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About the Author
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty-four years and two cats. She has three adult children and two grandchildren. She enjoys board and card games, rain, and cats. She would enjoy gardening if she didn’t have a black thumb. Her hobbies include quilting, porcelain doll making, sewing, crafting, crocheting, and knitting. Visit her online at http://marydavisbooks.com, or https://www.facebook.com/mary.davis.73932 and join her FB readers group, Mary Davis READERS Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/132969074007619/?source=create_flow .
KELLY EILEEN HAKE lives in LA with the kitten she and her then-boyfriend, Jeff, rescued from a very tall tree. Semi, whose white fur, black spot between his ears, and black tail makes him a walking semicolon, is the grammar cat Kelly never knew she needed. She’s decided the cat and the boyfriend are both keepers and is currently planning a wedding with her new fiancé!
Tracie Peterson, bestselling, award-winning author of over ninety fiction titles and three nonfiction books, lives and writes in Montana. As a Christian, wife, mother, writer, editor and speaker (in that order), Tracie finds her slate quite full.Published in magazines and Sunday school take home papers, as well as a columnist for a Christian newspaper, Tracie now focuses her attention on novels. After signing her first contract with Barbour Publishing in 1992, her novel, A Place To Belong, appeared in 1993 and the rest is history. She has over twenty-six titles with Heartsong Presents’ book club (many of which have been repackaged) and stories in six separate anthologies from Barbour. From Bethany House Publishing, Tracie has multiple historical three-book series as well as many stand-alone contemporary women’s fiction stories and two non-fiction titles. Other titles include two historical series co-written with Judith Pella, one historical series co-written with James Scott Bell, and multiple historical series co-written with Judith Miller.
JILL STENGL is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor. She currently lives with her husband and two spoiled cats near Raleigh, North Carolina. Her interests include drinking huge mugs of root-beer rooibos tea, spoiling her grandchildren, and indie-publishing sweet fairy-tale retellings. Visit her website at www.jmstengl.com to see her current writing projects.
SUSAN MAY WARREN, former missionary to Russia, lives in Minnesota with her husband and four children. She is a bestselling, award-winning author who loves to share her craft with other authors.
Read an Excerpt
The Farmer's Daughter
By Tracie Peterson, Susan May Warren, Mary Davis, Kelly Eileen Hake, Jill Stengl
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2001 Mary Davis
All rights reserved.
Montana Territory, 1887
I ain't no sissy!" Marty Rawlings yelled to Tommy Jensen, spinning around to face him. She tried to ignore him, but he just wouldn't let up.
The brown-haired boy gazed up and down Marty's calico dress. "Sure look like a sissy to me." He smirked.
"Shut up, Tommy, if you know what's good for you." Tommy was two years younger than she and had obviously forgotten who wupped whom the last time.
Tommy crossed his arms and planted his feet a shoulder width apart. "Who's going to make me?"
"I am, that's who." Marty shoved him.
Tommy stepped backward and unlocked his arms.
"You ain't gonna take that from a girl, are you?" one of his friends goaded.
Stepping forward, he pushed Marty. "Wimpy." The other two boys snickered.
Marty pulled back her arm to punch him but found herself staring Cinda in the face. She had to catch herself from hitting her sister-in-law. Cinda looked mad. She didn't say a word but her eyes spoke an abundance, none of which was good.
"Ladies do not fight," Cinda's prim Aunt Ginny scolded.
"She ain't no lady," Tommy retorted.
"That's enough, Tommy." Cinda whirled around and glared at him. He sobered quickly.
"And don't you forget it," Marty said. She reached around Cinda to poke Tommy, but she couldn't quite reach.
"You, too, Marty. Back to the wagon." Cinda pointed.
Marty stormed back to the wagon and plopped in the back, as unladylike as possible. She might not be allowed to fight, but that didn't mean she had to act like a sissy.
She fussed with her dress as the wagon bounced down the dirt road toward home. Sitting in the back of the double seat wagon on what was normally the luggage compartment, she tried to look as ungraceful as possible. Just because she was forced to wear a dress didn't make her a lady.
Frustration, anger, and humiliation all battled for control. Since her sister- in-law wouldn't let her fight on the outside, Marty would settle for the internal battle. Tommy would be worse than ever now. Why'd Cinda have to go and interfere? Every Sunday Tommy teased Marty when she wore a dress to church. She only put on a stupid dress to get Aunt Ginny off her back. But a person could only take so much. Her brothers wouldn't let her fight with the boys anymore, but her brothers were away on a cattle drive. It was about time someone shut up Tommy Jensen once and for all.
