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The Wyoming Debt

By: April Hill
Published By: Blushing Press
Copyright: �2014 by Blushing Books� and April Hill
10 Chapters (+ free short story) / 49,500 Words
Heat Level:
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Married to crooked gambler Jack Thornton, Alex has spent much of her adult life in sleazy saloons, working rigged poker games and small- time swindles, while enduring her drunken husband's brutalities. Finally, she alters her appearance, changes her name to Cathy, and catches the first train out of Denver, only to find herself broke and stranded in a sleepy little cow town. Fearing that Jack will find her and desperate for traveling money, she empties the cash register at the store where she's found a job, and is caught in the act.

Unaware of past, or that she has an enraged husband looking for her, Will agrees to let "Cathy" satisfy her bail bond by working at the small ranch he shares with his two children. The isolated cabin is miles away, though, and a judge demands that the couple be legally married before spending months together in the wilderness.

At the ranch, Cathy is forced into a life she's spent years trying to avoid - cooking, cleaning, and scrubbing laundry - while also dealing with Will's resentful adolescent daughter. Will soon learns that the best way to handle his stubborn new "hired hand's" bad manners, incessant profanity and hot temper is with a wooden hairbrush or a folded belt. With one husband close on her trail and bent on vengeance, the situation is further complicated when Cathy realizes she's fallen in love with her second husband - and that he's in love with her, as well.

Includes BONUS short story "The Picnic".

Chapter One

Awakened that morning by the smell of smoke, Will Cameron was out of bed with his pants half on before he recognized the source of the odor as burning biscuits, and not a fire in the cabin.� Actually, the smell was a familiar occurrence in the Cameron kitchen, suggesting that his wife, Cathy was making breakfast, and not Hannah. At almost thirteen years old, Cameron’s daughter, Hannah, had been cooking full meals since she was tall enough to reach the oven door, and had never burned a biscuit in her life. Cathy, on the other hand, generally scorched more than she put on the table, which was just as well, since her biscuits always tasted of soot and baking powder, and were often hard enough to crack teeth.

Will was buttoning his shirt when he heard a series of crashes coming from the kitchen, followed by the usual stream of obscenities. He grinned. Cathy was throwing pots and pans against the wall, again�or maybe out the window, from the sound of it. Since the day they married, Cathy’s language had improved, but she still tended to cuss like a drunken muleskinner when she got mad, and the ruckus from the kitchen told him that his bride just might need her pretty backside warmed again as a reminder. Will was a fairly tolerant man when it came to the more common human frailties, but with two kids in the house, he’d learned to save his own lapses into profanity for those moments when Hannah and young Caleb were out of earshot.�

He looked around for his belt, but the room was in disarray with articles of clothing strewn on the floor and hanging from bedposts. Last night had been an interesting evening, what with one thing and another, and Will smiled as he recalled a few of the more colorful moments. It was no wonder he was worn out this morning, after making love three times in one night. He’d be lucky to get through the milking without falling asleep. Minus his belt, but still bent on tending to his wife’s temper and foul language, Will opened the dresser drawer and rummaged through it, searching for the paddle.

A few weeks ago, as a joke, Will had made a small, sturdy oak paddle and presented it to Cathy as a birthday gift. Trying not to smile, he’d explained to her in some detail how the paddle was to be used. Ten swats for any profanity, and twenty for her favorite one�the compound vulgarity she usually reserved for hurling insults at the ancient iron cooking stove. The following morning, Will had found the unwelcome birthday gift resting on his pillow�defaced and partially burned. Cathy had used a paring knife to carve the forbidden word down the length of the paddle in large, block letters. The paddle now read ‘Cocksucker’.

This brazen act of wifely defiance had earned the lady an early morning paddling, which had left her sprawled across Will’s knee with the back of her drawers open and her charming bottom red as a ripe tomato. Even as the paddle proved its merit, though, and as Cathy squirmed and kicked, she had kept her lips pressed stubbornly together, denying him the satisfaction of even one anguished howl.�

During her next skirmish with the rickety stove, she had uttered the forbidden phrase in front of young Caleb, who repeated it later that afternoon, in referring to his sister. Cathy paid for that lapse in judgment before bed that night, as she bent over the bed with her bared rump on fire. She finally surrendered after the fifteenth swat, and vowed fervently never to utter the offending phrase again “as long as she lived”. Unconvinced, Will had hidden the paddle away in a drawer for safekeeping. Now, he wasn’t particularly surprised to find that it had disappeared entirely.������

By the time Will abandoned his search for the missing paddle, Cathy had already vented most of her anger on the old stove, and when he walked into the kitchen, she was on her knees, making a half-hearted attempt at mopping up the mess she’d made. With a resigned sigh, she got up from the floor, tossed the grimy dishtowel on the table, and dropped onto a chair. She was barefoot, and clad in one of Will’s well-worn flannel nightshirts that reached her ankles. Her bright copper hair was still done up in the single braid she always wore to bed.

