, and Clove City was not the place to find such a thing as a new father for a growing boy Jamie's age. There were not many men a decent woman would have, unless she was pretty hard put to marry. Mostly miners they were, or cattle drovers, and none too clean, mostly�more given to drink and gambling than to working for an honest dollar, and Abigail had no desire to be poor again.

She knew what her Ma and Pa would have said if they heard what she was about, and she knew she'd feel the same if a daughter of hers were to do a thing like this, but her circumstances had changed for the worse, and she had Jamie to think of. This fellow Donahue looked a decent enough sort in the photograph that he sent to her. He had a prosperous ranch and cattle, and he was a Christian and a churchgoer when he could get down to the town, or so he said. Not that it mattered. She was tired, worry-worn about money, and though she wasn't proud of it, she knew would have married a godless heathen if he was a decent sort and could offer her and Jamie a good living.

She sat on the side of the bed that had once been Clare's and looked closely at the picture of Mr. Donahue, studying his face to see if there anything about him that would give her cause to worry, but she could see nothing in his eyes or in his mouth that made him out to be a cruel man. Parsimonious, maybe�she could see that in the line of his mouth, but that wasn't altogether a bad thing. Clare had been free with money, and look what came of that. If Mr. Donahue's ranch was a good one, and if she saved enough money, Jamie could go to college.

He was not a bad-looking man, either, Mr. Eben Donahue, and that pleased her, because she was still a young woman and had a woman's wish for a husband who was himself still vigorous. She had come to Clare as little more than a girl, ignorant about marriage and frightened, and he had been gentle and kind and treated her as well as she had ever seen a man treat a woman. She had come to enjoy their time together in the big bed when the lights were out, and she had dearly missed it all these months. She would be very fortunate to find another man as decent and good as Clare, and never really expected to.

* * * * *

As the train rounded a curve, Jamie made a little noise and turned over, trying to get more comfortable in the small seat, but his legs were too long. He had gotten coltish lately, seeming to be all legs now. Pretty soon he'd probably get his growth and grow up tall, like Clare. She, herself, was somewhat short and built small, and Jamie was already as tall as she was. He was a city boy, of course, and had always lived in the town, never worked in the fields or been around animals much. She hoped he'd adjust to the farm, but she worried about it some. He'd always been Clare's best help in the mercantile, friendly with the customers, good with figures and always polite. Clare and she had made sure he was in school every day, and after he'd done his daily lessons he'd go help in the store. Clare always told her that the boy would go to college some day and be something, like a lawyer, or maybe a doctor. But Jamie wanted to be a teacher in a big school in the city, like New York or San Francisco. He liked to read, and he'd read every book he could lay his hands on. He'd read all about these places. She was proud of that.

As a girl, she had been like Jamie. She had loved to read and even wrote poems and stories and dreamed of going to the city someday�before she met Clare, anyway. She hadn't minded it, though, not a bit. They'd had a good life together, she and Clare; nobody could say differently, even Mama, who had wanted her to go away to teaching college and had cried the day she married Clare. It was the only the second time she'd ever seen Mama cry�even when the Baby Victoria died almost as soon as she was born�right in Mama's arms. Mama had just gotten up and washed the tiny blue body and set it in the box Papa made, and told her that God had his reasons for taking her to Heaven, and that her baby sister would be warm and happy with Jesus. But Abigail had hated Jesus for a long time after that. She hadn't told anyone, especially Mama. Mama would have walked into the yard and gotten a switch and whipped her good for saying such a terrible thing about Jesus. Abigail smiled, remembering. She had been resigned to going to Hell, all right, but she didn't need a hard whipping, either, so she kept the secret. Then, after a few months, when she didn't die and go to Hell as expected, she went ahead and told Mama because she was tired of keeping such an awful secret, even it got her switched raw, but Mama had just laughed and said Jesus knew all the time that she didn't mean it. She could never tell about Mama. Mama could be soft as a kitten sometimes.

