Authors: Lauraine Snelling
Tags: #ebook, #book
‘‘You mean she already paid you?’’ Cimarron leaned close to Ruby.
‘‘Yes. She did.’’
Lord if this was some sort of retribution, you didn’t
have to go this far
. ‘‘But the money burned in the fire.’’ This new shock made her stumble.
‘‘Oh, my God,’’ Charlie muttered.
Ruby fought the darkness that encroached her mind.
above, our inheritance is ashes.
As the rain lessened, other folks arrived, and those with schoolchildren claimed them at the McGeeney place. Everyone expressed their sorrow with invitations to come stay with them if need be.
Carl, his arm around Pearl, who was still shaking, joined them on the porch of Nelson’s store.
Ruby stepped outside again at the sound of someone yelling. Rand was swimming Buck across the river, waving his hat when he saw her.
‘‘Rand, we’re all right!’’ she yelled and waved as she ran toward him, sloshing through mud puddles, grabbing her sodden skirt to get it out of the way.
He leaped off his horse, and she flung herself into his waiting arms. ‘‘No one was even injured. We’re all right.’’ He shut off her cries with a kiss that left both of them reeling. Rand leaned into the heaving Buck for support and kept Ruby tight against him.
‘‘I thought sure, I mean, in spite of the storm we could see flames and smoke.’’ He kissed her again and wiped the hair from her face. ‘‘I thought, I mean you could have been . . .Oh, God, I am so grateful!’’ He shouted the words at the heavens, then looked down at her again. ‘‘You lost Dove House.’’
‘‘No.’’ She looked at him with a shrug. ‘‘Belle did.’’
‘‘She bought Dove House. I’ve been wanting to tell you, but you didn’t come to town, and I didn’t have time to drive out there, plus the snow. She was to take over on April the fifth.’’
‘‘You sold Dove House.’’
‘‘And the money is now ashes.’’ She nodded toward the steaming remains. ‘‘I hid the money in my trunk in my room.’’
She looked up at him. ‘‘I was going to buy you more cows.’’
‘‘Cows?’’ He kissed her again.
‘‘What am I going to do?’’ she asked when she could breathe again.
‘‘You’re coming out to the ranch.’’
‘‘That wouldn’t be proper.’’
‘‘It would be if we were married.’’ He kissed her slowly and gently this time.
That afternoon two couples took the train to Dickinson, were married by the local pastor, and even though they were all a bit damp, the vows could not have been more heartfelt.
‘‘But I wasn’t sure you loved me.’’ Pearl leaned against her husband’s shoulder later that evening.
‘‘What else did I have to do?’’ Carl rested his head against her hair. Hair that after a shampoo and bath smelled faintly of roses, no longer smoke. ‘‘I thought the desk said it all. I will build you another one, even better.’’
‘‘All you had to do was say those three little words.’’
‘‘Ja, and make a fool of myself. The Hossfuss daughter.
Everyone in Chicago—’’
‘‘We’re not in Chicago.’’
‘‘Thank God, because there I would not say three little words. I would not say any words to you. I would not know you.’’
‘‘So isn’t it much better we are in Little Missouri?’’
‘‘Nei, dear heart, we will be in Medora as soon as we can build a house. In the meantime, we could get a tent?’’
‘‘Like the cobbler’s children who have no shoes, shall the carpenter’s wife have no house?’’ She ran her fingers across his cheek, finding the courage for the words that she’d wanted to ask since he saw her in her dressing gown. ‘‘Do you think I am ugly?’’
He drew her eyebrows with a fingertip, down her nose and to her lips, where he kissed her again. When his fingers felt the pucker of the scar on her neck, he watched her eyes. ‘‘You are beautiful, my Pearl, shimmery, with a glow that shines within and without.’’
‘‘You think so?’’ Her eyes filled with tears.
‘‘I said so, didn’t I?’’
Pearl snuggled under his chin. For a man of few words, he managed to say the most important ones. And one other thing, Carl Hegland was never boring.