“You heard,” she said glumly�a statement rather than a question.

“Folks probably heard it halfway down the valley,” he remarked with a yawn. “You about done throwing things?”

She nodded. “Gideon took the children with him over to Clara Wilkins’ place for church. I was trying to get breakfast.” She nodded in the direction of the open window. “There’s a pan of biscuits out in the yard, somewhere�if you’re hungry enough.”

He shook his head. “No, thanks. Doc tells me that too much dirt can clog a man’s arteries. You hid the paddle, right?”

“I didn’t hide it,” she explained. “Not exactly. We were out of kindling, and there it was, on a chilly morning like this, serving no useful purpose at all.”

He grinned. “That little lie’s going to cost you, wife.”

Cathy shrugged. “I only said the damned word once,” she lied.

“Twice,” he corrected her. “Could have even been three, but you were banging too loud for me to hear much. Although, I also can’t find my belt.”

She smiled. “I know.”

Will picked up a wooden spoon from the table. “Well, then, I reckon this’ll have to do,” he said affably. “It’ll have to be quick, though, with just the two of us here to get the milking done.”

“What a shame,” she said sweetly. “I know how you hate doing things halfway.”

He smacked the spoon in his palm, smiled, and pointed to the flour-covered table. “I don’t recall saying anything about halfway�just quick. Now, bend over and take down your britches�if you’re wearin’ any.”�

Cathy rose from her chair and leaned over the messy table, and when she reached back to pull up the flannel shift, he saw that�as he’d expected�she was naked from the waist down. Will closed his eyes, momentarily distracted by the sight of his wife’s beautiful, totally bare backside along with an array of very pleasant mental images from last night. The morning sunlight that streamed through the open window was casting a pale peach glow on her softly rounded buttocks, and the backs of her thighs gleamed like satin. He fought the urge to put the spoon down and run his strong hands down the supple curves of her body. To pull her close against him, open the front of his pants, and take her right where she was, deep, and hard, and �

Instead, he raised the spoon and brought it down with a sharp crack. Cathy yelped, clutched the sides of the table, and swore�softly, but loud enough for Will to hear every syllable.

“I swear to God, Mrs. Cameron,” he muttered, “you are just about the slowest learner I ever met.”

When Cathy looked back at him and smiled, Will tossed the spoon in the sink.

“All right, then,” he groaned. “We’ll let it go�this time. But I still want breakfast. Is there something around here that won’t taste like charcoal?”

After laying out a breakfast of slightly scorched bread heaped with Hannah’s homemade blackberry preserves, Cathy went to the bedroom to change clothes. Will followed her, stretching out on the bed to watch as she dressed. Feeling his eyes on her, she pulled her shift around her, almost shyly.

“I’m sorry for staring like that,” he apologized. “It’s just that I don’t usually get to see you like this�in the daylight, anyway. I can never seem to get over how beautiful you are.”

Cathy came over and joined him on the bed, her face solemn. “Being beautiful never got me much in life, Will. Nothing I really wanted, anyway.”

He nodded. “I know, and I shouldn’t have said what I did. Like your being beautiful was all �”

She leaned over to kiss him, and then lay back in his arms. “Oh, you can keep on saying it. In fact, if you ever stop saying it, I’ll find a way to make you wish you hadn’t. Just try not to let things like that get too important. And don’t you ever let me catch you saying it to anyone else.” She laughed. “Not ‘til I’m old and gray and wrinkled like a withered apple, anyway.”����

“Is it all right if I’m a little confused by that?” he asked, chuckling.

“It’s all right. I’m not sure I understand it, myself.”

For a few minutes, they lay in one another’s arms, saying nothing, and enjoying the silence in the cabin. Finally, Cathy raised her head from his chest and kissed him again, very gently.�

“I sent the children away on purpose, Will. I need to talk to you.”

Will nodded, but his face betrayed his concern. “I reckon the cows can a wait a bit longer. What’s on your mind?” It was obvious that something was bothering Cathy, and whatever the problem was, it had been simmering for the last couple of weeks. Which was odd, really, since the danger that had threatened their life together was over, now, and gone for good.�

Cathy clasped her hands in her lap, and studied them as she spoke. “I think it’s time we got a divorce.”