Papa was different. Abigail had always understood that he loved her, but try as she might, she couldn't remember a time when he'd told her so. He was a good man, but hard in his ways, and he expected her to work hard like both he and Mama did, and when she dawdled about her chores, he was quick to take a switch to her bare legs or to warm the seat of her drawers with his wide belt when she sometimes sassed him or Mama. He only gave her one hard whipping that Abigail could remember, for leaving the gate open and letting the pigs into the garden. She'd been warned many times, and when he found the sow and the six piglets rooting in the new vegetable garden that day, Papa carried her squalling into the house and spanked her so hard with Mama's hairbrush that she bawled the whole time Mama was still rounding up the pigs. After the whipping, he made her help him plant the garden again, to save what vegetables they could for the winter.

She was just eleven, in the bad winter of 1859, when Papa took sick and died. She and Mama struggled along for a while, trying to keep up the animals and the crops, but it was too hard. One day when she came home from school, Mr. Lester Jacobsen was there, and Mama told her that Mr. Jacobsen was going to be her new Pa.

Mr. Jacobsen owned the farm next to theirs, and within a week she and Mama had moved most of their few belongings to his house. Mr. Jacobsen had a lot of children, ranging from twelve to eighteen, all older than Abigail and all of them mean as snakes. The oldest son was already married to a really young, ugly woman named Alma, and they took over Papa's farm right away, and she and Mama never saw it again.

All of the Jacobsen children were mean to Abigail, and rude to Mama. They fought like cats and dogs among themselves and generally acted like godless heathens, to her way of thinking. She hated all of them, and they all hated her. Maybe three times a week, Mr. Jacobsen would take down the thick wooden paddle he kept by the front door and whip one or more of them�hard, brutal whippings that were difficult to watch, even when she didn't especially like the Jacobsen heathen who were squirming over the long wooden bench that Mr. Jacobsen used on these occasions.

There were four Jacobsen boys and two girls, but girl or boy was of no consequence to Mr. Jacobsen when he had blood in his eye. The culprit was simply bent gracelessly over the bench and paddled on the bare rump until he or she was welted purple and red from butt to knee.

Abigail was careful to mind her manners around Mr. Jacobsen, and in the four years she lived in his house, she managed to avoid all but one real whipping. Mr. Jacobsen never missed an opportunity to deal a hard smack to her bottom when she was too slow to suit him, or to lay a couple of swipes across her legs with a thick switch when he felt like it, but until the very day of her thirteenth birthday she escaped the kind of thrashing he visited upon his own luckless offspring. That afternoon, she had found Mama crying in the back bedroom, and she had never seen Mama cry before. Mr. Jacobsen had slapped Mama in the face...something he did often, but this time, he had hurt her eye badly, and it was swollen almost closed. Abigail strode from the house in high dudgeon, found Mr. Jacobsen in the barn, kicked him in the shins, twice, and called him a "goddamned no-good cock-sucking bugger." This was a term she had heard from one of the hired hands, and though its meaning was a mystery to her, it had the sound of anger about it, and it suited her purpose very well.

Mr. Jacobsen stared at her for a moment, his eyes seeming to bulge slightly from his head. Then, taking a handful of her long copper-red hair, he dragged her across the barn, threw her down on her stomach across a bale of hay and whaled the tar out of her with a length of broken leather harness. Abigail bit her lip and clenched her fists and willed herself not to let him see her cry, and that must have made him madder, because he rolled up his sleeves and whipped her again with a little buggy whip. When he finally let her up, she had trouble walking, and the backs of her drawers were stained with blood. Abigail stumbled to the house and tended her wounds, but she never told Mama about the whipping. Somehow, she knew that Mama would do something terrible if she found out.

About three months later, Mr. Jacobsen was trying to saw down a tree in the front yard when the trunk split and slabbed off to the side, crushing Mr. Jacobsen like a bug it as it fell. He lived for two days with his ribs caved in, screaming in agony when anyone touched him. Abigail didn't cry at all when he died, and she watched Mama's face when they stuck Mr. Jacobsen's coffin in the ground. Mama didn't cry either�and neither did any of his rotten kids.

* * * * *

It was two more long days and cold nights before the train reached the stop where she and Jamie were to meet Mr. Donahue. As they pulled into a station with a nearly worn�off sign that said "Bender Flats," she had Jamie pulled their bags down from the overhead rack and got off the train, at last. She pulled Mr. Donahue's letter from her pocket book and read it again. They were to sit on the bench in the front of the railroad station until he came with a wagon to collect them and their things. She and Jamie dragged the heavy bags around the wooden platform to the other side of the station. It was a shock to see that there wasn't really any city at all, except for one building that didn't look to be in the best repair. On its splintered porch lay an old yellow dog with mangy fur and two raggedy old men in overalls huddled in busted-up chairs, trying to stay out of the wind while they smoked.

