Recent widow Jared Montrose needs a new wife to maintain his home. In order to flee a cruel past, Mercy Cantrell accepts his mail-order, but can the stubborn lawman handle the feisty and beautiful woman? And will he accept her love in return?
Jared Montrose stoked the fire wondering what his mail-order bride looked like. He sighed as he gazed at the heavens.
Stars shimmered like diamonds scattered on black silk, and a full moon hung in an endless, ebony sky.
The letter from his intended was tucked in his shirt pocket. He’d arrive tomorrow in Sheldon two hours before she stepped off the afternoon train. That would give him time to arrange for the justice of the peace to marry them. By then, his days as a lawman would be over. Hopefully, his heart would mend after he secured a wife to cook, clean, and maintain the home. And he’d go back to farming the land his father had given him.
Jared tugged the thin, woolen blanket over his shoulders to shield the evening air. A late spring breeze whispered across the open prairie and challenged the smoldering embers of his campfire. Dry twigs burned easily, releasing tendrils of smoke that curled upward.
He had sat alone one too many evenings, watching the sun cast its final rays in the western horizon. The Texas plains boasted magnificent sunsets, but when viewed without a loved one, the beauty lost its potency. At one time, the open prairie’s gentle contour stirred Jared’s soul. But that allure had since diminished, and he had grown numb to what he once cherished.
He had seen enough killing in his young twenty-three years. As a boy, he’d dreamed of becoming sheriff. He would hunt down criminals, imprison offenders, and expose the corrupt. But the legal system had proven to be nothing more than a fallacy. The wealthy did what they wanted, often bribing their way past the law. Vigilantes bullied beyond the confines of jailhouse bars. And the weak and poor suffered at their expense. He’d tired of not doing enough; the good deeds he’d planted seemed to have never taken root.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the locket that dangled from its tarnished, metal chain. Only this and a few other small tokens remained, but her image seemed embedded in his mind forever. He carefully opened it.
Laura’s hazel eyes sparkled. They had always reminded him of polished gold. His fingers ran along the edge of the locket. He imagined stroking the silky, brown locks that cascaded down her back. He stared at her angelic face until his eyelids grew heavy. Then he snapped the locket shut on the greatest love he’d ever known. If only erasing her memory could be that easy. No woman could replace Laura in his heart.
But maybe Mercy Cantrell could ease some of his burden for now.