Will touched the top of her head with his lips. “Folks generally get married before they go looking for a divorce, Cathy. “

�“That’s another thing,” she said quietly. “I’d like you to start calling me by my real name�and explain all of it to the children, as well.”

He nodded, again. “Sure, if that’s what you want, but I don’t understand why we have to �”

She turned to face him. “Because I need to be single again�really, honestly single. I know I’m the one who got us into this mess in the first place, but I’d rather you talked to the children, if you don’t mind. To explain about my name, and why I’m leaving, I mean.”

“Leaving?” Will repeated, his voice strained.� When he started to speak again, Cathy put her fingers on his lips.

“I’m going to have a baby, Will.”

“But, that’s wonderful,” he exclaimed, beaming as he drew her close. “We’ll go into town and get married for real as soon as �”

Cathy shook her head. “No.”

Will could only stare. “But, why?”

“Because you don’t owe me anything��nothing at all.”

Owe me?” Will’s fingers tightened around her upper arm. “What has owing me got to do with whether we �”

Slipping from his grasp, Cathy got up from the bed, opened the top drawer of the small pine dresser they shared, and withdrew a lace handkerchief with an object knotted inside. As she handed him the handkerchief, Will saw that there were tears in her eyes.

Hesitantly, he undid the knot, allowing a handful of coins to spill across the quilt.

“It’s the last of the money still owing on the bond,” she said softly. “And I even added the four dollars you paid for that damned parrot costume. I sold the quilt Hannah helped me with in town. So, now, I don’t owe you anything, either. The bargain we made all those months ago is complete. As of this moment, I’m Alexandra Thornton again. I’m not sure how I feel about that, after all these months, but it’s time I found out, don’t you think?”��

* * * *

Denver, Colorado, eight months earlier����

Don’t cry, damn it, Alex thought, stuffing her fist between her lips. You can bawl your head off when it’s safe, but not now. Not yet.� Still crumpled in the corner where she’d crouched all night, Alex took a deep breath and tried to stand up. The sharp stab of pain beneath her right breast could mean a cracked rib, but if she cried out, she risked waking Jack. A few feet away, her husband lay sprawled across the wide brass bed, dead drunk and snoring. Even in this condition, rumpled and unshaven, Jack was still astonishingly handsome. The stray lock of dark hair that had fallen into his eyes made him look younger, almost innocent. Alex felt something deep inside her twist as she remembered their first year together, before she learned that Jack Thornton’s charming good looks and boyish smile were only a mask.� How many nights since then, she wondered bitterly, had she lain awake, trying to get back to that long-ago place in her mind where she’d loved Jack, and not feared him? How long had she been living on nothing but dogged loyalty and hope?

What she needed was time�time to clear her head and come up with a plan. But Alex knew that her time had finally run out. For years, she’d clung to the idea that no matter what had happened between them, she owed her husband too much to simply walk away when he was down on his luck. Last night’s beating had come close to killing her though, and if she was going to get away, this might very well be her best chance. Maybe her last chance. The beatings had gotten worse in the last few months, but in some sad and ironic way, they had also given her a reason to stop hoping that Jack would change.

In their better days, Jack had loved surprising her with expensive gifts, and last night, without knowing it, he had given her a final gift�the best gift of all. The gift of freedom. Freedom from guilt, and after too many heartbreaking years, freedom from him.

He was stirring now, his breathing ragged as he mumbled a lot of words she couldn’t make out and didn’t want to hear, anyway. When he talked in his sleep like this, the few words she could understand often frightened her.

Six hours earlier, Jack had been in a blind, staggering rage, and even if he woke now, Alex knew that he’d probably be too hungover to hurt her again. With any luck, the worst was over. But this time, she wasn’t going to wait around to see how her luck was running. If she was going to escape from Jack, and from the horror their life had become, it was now or never. Stifling a low groan, she staggered to her feet and limped across to the dresser, wincing with pain at every step.

For a moment, the battered face in the mirror didn’t seem to belong to her at all, but to one of the worn-out whores who worked the tables downstairs. The women’s names and hair color changed, but the haggard, world-weary faces were always the same. As saloons went, Top Notch was pretty much the end of the line and the bottom of the barrel. The ladies who plied their trade there seemed resigned to their low place in life, and to Top Notch’s down-at-the-heels clientele, as well. The few customers that happened to wander in were always a rag-tag mix. They were mostly trail-worn cowhands between herds, along with a sprinkling of hardscrabble miners with no grubstake and few prospects.

