McShannon's Chance

McShannon's Chance

Jennie Marsland

McShannon

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Trey McShannon survived the carnage of the Civil War, only to discover that the deepest wounds are those to the heart. A traitor to his home state of Georgia, Trey has built a new life for himself in the untamed Colorado Territory. Now it’s time to find a wife to share the future he’s worked so hard for – but can he free himself from his past?

Beth Underhill is looking for choices. Needing to marry to escape being sent back East, she prefers Trey’s honest business proposal to false promises of love. Can a union between a man who isn’t sure he can still feel love, and a woman who doesn’t believe it exists, blossom into more than a marriage of convenience?

 

 
PUBLISHED BY: BlueWood Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-877546-15-0
PUBLICATION DATE: 2009
WORD COUNT: 95173
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 2 2
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: Western/Cowboys
KEYWORDS:
 

EBOOKS BY BlueWood Publishing

EBOOKS BY Jennie Marsland

 
EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Jennie Marsland/2009

The rhythm of the stagecoach wheels changed as the horses slowed to a jog, waking her from an uneasy doze.
We can’t be here already.
Beth Underhill uncurled herself from the seat corner and peered out the window. A huddle of buildings showed up ahead, blending with the muted browns and greens of the open scrubland. How long had she been asleep? She’d drifted off after they’d changed horses at noon, and now cottonwoods and pines cast long, late shadows on the sunlit landscape. As Beth rummaged in her pocket for her watch the coach stopped, the door creaked open and the driver stuck his sunburned, grit-covered face inside.
“Wallace Flats, Ma’am, here you are.”
So this is it. Beth clambered out, holding her aching back. There’d been no glowing descriptions in the letter she’d received, but hope had painted a rosier picture than what she saw around her.
“What a forsaken place.”
The driver pulled Beth’s suitcases from the top of the coach and dropped them beside her, raising a small cloud of dust to add to the coating on her skirt. “I’ve seen worse.” He wiped his nose with a grimy handkerchief and shifted from one foot to the other, his thoughts as plain as the frown on his face. You don’t belong here. “Are you sure someone’s going to meet you?”
Beth straightened her shoulders and dredged up a smile. “Yes, Mr. Chalmers. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.”
“Well, then, I got to be going. Been a pleasure, Ma’am.”
Pleasure hardly described Beth’s rough, solitary journey from Denver. She’d never felt hungrier or dirtier in her life, but Mr. Chalmers had gotten her here in one piece, and he was her last link with home. She turned to him with genuine regret.
“Goodbye and thank you.”
He tipped his hat, climbed back to his seat and let out a low, keening whistle to start the horses. Beth watched the stage roll out of town, leaving her stranded in this bit of nowhere.
In spite of the sun, the spring breeze nipped at her. Shivering, Beth pulled her shawl tighter and surveyed the town square. The general store, Baker’s Mercantile, needed new window trim. The school needed a fresh coat of white paint. The saloon, with a pair of sagging benches out front and ‘Neil Garrett, Prop.’ painted in bold, black letters over the swinging doors, looked like the most prosperous building in the place.
Iron rang on iron at the blacksmith’s forge, and a saw droned at the sawmill. Behind the false-fronted businesses, houses straggled into the distance, most unpainted and bleaching in the sun. The town well stood under a pine in the middle of the square, the earth around it dampened by drinking horses and riders.
Nothing looked solid or permanent compared to the stone construction Beth was used to seeing in Denver. Nothing held the eye in town, but a far-off view of rolling foothills in the late afternoon light caught her attention. If all went as she expected, she’d be headed out there.
Cadmium yellow and orange, some French ultramarine. A touch of Hooker’s green. The light’s beautiful. I’ll have to tell Graham to put some paper in my trunk. She’d brought her watercolor kit along, but she didn’t expect to have a lot of time for painting as a homesteader’s wife. Not that Beth had a very clear idea of just what that would involve. She pulled the rumpled letter from her purse and read it one more time.
 

 
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