"It doesn't look like a very prosperous place, Ma," Jamie said. "Is this where Mr. Donahue lives?"

Abigail shook her head and motioned for him to sit down on the lone bench. "No, Jamie. Mr. Donahue has a fine farm, or ranch, I suppose it's more likely called. It's a ways from here, though. Button your coat, and put your scarf on."

She sat down next to him on the cold bench, and they waited. They waited for close to three hours, until it was nearly dark and they were both hungry, half-frozen and badly in need of an outhouse. Finally, they crossed the street and asked at the single building, which turned out to be a sort of a tavern or saloon. Jamie guarded the door to the single-holer in the back while she was inside, and then he availed himself of it as well. Neither of them chose to comment on its condition or level of cleanliness.

Slowly, trying to avoid the deep, ice-hard ruts in the street, they went back across to the deserted station and sat down. She pulled the last of their provisions, two apples and some bread, from her bag, and they ate in silence and darkness.

A short time later, a wagon came down the street toward them and stopped in front of the station. A short, fattish man with a heavy beard called to them. "You Miz Lindemann?"

Abigail stood up to her full height. She was very tired and irritated to have been left sitting in the cold for so long. "My name is Abigail Charlotte Lindemann, and this is my son Jamie. Who are you?"

"Name's Gert," he replied, obviously indifferent to her displeasure. "Eben says I'm to haul you up to the house. You got any more stuff than what you're sittin' on?"

"No," she said. "This is all. The rest will be sent along later."

He shrugged and pointed behind him, indicating that they should put their bags in the back, which Jamie did gratefully, before crawling in after them, glad for the man's arrival, even if he was rude.

Abigail clambered up into the wagon and sat on the hard rear seat next to Jamie. Gert snapped his whip above the mare's head, and the wagon moved away from the station.

"How far is it to Mr. Donahue's ranch from here?" she asked the driver, who was singing to himself�or perhaps to the horse.

"I got here kinda' late, with the creek bridge washed out and all, so it'll be a spell." Gert went on singing.

"How long, a 'spell'?" she insisted.

"Two days or so, most likely."

Finally, Abigail's pent-up anger exploded. "Two days!"

"Yup," he agreed, spitting, "if the road don't get no muddier or froze-up, that is. Hard to tell."

"Are there any towns, or villages ahead?" she persisted.

"Nope, Willoughby's back there a ways, but on the north road, there ain't nothin' except for Sutter's place. We'll git the horses there."

"Horses?" Jamie asked, as confused as his mother.

Gert spat onto the dusty road and indicated a range of rocky cliffs in the distance. "Can't git a wagon up them hills, now, can I?"

Abigail's shoulders slumped, and she could see out of the corner of her eye that Jamie was close to tears. They had both expected to be in a warm, real bed by evening. She was afraid to ask where they were going to sleep tonight and the next.

She and Jamie leaned against one another, bundled in the striped woolen blanket and dozed as best they could on the bumpy road. Her head bounced painfully against the brass lock of the larger suitcase, but its presence on the seat next to her at least kept her from falling off the wagon. Jamie bunched the other bags and parcels around the two of them and rested his head on them, dropping off to sleep out of sheer exhaustion. Mr. Gert continued to drive, to sing mournful, tuneless songs to the plodding horse, and to occasionally spit a cheek full of tobacco juice over the side of the wagon.

She must have slept for a long time, because when she woke, the wagon was stopped in front of a shabby barn, and Gert was talking with a heavyset woman who was wearing men's clothing and carrying a double-barreled shotgun slung across her shoulder. The woman noticed Abigail stirring and waved at her and Jamie, who was already climbing down from the wagon. "C'mon and have a bite to eat while Gert gits your horses saddled up, why don'tcha?" she called.

The woman sounded friendly enough and had mentioned food, so Abigail and Jamie followed her through the barn and into a small house at the rear.

The room was crudely furnished but clean and warm and cheerful. A table with a blazing lantern was set before the fireplace, complete with biscuits and gravy and thick slabs of ham on large platters. A coffeepot sat in the middle of the table, and a bowl of boiled eggs. The two weary travelers took chairs and ate eagerly. It would be dawn soon, and Abigail assumed this was breakfast. They were evidently not going to stay here.