Many of the saloon’s customers had bad teeth and dung on their boots, and usually smelled as bad as they looked, but the working ladies at Top Notch still scratched and squabbled among themselves, vying for the men’s attentions. The rare cowpoke with a dollar left in his jeans after he’d downed his fill of cheap whiskey could always wangle himself a quick trip up the creaking stairs to one of the squalid rooms. The women were no longer pretty, and the upstairs visits were short and to the point, but poor men can’t afford expectations, and once struck, the bargain was generally accepted as fair by both parties.

Jack was different, or so he had kept telling her. He was a gambler by trade, and when he was sober, there was no man alive more meticulous in his grooming and speech. Almost every day, he cautioned Alex once again about the danger of contamination by “that downstairs saloon filth.” He was a gentleman, he liked to remind her, and being his wife made her a lady. And Alex had wanted very much to believe that.

Now, as she stared into the mirror, Alex realized for the first time that she was really no different than those women she had pitied and sometimes scorned. Without knowing exactly when it happened, she had become one of them�one of the dull-witted and dispirited creatures who stuck with her man no matter what. A woman stubbornly loyal to her man, even when that ‘man’ had just done his level best to beat her senseless, as though acceptance of his abuse was a badge of honor and courage.

She touched her swollen left eye and swore under her breath.

“Damn it, Jack! What help did you think I could be, looking like this?” No question about it, Jack was losing his touch.� He generally waited until they got kicked out of a town before getting mean drunk enough to leave her looking like the bedraggled trollop she saw in the mirror. From long practice, Jack had always known exactly where to hit her so that the bruises didn’t show. This was their living, after all, and a lady shill with her eyes blackened and her cheek puffed up was more likely to put the mark off than draw him in.

The other problem was that when Jack drank, his game slipped, and the quality of the marks slipped, as well. Lately, it was mostly half-pickled greenhorns that Alex had been able to entice to Jack’s table, but even those men stillexpected to be rewarded by a sweetly innocent smile and a deeply plunging bodice�a bodice that revealed no ugly bruises.�

But enticing the marks was just the beginning. Alex’s real work started when the game was finally underway. Her job was to tip the odds Jack’s way, usually by distracting the sucker at just the right moment. And last night, she hadn’t done her job to Jack’s satisfaction.

She had perched on the edge of the table, the way she always did, leaning so close to the mark that she could smell the man’s rancid hair oil and feel his hot, rank breath on her perfumed breasts. And as she always did, she ran her fingers through the sucker’s limp, greasy hair, cooing soft nonsense into the guy’s hairy ear. Then, edging closer, she dropped her hand to let her fingers creep along the mark’s dirt-slick trouser leg until the tips of her painted nails brushed against the throbbing bulge in his crotch. This move always got the mark’s attention, of course, and it was working beautifully until raucous laughter broke out at the bar. Another bloody fistfight had begun�the usual nightly entertainment at Top Notch.

Alex glanced away for only a moment or two, but the commotion had thrown off her timing, and during those crucial seconds of inattention, the mark had reached across the table and drew his next cards. When she turned back to the game, the sucker was already clutching the new hand close against his chest, and Jack was giving her that familiar, disappointed look she knew all too well�the look that seemed to say,“Why do you make me do this to you, darlin’?”

The odds were around fifty-fifty that when Jack finally rolled out of bed he wouldn’t remember what had happened last night, but Alex wasn’t ready to play the odds. Not again. By the time he woke up, she planned to be aboard a train out of Denver�a train to anywhere Jack Thornton wouldn’t think to come looking for her. Finding such a place wouldn’t be easy, of course. She’d need a town with no cheap saloons, no crooked poker tables, and no slobbering drunks waiting to be fleeced.��

She dressed quickly, and then edged around the dimly lighted room on tiptoe, keeping a wary eye on the rumpled bed as she gathered what she needed.� Just about everyone in the place knew and feared Jack’s temper, so she wrote a quick note and tacked it on the door, warning against a knock. If no one disturbed him, he’d probably sleep most of the day, and with any luck at all, she’d be long gone before he missed her.�

After throwing a few her own things in a bag, she tossed in Jack’s wallet, his silver stickpin with the big ruby in it, and his diamond shirt studs. His gold watch and chain were still on the bedside table, and for a moment, she considered not taking those. Jack had always told her that the watch was all he had left to remind him of his father. A bit of sentiment she had stopped believing when she read the inscription on the back: To Osgood, With Love from Mother. She slipped the watch and chain into her pocket. A few more anxious moments of feeling around under the dresser drawer, and she located the fat brown envelope of papers and the wad of cash he kept hidden for emergency traveling money. She needed the money more than he did, she reasoned, and stealing all of it might just slow him down a little.

