Risk & Triumph: COWBOY ROMANCE (Western Pregnancy Forbidden Gold Rush)

BOOK: Risk & Triumph: COWBOY ROMANCE (Western Pregnancy Forbidden Gold Rush)
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RISK

&

TRIUMPH

ZeusPublishin
g
, California

An imprint of Detroit House LLC

216 Prince Street

A Detroit House Book / Published by arrangement with authors

Copyright 2016 by Detroit House LLC

Zeus Publishing supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing us to continue to publish books for every reader.

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Version_1

DH mass-market edition/2016

Cover Images: by Petra Vertinen

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 1:

 

It was the 1860’s and by now word spread of the California Gold Rush. The rumor was that one could make money if he had the courage to cross the Rocky Mountains. Word reached Iowa that people were making six times what they were earning in the east. The Wild West wasn’t for the faint hearted. There was lawlessness, a dislike of outsiders and a lack of comforts.

Ned Grippon saddled his horse and went to visit Theo Callaway at the neighboring homestead in Burk Iowa. They shared a fence and started working their land at the same time. The men and their families were close; their wives were best friends who even managed to have children at the same time. Clara Grippon had a girl first and Sally had a boy. After that, both gave birth to two boys and two girls each. There was not a move the Grippon family made without the Callaway’s following close behind. The younger kids from each family had a friend in the other family of the same age and sex. Things with Nora Grippon and Oliver (Ollie) Callaway were complicated.

Nora and Oliver were thrown together as brother and sister yet they weren’t and they knew it better than most. When Nora and Oliver turned 13, they started to notice each other as more than pals. One would think that the two families would be thrilled about a union between the two but they made it clear that it should never happen. Clara and Sally, along with the men, decided the families were so close that it would be incestuous. Oliver and Nora were able to avoid one another until circumstances changed their lives forever.

Ned hopped off his stallion and walked out to the barn to find Theo Callaway.

“I see you’re taking stock of supplies.” Ned greeted Theo with a slap on the back. “How’s it looking?”

“It seems as if we have enough to begin out journey west. The angle of the sun is just right and the days are getting longer so I say we’re ready for California.”

“That’s the easy part Theo but we still have to let the children know that life as they have known it is getting ready to change. No more schoolhouse, no more town festivals or running through the cornfields. It will offer some relief that their best friends and neighbors will be joining in the adventure. We’re not getting any younger and crossing the mountains is no easy task for even a young man.”

“The ones who will give us the most grief are Oliver and Nora because they’ve developed roots here. Ollie sees himself taking over this ranch someday and raising his own children here.”

Ned joked. “We made sure he doesn’t expect his children to be those of Nora.”

“No way. We nipped that budding romance before it had a chance to bloom. It’s a good thing we did because they’ll be near one another constantly when we caravan west. If the California Gold rush is what we expect, then they’ll both find mates with pockets lined in gold. I plan to sit down with the family tonight and tell em that we leave next week.”

“I’ll do the same. Polk is ready to take both our parcels of land off our hands, which will give us enough cash until we reach California. We have enough time to work on our wagon wheels and make certain we have backups. I’ve heard we’ll need em. The little ones will have fun filling the barrels with water from the creek.”

“Sally and I agree that it’s important that even the wee ones pitch in and realize that their help is necessary if this adventure is to work. Ollie might know what we’re planning and I think he’s hoping that it was a zany idea that will pass. The next couple of months are going to thrust him into manhood; he’ll be a boy no more.”

“I’ll check back with ya daily until we leave, to be sure we’re on the same schedule.” Ned hopped back on his horse. “Pray that this weather holds as we cross the pass. Wouldn’t it be something if we made it to California without incident?”

“It’d be a miracle. Keep your fingers crossed.” Theo smiled as Ned crossed back to his ranch. The cornfields were ready to be planted but the chore would be left to Myron Polk; Ned planned to be panning for gold by this time next year instead.

****

Ned walked in to find his wife Clara and their four youngest children deep into conversation at the kitchen table.

“Cat’s out of the bag Ned. The children had a feeling we were up to something so I filled them in on our plans to join the Gold Rush in California.” Clara had a smile on her face, as did the children, which was a relief to Ned. It meant he had one less thing to worry about because four cooperative kids under 12 were easier than four crybabies.