"I'm Dora Sutter, and I'm figurin' you're the lady Eben Donahue's been lookin' for," the woman ventured, in a pleasant tone. "Is this your boy?"

"Yes," Abigail replied, nudging the boy's arm. "Say hello, Jamie." Jamie did as he was told, politely, then continued eating.

"Do you know Mr. Donahue well?" Abigail asked.

The older woman shook her head. "I don't guess nobody 'round here knows Eben well, so to speak, except maybe Daniel, and he don't come down much any more. He stays out on the Llano, mostly, huntin' and trackin' and what all, I reckon, or up in them hills doin' Lord knows what. But him and Eben's knowed one another since they was little. Oh, mercy! I was forgettin'! Y'all prob'ly wanna' freshen up before you take off up to Eben's place. The pump's 'round back, and the shit�the, well, you know�" The big woman blushed slightly. "Sorry. I been livin' here so long with no other woman around, I just plumb lost my manners!"

"That's fine, thanks," Abigail smiled. "We'd welcome the chance to clean up." She followed Jamie to the back of the house, and when they came back in, Dora Sutter was clearing the table. Slivers of cold pink and blue light were just beginning to appear on the horizon. "Thank you for the meal," Abigail said, as the woman collected the dishes. "We hadn't eaten since yesterday, except for some apples. How much do we owe you?"

"There ain't no charge, missus. Glad to have the company. Wisht' you could stay on and chat some, but it's probably you best get on up there before that snow comes in. You're gonna freeze your tail in that little bit of a dress you got on, though. I got some warm things in the back oughta' fit you and the boy just fine."

Abigail considered the slim condition of her pocketbook. "We can't impose any more, Miss Sutter. Thank you, but..."

"Well, I'm a missus myself," the woman explained, cheerfully, "but it's still just Dora, darlin'." she pushed by them into a small back bedroom. "My husband Ned's out somewheres trappin' right now, but I reckon he'd whup my rump good and proper when he got back and seen I'd let a neighbor go out dressed like y'all are. I'd be proud to have you take these old things. They ain't no good to nobody jest layin' around here. Besides, Eben would take it real unkindly if I was to let his new bride git froze stiff as a board. C'mon, now, and see if there's somethin' that'll do you. Jamie, here, looks like he's a mite chilled, too."

Abigail sighed and relented. She followed Dora into a back room and selected a well-worn warm coat, a few items for Jamie, and then returned to the kitchen. "Thank you so much, Dora. You've been more than generous. Maybe when I'm settled in at Mr. Donahue's, we can visit back and forth. It'll be real nice to have a good neighbor."

Dora looked at her curiously. "Well, that'd be just fine, if it sits right with Eben, but his place is still a pretty far piece from here, you know, and just lately, we been havin' a bit of trouble with the Comanch, again."

Jamie gulped. "Comanche?" he asked. "You mean Indians?"

"I surely do. Nothin' big, though," Dora assured him. "They've already stole just about ever' horse to be had hereabouts. I swear, there just ain't nothin' a Comanch likes as much as a good-lookin' horse. It's all I can do to keep enough critters to run my business. The Comanch get along pretty good with Ned and me, though. We ain't lost much stock this year, at all. Mostly, the devils just run off what horses they can and leave us be. We've heard talk of some fool miners had their way with a couple of squaws from a passin' band, though, and lost their danged scalps over it. That might be the end of it, but it's been a hard winter, so we been sleepin' with one eye open, jest in case some smartass young brave comes lookin' for revenge, or just to git hisself a reputation."

Despite Dora's assurances, Abigail felt suddenly disheartened and mildly frightened, remembering the long ride ahead of them. After she and Jamie had layered themselves in Dora and Ned Sutter's warm castoffs, though, they thanked the woman again and joined Gert outside. Their luggage had been tied to a big red mule, and Gert was the holding the reins of four horses.

"You gonna ride in that?" Gert asked, nodding at Abigail's heavy woolen dress.