They were almost home, and she could get out of these ridiculous clothes, put on her Levi's and Stetson, and race off on Flash, her horse and companion.
Whether hauling heavy sacks of grain, plowing fields, mending fences, chopping wood, or roping and riding, Marty did it. Whatever the work, she was right alongside her brothers. Sometimes she even did more than her share or took a shorter break to prove she was as good as the men. Lucas, her oldest brother, tried to temper her, but Travis and Trevor let her do as much as she wanted. It meant less work for them. She didn't mind; the physical work felt good to her body.
At eighteen, she knew she should be thinking about marriage and settling down. She also knew her rough, tomboy ways kept the decent boys away. Most of the time, it didn't bother her. She wasn't about to change for any of them. There weren't any boys or men around these parts that interested her anyway.
Before the wagon came to a complete stop, she jumped off and rounded the side, heading for the house. She was in no mood to hear any comments from Cinda or Aunt Ginny about her "unladylike" behavior.
Marty's gaze caught on a tall stranger leaning on the hitching rail. Her heart skipped a beat, but her stride hesitated for only an instant. She tucked a stray strand of her short, dark hair behind her ear. She kept her hair cut just below her ears and loose around the neck. She liked her no-fuss hair.
Determined but cautious, she studied the stranger up and down as she strode to the house. She couldn't see the color of his trimmed hair because of his hat. As she got closer, though, she could see his eyes were brown. Who was this stranger, and why was he lounging on their hitching rail as if he belonged there?
He gave her a smile and raised his eyebrows at her as she boldly assessed him. "Howdy," he said cheerfully, tipping his hat.
Marty narrowed her eyes as she turned her head away, saying nothing. Even though she didn't look directly at him, her attention was all his as she marched up the steps and into the house.
She took stock of his assets. Colt at his side, rifle's out of reach on his horse, warm brown eyes, and a devilish smile. What was she thinking? She shook her head to clear it of such foolishness.
Once inside the large farmhouse and out of sight, Marty ducked behind the door and watched the man through the crack at the door hinge. His easy nature and casual smile made her nervous. He was up to something. What did he want? Why was he here? Did he know the menfolk were gone? Was that why he was here? She wished she knew the answers. She could ask him, but she wouldn't believe a word he said.
He helped pregnant Cinda off the wagon. How gentlemanly of him. Then he helped Aunt Ginny with Cinda's three-year-old son, Logan. Davey and Dani jumped down on their own and clung to Cinda's sides. These twin girls had red hair like their father, but everything else reminded Marty of her sister Lynnette. Davey's hair was French-braided down the back, while Dani wore hers in two braids, one over each ear.
Marty heard Cinda and the stranger exchange how-do-you-dos. It made Marty's blood boil, his being so nice. What was he up to?
He introduced himself as Reece Keegan, attorney-at-law.
He's a wolf trying to pass himself off as a sheep.
He handed a piece of paper to Cinda and was explaining it but not loud enough for Marty to hear. She got the gist of it when Cinda flung the paper back at him.
"You can't have them!" Cinda pushed the girls behind her. She took a step toward the house, but he moved between her and the porch.
"I'm a court-appointed official, ma'am. I have a legal right to the girls." He stepped on the document to keep it from blowing away.
Legal right my eye. He wasn't going to lay a hand on them if Marty had anything to do with it.
She knew how to talk to his kind. She walked lightly over to the gun rack above the fireplace and lowered the Winchester. After checking the chamber, she tiptoed over to the door and across the porch.
Aunt Ginny was scolding the scoundrel. He stood stiff as a board, undaunted as she wagged a finger in his face, telling him why he was nottaking the girls.
Marty had never much cared for Cinda's Aunt Ginny, especially when she made Marty wear a dress, but right now Marty kind of liked the old biddy.
Marty sneaked up behind the intruder and rammed the barrel into his back. "Keep your hands where I can see them."
He sucked in a quick gasp and slowly raised his hands. "You know how to use that thing, miss?"
Marty mouthed his words mockingly. Dani and Davey giggled. They knew she could shoot the hind leg off a barn rat from across the farmyard. She never missed her mark.