The kids immediately started asking what they could do to help. Nora was nowhere to be found and she was the last link in the chain to make the journey a success. Ned and Clara didn’t know that she was at the creek dipping her toes in the water with Ollie.

Chapter 2:

 

Nora Grippon had known since she was young that she would love only one man, which was Oliver Callaway; that was besides her father of course. He was gross, along with most boys before she was 13, he was all she thought about at 18. She had a nose that was too big for her face and Ollie was a gangly red head but to each other, they were flawless. He thought her nose made her look distinguished and she thought his red hair added color to an otherwise ordinary day. Nora kissed Ollie when both were 15. It was her idea and there were no complaints on his part. They decided to wait until they were married to have sex but as time marched on, they both knew it would happen sooner. Nora laid back with her head in Ollie’s lap.

“I find it hard to believe that they don’t know that we know about California.” Nora giggled as Ollie tickled her nose with a buttercup.

“Typical, cuz they still think we’re children at 18. What am I supposed to think when father is loading supplies into the wagon? He doesn’t think I know yet. My mother is making sure we all have winter coats and she’s going wild as she knits hats and mittens.”

“I know Ollie. It’s obvious that Mr. Polk is taking over the farm because he’s been meeting with my Father regularly and taking measurements of the property. At least our families are planning to strike it rich together. I’d die before, I’d let you leave without me.”

“I’d never go Nora.” Ollie leaned down and kissed Nora. “How are we going to carry on without our parents knowing? I was sure they would figure us out here in Burk but we’ve come up with excuses to be away.”

“I know and even those excuses are wearing thin. I make the excuse that I’m going to the mercantile and I don’t have any money to spend.” Nora laughed.

“That’s as silly as my excuse that I’m going to the creek to bathe when I’m already clean. Oh Nora, I can’t wait for the day when I can proudly call you my wife and stroll along with you hand in hand. I’ve had it with this crap and what our parents are putting us through.”

Nora began putting on her stockings and shoes before walking home. “Are you planning to act surprised when your Dad tells you about the Gold Rush plans?”

“You bet. I’ve gotten good at telling stories that aren’t exactly true, to my parents. I plan to give one hell of a performance.”

“It’s sad that we’ve become such good liars,” Nora said sadly.

“It’s the only way Nora, until they understand that we’re going to be together whether they like it or not. It’s their own damn fault that they treated us as siblings since we were born. Something like this was bound to happen eventually.” Ollie was worked up. “Accepting our love is something they’ll have to do or never see us again.”

“I hate when you talk like that Ollie. Our parents love us too much to let us go. When we make it to California, I’m sure everyone’s gonna be so preoccupied with the Gold Rush that they’ll forget about us. I don’t want to be late for dinner because I’m expecting the big announcement.” Nora started to leave and Ollie grabbed her an embrace. They kissed goodbye even though they walked together. They didn’t want anyone to catch them in a compromising position. Ollie slipped his hand below her shirt and Nora pulled away.

“I can’t take your pulling away much longer Nora but I guess the choice isn’t mine. The next days will be busy as we load up the wagons. I’m not sure of how exactly we’re travelling but I know Polk has a wagon sitting in our barn that I think he’s giving us. I’ll be at the reins of that one with some of the children and probably you sitting next to me.”

“It will be delightful if it works out that way. We’ll at least be able to talk,” Nora said as they started to walk.

“Maybe steel a kiss or too while no one’s watching.”

“Oliver Callaway, you have a one track mind.”

****

Nora straightened the pleats on her dress as she entered the farmhouse. She grabbed her apron because it was time to help with dinner.

“Stew smells delicious Mom,” Nora called out to her mother who was reading with the kids. “I’ll ladle in the dumplings and set the table. You deserve a moment to relax and put your feet up.” Nora was still glowing from seeing Ollie when her Mother came into the kitchen.

“The kids are busy with their books and telling stories. I told them today about a big change that our family will be undertaking. We are crossing the mountains to California.” Clara Grippon stopped and waited for her daughter’s reaction, which never came.

