Authors: JJ Ellis,TA Ellis
This is a
work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents
are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious
manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is
2015 Jaimee Jenkins Ellis and Timothy Andrew Ellis
reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any
manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is dedicated to parents everywhere – biological, step,
stand-in or honorary
like to thank our kids Gwen, Bella Livy Trent and Lily
like to thank our parents Ann, Chuck, Alberta and John and our many siblings
KW for all of the advice, constructive criticism and time you have put into
PIF for all of the encouragement and help. You guys are the best!
Naomi Scanlon Harris and Jan Davis Meehan for the names you gave us for baby
A Harper’s Rock Novel
JJ & TA Ellis
Rock, Wyoming is a fictional town that we have placed in the northern part of
the state. If looking at a map you might think that it is somewhere near the
town of Buffalo. Many small towns here in Wyoming are much like Harper’s Rock
and we hope you enjoy your visit!
pretty young woman stepped off of the plane in Seattle and literally breathed a
sigh of relief even though deep breaths still hurt her tender ribs. She knew
she was far from being out of danger, but at least she had a day’s head start
needed a car and the cheapest one she could find was for five hundred dollars.
It took most of the last of her cash but she had no choice. Next stop, Boulder City , Nevada. Unfortunately that meant she wouldn’t be able to use her debit card
because he could trace that. She, and her unborn baby, would have to make it
there with only the small amount of food she had packed away. Gas would be
bought with her remaining cash.
days of driving were getting tiring. She was due to give birth in less than a
month and could only make it a few hours at a time. The trip was taking much
longer than she had hoped. Just before she reached the Nevada border, a call
from her best friend Deborah Mannon startled her out of her reverie.
sweetie. You might not want to come here. I think he’s already sniffing around.
Jackson says you should go to Harper’s Rock, Wyoming, and look up the Harper
family. Just ask for the Harper Ranch and anyone can point the way. Jackson's
Aunt Evelyn is the matriarch and she also has three sons named Russell, Logan
and Dylan. Any of them can help you out until we can think of something else to
do to keep you safe.”
formed in the woman’s eyes. “Okay. Thanks Deb. I guess I don’t have any choice
but to do that. I’ll talk to you soon.” What the hell would she do for food
now? She was almost out and still had many miles to go. She could go without
for a while, but what about her little one. He needed the food she provided
through her body. She’d been through too much to keep him safe, there was no
way she could lose him now.
a few days of driving in spurts and sleeping in her car, she finally reached
the tiny town near the Big Horn Mountains. Harper’s Rock wasn’t much to look
at, but she almost felt safe here. She stopped at a local gas station to ask
directions to the Harper homestead. The kind, lonely older gentleman went on
and on about how she should make sure to go to the main house or to the grocery
store that one of the Harper boys owned because one of the other Harper boys was
on a wilderness ride with clients and wouldn’t be at the lake house.
the type of person who hated being a burden on others, the woman decided to
bypass the grocery store and the main ranch house for the lake house. It would
be empty and she could get her head on straight and decide what to do from
there. As she drove along the lane that the old man had told her about, her
vision started to go in and out, and the car started to sputter. Breathing
steadily to keep panic at bay, she finally made it to the stand of trees on the
hill that the old man had described. The car died and it wouldn’t re-start, but
at least she had made it to her destination. As she turned to try to open the
door, her world suddenly went black.
Harper rolled out of bed at five a.m. He was more than ready to face the day.
The grocery store he owned would be taken care of by his assistant manager
while he was out at the family’s now defunct ranch. Today was his day to ride
his frustrations away on Digger, his horse. He dressed quickly, grabbed
something to eat on the way, and left the apartment he kept above the store.
minute he stepped outside he knew something was brewing. It was unseasonably
cold for late August. He ran back through the store and up the stairs to his
apartment, grabbing a jacket and gloves. Five short minutes later he was in his
truck, headed just outside of town to the ranch his family owned and lived on.
