ROMANCE WITH HEART
Award winning author writing for: Myrmidon Press, Little Black Dress, Samhain Publishing, Astraea Press and Freya's Bower.
Saturday, December 01, 2012
Guest Blogger - Laura Hamby
I'm thrilled to have Laura as my guest blogger today. She is a dear friend, one of my go to beta readers having been my former editor at Moonlit Romance and she is a wonderful writer. Her latest release is Footprints in the Snow
Footprints in the Snow...A heartwarming collection of three historical romance Christmas novellas. In Unexpected Christmas Gift, Rita Andrews awaits Vincent Lewis’s return from serving in the Pacific during the long years of World War II. The Greatest Gift of All brings Jeptha, ‘Jep,’ Cullen and Abigail Hardwick together in a rough mining town in the territory of Colorado at Christmastime 1865. Both have left their lives behind and now unexpectedly find themselves facing their hard existence together. Hannah Kelsey, now orphaned by the War Between the States, waits patiently for news of her lone, surviving brother. A life that has been anything but easy is made more complicated by the Yankee soldier she finds lying in front of her cabin a few days before Christmas, 1864. Together, Hannah and her soldier, Jeff Steffend, each find a little bit of Christmas Grace.
Here's a little taster from The Greatest Gift of All
Snow fell softly over the sleepy little town tucked into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Where no horse-pulled wagons slogged through the mud, the snow created a pristine blanket of sparkling white that spread from the upper elevations clear to the valley floor. Most folks had the sense to stay home. A few who lacked the brains God had bestowed on a barnyard pig stubbornly insisted upon guzzling the proceeds of their latest mining ventures, content to stay in the drafty old saloon, drinking themselves warm with rot-gut whiskey. Others were just passing through the bar, on their way elsewhere, using the place as a shield from the unrelenting wind that blew the snow horizontally.
Winter of eighteen hundred and sixty-five promised to be a cold, miserable affair, and it was just getting started. Christmas wasn’t too far off, not that many in this rough-and-tumble Colorado mountain town would observe it or even acknowledge the day.
It had been too long since Christmas had visited an unfractured United States of America, and while the War Between the States had officially ended, the schism separating ideologies still ran wide, deeply felt.
The pain still resonated in Cullen family, so much so, Jeptha elected the wilderness of Colorado Territory, rather than hearth and home the Tennessee mountains. Here, in this tiny Colorado boomtown improbably named Falling Gold, he at least had the familiarity of mountains around, even if they were the wrong mountains. The watered down whiskey served in the Hangman’s Noose Saloon eased his pain, if only just a little.
“We don’t serve wimmens in this here establishment, missy. You don’t belong to be here when you should likely be home tendin’ your young and caterin’ to your husband.”
The audible click of a gun being readied echoed off the thin and weathered slabs that pretended to be walls. “I believe I ordered a damned glass of whiskey, and not from the watered down bottle. I want you to open a new bottle, right here before my very eyes.”
“You ain’t got no call to pull your gun on me. What kind of young lady are you?” Oily sweat glistened on the beanpole bartender’s forehead as his nasal voice pitched higher in his dismay.
“I ain’t no young lady, your mistake thinking I am. Where the hell is my drink?”
“I don’t care if you shoot me right between the eyes, missy. I don’t serve no wimmens, no hows, no ways. Now scoot on home. Bet yer man is looking for ya, and if he has a lick of sense, he’ll wallop some manners into ya.”
Jep hid his grin at the rash of off-color words that streamed from the filthy munchkin’s mouth that brought a look of aghast horror to Beanpole’s face.
“Here now, there ain’t no call for such language, even in this sorry gin-soaked joint. I got standards.”
Jep’s quiet baritone gained him the nervous bartender’s attention. “Pour me three fingers of whiskey in two glasses, would you?”
Absentmindedly, the barkeep did just that. Jep relished the look of sheer consternation on the man’s face when he stabbed a finger in the woman’s direction, then crooked it in the age-old order to “come here.”
“She with you?” Beanpole demanded after he’d picked his jaw up from the dirty plank floor. “If she ain’t with you, I’m takin’ that second drink back.
“She’s with me,” Jep confirmed. He handed the filthy glass to her when she came to stand at his side.
“What’s ‘er name, if she’s with you?” Suspicious, the bartender fixed hostile, bloodshot eyes on them.
Jep shrugged one shoulder with a negligence he’d learned to display during the time he’d spent fighting his kinfolk during the War. “Picked her up on the trail. Call her ‘Girl.’ She answers to it, don’t need any better than that.”
Unconvinced, Beanpole wiped the sticky counter top with a rag that had once been white. “What’s ‘is name, missy?”
She slapped the glass to the counter. “Major. His rank in the Army. Got a problem with that?”
Beanpole grunted. “Huh. Guess you is capable of showin’ a bit of respect. Now you’re done, I’d be obliged if you both left. And don’t come back none. I don’t need your kind here, missy. Business ain’t so bad I have to tolerate the likes of you. Sorry, mister. Maybe it would be worth it to you to keep a tighter line on her, eh?”
She tried to shrug Jep’s hand off her shoulder when he clasped it through the meager coat she wore against the cold. That only encouraged him to push his other hand against the small of her back to urge her out of the dubious protection of the saloon, into the storm.
“You can let go of me now. Thanks for the drink.” She dug into her pocket and found a nickel. Perhaps she shouldn’t have wasted that nickel on the whiskey that now sat sourly in her stomach, but damned if she’d craved the liquor more than food. It at least gave her the illusion of being warm, if only for a few mean seconds.
“Keep it, keep going, before he notices we left without paying.”
“Oh, ho!” The wind snatched her words almost before she’d uttered them.“Look, I’m real grateful and all for the drink, you running interference with ol’ Sourpuss back there in the saloon, but my gratitude has limits.”
They walked silently for quite a while, through a night too cold to snow. Part of what would’ve been a full moon had the clouds cleared enough, beamed through some thinning clouds. Up and up they went. The trees grew tall and thick, sentinels that loomed overhead in silence. At last, Jep stopped before a cabin well-nestled into the towering trees.
“It’s not much, but for now, it’s home,” he told her. The room they entered was dark until Jep lit the candle. A tiny potbellied stove stood in the corner, colder than the ice that coated the inside of the window.
(C) Laura Hamby 2012
You can get Footprints in the Snow from AMAZON or Smashwords
Catch up with Laura at Her website where you'll find a free read or stop by Her blog
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Nell is an award winning author living in the heart of the Black Country with her husband, three children, a tank of tropical fish, a cactus called Spike and whatever is left of her sanity. Welcome to her world...