“I knew the Gold Rush was on your minds and that something was in the works.” Nora smiled. “I’m 18-years old and not much gets by me.”

“I know you saw Oliver Callaway today; did he know as well?

Nora became nervous, although she had nothing to worry about because her Mother thought they were just friends. “I’m sure his parents will tell him tonight. The Gold Rush sounds exciting and risky and I’m sure Ollie will approve of the plan.”

“Who knows Nora, maybe Oliver will find a wife in California and you’ll find a husband.”

“Wouldn’t that be great Mother? We’ll see what California has in store for us. Crossing the mountains might be treacherous so I’m glad we’re not travelling alone.”

“We’re going with the Callaways and we’ll have a chuck wagon that Oliver will ride if he thinks he can handle it. The Mercers and Wild families will add another half dozen wagons. They’ll have their own chuck wagon and may take a different route over the pass.”

“It’ll be nice to know folks when we get to California. We won’t even have a place to stay at first, have you thought of that.”

“Yes Nora, of course. Several members of our family have gone before us and we’ve received reports of fortunes made. They told us to come along and not worry about the details.”

“What family members would those be?” Nora asked. Uprooting an entire family based on the word of others seemed chancy.

“Your Aunt Cathy from Pennsylvania and friends of hers to be exact.

“I wasn’t aware I had an Aunt Cathy,” Nora asked

“She’s not officially an aunt but acted like a family member. I guess you could say it’s like the situation between you and Oliver. Over time, he has become as a brother.

Nora shook her head, as she wasn’t in the mood to discuss the nature of her relationship with Ollie. “Better call in Father and the little ones.” Nora was nervous that her parents and the Galloways were taking things too lightly.

****

Ollie found similar action taking place in the Galloway home as it was at the Grippons. His Mother was busy with his four siblings and dinner was kept warm on the stove. Pork and beans were on the menu again, which was fine with Ollie but it had been dinner for three nights in a row. He knew this was because his mother was trying to clear out the pantry. A recently butchered hog meant plenty of by-products while the best parts were salted and cured for the chuck wagon.

“You’re checking on my beans, thanks Ollie. What has given you a flushed complexion?”

“I had a brisk walk home from the creek. It got my blood flowing. Is Father going to be in for dinner? He’s been spending a lot of time in the barn.” Ollie smiled and gave his Mother a knowing glance.

“I have a feeling that you know your Father and I are up to something. I don’t know why we bothered to keep our plans a secret this long.”

“It’s o.k. Mom, I’ve got it figured out because this house isn’t that large. Your voices carry even when behind closed doors. Father’s whispers are louder than most normal voices. When do we begin our journey to California to join the Gold Rush?”

“In a week if everything goes according to plan. How do you feel about riding the chuck wagon?”

“I’d be honored. Nora Grippon is a likely choice to ride with me.” Ollie stated hopefully.

“Nora, me, Mrs. Grippon – we’ll all take a turn keeping you company. I’ve been curing meat for weeks and we’ll load up on beans and corn. Crackers and rice supplies will stretch and I have a secret stash of peppermint sticks for the little ones. There’ll be plenty of chores along the way; your Father and I will rely on you more than any time we have I the past. If you aren’t a man now, then you will be by the time our wagon reaches California.”

“I assure you Mother that I am already a man. The challenges will be welcome, because I’ll get to prove myself. Decision-making, hunting and trapping are just some of the things I’ll be willing to help Father and Mr. Grippon with.”

The Callaways sat down to dinner and Theo told the younger children about their plans. They were as excited as the Grippon kids about the journey. Sue was the youngest at 4-years old and she thought everything was an adventure. She was the first in the family to wake up in the morning and tackled each day with enthusiasm.

After the excitement died down Ollie slipped off to bed and dreamed of Nora, which had been the case for more than five years. He thought of her smooth graceful neck and the feeling of her touch. When she delicately touched his hand, it sent sensations through his entire body. He didn’t know how he would be able to contain himself when she was sleeping in the next wagon. For now, he would be satisfied knowing that she was thinking of him too. He drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face.

BOOK: Risk & Triumph: COWBOY ROMANCE (Western Pregnancy Forbidden Gold Rush)
13.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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