It hadn’t been a working ranch in quite some time, but his mother, Evelyn
Harper, was turning it into quite a homestead.
younger brother Dylan lived at the lake house. The old bunkhouse had been
renovated and turned into a cottage that Evelyn now rented out. And Logan
was building a house on the ranch. He wasn’t in any hurry to finish it though.
Living above his work place was convenient and since he didn’t have a family
and never planned on having one, he was taking his time. His brother Russell
had just moved back home to Harper’s Rock, and would probably build his own
place on the family land someday or even take over one of the other rental
buildings on the property.
parked his truck and entered the horse barn. There were only six horses left
and the old building felt so empty. In its heyday it had been packed full of
work horses. Their one ranch hand had already been there that morning so all Logan
had to do was get Digger ready. He would be riding free in no time at all.
there buddy! Sorry I didn’t get out here last week, but back to school is rough
at the store.” The horse neighed and rocked its head up and down as if he
understood Logan’s words. “That’s my boy,” he chuckled, patting the horse.
hopped on Digger’s back and headed north. The chill seemed even more prominent
on the open range so he pulled his collar up around his chin. There were a few
dark clouds off in the horizon. He would bet anyone a million dollars that by
dinner time the snow would be falling. He almost felt bad because other native
Harper’s Rock residents, who could read the weather, would be bombarding the store
with their business to get ready for an early season snow storm. Usually if
the snow fell this early it would either be a trace or a big storm with at
least a foot of snow. With the wind howling as it was, Logan’s bet was on the
part of the ranch was his favorite. It was totally empty land with nothing as
far as you could see. It was his thinking spot, the place where he came to keep
his head on straight. The last of his friends had just gotten married the week
before and Logan knew exactly why it bothered him so much. He didn’t do love
and family other than his mom and brothers, and always felt angry when people
he cared about fell into the fools’ trap. Both of his older brothers had been
affected in one way or another by loving someone else. It had cost one of them
Harper was always on Logan’s mind. At the age of sixteen he had fallen in love
for the first time, with James Croft. His first love, rather than come out of
the closet and face the potential danger of being gay in Harper’s Rock,
Wyoming, or even hiding deeper in with Ben at his side, had decided he couldn’t
handle the life he would have to live and started dating a girl. Ben, who they
all thought was never afraid of anything in his life, decided he was afraid to
live in a world where he couldn’t be himself, a world without love and soon his
chronic depression took over his life. In his mind, he’d lost his best friend,
his lover, and his confidant. From that moment on, life just wasn’t worth it.
He’d pulled the trigger on his shotgun and died instantly on the porch of the
family hunting lodge. Logan truly believed that if Benjamin had been able to
have love in his life, he could have fought the depression and made it through
school to then be able to move on to somewhere where he would have been
brother Russell on the other hand had plenty of opportunities to find happiness
but had given it all up for prestige. In the end he had married a crazy woman,
was deserted with a troubled child by that woman and then had divorced her. His
life was a mess.
only younger brother, Dylan, was pretty messed up too, all because of the love
of one girl. His views of love had turned him into the town playboy, much to
the chagrin of his best friend, Nicoletta, who was also the only girl he’d ever
loved. When she rejected him, there was nothing holding him back and his life
with the ladies had nearly gone out of control.
just had to chuckle. He thought he might be the only sane one in the family. He
had his job, his apartment, his house and his horse. He was happy and would
stay that way because women and children, which were synonymous with love,
weren’t allowed in his life on a permanent basis.
sun was rising over the horizon as Logan rode along the shore of the lake. The
clouds were slowly taking over the sky, but at this moment, the light shined
through making a beautiful, calm sunrise. He knew they were in for it when the
storm hit though. Unless the wind shifted direction soon, they would get at
least a foot. Since he was so close, he would check on the lake cabin that
Dylan lived in. His brother wasn’t due to get back from the trip he was guiding
until the next morning, and if the storm delayed them, he needed to make sure
everything was set for the weather.
