Linda Lael Miller
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A classic Western romance from beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller.
In the wilderness of 1880s Oregon, beautiful Tess Bishop was captivated by the most fascinating stranger ever to drift into her small lumber town—a man as handsome and cultured as he was mysterious.
Soon she discovered he was really Keith Corbin—torn by a terrible grief, fleeing his memories and the rich privilege of his former life. Bravely, Tess helped him hide his identity, and willingly, she joined him on his flight. She vowed to make him forget the sorrow that kept him on the run...and free his soul at last for the sweet fullness of her love!
Oh, Tess—my lovely little hoyden. Have you no hairpins? ” The reunion was a glad one, made up of tears and questions and soft laughter. And when Tess had been told that Asa Thatcher actually meant to marry the woman who had been his mistress for so many years, meant to take care of her and cherish her as she deserved, she looked around the room and noticed for the first time that Keith was gone. A sense of quiet despair filled Tess. Had he left, maybe forever, without even saying goodbye? Asa, who had been standing circumspectly beside the fireplace throughout the exchange between mother and daughter, read the question in her eyes, that was clear.
It’s just down the road and around the corner,” she heard herself saying. “Close enough to walk. Or ride your bicycle. ” He glanced down at that apparatus with mingled fondness and amazement, but did not surrender it to her keeping. On the sidewalk, he walked beside it, being careful not to bump into passers-by. “I won’t be staying here at the hotel,” Tess babbled out, not thinking. “There are rooms above the shop and I’ll live there. ” He stopped. A middle-aged matron in a fusty sateen dress gave him a killing glare and then swept around him and the bicycle with a whish of skirts.
We’re being put out of our hotel, too! ” “But Rod had money—I know he did! ” Emma’s curvaceous little body trembled with outrage and hopeless despondency. “He invested it all in that stupid play of Mr. Golden’s! He says it’s going to make us rich in our own right, so that we don’t have to take so much as one more red cent from Mr. Thatcher—” “That fool! ” spat Tess. “Did he get a part in the play, at least? ” “W-We’re supposed to find out tonight. Oh, Tess, where will we live in the meantime? What will we do?
No, Mama,” she said, her voice shaking. “H-He courted me. I thought—I believed—” “Where is he now, Emma? This Shiloh person? ” Emma’s tears were real. “That’s the terrible part of all this, Mama—he compromised me and then he—and then he eloped with Tess! ” Cornelia was a kindly, rational woman, but she had always had mixed feelings where Tess Bishop was concerned, and Emma knew that. She disapproved of Tess’s hair, falling free and wild so much of the time, of her picture taking and her bicycling. And secretly, Emma suspected, her mother resented the fact that everything was always so much easier for Tess than for her daughter.
Fried chicken. Fresh green beans. Her stomach grumbled, and, as she sat down on the edge of her bed to eat, she reflected that, given this wonderful meal before her and the luscious bath she’d just taken, she might have been sublimely happy. If she’d never heard of, let alone met, Keith Corbin, that is. After devouring the food, Tess had a cup of tea. Then she wheeled the service cart out into the hallway closed her door again, took off the borrowed, tobacco-and cologne-scented robe, and crawled into bed.