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Authors: Mona Hodgson

Twice a Bride

BOOK: Twice a Bride
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Praise for
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

“A beautiful tale. Intriguing. Inviting. Inspiring.”

—C
INDY
W
OODSMALL
, author of
The Hope of Refuge
and
When the Soul Mends

“It’s always a joy to read a historical novel that isn’t afraid to let its women escape the farm. Cripple Creek’s cast of colorful characters play host to a new romance, as well as pulling back the curtain on a local family tragedy. This sequel does more than simply tell the “next” story; it revisits the characters we’ve already come to love and creates a complementary depth to an entertaining new tale.”

—A
LLISON
P
ITTMAN
, author of
Stealing Home
and
The Bridegrooms

“Ida believes her future is secure in a man’s world. After all, she has drive and determination. But what happens when she meets a man who makes a withdrawal from her heart? Author Mona Hodgson makes discovering the answer to this question a rich, rewarding adventure.”

—D
I
A
NN
M
ILLS
, author of
A Woman Called Sage
and the Texas Legacy Series

“All the ups and downs of a romance with a delightful dose of history, with characters that will sneak into your heart and take up residence. More, more, we want more.”

—L
AURAINE
S
NELLING
, author of
No Distance Too Far
and the Daughters of Blessing Series

TWICE A BRIDE
PUBLISHED BY WATERBROOK PRESS
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921

All Scripture quotations or paraphrases are taken from the King James Version.

This is a work of fiction. Apart from well-known people, events, and locales that figure into the narrative, all names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Copyright © 2012 by Mona Hodgson
Cover design by Kelly Howard

Published in association with the literary agency of Janet Kobobel Grant, Books & Such, 52 Mission Circle, Suite 122, PMB 170, Santa Rosa, CA 95409-5370.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Published in the United States by WaterBrook Multnomah, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., New York.

WATERBROOK and its deer colophon are registered trademarks of Random House Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hodgson, Mona Gansberg, 1954–
    Twice a bride / Mona Hodgson.—1st ed.
      p. cm.—(The Sinclair sisters of Cripple Creek; bk. 4)
    eISBN: 978-0-307-73033-6
  1. Widows—Fiction. 2. Sisters—Fiction. 3. Cripple Creek (Colo.)—Fiction. I. Title.
    PS3608.O474T84 2012
    813′.6—dc23
                                                                2012017189

v3.1

Written for the Lover of my soul—Jesus!

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Epigraph

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter Thirty-six

Chapter Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter Thirty-nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-one

Chapter Forty-two

Readers Guide

Author’s Note

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Other Books by This Author

Excerpt from
Dandelions on the Wind

 

 

 

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend unto my prayer
.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee
,
when my heart is overwhelmed:
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I
.
          PSALM 61:1–2

1898

J
agged edges marked the sculpted granite at Willow’s feet. Love was like that. Smooth in places. Sharp and dangerous in others.

’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all
.

Willow stared at the white rose in her hand. She agreed with Alfred Lord Tennyson’s statement. But on this last day of August, churned clods of Colorado dirt formed a blanket over her father’s grave. Was it the loss of her father so soon after their reunion, or was it fear threatening to rob her of air? Both were cunning adversaries.

She glanced at the shiny black carriage where her loved ones awaited her. Aunt Rosemary hadn’t looked at her today, but Willow had seen the apprehension clouding Mother’s eyes. Her brother, Tucker, had stared at her during the graveside service, worry rutting his brow. Even her sister-in-law watched her the way one would watch a pot on the brink of a boil.

If Willow dared to look in a mirror, she’d see the same question lurking in her own features. Could this insatiable sorrow pull her back into a tide she couldn’t withstand any more than Sam could survive the undercurrent in the San Joaquin River?

She bent to the ground. “Father, I’m sorry for the anguish I’ve caused
you. I wanted to be strong.” She laid the rose on the grave. “I won’t be a Weeping Willow this time.” Squaring her shoulders, she brushed away the tears spilling onto her cheeks. At what point after Sam’s death had her mourning become abnormal? Would she recognize warning signs if it were to happen again?

