Prism Book Group News!
First loves are not always true loves...
After four years of waiting for fiancé Cal Davidson to return, Claire Secord moves to frontier Omaha to start a new life. After all, many men did disappear during The War Between the States. Running the family mercantile keeps her busy days but at night she dreams of Cal and the life they’d planned.
Handsome sheriff Tom Maxwell befriends Claire and they begin a warm yet casual romance. When Claire is kidnapped and carried off, she must employ all her faith, skills and intellect to survive until Tom can find her.
Reuniting they discover their true feelings and become engaged. Back in Omaha, Claire discovers Cal waiting and expecting her to return east as his bride.
Now she must decide between honor and commitment with her first love or a future of passion and excitement with her true love.
Copyright 2014 © Jewell Tweedt
“Omaha! Ommaaaaha!” the conductor bellowed as he strode through the railcar. Claire opened her eyes, squinting in the early afternoon light. People rose, stretched and gathered their belongings.
I’m here; I’m finally here! After a quick prayer of thanks for her safe deliverance, she reached for her trunk and hatboxes.
The weight of her pistol, hidden deeply in a skirt pocket, banged against her thigh. I might be young like Mrs. Buckley said, but I am a crackerjack shot thanks to Daddy’s instruction. No one would get the best of his little girl. Claire had secretly kept up with her shooting and found great pleasure in her very unladylike skill.
She clambered down the steps to the boardwalk outside the depot and swiveled her head. Surely Gin would meet the arrival of her train. Ten minutes passed, then twenty. The other passengers had departed, and the porter was nowhere in sight.
Perhaps Ginny was busy at the store. That must be it. No bother, I shall ask directions. It can’t be far.
She set her chin, squared her shoulders, and drew her belongings near. Just then, a young man sporting a silver badge stepped up to her. “Miss Secord?”
“Yes?” Claire jumped hearing her name.
“Miss Secord, I am Sheriff Thomas Maxwell, and I’d like to welcome you to Omaha.” He smiled, revealing perfect teeth and deep dimples.
“Well, thank you, but I was expecting my aunt, Virginia Weikert.”
“Yes, I know, that’s why I’m here.” He looked everywhere but Claire’s face. He twisted his Stetson in his large, calloused hands and gazed over her shoulder. Taking a deep breath, he tried again. This time he gazed into her eyes and spoke in a gentle voice that Claire imagined he used to soothe his horses.
“Miss Secord, I’m sorry to tell you this, but we buried your aunt about six hours ago.”
Claire gasped, her vision blurred, and her knees buckled. She was barely aware of strong arms wrapping around her waist.
Tom eased the woman to a bench, supported her with one arm, and fanned her face. “Miss Secord, are you all right?”
Darn, what do I do now? Darn! Wake up, lady! Wake up! He stopped fanning and gazed at her. Long lashes fluttered against creamy skin. Silky auburn tendrils framed her face. He reached out to stroke her cheek and yanked his hand back just in time.
Slowly, Claire opened her eyes, and he was struck by her anguish. He released his grip on her waist, and she slumped a bit. Grasping for his broad shoulder, she pulled herself up against the hard bench.
“Oh. Excuse me.” She jerked her hand back as if it were on fire and huddled on the bench.
“Think nothing of it. Miss Secord, two days ago your aunt was struck down by a team of runaway horses. She died instantly. If it’s any consolation, it was a right nice service. Pastor Stevens did a fine job and many townsfolk turned out to pay their respects. The cemetery is just a mile or so from here. And she has a lovely resting place.”
A sob escaped from the woman. She cast her eyes down and struggled to speak. “I’m sure it is, Sheriff Maxwell. I’m indebted to you and the town.” Claire suddenly stared up at him, eyes brimming with tears. “Please, please take me to her gravesite.” She stood then staggered as if she might fall over again any second. Tom wasn’t quite certain how to react to the distraught woman. He cleared his throat. “Perhaps you should rest a bit more. There’ll be time for that tomorrow.” He glanced at the sun’s position. “No doubt you’ve had a long day. It’s nearly dusk and time for me to be getting you home and settled.”
“I’ll be all right now.” She wiped away a tear with the back of her gloved hand. “But I don’t have a home.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jewell Tweedt was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, the setting for A Bride for the Sheriff and the other Nebraska Brides books. She lives in western Iowa and divides her time between teaching middle school students and writing. In her spare time she reads, gardens and walks while plotting out new stories. Readers can learn more about Jewell and her books at www.tweedtjewell.blogspot.com.