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Authors: Ruth Ann Nordin

To Have and To Hold

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To Have

And

To Hold

Ruth Ann Nordin

This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not

intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript

are solely the opinions of the author and also represent the opinions or thoughts of the

publisher.

To Have and To Hold

Al Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2012 Ruth Ann Nordin

V1.0

Cover Photo images Dreamstime. www.dreamstime.com Al rights r eserved – used with

permission.

Cover made by Dara England at http://mycoverart.wordpress.com/.

This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means

including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without expressed written consent of the

publisher/author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Ruth Ann Nordin Books

http://www.ruthannnordin.com

Other Books by Ruth Ann Nordin (In Chronological Order)

Earls Series (Regencies)

The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife (coming soon)

Nebraska Series (Historical Western Romances)

Her Heart’s Desire (coming soon)

A Bride for Tom (novel a)

A Husband for Margaret (novel a)

Eye of the Beholder

The Wrong Husband

Shotgun Groom

To Have and To Hold

His Redeeming Bride

Isaac’s Decision

South Dakota Series (Historical Western Romances)

Loving Eliza

Bid for a Bride

Bride of Second Chances

Montana Grooms Series (Historical Western Romances)

Mitch’s Win (coming soon)

Virginia Brides Series (Historical Romances)

An Unlikely Place for Love

The Cold Wife

An Inconvenient Marriage

Romancing Adrienne

Native American Romance Series (Historical Western Romances)

Restoring Hope

Brave Beginnings

Bound by Honor, Bound by Love (coming soon)

A Chance In Time (novel a)

Other Historical Western Romances

Fal ing In Love With Her Husband

Meant To Be (time travel: from present to past)

Omaha Brides Series (Contemporary Romances)

With This Ring, I Thee Dread

What Nathan Wants

Just Good Friends (coming soon)

Across the Stares Series (Contemporary Romances)

Suddenly a Bride

Christian Sci-Fi Thril er

Return of the Aliens

Chapter One

Omaha, Nebraska

July 1880

Mary Larson smiled at her husband who brushed a stray strand of hair from her face. It never

failed to thril her every time he looked at her the way he was now, as if she was the most

beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

Dave’s gray eyes twinkled and he scooted closer to her on the porch swing. “I love you. You

know that, don’t you?” he murmured as he slipped his arm around her shoulders.

“You must if you’d take a break from working just to tel me that,” she replied, her voice hinting

the pleasure she felt that he’d do such a thing from time to time.

Their four-year-old son Isaac was chasing a frog that hopped across the grass, and their

daughter Rachel was taking a nap. So for the moment, they were alone. Mary leaned into

Dave and, seeing the kiss coming, she closed her eyes in anticipation.

He cupped the side of her face with his hand and his lips caressed hers. Content, she

responded to his kiss and the rest of the world slipped away. This year marked their sixth year

of marriage, but the time had passed so fast, it seemed like it was only yesterday when she

came out to Nebraska and he found her at the train station. She loved him from the moment he

introduced himself and asked her to marry him. It was such an impulsive thing for him to do,

but he said he knew she’d make him a good wife, and he’d struck her as the kind of man who’d

treat her wel . Little did she know how wonderful he’d be or that he’d even fal in love with her.

And now as he parted his lips and she responded in kind, her heart soared at the feel of his

tongue as it interlaced with hers. In the time she’d lived in Nebraska, her past in Maine faded

until it was as if it’d never happened, something she was eternal y grateful to Dave for. It

wasn’t that she didn’t miss her family from time to time, but she was so much happier here.

Here, she was beautiful, loved, and cherished. Every morning when she woke up, she was

thankful she’d taken the chance on being a mail-order bride.

When Dave’s mouth left hers, he left a trail of kisses across her cheek to her ear and down her

neck. Her skin tingled with delight, and she wrapped her arms around his neck to pul him

closer to her. He tightened his hold on her and brought his mouth back to hers where he was,

once again, kissing her. But this time, there was no denying the desire simmering just below

the surface.

She let out a soft moan, her body responding to him as easily as it always did when he touched

and kissed her this way. Nothing was better than being swept up in his passionate embrace.

As she was mental y counting down the hours to when the children would be asleep for the

night so she and Dave could final y be alone in bed together, something tugged at the hem of

her dress.

She ended the kiss and turned her gaze to Isaac who proudly showed her the frog he caught.

“Can I keep him?”

“No, honey,” she said as she leaned forward to pat the frog on its head. “He needs to be with

his family.”

“He has a family?” Isaac asked.

“Sure, he does. He’s got a ma and pa and probably some brothers and sisters. He’d miss

them if you kept him.”

Dave rubbed her back and said, “Or he might be a pa frog and miss his sons and daughters.”

“But you can play with him for a bit before you set him free,” she added.

Looking up at her with blue eyes, Isaac asked, “Can Rachel see him?”

“Not now. She’s asleep,” she replied.

Mary noted his disappointment and brushed his dark blond locks. Dave’s hair was a tad lighter

than their son’s, but anyone could tel by looking at them that they were father and son. Rachel

was a little more like her with her blue-green eyes and round face, except Rachel inherited the

Larson good looks, something Mary was grateful for.

“I have an idea,” Dave said as he stood up. “Let’s go to the barn and see if we can find a box

to put him in, and then when Rachel wakes up, she can see him. But after that, you need to let

him go, alright?”