"I'll manage." she put her foot in the stirrup and threw one leg over the saddle, scrunching the flannel petticoats and skirts up around her knees. She had been raised on a farm and had ridden since childhood, bareback and astride. If Gert could stand to look at her scrawny legs covered in Dora Sutter's thick, much-darned, black lisle stockings, she could ride as far as need be astride.

Jamie, however, was not happy at the prospect of a long ride. Unlike his mother, the boy's acquaintance with horses was not extensive. Fearing embarrassment in Gert's eyes even more than a fall, though, he said nothing, but mounted and took the reins with what Abigail recognized as boyish bravado.

It was a full two days ride to the ranch, first across the windy, frozen plain and then through a winding canyon road. They were forced to spend the first night camped in the scant protection of a withered group of scrub pines, bitterly cold. She was thankful to Dora for insisting that they accept the warm clothing and dreaded the approaching climb into the bare, rocky hills where Eben Donahue's ranch was apparently located.

They ate cold cornbread and boiled eggs and drank strong black coffee brewed over the small fire that Gert allowed them, then slept on the nearly-frozen ground on the pine branches they were able to gather, covered with blankets that smelled of mildew and horse sweat. Sometime in the night it began to snow and they awoke under six inches of dry, powdery snow so cold it burned Abigail's fingertips like acid.

After another hard day, just before twilight they crested a ridge and saw the ranch at the bottom of a small valley between two hills. Abigail's heart sank. From Mr. Donahue's description of his homestead, she had not known what to expect, and though she had imagined it many times, she had never pictured what she saw now for the first time.

It wasn't a farm or a ranch, as far as she could tell. She could make out no crops and few animals, and while she knew very little about ranching, Abigail knew enough to know that if Eben Donahue's holdings constituted a ranch, it was a meager ranch, indeed. As they came closer, she saw a corral containing several head of scrawny, wild-looking horses, and far beyond the tiny house, what might be a large chicken coop or pig shed. Behind the house as far as the eye could see were rocky, barren hills. Outcroppings of bare brown rock climbed up the dry slopes amid the sparse brush, looking like a giant's staircase, disappearing into the dense thicket of scrub trees that covered the uppermost hills.

The slope leading into the little valley was steep, the path treacherous and twisting. Gert watched with disinterest as Jamie fell from his mount and then scrambled to his feet, standing there miserably, wiping the blood from his knees and his nose. When Gert made no move to help, Abigail retrieved the wandering animal by herself. She would surely comment to Mr. Donahue about his employee's lack of manners.

Finally, with Jamie remounted, they reached the bottom and started across a meadow of short, scruffy grass that didn't look fit to feed animals of any sort. The snow had barely dusted the ground here, but it was still so cold that the tips of her uncovered fingers were blue and stiff. She hoped that Mr. Donahue had prepared a decently comfortable place for them to rest after the wearying trip.

As they pulled up to the small ranch house, two ill-kempt and unshaven men stepped out onto the porch, waving to Gert, who replied jovially. It was the first pleasant thing Abigail had heard from the man's mouth since they left Bender Flats.

"How do, Rafe," Gert greeted the taller man. "When'd you show up? Expected you last week."

"Trail from the big camp got iced over after that big sleet we had." Rafe indicated the mountain behind him with a wide sweep of his hand. "Didn't think I'd make it at all for a time there. But we just kept coming, and here we are. This here's John." The second man nodded to Gert.

When no one said anything to Abigail or Jamie, or even acknowledged their presence, Abigail slid down from her horse and walked toward the porch. "Is Mr. Eben Donahue here?" she asked, bluntly. "I'm Abigail Charlotte Lindemann, and this is my son, Jamie. I would like to see Mr. Donahue, if you'd be so kind as to call him."

When Rafe reached down to scratch at his crotch, Abigail saw that his trousers were not buttoned and that he appeared to be wearing no undergarments. His ragged suspenders hung down around his trouser tops. She lowered her eyes while the man looked uneasily at her for a long moment, as though he had never seen a woman before. "Eben's up to the main camp," he informed her. "Be here tomorrow, I reckon. He said you was coming in today, and I was to see you got settled.

"Mr. Donahue isn't here?" she demanded.

Rafe raised his hands in protest. "Don't go gettin' your dander up, lady. I'm just tellin' you what Eben said, that's all. You wanna take his head off when he gets here, that's none of my concern, but that boy of yours looks real tuckered out. Maybe you best come on in the house, where it's warm."