Two minutes later, dragging one large valise stuffed with everything of value they owned, Alex limped down the street to the depot to buy a ticket out of Denver�and out of the long nightmare she had once called a marriage.�

San Francisco had been her first choice, but the westbound wasn’t due until 5:30 that evening, and she couldn’t risk the wait. When Jack woke up and noticed her missing, he’d check the station immediately, and even though the building was fairly large, finding a safe place to hide for that long without drawing attention would be virtually impossible. A study of both of the ticket agents had left her uneasy, as well. Had she seen either of them at Top Notch? It wasn’t a place frequented by the city’s more respectable male citizens, but she couldn’t be absolutely certain that one of them wouldn’t recognize her. A woman with bruises, cuts on her face, and a badly swollen eye would be sure to be remembered, especially one traveling alone.

And then, an idea occurred to her�an idea that would cut deeply into her available cash, but might throw Jack off the trail for a few days, at least. The thing was not to hide, but to make herself as conspicuous�and as memorable�as possible.

Alex marched up to the counter, and after making a great fuss about the extravagant cost of traveling “these days,” paid for a first class, one-way ticket all the way to St. Louis. Where to actually get off was something she would decide, later, when she was safely on her way.

With her ticket in hand, she sat down on a bench at the end of the platform, and waited. Only fifteen minutes now, but the wait was sheer agony. From where she sat, she had a clear view of the street, as far as Top Notch. She watched nervously, certain that at any moment, she would see Jack come striding down the street toward the station, his face livid with rage.

A quarter of an hour later, right on time, the eastbound Union Pacific train pulled into the station in a suffocating cloud of steam and smoke. Alex boarded the proper coach, found her reserved seat, and sat trembling for several minutes until the whistle sounded one last time, announcing the train’s departure. Then, with a mixture of fear and excitement, she watched from her grimy window as the great, black engine ground and clanked and slowly gathered speed. As the outskirts of Denver started to disappear behind her, she sat back with a deep sigh, and closed her eyes. Her new life was about to begin�a life with no husband, no money, and no prospects. But a life with hope.

* * * *

As a child, Alex had dreamed of being married, and in these dreams, even the word, marriage, meant being loved and protected. It meant being comfortable, and not having to scrape and do without. In those naive daydreams, the man was always a man of considerable means�not necessarily rich, but solid and prosperous. Alex had been poor long enough to know that being poor wasn’t the noble condition the Bible suggested. He would have to be a kind and generous man, though.� Handsome, of course, and educated, with charm and wit. A tender, loving husband, yes�but a very well-fixed one.

A man exactly like Jack�or the way Jack had seemed when she first met him.

By the time Jack came along, Alex had concluded that there were two possibilities that could explain why she hadn’t found the man of her youthful dreams�the man who would give her his undying love, along with comfort and security. Either the man she had dreamed of simply didn’t exist, or she was sorely lacking in what it took to find and keep him. By twenty-five, she was convinced that she’d blown her best chance. She was already beginning to notice tiny lines around her eyes, and in the right light, even a gray hair or two. There was little question that she was beginning to run low on the kind of bait necessary to attract the big fish she had hoped to catch.���

Alex had never liked hard work. She hadn’t liked hard work since she was a girl, forced to do hard work every day on her Uncle Chris’s dairy farm in Minnesota, and since that time, her opinion of work hadn’t changed. Orphaned at ten in a blizzard, she had been handed from second-cousin to great-uncle, to third-cousin-once-removed for several years, until her “Uncle” Chris and “Aunt” Marta had finally agreed to take her in. The aging couple weren’t actual blood relations, but since they were the only ones offering to take her, Alex’s financially struggling family was only too pleased to agree to an arrangement that gave them one less mouth to feed.

Aunt Marta was forever weak and ailing with mysterious illnesses the doctors couldn’t diagnose, so Alex cooked, cleaned, and laundered until her hands were raw. Whatever Marta’s unknown ailment was, though, it never kept her from administering a vigorous beating when Alex complained about the heavy load of chores she had been assigned.

