A Lantern In The Window: WESTERN PRAIRIE BRIDES
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First Published on Dec 03 2013
Ever wondered what it might be like to be a mail order bride?Or the groom, already married to a woman he’s never laid eyes on? On the Canadian prairies in 1886, having a mail order romance wasn’t unusual. Noah Ferguson desperately needed help on his farm.
Annie Tompkins knew she couldn’t go on working in Lazenby’s cotton mill. ˃˃˃ So she’d been a little less than honest in her letters, was that really so terrible? It was unforgivable, Noah fumed. He’d wanted an older widow, and Annie was a young virgin. But even that wasn’t the full extent of her lies.
Problem is, Noah hasn’t exactly been straight with Annie, either, and his secret has the power to break Annie’s heart.˃˃˃ Can even a special Christmas gift make their marriage work? Read an Excerpt:What the hell had possessed him to shave off his beard this morning, Noah wondered? His rugged features might look better without all that wild black hair, but the beard might also have kept his chin from freezing, waiting for this damnable train.And after all, what did he care how he might appear to her? It wasn’t as if he had to court her; the marriage was over, the legal bond established between them. She had insisted on a proxy marriage before she left Toronto on the four-day train journey that was bringing her here to Medicine Hat. Against his better judgment”"and the advice of the only lawyer in town”"Noah had agreed.He’d wanted it all over and done with. He’d signed the papers and sent the money for the fare, and now that she was almost here, his gut was churning. He wished to God the train would get here so they could be done with this awful first meeting, he and Annie Tompkins.Annie Ferguson, he corrected himself. Annie Ferguson, his second wife. Tall, she'd described herself. Thirty-four, on the thin side, and plain, which suited him just fine. He’d been relieved to read her description of herself; after all, this was no love match, far from it.Instead, it was a practical solution for them both. She was a soldier's wife, widowed in the Rebellion of 1885, a farm woman trapped in the city, working in some dingy factory to support herself and her young daughter while longing for the country life she'd known as a child.And as for him, this marriage was a desperate measure.He thought of his cranky, bed-ridden father, being cared for at this moment by a kindly neighbor, then deliberately forced his thoughts back to his new wife.Redheaded, she’d said, which worried Noah some. Was it true, what they said about a redhead’s temper? There’d been no sign of it in the eight letters she’d sent during the past months, and Lord only knew he had no experience of women’s temper and no desire to learn.Molly had been the sweetest of women. In their three years of marriage, Noah was hard put to recall times when she’d even come close to losing her temper.Molly. Without warning, bitter rage at his loss welled up in him, rage so intense that his tall, well-muscled body trembled with the force of it, and he clenched his teeth and knotted his hands into fists inside the blue wool mittens his dead wife had knitted for him.There were holes worn through one thumb and two fingers. Noah had clumsily mended them.It had been two years now since Molly and his eighteen-month-old son, Jeremy, had died within hours of one another, victims of typhoid, and in recent months he'd begun to believe this smothering, impotent, choking fury was gone forever, that time had eased the agony of his loss. Instead, here it was back again, as powerful as ever, and now there was this gnawing guilt as well.I never wanted any woman but you, Molly. Still don’t, but I can’t do it alone anymore, not since Dad had the stroke. If you’d lived, Molly, I wouldn’t be in this damnable position, w
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