“Willow?” Tucker’s voice wafted on the breeze, just above a whisper.

Drawing in a fortifying breath, she looked at her brother and stood. His eyes narrowed as though he expected her to crumple. Tucker had been the only one to visit her at the asylum after Father had her committed, and he’d visited her once a week despite never receiving notable response from her.

Tucker met her gaze. “Are you all right?”

“Yes.” She brushed a blade of grass from her mourning gown. “I needed some time.”

“I can’t help but worry about you.”

She offered him a slight grin. “I know.”

He slid his hands into his trouser pockets. “You shouldn’t be alone.”

Willow agreed. She’d expected by this time in her life to be a pastor’s wife and herding at least two or three little Peterson tykes.

“I’m not alone.” Was she trying to convince him or herself? “Mother and Aunt Rosemary are at the boardinghouse with me.”

He looked at the rose she’d placed on their father’s grave. “Saturday they’ll return to Colorado Springs.”

“But Miss Hattie is under the same roof, and she’s not going anywhere.” Willow added a lilt to her voice to see if she could cause his brow to soften. “And I have you.”

Perhaps it was a mistake to live this close to her brother. He had a wife, a church to shepherd, and the Raines Ice Company to oversee. Worrying about her was not a pleasant way for Tucker to live. But if she didn’t settle in Cripple Creek, where would she go? Nothing, and no one, awaited her in Stockton, California, where she’d grown up and married Sam.

Tucker’s shoulders sagged. “It’s not the same as having a spouse to … I’d feel better if you’d agree to move into the parsonage.”

Willow pressed the squared toe of her dull black shoe into the grass. “We’ve already talked about this, and my answer is the same.”

“You can’t blame a brother for trying.”

“I don’t.” She patted his bristled cheek. “I love you for it.”

Tucker offered his arm. “We best get to the house. A supper awaits us.”

A bereavement supper, to be exact, replete with long faces and self-conscious commiseration. She matched Tucker’s pace, determined to remain above the shared sadness.

At the wagon, Willow stepped onto the wrought-iron foot brace and seated herself beside her sister-in-law, Ida.

Concern laced Mother’s green eyes—the source of Willow’s own eye color. “Are you all right, dear?”

Willow nodded, her lips pressed against another swirl of grief. She wasn’t the only one burying a father or a husband today. “What about you, Mother? Are you all right?”

“As well as can be expected, I suppose.”

Tucker raised the reins. As the wagon jerked forward, Ida’s tender hand rested on Willow’s palm, and she squeezed her sister-in-law’s hand. Tears stung Willow’s eyes. She needed to find her own path, but she didn’t let go.

Uncharacteristically quiet, Tucker guided the horses down Second Street toward the rustic home their parents bought when they left Stockton. How ironic that when Father’s consumption got the best of him, nearly two years ago, he ended up in a sanitorium. An institution, of sorts. Mother had moved in with her sister in Colorado Springs to be close to him. Tucker lived in the cabin until he and Ida married and moved into the parsonage. Now Otis and Naomi Bernard and their four sons called the cabin home.

As they approached the creek-side property, Tucker slowed the horses. Mother let out a fragile moan, and Tucker reached over and patted her arm.

Willow had seen the place once when she first came to Cripple Creek for her brother’s wedding, but she’d never viewed it as her parents’ home. Home was the clapboard two-story house in Stockton where she and Tucker had grown up. The house where she’d planned her wedding.

She wanted to believe everything happened for a reason—that God had a divine plan. Last year she’d found it easy to believe He’d left her here on earth and healed her so she could help her parents through her father’s illness. But now? Father was gone. Mother planned to return to Colorado Springs with Aunt Rosemary. And her brother had a new life with a pregnant wife.

“Here we are,” Tucker said. A few horses and wagons formed a line between the cabin and the barn. Otis, the biggest man Willow had ever seen, stepped off the porch. His oldest son stood at his side. Even at ten years old, Abraham was already a miniature of his father—dark skinned and broad shouldered.

BOOK: Twice a Bride
6.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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