Mail Order Bride: Montana Orphan (Echo Canyon Brides: Book 8)

Montana Orphan: echo canyon book 8 by Linda Bridey I am excited to announce that book 8 in my Echo Canyon Brides series is now available at the links below. Happy reading.

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Three years have passed since Nick Terranova lost his wife and son when the three of them were on a journey to Japan. Time hasn’t healed those wounds and he’s a broken man. However, not wanting to worry his loving family, he keeps most of his pain hidden. Anger, guilt, and grief plague him every day and the former seminarian student has lost his faith.

Maura, a former Comanche slave who was sold to fur traders, escapes and hides in the Terranova’s house while they’re away at a wedding for several days. She’s rarely ever been treated with love or compassion, but she dreams of finding it. Terrified that they will find her, she decides to remain there as long as she can, hoping that her master will move on and leave her behind.

When Nick’s family returns and discover that someone has been in the house, they begin a search and discover Maura. Nick “captures” Maura and she now considers him her new master. Even as he tries to convince her that she’s now free, Nick is drawn to her gentleness and the peace she brings him. Nick makes Maura feel safe and needed; things she’s never experienced. Love blossoms between them, but when obstacles arise, their faith is tested in ways they never imagined. Do they have the strength to ride them out or will they succumb to despair and disappointment?

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Running through the forest, she ignored the tree branches that slashed at her arms and the sharp stones that cut her bare feet. The moonlight helped her see where she was going, but she had no idea where to go. She was tired and hungry and lost. She was also terrified. The trees ended and she almost ran into a barbed wire fence. Avoiding it at the last moment, she turned to her left and followed it until it ended.
Where there was fence there were barns, and where there were barns there were people. Good people. She didn’t know what they were after all this time, not in any real sense. Vague images and scenes played through her mind every day, but they weren’t real. Still, she’d hoped that one day she’d see kind people again.
The fence seemed endless, but fear drove her onward over the rough ground. It evened out as she encountered a lawn and saw a house. Racing across it, she was dismayed to discover that it was dark and looked deserted. The huge, two-story, red brick structure was daunting to her; she’d never seen a house that large.
She tripped running up the front stairs onto a wide veranda but righted herself. Pounding on the door, she looked around frantically to make sure no one was coming after her. No one answered the door and no lamps were lit in response to her knocking. Maybe they couldn’t hear her because the place was so big.
Running around to the back, she knocked on another door, but with the same result. There was a third door on the east side of the house and she beat on that one, too. Everything stayed quiet and dark. Desperation made her try the doorknob. To her disbelief and relief, it opened and she went inside the house, quickly shutting it behind her.
The hallway she stood in was lined with several doors. She knocked on a couple of them, but no one answered. Because there was no movement from anywhere in the house, she knew then that it was completely empty. She’d knocked loudly enough that someone would have surely heard her.
Going back to the door she’d come in, she figured out how to lock it. This was as good of a place to hide as any. She wasn’t going to risk traveling on and being caught. Tentatively, she walked through the hallway until she found herself in a big room with a lot of furniture in it. Very fine furniture.
She felt dwarfed in the room, but it didn’t get much better as she traveled through the dining room and into the kitchen. It was easy to see that the people who lived there were very rich. The marble kitchen counters gleamed in the moonlight. The silvery light glinted off an eight-plate cook stove that, although well-used, was clean.
Where there was a kitchen there was food. There were so many cupboards that she didn’t know which one to open first. Finally choosing the one directly in front of her, she found a jar of pickles and a tin of sardines. She had no idea what they would taste like, but she recognized them as food. She’d eat them no matter what.
Unscrewing the jar lid, she attacked the pickles, stuffing them in her mouth and chewing them as fast as she could. The sweet-sour taste was to her liking and she ate several of them. Then she opened up the sardines and the scent of them gave her pause. She’d eaten worse, so she ate all of them, alternating them with the pickles to help drown out their taste.
Sated for the time being, she put the pickles back, but had no idea what to do with the empty sardine tin. Looking around, she found a pail that seemed as though it was used for trash collection. She put the tin in the pail and yawned. Leaving the kitchen, she went back through the hallway, searching for a place to sleep.
She found a room that was really two rooms, but it looked used. In her memories, she saw a yellow house and remembered that there were several bedrooms in it. One had been unused, but she couldn’t remember what it was called. She’d look for a room like that. At the back of the hallway, she found a staircase and went up it, hoping that she might meet someone. Gaining the second floor, she found no one as she knocked on doors and opened them.
The first two rooms were used, but the third room was a bathroom with a large tub, wash basin, and commode. Using the house in her memory as a reference, she remembered what one was for. Knowing that she needed to wash up, she decided to do that first thing in the morning—if no one came home that night.
The next room was devoid of belongings in the closet or lying around on the dresser or bureau. Not wanting to get the pretty floral comforter dirty, she curled up on a corner of the nice rug. Feeling relatively safe, she dropped off into a fitful sleep.

*****

 

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