slowed the horse and enjoyed the last stretch to the cabin. Thinking about his
brothers and his friend, who in his mind, had just ruined his life, seemed to
calm him some. It served to remind him that he was on the right track with his
own life. And that was something to be grateful for.
seemed well as he approached the cabin. Every window looked closed and it
seemed the lights were off inside. He got down off of Digger and tied him to
the post by the back door. Taking his keys out of his pocket, he opened the
door. Inside it was chilly but everything was in order. Dylan had left a note
on the counter.
“Hey brother! Help yourself to anything in the fridge if
you are out riding at lunch time. I’ll call you on Sunday.”
that he had made a stop, he would definitely be out and about at lunch time so
he walked to the refrigerator to see what his brother had on hand. A far off
sound caught his attention. The lake house was secluded and the only ways to
get there were through the ranch, which led to a parking area behind some trees
at the back of the property, or by the access road which was sometimes washed
out. He swore the sound was that of a car engine. After a few minutes he
didn’t hear anything else so he went about making himself a sandwich and
bagging up some chips and cookies to round out his lunch. As he was about to
head out the front door, he heard something at the back of the cabin – a mix of
scratching and knocking. He went back through the main room to the back door
and unlocked it. When he pulled it open, a dark haired woman stood blinking at
him. She took a step forward and started to fall. He reached out and grabbed
me,” she whispered before passing out in his arms.
hell!” Logan exclaimed. He carried the woman into the cabin and laid her on
his brother’s couch. She was breathing steadily and her belly was swollen with
pregnancy. What in the hell was he supposed to do now?
down next to her, he checked her over for injuries and put his hand on her
forehead. He didn’t see anything obvious and she didn’t have a fever. He
needed to get her to a doctor, but he couldn’t do that on his horse. After
tucking her in under the afghan draped over a nearby chair, and leaving the
food he’d made on the coffee table, he ran out to his horse and headed back to
fifteen minutes he was on the way back to the cabin. Instead of heading around
the lake to pick up the access road, he headed straight out to the parking
area. A red sedan was parked there, obviously the woman’s car. He loaded her
things into the back of his pickup and trekked down the path and over the small
hill to the cabin. Once inside, he picked up the still unconscious woman and
carried her back to his truck. Thank goodness she was a tiny little thing, even
with being probably seven or eight months pregnant.
settled her into the passenger side and propped her up with an old blanket,
then he buckled her seat belt.
where am I,” he heard her say softly.
Harper’s Rock, at my brother’s cabin,” he answered.
eyes shot open and she struggled against the seat belt. “Who…who are you?”
Logan Harper and I’m taking you to the hospital. You passed out and that can’t
be good for your baby.”
hand went quickly to her stomach and she sighed. “He’s still moving,” she
murmured. Looking back up at Logan, panic colored her expression. “Please don’t
take me to the hospital! He’ll find me there.”
will find you?” The hair on the back of Logan’s neck stood on end. This woman
was bad news. When she didn’t answer he lifted her face to look at him. “I
asked you a question.”
take me some place where no one will see me. Please. I just need to eat and
then I’ll be fine. I haven’t eaten in almost two days.”
sighed and ran his hand through his dark red hair. “Okay, I’ll take you to my
place and feed you, but then you need to leave. I’ll give you some cash, drive
you back to your car and then you can head on to the next town.”
car is dead,” she whispered, tears starting to fall. "I’m supposed to
look someone up here in Harper’s…I don’t feel well.”
he commanded a bit harshly. “Don’t pass out on me again.” But he was too late.
Her head lolled against the seat. After checking her pulse and breathing, he
ran around and got into the driver’s seat. Since a restaurant was out of the
picture because she didn’t want to be seen, he had no choice but to take her
back to his apartment. His day sure had turned south quickly.