Authors: Lori Copeland
Tags: #Historical, #Romance, #Fiction, #Christian, #Religious, #Faith, #Inspirational, #Spirituality, #Civil War Era, #Crow Warrior, #Three Sisters, #Orphans, #Money Swindling, #McDougal Sisters, #Action, #Adventure, #Jail, #Hauled Away, #Wagon, #Attack, #Different Men, #Bandits Trailing, #Gold Cache, #Seek Peace, #Companions, #Trust, #Western
HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHERS
Cover by Garborg Design Works, Savage, Minnesota
Cover photo © Chris Garborg, Bigstock / Richard McMillin
MY HEART STOOD STILL
Copyright © 2015 Lori Copeland, Inc.
Published by Harvest House Publishers
Eugene, Oregon 97402
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
My heart stood still / Lori Copeland.
pages ; cm
ISBN 978-0-7369-6167-7 (pbk.)
ISBN 978-0-7369-6168-4 (eBook)
All rights reserved.
Abigail, Anne-Marie, and Amelia McDougal are smart and pretty enough to turn any man’s head, but marriage isn’t for them. They’ll stick together through thick or thin. The trouble is, the thin times are coming faster than the thick times.
The nuns who run the mission in Mercy Flats, Texas, do the best they can with the three orphaned girls, but they are constantly glad to know the Lord forgives, since those three need a huge dose of tolerance daily.
In book one,
Sisters of Mercy Flats,
we witnessed how Abigail had Barrett Drake scratching his head with bewilderment. So sit back and hold tight as Anne-Marie attempts to tame Creed Walker, a man who has no intentions of being tamed…
large chestnut stallion galloped headlong across the dusty plains, carrying two riders pressing low against its sides. Man and beast had ridden hard for over an hour and the animal’s side was heavily lathered, its flanks heaving from exertion.
Anne-Marie McDougal locked her hands around her rescuer’s waist and held on tightly, praying she would survive this newest catastrophe. Her sisters, Abigail and Amelia, had been rescued from a jail wagon and carried off in different directions, and Anne-Marie was in the hands of a stranger. A very large, intimidating man, who had plucked her off her feet and now raced along the road at a frightening clip. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw no sign of the band of youthful braves who had been chasing them. Perhaps they had tired of the pursuit and broken away.
The Comanches, the sudden flight from the jail wagon, and now galloping across the countryside with a savage was like an awful dream, but Anne-Marie knew it wasn’t a nightmare. It was really happening.
She tightened her grip around the Indian’s waist and wondered
about this uncivilized being who had swooped down from the heavens to save her from a fate worse than death.
Her heart raced with alarm. Who were these men who had seized her and her sisters, Amelia and Abigail, to safety, and then sprinted in opposite directions?
A new, more disturbing thought came to her mind. What if the three Samaritans had not come upon them? Anne-Marie shuddered to think where she would be now. Scalped…or dead.
She held tight as the Indian cut the chestnut off the trail and pushed the animal up a steep ravine. If only she had thought the last scam through more carefully. She had warned Amelia and Abigail it would be risky to make a fool of A.J. Donavan. He was an intelligent man, and she had sensed that he couldn’t be tricked as easily as the others.
Panic welled up inside her. She had never been apart from Abigail and Amelia. She and her sisters had always faced life together, afraid of nothing, anxious of no one. If anything happened to them she couldn’t bring herself to go on.
But she couldn’t allow herself to entertain such thoughts. Optimism was her strength; she couldn’t lose it now. She had escaped unharmed, hadn’t she? She wasn’t bleeding or wounded. And the two men who had rescued Abigail and Amelia were white men, not a savage like her defender.
The Indian’s stoic silence was beginning to grate on her. Obviously he neither understood nor spoke a word of English, but she would have to find a way to communicate soon. She had to make him understand that he must help her find the nearest stage or rail station so she could return to Mercy Flats, Texas, immediately.
There, by the grace of God, she and her sisters would be reunited—provided her sisters’ rescuers had been as cunning in eluding the Comanches as her protector. But was he her rescuer? She had no assurance that he wasn’t as intent on evil as the band of young warriors chasing the wagon.
No. She must believe that he had good intentions and that Abigail and Amelia were safe. At this very moment they might be as confused and frightened as she was, but they would be back together soon—very soon. And they would continue providing funds for the orphanage in Mercy Flats as they always had.
Leaning closer against the man’s powerful back, she shouted above the racing wind. “It’s getting colder. Can we stop soon—is there a town nearby?”
When he showed no signs of responding, she sighed, realizing that communication was impossible. He didn’t understand a word she said, but it didn’t matter. She would forgo small talk if only he was skilled enough to get her to safety with her scalp intact.
She was limply clinging to his waist by the time he finally angled the horse down a gulley and through a deep thicket. She tensed. This was the moment she had been dreading; this was the hour he would prove his intent. He was either her defender or her adversary. Her heart tripped in her chest and she sucked in a deep breath.
Half turning, the man grunted, pointing toward the ground.
When she was slow to comprehend, he grasped her by the arm and eased her off the back of the horse. She had been astride the animal for so long that her legs threatened to give out. When she stumbled, a strong hand reached out to steady her.
Motioning her to a nearby log, the man slid off the horse and set to work. In a surprisingly short time he had a fire going, its warmth gratifying in the deepening twilight. The day had begun warm and balmy, but during the afternoon clouds had formed overhead and now the biting wind carried a hint of snow.
Anne-Marie tried to ignore the grumbling in her stomach. She hadn’t eaten since sometime early this morning, and she had no idea where her next meal would come from. The Indian appeared to have little provision for travel—a canteen tied to his saddle and a bedroll. His tribe could be nearby, yet if that were true, considering the worsening weather, why hadn’t he elected to seek shelter with them? But
if he planned to do her harm, he was certainly being a gentleman about it.
“I’m hungry,” she said, patting her stomach to convey her misery. “I’m hungry and
,” she added, using the same insistent gesture, hoping he would comprehend her need.
Giving her a brief, vacant stare, the man moved closer to the fire.
In the light he looked wild and uncivilized. He was large, and his buckskin shirt and trousers smelled as if he hadn’t washed in months. Thick black shaggy hair blew in the wind. Nut-brown skin stretched tightly over high, hollow cheekbones. In the deepening shadows, he appeared even more ominous.