Isaac’s face lit up and he nodded. Dave winked at Mary and then led their son to the barn.

Chuckling as Isaac ran to keep up with his father, she remained on the swing for a little longer.

The tree next to the porch gave her adequate shade this time of day. It was one of the things

she requested when Dave said it was time to leave their sod house and build one made of

lumber. Their new house was painted blue with white trim, something Mary had always fancied

but never thought she’d live in. She glanced at Dave and Isaac who entered the barn. Their

dog Jasper, who’d been resting by the barn door, got up and fol owed them in.

Closing her eyes, she enjoyed the summer breeze and swung back and forth for a couple

minutes. When she heard Dave and Isaac, she opened her eyes and saw that they had left the

barn with a happy Jasper who walked beside Isaac. Isaac held a box that was half his size and

struggled with carrying it. His father reached down to help him, but he protested so Dave

shrugged and waited for him to get a better grip on it. It was so cute to see how much Isaac

wanted to be able to do the things his pa did.

With a sigh, she got up from the swing and peered through the open window so she could

check the clock hanging on the wal . It was almost time to get Rachel up from her nap.

Figuring it was a good idea to get started on dessert so she could put it in the oven to bake,

she headed for the front door. As she did, a squirrel darted across the porch and Jasper

bolted for it. She tried to get out of the way but lost her balance as the squirrel ran under her

feet. She grabbed for the beam by the porch steps but missed and fel . The world around her

tilted and her head hit something hard before everything went black.

***

Dave checked out the parlor window to make sure Isaac was staying on the porch before he

turned back to Mary who remained unconscious on the couch. He went back to her side and

gently lifted her head. There was a large bump but no bleeding. No bleeding was a good thing,

right? It meant she was alright. Her breathing was normal and her skin color was good. So

she was fine. She just had a bump. How many times had he or his brothers gotten a bump

while growing up?

Gently setting her head back on the pil ow, he heard Rachel fuss from upstairs. As much as he

hated to leave Mary, he didn’t see how he had much of a choice. He hurried up the stairs and

found the seventeen-month-old girl ready to climb out of her crib.

“Oh no, you don’t,” he kindly admonished as he stopped her.

He picked her up and realized she needed a new diaper. Frowning, he debated whether to

wait until Mary woke up or take care of it himself. He’d never changed one before and didn’t

exactly relish the opportunity to do so now. Mary should do it. She knew what she was doing.

After he set Rachel down, he took her hand and led her down the stairs.

“Want to see your ma?” he asked her.

“Ma. Cookie,” she replied with a large smile on her face.

He chuckled. If Mary hadn’t been so skil ed in the kitchen, then Rachel might not feel the need

to mention food every time she spoke about her mother. But it was one of the things Mary was

known for, so he couldn’t blame the little girl.

When they reached the parlor, he glanced out the open window where Isaac was showing

Jasper the frog. “Isaac, why don’t you bring that frog in here and show it to your sister?”

Hopeful y, Rachel would be entertained enough with the frog so he could focus on Mary.

“Yes, Pa,” Isaac said and put the frog back into the box.

Dave strode to the storm door and opened it so Isaac could come into the house. “Rachel,

check out the frog Isaac caught.”

“Fog?” Rachel asked from where she stood next to the table.

“It’s a ‘frog’,” Isaac said as he entered the parlor and set the box on the floor. “And it’s in the

box.”

She peered into the box. “Fog.”

Isaac groaned. “No. It’s frog. Fr… Say ‘fr…’”

Looking at him, she said, “Fog.”

Amused, Dave turned back to Mary and tried to figure out what he should do. Maybe a cool,

wet cloth would help her wake up. Glancing at his children who were touching the frog while

Isaac continued his vain attempt to teach Rachel how to properly say the word, he headed for

the kitchen. Once there, he found a dry washcloth and dipped it into the bucket of water

resting on the worktable. When he returned to the parlor, he saw Mary’s eyelids flutter and

eagerly sat on the table next to her. He wasn’t sure if he should put the cloth on her forehead

or not, so he decided to wait and see if she needed it.

“Mary?” he softly asked as he took her hand and gave it a light squeeze.

She stirred and a sigh escaped her lips.

“Ma?” Rachel left the box and waddled over to Mary. She tapped her mother’s arm. “Ma?”

“It’s alright, honey,” Dave told his daughter. “She’s waking up. We just need to be patient.” He

stroked the back of Mary’s hand with his thumb.

Holding the frog, Isaac walked over to them and leaned toward his mother. “When wil she

wake up?”

“She’s waking up right now,” Dave said. “Put that frog back into the box. She doesn’t need

that thing shoved in her face when she opens her eyes.”

Isaac hurried to obey his father while Rachel tapped her mother’s arm again.

“Rachel, I told you not to do that,” he kindly admonished.

“Why?”

“Because it’s rude to poke people.”

“Poe?”

As he thought of how he could explain this to a one-year-old, Mary’s free hand went to her

forehead and she groaned. He released her other hand and stopped Rachel from poking her

mother a third time. “Go see the frog. Your mother’s fine. She just needs some space,

alright?” Turning to Isaac, he added, “Get your sister over to the box.”

Isaac, who had put the frog back in the box, sighed but went over to her and led her away from

their parents.

Relieved, Dave turned back to Mary and, noticing that she had removed her hand from her

BOOK: To Have and To Hold
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