After losing her father and husband in a mine disaster, Priscilla Heartsel faces poverty and eviction from her home by a heartless mine owner. Tricked into a bank robbery gone wrong, Braxton Gamble finds himself shot and unconscious in Priscilla's bed. Can they survive long enough to find a love more precious than gold?
April 9, 1844, Wildcat Ridge, Utah
Priscilla Heartsel wiped her bloody fingers on her long, filthy dress. She was kneeling in a hole, one of several she had dug with her own hands, seeking, searching….
Papa. Robert, where are you?
She sat back on her heels and glanced around. Several other women and children remained on the hill of rubble that, earlier that day, had been a working gold mine. The Lucky Lady. What a travesty.
Her friend, Thalia, climbed the ragged hill toward her, holding her skirts up out of the dirt.
"You need to go home and sleep, Priscilla," Thalia said when she reached her. "You need to eat."
"No. I have to find Robert and Papa." She began clawing at the earth again and uncovered a shoe. Brown, not black like Robert's. Not Papa's either. She thought of the smile her husband had given her that morning as she'd tied his shoes before he left for his law office. If only he'd stayed there.
Why did you have to come to the mine? Why didn't you stay here? With me? Wasn't it bad enough that I lost Papa? Why did I have to lose you, too?
Thalia grabbed her wrists to stop her. "They're gone. They're all gone. All our men, some of the women and even children. Gone."
Priscilla managed one word. "Jeffrey?"
Thalia nodded, and a tear escaped to run down her cheek.
Priscilla pulled her friend into her arms. Poor Thalia and Jeffrey were to be married in May. Priscilla wanted to cry. For Thalia, for herself, for all the widows and children left behind by this horrible, horrible tragedy. The need was a pain in her chest, in her throat. Her entire body felt ready to explode from withholding her grief.
Grown women do not cry, Priscilla. We keep our emotions to ourselves. No one wants to hear about your pain. They have their own.
Thalia drew away, tears raining down her cheeks now, but kept hold of Priscilla's grubby hands. Looking down at them, Priscilla noticed her wedding ring was gone.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Charlene Raddon’s first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. Because of her love of romance novels and the Wild West, her primary genre is historical romance. Kensington Books originally published five of her novels. These were later released as eBooks by Tirgearr Publishing. Currently, Charlene is an Indie author with . She also designs book covers, specializing in western historical.
Charlene will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click Here!