Read Promises Kept Online

Authors: Scarlett Dunn

Promises Kept

BOOK: Promises Kept


He pinned Victoria with his black eyes. “Has he kissed you?”

She waited too long to respond, and Colt said, “So you have encouraged him.”

“I have not!” She turned away from him. “And this is none of your business. And besides that, he’s not a . . . cowboy,” she blurted out.

Colt couldn’t believe she’d said that. “And what’s wrong with cowboys?”

“Let’s just say they are only interested in . . . let’s just say I’m not interested in cowboys and leave it at that,” she said with finality.

“Let’s not leave it at that!” he said louder than he intended. “I want to know what’s wrong with cowboys.”

“I’ve seen enough cowboys in my life that I know I don’t want one for a husband.”

“Every good man I know is a cowboy. Are you telling me you would rather have a man like that skunk Wallace?”

“I’m not telling you anything. As I said, it is none of your business what happens between Mr. Wallace and me,” she said stubbornly.

“Maybe not, but I’m making it my business.” He rose from his chair, took her by the shoulders and pulled her from her chair.

Holding her firmly by the shoulders, he lowered his head. When his mouth covered hers she didn’t push him away. Considering that a good sign, he pulled her into his embrace and deepened his kiss . . .


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Promises Kept



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Table of Contents

Title Page
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Twenty-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Copyright Page

Dedicated with love to Hercules,
my faithful companion.
You defined courage and perseverance,
and I miss you every day.
Wait for me,
big guy,
and keep Apollo and Andjing busy.
I will see you again one day.


A big thank you to the following people that bless my life:


Michael—Much love to you, and thank you for always being on my team.
Mary Ann Morgan—The greatest cheerleader, and the very BEST person I know.
Jim Morgan—My inspiration to persevere. Never give up!
Mary Sue Seymour—You are a joy to work with, and a lovely person.
John Scognamiglio—It’s a real pleasure to work with you. Better than fine.



Dear Miss Victoria,

My name is Chet Barlow. I read your need of a husband as writ in the
Daily Telegraph.
I thought I would tell you something about myself. I own a farm here in Wyoming that was passed down to me from my father. It’s just me and old Bartholomew working the farm now. I won’t spin a tale and say this is an easy life. My land is surrounded on all sides by cattlemen who want my land for the fair amount of water that runs through it, and that causes some problems. I can give myself a recommend by saying I work hard from sunup to sundown, and I’m honest. I don’t have a formal education, but my dear mother was an educated woman and taught me reading, writing, and numbers. Her well-to-do family thought she married beneath her station, but my father was a decent, hardworking man, and he took good care of her. I expect I’ve forgotten a fair amount of what she tried so hard to teach me, but I remember the important things like how to treat a lady proper. I swear by all that’s holy that I will treat you kindly if you decide to come to Wyoming.

I read the Bible daily and Shakespeare when time permits. In good weather I try to make it to church on Sunday. I’m not much in the way of cooking, and I can tell you it’d be a real pleasure for me and Bartholomew to have a decent meal now and again. My father taught me all I know about working the land and I will pass that down to your boys. I make you a solemn promise I will be good to you and the boys, provide a home, and make sure you never go hungry.

More than likely you will have several replies as there are few women in this territory who didn’t come here with their men. My mother always said to prepare for what you want to happen, so I am sending you fare for the stagecoach and necessaries along the way. Once you get to Promise, go see Bob at the livery stable. He will see that you make it to the farm.


Chet Barlow


P.S. It don’t matter none to me if you are not a handsome woman. No one ever accused me of turning heads, but I don’t recollect anyone losing their breakfast at first sight of me. I’ve drawn a map of the stagecoach route and the stops from Missouri to Wyoming so you will know where you are going. This will be a hard trip and not one without possible danger. If you know how to shoot a pistol, it would be wise to have one on your person.

Chapter One

Action is eloquence.




St. Louis, Missouri


Holding the small leather-bound parcel at arm’s length, Mrs. Wellington squinted at the neat printing. Arms flapping like the wings of a ruffled goose, she was a flurry of silk motion as she burst through the boardinghouse door as fast as her legs would carry her. Scurrying the length of the hall toward the kitchen, she was met by the familiar popping and crackling hisses of a fryer hitting hot grease. Waving the parcel in her hand, she hustled to the young woman hovering over the stove.

“Victoria, you have a post from Wyoming that came by way of the noon stage.” Gasping breathlessly, her ample bosom was heaving up and down from exertion, but she didn’t wait for a response. Sucking in more air, she chattered on. “The print is small, but neat”—
. . .
—“I’d say written by a man”—
. . .
—“Isn’t this the tenth post you’ve received? Do you have family out West?”

Victoria whirled around to see what Mrs. Wellington was carrying on about. When the woman was excited or nervous her high-pitched British accent became more pronounced and she was difficult to understand. Eyeing the pouch fluttering like a flag in Mrs. Wellington’s hand, Victoria knew she had received another letter. Snatching the parcel from her employer’s grip, she quickly shoved it in her apron pocket. “I . . . I was expecting this.” She felt guilty lying to Mrs. Wellington, since she was the first person who had been truly kind to her, but it wasn’t the first lie she had told her. The lies had started the very first day she showed up on Mrs. Wellington’s doorstep with Cade and Cody in tow. She’d told Mrs. Wellington the boys were her brothers instead of trusting her with the truth. She justified her lie out of fear the boys would be taken from her if anyone found out they weren’t even related. Four years ago she’d taken the boys with her when she left that saloon in Abilene to save them from a certain future in an orphan’s home. She continued the lie to protect them from that fate now. While she couldn’t say Mrs. Wellington was particularly nosy or judgmental, she had learned it was wise to keep her own counsel and not trust anyone with the lurid details of her life.

“Aren’t you going to open it now?” It hadn’t escaped Mrs. Wellington’s notice that until the last few weeks Victoria had never received mail in the two years she had worked at the boardinghouse. She was more than curious to learn the reason for the sudden influx of correspondence.

Victoria forked more floured chicken slowly into the sizzling grease, saying over her shoulder, “It’s nothing that can’t wait until later when my work is done for the night.”

“I can turn the chicken for you while you peek inside,” Mrs. Wellington eagerly offered.

Victoria was anxious to tear into the letter, but she knew Mrs. Wellington would press her for details. “No, thank you. I would rather wait until later.”

Disappointment evident on her face, Mrs. Wellington turned toward the dining room. “Well . . . then . . . I’ll go prepare the dining room for the dinner hour.”

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