“Maybe that’ll learn you some respect,” Marta suggested smugly, after one such whipping. “A stumpy little thing like you, with no prospects? You ought to get down on them scabby knees o’ yours and thank me and Chris for bringin’ you up proper like we done, in a decent Christian home.” The old woman droned on, shaking a fat, stubby finger in Alex’s face. “You’re gonna need to know somethin’ about hard work if you’re lookin’ to find yourself a husband. You ain’t no beauty, you know.”�

But by that point, Alex was no longer interested in finding a husband. She was looking for a way out, and try as she might to be grateful, she felt more resentment than gratitude for the threadbare, self-serving charity she’d received from Uncle Chris and Aunt Marta.

On that particular day, Alex was just fifteen, overly plump, clumsy and self-conscious. But while there was no indication yet of the changes to come, Alexandra’s prospects were about to markedly improve.

By the age of sixteen, Alex had lost her adolescent plumpness and developed a sort of golden, dewy prettiness that surprised no one more than Alex herself. She wasn’t beautiful yet, and at only three inches over five feet tall, she was on the delicate side. Her eyes were gray, and her hair was the color of autumn. On the rare occasions when she let it down, her hair framed her face in soft ringlets that fell to her waist. The local boys had already begun to take notice, which definitely pleased her, since it renewed her early hopes of finding a well-off husband. One hot afternoon, though, having observed the male attention she was attracting, Uncle Chris found reason to take her into the darkened barn for what he described as a “good talking-to” on the subject of a woman’s good name and reputation. For her own good, he said in a stern voice. When Uncle Chris began to illustrate his discussion of his young ward’s virtue by sneaking a hand beneath her skirts and thrusting an exploratory finger into the slit of her worn cotton drawers, seventeen-year-old Alexandra hit her Uncle Chris over his balding head with a shovel full of cow manure. Afterward, she went inside the house, helped herself to what cash and jewelry she could find, and left the farm forever. She would seek her fortunes elsewhere�in California, ideally. As ignorant of life as she was, young Alex knew very well that Uncle Chris had begun to see his role in her life as a bit more than uncle-ish. She also knew very well that she could do better than this�a lot better.

Alex’s prospects improved more, and even flourished, for a time. But then, inevitably, they began to fade. She had managed to avoid hard work, though, finding very quickly that with a little powder and rouge, she could make a more than adequate living for hersel