Since Rafe's offer appeared to be the only welcome they would get, Abig

karla on 07/24/2015 07:22pm
Loved it! Abby had just the right amount of sass and Cameron knows exactly how to deal with it.
karla on 07/24/2015 07:22pm
Loved it! Abby had just the right amount of sass and Cameron knows exactly how to deal with it.
on 07/24/2015 07:21pm
I couldn't put it down. Loved the readiness and Cameron's way to deal with it.
on 07/24/2015 07:21pm
I couldn't put it down. Loved the readiness and Cameron's way to deal with it.
Kat on 03/20/2014 04:47pm
Poor Abby, if she didn't have bad luck, she wouldn't have any at all. This story is about the tribulations of a pioneer woman and her son and her enduring spirit that keeps her strong. Great description of Native American daily life and social settings, be it harsh and brutal at times. Great read and highly recommend this book.
Kat on 03/20/2014 04:47pm
Poor Abby, if she didn't have bad luck, she wouldn't have any at all. This story is about the tribulations of a pioneer woman and her son and her enduring spirit that keeps her strong. Great description of Native American daily life and social settings, be it harsh and brutal at times. Great read and highly recommend this book.
Redrabbitt on 03/19/2014 06:22am
"Widowed Abigail and her son Jamie travel from Kansas to Texas as a mail-ordered bride to a man, Eben who is rarely around. Not much of a marriage, and she pretty much does what she wants. She shoots at a man named Daniel Cameron who turns her over his knee and gives her a well deserved spanking. Three months later Daniel rescues Abigail and Jamie when Comanche raid the ranch and kill everyone. He takes them to town and plans to return to the ranch to bury the dead and she sneaks and follows him. They are captured by the Comanche and must convince them they are husband and wife or else he would be killed and she would become the chief's newest wife. Women are spanked harshly to keep them in line and he must spank her with witnesses on several occasions. They eventually are able to ride away from the Comanche camp and get to a town 60 miles away. Lots of ""domestic discipline"" in the story with HEA."
Redrabbitt on 03/19/2014 06:22am
"Widowed Abigail and her son Jamie travel from Kansas to Texas as a mail-ordered bride to a man, Eben who is rarely around. Not much of a marriage, and she pretty much does what she wants. She shoots at a man named Daniel Cameron who turns her over his knee and gives her a well deserved spanking. Three months later Daniel rescues Abigail and Jamie when Comanche raid the ranch and kill everyone. He takes them to town and plans to return to the ranch to bury the dead and she sneaks and follows him. They are captured by the Comanche and must convince them they are husband and wife or else he would be killed and she would become the chief's newest wife. Women are spanked harshly to keep them in line and he must spank her with witnesses on several occasions. They eventually are able to ride away from the Comanche camp and get to a town 60 miles away. Lots of ""domestic discipline"" in the story with HEA."
JK on 03/18/2014 04:05pm
I just loved this story! Westerns are one of my favorite's, so this was most definitely up my alley! The characters were all extremely well written. Daniel was a strong, well-meaning and kind alpha male (believe it or not!) He was clearly trying to show our heroine, Abby, the error of her ways!! Now Abby was a fantastic character, too. Full of sass, full of opinions, and definitely in need of some satisfaction in the bedroom (she had not been lucky in love!) There were lots of great extra characters in the story that made it even more enjoyable! I loved it!!
JK on 03/18/2014 04:05pm
I just loved this story! Westerns are one of my favorite's, so this was most definitely up my alley! The characters were all extremely well written. Daniel was a strong, well-meaning and kind alpha male (believe it or not!) He was clearly trying to show our heroine, Abby, the error of her ways!! Now Abby was a fantastic character, too. Full of sass, full of opinions, and definitely in need of some satisfaction in the bedroom (she had not been lucky in love!) There were lots of great extra characters in the story that made it even more enjoyable! I loved it!!
SH on 03/17/2014 10:33am
This was a great story! Abby did not have the best of luck with her marriages but by the end it is obvious the third time will be the charm. I liked Daniel from the start and Abby is great with quite a bit of sass. There is a good, believable plot with enough back story to give it some depth. Good read! I received this book from Blushing Books Publishing as an Advanced Reader Copy.
SH on 03/17/2014 10:33am
This was a great story! Abby did not have the best of luck with her marriages but by the end it is obvious the third time will be the charm. I liked Daniel from the start and Abby is great with quite a bit of sass. There is a good, believable plot with enough back story to give it some depth. Good read! I received this book from Blushing Books Publishing as an Advanced Reader Copy.
