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Authors: Kristen Heitzmann

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Sweet Boundless

BOOK: Sweet Boundless
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Sweet Boundless

DIAMOND OF THE ROCKIES

The Rose Legacy
Sweet Boundless
The Tender Vine

Twilight
A Rush of Wings
The Still of Night
Halos
Freefall
The Edge of Recall

Secrets
Unforgotten
Echoes

www.kristenheitzmann.com

    KRISTEN
HEITZMANN

Sweet Boundless

Diamond of the Rockies
book 2

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA

Sweet Boundless
Copyright © 2001
Kristen Heitzmann

Cover design by Jennifer Parker
Cover photography by Mike Habermann Photography

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan

ISBN 978-0-7642-0714-3

The Library of Congress has cataloged the original edition as follows:

Heitzmann, Kristen.
    Sweet boundless / by Kristen Heitzmann.
        p.    cm. — (Diamond of the Rockies ; 2)
    ISBN 0-7642-2382-8 (pbk.)
    1. Woman pioneers—Fiction. 2. Mine accidents—Fiction. 3. Married women— Fiction. 4. Colorado—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3558.E468 S93      2001
813'.54—dc21                                                          2001001302

To Al and Mary Jane Heitzmann
for the gift of my husband

With your whole heart honor your father;
your mother’s birthpangs forget not.
Remember, of these parents you were born;
what can you give them for all they gave you?

Sirach 7:27–28
The Apocrypha

CONTENTS

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-one

Acknowledgments

ONE

The rosy kiss of the sun on the newborn day is God’s own touch upon His world.

—Carina

IT WAS MAE’S IDEA. With Berkley Beck, the Carruthers, and all the roughs hung by the neck, why shouldn’t the house be hers? Carina stared at the small clapboard house caught between Mae’s boardinghouse and Fletcher’s Stationery. It was plainer than it had appeared in the illustration—no chimney, no gingerbread trim, no shrubs, and only one window. Hardly the dream house she had thought she’d purchased. Never mind that the deed was a forgery and the sale a fraud.

Carina figured her claim was as good as any, however. And in a city where claim jumping was a sport, no one had jumped that claim, not since its last inhabitants had been choked to death at the end of a rope. Carina cringed, the sight imprinted on her memory. All those men hanging like hams from the rafters of the livery.
Oh,
Signore . . .

She crossed herself, then brought a hand to her throat. How close she’d come to joining them. Thoughts of that night two months ago still raised the flesh on her spine. But now the sun was shining sharply through the dust-clouded air, and the noise of commerce was all around her. No torches, no shadows, no vicious hollers to “get Beck’s woman.”

If anyone still thought her that, they didn’t say it to her face. Tempers were short in Crystal, but so were the memories of heinous deeds, especially their own. No one spoke of that night. Just days after the bodies had been cut down and buried, the men were about their business as though none of it had happened.

If only she could put it away so completely. Carina wrapped herself in her arms. She was not yet thick-skinned enough for that, but she was trying. Crystal demanded it. Only the hardy survived a place like Crystal, Colorado. And even then it took a bit of luck.

Had she not been dubbed Lady Luck? Dubbed by Joe Turner and the host of miners who believed it was by her hand he’d found wealth and glory? Maybe taking a shovel to one piece of ground instead of another was nothing more than luck, but most of life didn’t work that way. Every choice had a result. Why else would she be standing on a rutted street before a shabby house and imagining?

She tipped her head back and looked again at the house. With scarcely four feet between its side wall and Mae’s kitchen and the long yard behind . . . She considered the possibilities. It could work.

“Pardon me, ma’am.”

Carina turned and looked into a broad, pleasant face. Brown eyes, brown hair, square jaw, high forehead. A look of intelligence. “Yes?”

“Could you tell me where to find Mr. Shepard? Mr. Quillan Shepard?”

She stared at the man. Tell him where to find Quillan Shepard? She was the last one to ask. After all, Quillan was just her husband.

“I have a letter here to meet him at Mae’s boardinghouse.” He held out the paper.

Carina’s heart jumped. Two months had passed since Quillan had left. After the first month, he’d sent money to Mae for Carina’s keep but hadn’t come himself. Did this man’s letter mean Quillan was returning?

“This is Mae’s.” Carina gestured toward the two-story structure beside the little house. “When were you to meet him?”

“Well, today.”

Today!

“He said in the letter I might find a room at Mae’s.”

“Then you’ll be staying.”
And Quillan might be, too. . . .

“If we conclude our business positively.” The man removed his hat. “I’m Alex Makepeace, mining engineer.” He held out his hand.

Carina took it. “And I’m Mrs. Shepard.”

His eyes widened. “Well, now. It seems I’m on the right track. Is your husband home?”

“No.”

Alex Makepeace filled his chest with mountain air, then choked. He would learn not to do that in Crystal’s streets where the dust was thick. With a hand across his mouth, he cleared his throat. “Then I’ll see about a room.”

“There’s no vacancy. Except . . .” Didn’t this make her decision for her? “As a matter of fact, there’s one room being relinquished today. You’re in luck, Mr. Makepeace.”

“Please call me Alex. I hope to be working closely with your husband.”

She half smiled. “Then you don’t know my husband.”

Alex Makepeace surveyed her. “Has he fangs and claws?”

Carina laughed. “No. But if he works closely with anyone, it’s news to me.”

“Ah.”

“Now we’d best see Mae together. The room being vacated is mine.”

“Ma’am!”

She smiled. “Don’t worry. I’m moving into this fine house next door.” Carina waved her arm. “Who could ask for more?”

They shared a laugh; then he sobered. “Truly, Mrs. Shepard, I can’t take your room.”

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