Martha on 09/05/2015 03:51pm
Good story.
Martha on 09/05/2015 03:51pm
Good story.
KArc on 10/16/2014 08:05pm
This is a great story about Alex aka Cathy who's on the run from a checkered past and an abusive husband. When Cathy is caught stealing, Will marries her and takes her home to work off her debt. Will's children Hannah and Caleb, do not like the idea of another woman taking their dead mothers place so take an instant dislike to Cathy. Hannah does everything she can to make Cathy's life miserable, and succeeds more often than not. As Cathy's past life and lies start to catch up with her she sets about making plans to keep eveyone safe. There are some great characters in this story who were so real, I was drawn in from beginning to end. I would have given this story five stars, unfortunately I hated the ending.
KArc on 10/16/2014 08:05pm
This is a great story about Alex aka Cathy who's on the run from a checkered past and an abusive husband. When Cathy is caught stealing, Will marries her and takes her home to work off her debt. Will's children Hannah and Caleb, do not like the idea of another woman taking their dead mothers place so take an instant dislike to Cathy. Hannah does everything she can to make Cathy's life miserable, and succeeds more often than not. As Cathy's past life and lies start to catch up with her she sets about making plans to keep eveyone safe. There are some great characters in this story who were so real, I was drawn in from beginning to end. I would have given this story five stars, unfortunately I hated the ending.
Amanda on 09/10/2014 07:38pm
This is a romantic story. The plot makes sense and the writing is good. You will enjoy getting to know Will and 'Cathy'. If you like warm stories that are not too gushy then you are in for a treat.
Amanda on 09/10/2014 07:38pm
This is a romantic story. The plot makes sense and the writing is good. You will enjoy getting to know Will and 'Cathy'. If you like warm stories that are not too gushy then you are in for a treat.
JK on 08/28/2014 05:16pm
Another really good story from April Hill! This one started with a back story on Cathy/Alex's abusive husband. She leaves him and runs across a new man. This time he's the right kind of man! Problems start right away with the two having to get married to save their reputations, Will's children, and the fact that Cathy/Alex is really a bit of a brat!! Very fun read!
JK on 08/28/2014 05:16pm
Another really good story from April Hill! This one started with a back story on Cathy/Alex's abusive husband. She leaves him and runs across a new man. This time he's the right kind of man! Problems start right away with the two having to get married to save their reputations, Will's children, and the fact that Cathy/Alex is really a bit of a brat!! Very fun read!
Redrabbitt on 08/25/2014 01:13pm
Alex was married to Jack Thornton, a crooked gambler who used his own wife to ply men with drinks and cop a feel of her while he swindled them. But if things didn't go well at the tables, and he was losing he started drinking heavily, and then he blamed her and would beat her. After a bad night and beating her nearly to death, she knew she must escape, her life depended on it. Taking what she could she left Denver trying to get to California. Instead she winds up in a small town and ends up working for a miserable shopkeeper and decides to steal enough money to get away. Unfortunately that didn't work. Will Cameron agrees to pay the bond and takes her home to be his housekeeper and teacher for his two children. The judge makes them marry before they leave. Cathy, as she goes by now, doesn't know how to cook or clean or teach. Life isn't better at the Cameron home, his daughter despises her, and the battle rages. Will has to take Cathy in hand with spankings several times for her attitude and foul mouth, but never does he beat her. This is a fun western domestic discipline story, with likeable characters and a feisty redhead. It also has a Bonus Story: A Picnic In The Park
Redrabbitt on 08/25/2014 01:13pm
Alex was married to Jack Thornton, a crooked gambler who used his own wife to ply men with drinks and cop a feel of her while he swindled them. But if things didn't go well at the tables, and he was losing he started drinking heavily, and then he blamed her and would beat her. After a bad night and beating her nearly to death, she knew she must escape, her life depended on it. Taking what she could she left Denver trying to get to California. Instead she winds up in a small town and ends up working for a miserable shopkeeper and decides to steal enough money to get away. Unfortunately that didn't work. Will Cameron agrees to pay the bond and takes her home to be his housekeeper and teacher for his two children. The judge makes them marry before they leave. Cathy, as she goes by now, doesn't know how to cook or clean or teach. Life isn't better at the Cameron home, his daughter despises her, and the battle rages. Will has to take Cathy in hand with spankings several times for her attitude and foul mouth, but never does he beat her. This is a fun western domestic discipline story, with likeable characters and a feisty redhead. It also has a Bonus Story: A Picnic In The Park
Marybeth on 08/22/2014 11:27pm
This is a well written story. Alex is married to Jack. Jack is a gambler and Alex helps him distract the other players so that he can win. But, one day Jack goes too far and beats her severely. She decides to leave him and buys a ticket for as far away as she can get. She lands in Wyoming territory and she makes the mistake of embezzling from the store owner that she worked for as “Cathy”. Of course, she gets caught and Will Cameron rescues her when he agrees to repay the money that she stole. Unfortunately for them both, the judge insists that they marry as it wouldn’t be right for an unmarried woman to be out in the wilderness with an unmarried man. And so, the two of them make the journey to Will’s home, married. It definitely isn’t love and not even like. Cathy hated Will. But, as the weeks, and months pass, the two of them come to an agreement. And, eventually, there is a HEA. I highly recommend this story. I laughed so much when reading it. Cathy is no simpering miss! I give this story 5 stars!
Marybeth on 08/22/2014 11:27pm
This is a well written story. Alex is married to Jack. Jack is a gambler and Alex helps him distract the other players so that he can win. But, one day Jack goes too far and beats her severely. She decides to leave him and buys a ticket for as far away as she can get. She lands in Wyoming territory and she makes the mistake of embezzling from the store owner that she worked for as Cathy۝. Of course, she gets caught and Will Cameron rescues her when he agrees to repay the money that she stole. Unfortunately for them both, the judge insists that they marry as it wouldn۪t be right for an unmarried woman to be out in the wilderness with an unmarried man. And so, the two of them make the journey to Will۪s home, married. It definitely isn۪t love and not even like. Cathy hated Will. But, as the weeks, and months pass, the two of them come to an agreement. And, eventually, there is a HEA. I highly recommend this story. I laughed so much when reading it. Cathy is no simpering miss! I give this story 5 stars!