Marybeth on 03/13/2014 09:27am
A good western! Abigail’s husband has died and they have no money. So, she answers an ad for a “wife wanted’ by Eben Donahue. She corresponds with him and agrees to come to Texas to marry him. She and her son Jamie take the train and it is a long journey. When they get to Texas, they find it is another two day journey to Eben’s “camp”. Neither is very happy about it. But, they get there and she does marry Eben. He only asks for his husbandly rights very infrequently. And it is a “slam, bam, thank you, ma’am” kind of thing. After three months, the Comanche come and kill everyone in the camp except Abigail and Jaime. Eben’s friend, Daniel, rescues them and takes them to town. When they go back to get the money that Eben had hidden, they are captured by the Comanche. They pretend to be man and wife to keep Abigail safe from Smoke, an Indian chief. There are lots of spankings that are ‘encouraged’ by the Comanche as Abigail is not the proper sort of wife. But, Daniel does his best to keep her safe and eventually, they do find love together. I really enjoyed this story. There was good character development and enough background information to make everything make sense. I liked Daniel’s character. He didn’t spank for the sake of spanking and he always had a good reason, except for when forced into it by Elk Woman, an old Comanche woman who watched them. It didn’t portray Native Americans as any more blood thirsty than white men were. I liked that as well.
Marybeth on 03/13/2014 09:27am
A good western! Abigail۪s husband has died and they have no money. So, she answers an ad for a wife wanted۪ by Eben Donahue. She corresponds with him and agrees to come to Texas to marry him. She and her son Jamie take the train and it is a long journey. When they get to Texas, they find it is another two day journey to Eben۪s camp۝. Neither is very happy about it. But, they get there and she does marry Eben. He only asks for his husbandly rights very infrequently. And it is a slam, bam, thank you, ma۪am۝ kind of thing. After three months, the Comanche come and kill everyone in the camp except Abigail and Jaime. Eben۪s friend, Daniel, rescues them and takes them to town. When they go back to get the money that Eben had hidden, they are captured by the Comanche. They pretend to be man and wife to keep Abigail safe from Smoke, an Indian chief. There are lots of spankings that are encouraged۪ by the Comanche as Abigail is not the proper sort of wife. But, Daniel does his best to keep her safe and eventually, they do find love together. I really enjoyed this story. There was good character development and enough background information to make everything make sense. I liked Daniel۪s character. He didn۪t spank for the sake of spanking and he always had a good reason, except for when forced into it by Elk Woman, an old Comanche woman who watched them. It didn۪t portray Native Americans as any more blood thirsty than white men were. I liked that as well.
Mattie on 03/08/2014 04:22pm
This was a great read, it had lots of action and spanking. I am glad Abby and Daniel make a life together and are able to help each other escape. Poor Abby does have to suffer from spankings not really deserved but she takes it well.
Mattie on 03/08/2014 04:22pm
This was a great read, it had lots of action and spanking. I am glad Abby and Daniel make a life together and are able to help each other escape. Poor Abby does have to suffer from spankings not really deserved but she takes it well.
Connie on 03/02/2014 06:48pm
Abby comes West with her 12-year-old son to be a mail-order bride. Recently widowed and penniless she needs a home for her and her son. When her new husband is killed by Indians his friend, saves her and her son. Their story takes an interesting turn. And them falling in love doesn't come easy. Likedthese characters and their story.
Connie on 03/02/2014 06:48pm
Abby comes West with her 12-year-old son to be a mail-order bride. Recently widowed and penniless she needs a home for her and her son. When her new husband is killed by Indians his friend, saves her and her son. Their story takes an interesting turn. And them falling in love doesn't come easy. Likedthese characters and their story.
olivia on 02/08/2014 09:40am
I waited to read this book for ages and am sorry to say I was a bit disappointed. The start of the story was very slow and I thought we didn't need to know so much about Abigail's 1st and 2nd marriages, both these husbands had really no personalities and to be truthful I couldn't fathom why Eben wanted a mail order wife as he had little or no interest in her. The story didn't get interesting for me until Daniel arrived. I would have liked a bit more time with their story.Apart from this I did enjoy the book and would probably have liked it better if I hadn't read Vengeance Creek which set the author's extremely high standards