Marty cocked the rifle and pushed it harder into his back. "Try me."
Part of her wanted this creep to try something. It would give her a reason to put a hole in him. The other part of her prayed he would leave quietly. She had never shot a person before, though she had thought about shooting Tommy Jensen several times for teasing her. She had shot her share of coyotes, deer, and jackrabbits, but a man? That was different. She didn't know if she could actually shoot a human. Her brother had taught her to cherish human life.
"You ever shot a man before, miss?"
Marty ignored his casual question. If she answered honestly, he might try something, and then she would be forced to shoot. If she lied, he might hear the uncertainty in her answer. She would let him ponder his own question.
"Take the children inside and bolt the door," she said to Cinda and Aunt Ginny.
As Cinda and the others scooted around him, the stranger tried to speak. "I have a legal claim—"
Marty jabbed him with the barrel again. "Quiet."
Cinda and Aunt Ginny moved the children to the house. Cinda stopped next to Marty. "What about you?"
"I'll be fine. Now git."
Once the others were safely inside, Marty said, "Slowly remove your gun and throw it to the ground. No sudden moves. I've got an itchy trigger finger."
He obeyed. He lowered one hand to slip his six-shooter out of the holster and tossed it aside. "I'm going to turn around now," he said cautiously with both hands back in the air.
He turned slowly. She kept the rifle aimed at his chest. He studied her face, then her hands. His scrutiny made her uncomfortable. The swine was trying to read her, to see if she really would shoot or not.
He stared her in the eyes. What did he see there? He was trying to rattle her and make her lose her nerve, but it wouldn't work. She was stronger than that to melt under the powerful gaze of a handsome man.
"You mind if I reach down and get my paper?" he asked, as if they had run into each other at the general store, and he was asking if the apples were good this year.
Marty nodded. "Slowly and don't try nothin'."
He picked up the document. "This gives me the right to take those girls back to Seattle to Mr. McRae."
How could he be so casual and relaxed looking with a gun pointed at him? Unless he believed her to be no threat. Marty raised the rifle and looked down the barrel through the sight. "And Mr. Winchester gives me the right to stop you."
"Now, now, there's no need to be shooting." He looked a little nervous.
"I'll ride into town and get the sheriff. Maybe you'll be more reasonable with someone you're familiar with. The sheriff can explain my rights."
Reasonable? She was being quite reasonable. After all, she hadn't shot him ... yet. "Your reasoning has two major flaws." A smirk twisted up the corners of her mouth.
"The sheriff is legally bound to take my side."
He was trying to convince her, but his words were a waste of good Montana air. "Flaw number one, two months ago our sheriff was thrown from his horse and broke his neck."
"Your town has no sheriff?" He raised his brows. "I can wire for a marshal to be sent up to settle this matter."
"We got a sheriff. A temporary sheriff."
"Then I'll talk to him. Is he in town at the sheriff's office?"
"Nope. On a cattle drive."
Mr. Reece Keegan, attorney-at-law, took a deep breath. "I can wait for him to return. When do you expect him back?"
"Flaw number two." Marty was getting real tired of his easy manner and polite conversation like they were sitting in a fancy parlor having a cup of tea. "The temporary sheriff is the girls' uncle, my big brother, and I do mean big." Her oldest brother was six and a half feet tall and quiet broad across the chest—a formidable sight. And her other two brothers were right near close to that. This half-sized lawyer wouldn't stand a chance.
"If your brother wears the sheriff's star, he is honor-bound to uphold the law," he said.
She could tell his confidence was wavering. When would he realize he was defeated?
He waved the paper as he continued. "And this is the law. It's signed by Judge Raymond Vance."
"I don't care who signed it. I ain't letting you take them and neither will Lucas."
"But if he's wearing the sher—"
"Then he won't be wearing it." Her voice lowered to an ominous tone. "I can guarantee it."
His jaw hung open a moment longer still wanting to finish his last word. He sort of reminded her of a stupid cow they once had. It seemed to have no idea of danger, sort of like this lawyer, and injured itself beyond repair. Lucas finally had to shoot it and put it out of its misery. Maybe she would be doing this Reece Keegan a favor by putting him down before he really got hurt.