BL Froman on 08/07/2014 03:13pm
I enjoyed this book. It's decently long, well written and has a great storyline. Alex/ Cathy, can be rather frustrating, she doesn't want to cook, clean... work, just live a pampered life. She does end up coming around, somewhat, but really, you do what you need to to survive and then worry about luxuries.
BL Froman on 08/07/2014 03:13pm
I enjoyed this book. It's decently long, well written and has a great storyline. Alex/ Cathy, can be rather frustrating, she doesn't want to cook, clean... work, just live a pampered life. She does end up coming around, somewhat, but really, you do what you need to to survive and then worry about luxuries.
sarah on 07/31/2014 06:57am
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I loved Will and thought he was great. I had mixed feelings about Cathy, I didn't feel much empathy for her and thought she was a brat at times. I loved the interactions with the children and the challenge there.
sarah on 07/31/2014 06:57am
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I loved Will and thought he was great. I had mixed feelings about Cathy, I didn't feel much empathy for her and thought she was a brat at times. I loved the interactions with the children and the challenge there.
CJO on 07/28/2014 08:07pm
This one was pretty good. Alex is a woman who escapes from her abusive husband in Denver. She ends up in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, and married to a man named Will when she is caught stealing and he offeres to pay her debt and let her work it off at his ranch doing cooking, cleaning, etc. It is the perfect hiding place for her. They don't seem to like each other much at first, but eventually they fall in love. The book moved a little slow at first, but became a real page-turner at the end.
CJO on 07/28/2014 08:07pm
This one was pretty good. Alex is a woman who escapes from her abusive husband in Denver. She ends up in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, and married to a man named Will when she is caught stealing and he offeres to pay her debt and let her work it off at his ranch doing cooking, cleaning, etc. It is the perfect hiding place for her. They don't seem to like each other much at first, but eventually they fall in love. The book moved a little slow at first, but became a real page-turner at the end.
madpuss on 07/22/2014 05:16pm
An entertaining read. A little different from most historical westerns. It showed how difficult it can be for a woman to come into a house with older children who have lost their mother. I enjoyed the interaction between all the family members. Will was a sweetheart even though he knew he had to be firm with Cathy. Considering he took her on for her great cooking and housekeeping skills and her ability to teach children he took it well that she turned out useless at all those things. Overall it was a warm and fuzzy story though the first chapter of the book did it no favours and doesn't feel like it belongs.
madpuss on 07/22/2014 05:16pm
An entertaining read. A little different from most historical westerns. It showed how difficult it can be for a woman to come into a house with older children who have lost their mother. I enjoyed the interaction between all the family members. Will was a sweetheart even though he knew he had to be firm with Cathy. Considering he took her on for her great cooking and housekeeping skills and her ability to teach children he took it well that she turned out useless at all those things. Overall it was a warm and fuzzy story though the first chapter of the book did it no favours and doesn't feel like it belongs.
SL on 07/22/2014 01:39pm
4 stars I really do like April Hill. She gives you a story with background and characters you can love and hate. This is a warm story of a man, Will, who tries to help a desperate woman named Cathy out. She is arrested for stealing and he makes her his wife in order to protect her virtue and save her from jail. The story was warm and had a happy ending, sort of. The spankings were mild using only Belt, hand, and spoon. There is the conflict between Will’s daughter and Cathy. There is the conflict with her old husband and the new borrowed husband. The story is without sexual relations, because technically Cathy is still married to Jack her old swindling, wife beating husband. But you can see that Cathy is falling in love with Will and his children. Cathy wants the life that Will can offer her, but she has lied since from the beginning about who she was, what she was running from, and why she was so desperate to get away. I enjoyed the read. It was short and sweet with a few domestic discipline spankings as well. I didn't enjoy the first chapter as it seems to be the real ending of the book which was not what I expected. The last pages of the book are the happy ending I expected.
SL on 07/22/2014 01:39pm
4 stars I really do like April Hill. She gives you a story with background and characters you can love and hate. This is a warm story of a man, Will, who tries to help a desperate woman named Cathy out. She is arrested for stealing and he makes her his wife in order to protect her virtue and save her from jail. The story was warm and had a happy ending, sort of. The spankings were mild using only Belt, hand, and spoon. There is the conflict between Will۪s daughter and Cathy. There is the conflict with her old husband and the new borrowed husband. The story is without sexual relations, because technically Cathy is still married to Jack her old swindling, wife beating husband. But you can see that Cathy is falling in love with Will and his children. Cathy wants the life that Will can offer her, but she has lied since from the beginning about who she was, what she was running from, and why she was so desperate to get away. I enjoyed the read. It was short and sweet with a few domestic discipline spankings as well. I didn't enjoy the first chapter as it seems to be the real ending of the book which was not what I expected. The last pages of the book are the happy ending I expected.
angel on 07/20/2014 02:04pm
Awesome story great plot full of action romance and suspense The Hero is a Strong Alpha male who know when to hold his feisty heroine and when to put her OTK As they get to know each other will they give in to love and happiness or will it end as the debt is paid in full
angel on 07/20/2014 02:04pm
Awesome story great plot full of action romance and suspense The Hero is a Strong Alpha male who know when to hold his feisty heroine and when to put her OTK As they get to know each other will they give in to love and happiness or will it end as the debt is paid in full

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