The Officer and the Southerner (Historical Western Romance) (Fort Gibson Officers Series, Book 2)

BOOK: The Officer and the Southerner (Historical Western Romance) (Fort Gibson Officers Series, Book 2)
2.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub







This book is a work of fiction. All names, events and locales are a product of this author’s imagination. If any name, event and/or locale did exist, it is purely by coincidence it appears in this book.


This book may not be reproduced by any means, including but not limited to, mechanical, Xerox, digital, auditorial and/or in print.


If you obtained this copy illegally, please respect the author and her time enough to purchase a copy.





Copyright © 2013 Rose Gordon

Cover image copyright © 2013 Lily Smith

All rights reserved.


Amazon Edition


Published by Parchment & Plume, LLC







Fort Gibson, Indian Territory

Late May 1845


Second Lieutenant Jack Walker scanned the endless, crisp, sun-scorched grass that stretched out for miles ahead of him from where he sat on the roof of the northwest lookout tower.
Lush, open prairie
, he scribbled on his paper. He mindlessly drummed his fingers against his thigh, thinking of what else to write in the ad he was placing for a mail order bride.

He swiped the back of his hand across his forehead.
Warm weather.
He jotted that down and looked up in time to see a man on a horse. Jack tipped his hat to the man and the rider returned the gesture.
Friendly neighbors.

There, that should do it. He rescanned the lines of his ad, for a mail order bride a slow smile spreading over his lips. Perfect. He folded up the paper and stuffed it in his pocket, lest anyone see him carrying it.

Whistling, he climbed down from his perch and made his way across the large courtyard of the barracks to his office, where he dripped hot wax on the top edge of the folded paper and sealed it.

Jack? Are you in here?”

Jack snapped his head up to see the curious blue eyes of his friend, and the reason he’d had the nerve and motivation to write the ad in the first place, Captain Wes Tucker. Wes had married a mail order bride less than a week ago and everything seemed to be working out perfectly for the two of them, giving Jack hope the same would be possible for him.

“Do you need something, Wes?” he asked as he shuffled around the papers on his desk to hide the address of the Savannah newspaper he was writing to.

Yes, it’s time for you to hie yourself up into the watchtower.”

Oh. Right,” he said, trying not to scowl. “I just need to finish getting this mail addressed and into the basket, and then I’ll be right out.”

Wes nodded his head slowly and gave him a quizzical look. “Don’t be long.”

As soon as Wes was out of the room, Jack finished addressing his letter, then slipped it into the middle of the stack of letters waiting to go out with this week’s mail.





~Chapter One~



August 1845

Savannah, Georgia


Ella Davis clenched her hands into tight fists and blinked back the hot tears as she ran from the ballroom and toward Mrs. Beasley’s fainting room. She reached the door and swung it open with far more force than was necessary, then walked inside, and closed it in the same manner.

Silent sobs wracked her body and her vision blurred. Why did this keep happening? Every time she found a gentleman she thought could one day become her husband, he proposed to someone else!

In front of her. Publicly. With no warning. Just shouted for everyone’s attention while at a ball or dinner, then began to speak words of admiration, beauty, fun, and even love. And like the dolt she was, her heart began to flutter. But then, he’d drop to his knee and say a name: Virginia Cole; Grace Fulton; Elizabeth Knight; and her fluttering heart would come to an abrupt stop.

With something as simple as two words, her world would come crashing down.

And tonight was no exception.

The tears that had filled her eyes only moments before spilled over and coursed down her cheeks as she remembered the way Daniel Coleman, the young man who’d been showing her marked attention for the past two months, began his speech, then instead of saying Ella Davis, spoke the words: Rachel Cline.

Ella?” came the muffled voice of her older sister Michaela.

Ella squeezed her eyes shut tighter and prayed for a miracle to happen that would result in her being transported somewhere far, far away when she opened her eyes.

No such luck.

Ella, I know you’re in there. Can I come in, too?”

Ella didn’t want to let her in but knew Michaela being outside knocking on the door and calling her name would cause a scene, making matters worse than they already were.

Wordlessly, she opened the door for her sister, who took no time letting herself inside.

Ella, I’m sorry,” Michaela said, wrapping her arms around Ella.

I just don’t understand why this keeps happening to me—” Words failed her as sobs wracked her body once again.

Shhh,” Michaela crooned. “It’s all right. You’re only nineteen. You have plenty of time yet to find a husband.”

No, she didn’t. Especially not if this...this...atrocity...continued to happen. Surely by now, the sixth time she’d left the ballroom in tears after the fellow who’d paid attention to her proposed to another, she’d become the laughing stock.

“Don’t you see what a blessing this is?” Michaela said softly.

A blessing?” Ella pulled away from her sister. Was she addled? “I’m not always right about these things, but I’m fairly certain it’s not a blessing to be publicly humiliated.”

Well, no,” her sister agreed with a smile. “But it is far better to be humiliated in this manner than to be made a mockery of if you’d married any one of these toads.”

That’s easy for you to say. You weren’t the one humiliated.”

No, I wasn’t,” Michaela agreed. “But it doesn’t mean I can’t hurt for you and share your pain and humiliation, does it?”

Thank you,” Ella said with a sniffle. Of all three of Ella’s sisters, Michaela was the only one she’d ever felt very close to. She couldn’t say why though. Michaela was three-and-twenty, four years Ella’s senior, and though still unmarried, it seemed that was by choice, whereas, it was because no one truly wanted Ella that she was still in such a state.

I know what you need,” Michaela said, snapping her fingers. “And I’d wager Mrs. Beasley has such a newspaper in this very room.”