He appeared to be trying to think of something to say to persuade her to simply hand over her nieces. He had to be a special kind of stupid. It was time for this worm to crawl away.CHAPTER 2
I think you should be going, Mr. Keegan, attorney-at-law." The words felt distasteful and dirty in her mouth. "Now!" Let him run off to town and wire a marshal. By the time he got back, she would be long gone with the twins until Lucas returned and settled this.
"Marty?" Cinda's voice was quivering.
They would all be fine if she would just let Marty handle things. She wasn't about to let anything happen to any of them. "I told you to go in the house and bolt the door," Marty said over her shoulder, keeping her eyes glued to the stranger.
The man looked behind her. Rolling his eyes, he shook his head. He looked genuinely displeased. But then shysters could do that, make you think things were that weren't. It was an old trick, and she wasn't about to fall for it and turn around, giving him the opportunity to try to take her rifle.
She heard a little whimper.
"A calico with a gun. That's a might scary sight."
Marty's eyes grew wide, and she stiffened at the sound of the mocking, gruff male voice behind her. She spun around to see a brave Cinda standing next to a scraggly man with Dani in front of him. The man leaned over her sobbing niece with his forearms resting on her shoulders and a six-shooter held loosely in his right hand. A smug, gloating grin plastered across his ugly face.
"You think she can shoot me and miss you?" the second man whispered to Dani but loud enough for everyone to hear.
Dani whimpered and nodded.
"Wylie, don't do this," the lawyer warned.
"Ain't you quakin' in your boots, being at the wrong end of a rifle held by a feeble female?" the ugly man said to the lawyer now standing behind Marty.
Feeble! If he weren't hiding behind her niece, she would show him feeble.
She raised the rifle. If he didn't get his filthy hands off Dani, he would be an ugly, dead man. This close she couldn't miss. His smug smile spurred her on. She had him in her sights. He stared squint-eyed down her barrel, trying to gauge if she would shoot or not. She would, if she could be sure he wouldn't move Dani in the line of fire.
Mr. Keegan came around her and took hold of the rifle barrel, lifting it so no one was in the line of fire. "There won't be any shooting here today." He pulled on the gun, but Marty held tight. What could she do? She would be helpless without the rifle. He gently pried her fingers loose. All she could do was relinquish it.
The ugly one, the one the lawyer called Wylie, stood up straight behind the crying nine-year-old, pleased with himself. He shoved the girl toward the door. "Everyone inside."
Cinda followed behind Dani trying to comfort the terrified girl. "Everything will be all right."
Wylie motioned with his gun for Marty to get moving.
She marched up the steps begrudgingly. As she passed Wylie, she socked him in the gut as hard as she could. That ought to teach him to hold a gun to her niece.
Wylie let out a gust of air and dropped his gun as he clutched his stomach. Though caught off guard, he recovered quickly, swinging out wildly at her.
She ducked out of his reach. She expected the counter blow. He came at her again; she was ready. Most of the boys she had fought were bigger than she. She could take him, if the other guy would stay out of it.
Mr. Keegan stepped between them with Marty's rifle resting on his shoulder. "That's enough, Wylie."
"But she started it," Wylie whined.
"And I'm finishing it. Now back off," Mr. Keegan said sternly. "There are better ways to do this. Legal ways."
"You tried your way, now I'm doin' it mine." Wylie snatched up his gun and stormed into the house.
Marty smiled at him smugly, knowing she got the better of him.
"After you, miss," Mr. Keegan said, unfolding his hand toward the doorway.
Marty stood straight and marched into the house.
Davey was sitting on the floor holding Logan on her lap while he sucked his thumb. Dani stood beside her with a hand resting on her twin sister's shoulder for moral support. Aunt Ginny was already tied to a chair, and Wylie was tying Cinda to another chair.
"Leave her alone! She's with child!" Marty stepped toward him but halted when he pointed his gun at her.
"I ain't hurtin' her none." Wylie sneered.
"I'm fine," Cinda said. Her sad eyes said what Marty was trying to deny herself. We're going to lose them.
Excerpted from The Farmer's Daughter by Tracie Peterson, Susan May Warren, Mary Davis, Kelly Eileen Hake, Jill Stengl. Copyright © 2001 Mary Davis. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsMarty's Ride by Mary Davis,
A Time to Keep by Kelly Eileen Hake,
Beyond Today by Tracie Peterson,
Myles from Anywhere by Jill Stengl,
Letters from the Enemy by Susan May Warren,