olivia on 02/08/2014 09:40am
I waited to read this book for ages and am sorry to say I was a bit disappointed. The start of the story was very slow and I thought we didn't need to know so much about Abigail's 1st and 2nd marriages, both these husbands had really no personalities and to be truthful I couldn't fathom why Eben wanted a mail order wife as he had little or no interest in her. The story didn't get interesting for me until Daniel arrived. I would have liked a bit more time with their story.Apart from this I did enjoy the book and would probably have liked it better if I hadn't read Vengeance Creek which set the author's extremely high standards
angelia on 01/26/2014 07:20pm
good story has romance and action
angelia on 01/26/2014 07:20pm
good story has romance and action
KArc on 01/19/2014 07:27pm
This was a fun story that had some new twists. There were some great characters. I would love to know more about Elijah. Elk Woman was an interesting addition to this story. I'm still not sure whose side she was on but I liked her, craziness and all. I think Smoke decided that if he couldn't have Abby, he would just make her life difficult. Even though Eben and Abby's relationship wasn't much of a relationship, it was presented very realistically and was warm in its own way. There was always a new challenge around the corner for Daniel and Abby. They met all of them head on (or the other end if Daniel had a say in it) and ended up happier for it.
KArc on 01/19/2014 07:27pm
This was a fun story that had some new twists. There were some great characters. I would love to know more about Elijah. Elk Woman was an interesting addition to this story. I'm still not sure whose side she was on but I liked her, craziness and all. I think Smoke decided that if he couldn't have Abby, he would just make her life difficult. Even though Eben and Abby's relationship wasn't much of a relationship, it was presented very realistically and was warm in its own way. There was always a new challenge around the corner for Daniel and Abby. They met all of them head on (or the other end if Daniel had a say in it) and ended up happier for it.
Laurel on 01/09/2014 04:58pm
I love April Hills books and this one was great. Cowboys and Indians some strong violence, romance and spanking, some severe and lol humor.
Laurel on 01/09/2014 04:58pm
I love April Hills books and this one was great. Cowboys and Indians some strong violence, romance and spanking, some severe and lol humor.
S on 01/09/2014 04:08pm
Well, it was an ok story--nothing special; quite predictable. Woman marries man she hasn't met (like a mail order bride) after her first husb dies--then he dies too--woman meets another man, and surprise, they don't get along--he spanks her, they fall in love--oh, in between they are kidnapped by indians--there, you now know the whole story! For me it was just ho hum.
S on 01/09/2014 04:08pm
Well, it was an ok story--nothing special; quite predictable. Woman marries man she hasn't met (like a mail order bride) after her first husb dies--then he dies too--woman meets another man, and surprise, they don't get along--he spanks her, they fall in love--oh, in between they are kidnapped by indians--there, you now know the whole story! For me it was just ho hum.
DKT on 01/07/2014 08:34am
Abby has had a rough year. She lost her husband of many years and then becomes a mail order bride to a Texas rancher. She soon becomes a widow again in a tragic way. Eben takes it upon himself to get Abby and her young son out of dangers way. She quickly learns that Eben has a special formula to deal with her strong willed ways. However she still chooses to defy him and then end up in the hands of the Comanches. In order to survive she finds her self agreeing to say they are married. In order to prove it Eben has to act the part in sometimes harsh ways. Abby soon realizes that her feeling for Eben become from the heart more so than just an agreement. I truly enjoyed this story. The characters really had to the great story line.
DKT on 01/07/2014 08:34am
Abby has had a rough year. She lost her husband of many years and then becomes a mail order bride to a Texas rancher. She soon becomes a widow again in a tragic way. Eben takes it upon himself to get Abby and her young son out of dangers way. She quickly learns that Eben has a special formula to deal with her strong willed ways. However she still chooses to defy him and then end up in the hands of the Comanches. In order to survive she finds her self agreeing to say they are married. In order to prove it Eben has to act the part in sometimes harsh ways. Abby soon realizes that her feeling for Eben become from the heart more so than just an agreement. I truly enjoyed this story. The characters really had to the great story line.

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