Ella did her best to groan despite the smile tugging on the corner of her lips. “Not now, Michaela.”

Michaela ignored her protest and walked over to a large oak box placed under the table at the far end of the sofa. Humming, Michaela dug into the box until she found what she wanted. “Here we go,” she chirped happily then made her way back over to Ella, the shiny blue fabric of her gown rustling as she walked. “Sit.”

Reluctantly, Ella obeyed her older sister’s command and sat down on the plush, red sofa. “Michaela, this really isn’t necessary.”

“Yes, it is.” She wet her lips. “Listen to this: ‘Aged 52, ready to start a family, average appearance, looking for wife no older than 25, not ugly, any Nationality accepted—except French, Irish, German or Italian.’” Michaela twisted her lips into a frown. “With an ad such as that, I’m sure he’s already taken.”

Despite herself, Ella cracked a small smile.

“Oh, here’s another, ‘I’m 37, brown hair, blue eyes, average height. I have three sons and two daughters in need of a good mother, age is unimportant as long as she’s under thirty, must be able to cook and play the piano—’”

Oh pity,” Ella said with a small sniffle. “I thought I’d found the man of my dreams until the bit about the piano.”

Not to fear, there are others.” Michaela scanned further down the page. “Ella, I think I have found the man for you!”

I can hardly wait to hear about him,” Ella said under her breath, hardly noticing that the tears had stopped. At least, the sad kind. Ella might not understand why Michaela hadn’t wished to marry when she could have had just about any man she’d wanted, but it had always been Michaela’s playing this game with her when she felt most in despair that had helped Ella accept her fate and try to get past the hurt.

My age is 42 and am living in Minnesota on 40 acres. In need of a wife who can tend to the farm and take care of a bedridden husband. Experience in birthing cows is a must. She can be homely and fat. Widows with children need not inquire.’”

Well, I’ve birthed a horse or two and I don’t have any children,” Ella said, trying not to laugh at the absurdity of the ad.

If I understand correctly, you probably won’t be having any after you marry him, either,” Michaela added.


Michaela put the paper down on the cushion next to her. “Do you feel any better now?”

“A little,” Ella admitted.

Only a little? Well then, I must read more.” Michaela picked up the paper. “‘Younger man with steady pay, handsome looks and no children in need of a sturdy wife who can handle the life in a large dwelling with many rooms on one hundred sixty acres, surrounded by lush, open prairie, warm weather, and friendly neighbors.’”

Ella frowned. “That one doesn’t sound so bad, actually.”

Michaela lifted her eyebrows. “No, it sounds like he is a wonderful writer who knows how to manipulate his words. ‘A sturdy wife who can handle the life in a large dwelling with many rooms on one hundred sixty acres, surrounded by lush, open prairie, warm weather, and friendly neighbors,’ is just a nice way of saying: he has a giant house with far too many rooms that he expects you to keep clean then go out into the stifling heat to help him take care of those one hundred sixty acres—because we both know it has to be by his large land that he’s able to have that ‘steady pay’ he claims. Then, when you’re all done with that, you get to go back into the kitchen and make pies and whatnot for his friendly neighbors.”

Ella stared at her sister. Likely, it was this cynical attitude Michaela had that had kept her from falling in love. “I think you might be exaggerating. Besides, for a young lady such as myself, who cannot seem to snare a man here for whatever reason, I might have better luck with him.”

Michaela’s face fell. “Ella, you haven’t given up hope, have you?”

Those hot tears from earlier pricked the back of her eyes again and it was all she could do to nod. “I don’t understand what men find so undesirable about me.”

“I don’t know, either,” Michaela said, a frown touching her lips. “You’re rather pretty.”

That’s your opinion,” Ella argued. She’d overheard enough conversations about her large, thin nose, mismatched eyes (one blue, one green), and small chest to know she wasn’t the most beautiful in the county; but she could hardly see how those flaws were enough to lead so many men to play with her affections, but apparently they had... “Who knows, perhaps Mr. Lush Prairie with warm weather and friendly neighbors is exactly who I need.”

You’re not really considering writing back, are you?”

Ella forced a shrug and tucked a tendril of her raven hair behind her ear. “I don’t see what it could hurt.”

“You don’t?” Michaela’s green eyes widened. “Pa would never allow you to marry a stranger.”

I don’t see why not. He agreed to allow me to court Stephen, Daniel and Albert with the idea of marriage, didn’t he?”

That’s different. He knew them. Admittedly not well, or he wouldn’t have given his approval to such degenerates, but he at least knew who they were and what kind of life you’d have if you had married one of them. Nobody knows if the man who wrote this is an addict of some sort or if he drinks and turns violent.”

Michaela had a point. This ad said very little about the man; but what if she wrote to him first? That’s how it worked anyway, wasn’t it? A lady responded to the ad to express interest and tell about herself, and if he found her suitable, he’d write back with more information about himself along with the details of how she’d arrive. “It wouldn’t hurt to just write to him, would it?”

Michaela knit her brow. “Ella, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

I just said I wanted to write to him. I didn’t say I would agree to marry him.”

Well, I suppose I don’t see any harm in just writing to him...” She shot Ella a slim smile and tucked a fallen lock of her auburn hair behind her ear. “But that’s all it shall be, Ella. You cannot agree to marry him.”

I won’t.”
At least not yet.




BOOK: The Officer and the Southerner (Historical Western Romance) (Fort Gibson Officers Series, Book 2)
2.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Guardian by J.L McFadden
Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry
Perfect Timing by Jill Mansell
Lovely by Strider, Jez
Teaching Miss Maisie Jane by Mariella Starr
Summer's Temptation by Ashley Lynn Willis
How It Is by Samuel Beckett