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Authors: Cindi Myers

Tags: #Romance, #Western, #Historical

The Woman Who Loved Jesse James

BOOK: The Woman Who Loved Jesse James
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The Woman Who Loved Jesse James
Cindi Myers
BelleBooks (2012)
Rating:
****
Tags:
Romance, Western, Historical
Product Description

"I never meant to fall in love with Jesse James, but I might as well have tried to stop a tornado or a prairie fire. The summer that sealed our fate, when we saw each other with new eyes and our love began to grow, Jesse was all heat and light, and I was tinder waiting for a match."

Zee Mimms was just nineteen in 1864-the daughter of a stern Methodist minister in Missouri-when she fell in love with the handsome, dashing, and already notorious Jesse. He was barely more than a teenager himself, yet had ridden with William Quantrill's raiders during the Civil War.

"You'll marry a handsome young man," a palm reader had told her. "A man who will make you the envy of many. But . . . there will be hard times."

Zee and Jesse's marriage proved the palmist right. Jesse was a dangerous puzzle: a loving husband and father who kept his "work" separate from his family, though Zee heard the lurid rumors of his career as a bank robber and worse. Still, she never gave up on him.

And he earned her love, time and again.

Table of Contents
Blurb

“I never meant to fall in love with Jesse James, but I might as well have tried to stop a tornado or a prairie fire. The summer that sealed our fate, when we saw each other with new eyes and our love began to grow, Jesse was all heat and light, and I was tinder waiting for a match.”

Zee Mimms was just nineteen in 1864—the daughter of a stern Methodist minister in Missouri—when she fell in love with the handsome, dashing, and already notorious Jesse. He was barely more than a teenager himself, yet had ridden with William Quantrill’s raiders during the Civil War.

“You’ll marry a handsome young man,” a palm reader had told her. “A man who will make you the envy of many.”

“What else?” I asked.

She shook her head, avoiding my gaze. “Nothing else. I wish you every happiness.”

“There was something else,” I said. “You saw something that upset you. What is it?”

She pursed her lips. “I saw that it won’t all be happiness for you,” she said. “There will be
. . .
hard times.”

Hard times were nothing new, but the way she said the words sent a cold shiver up my spine—the feeling my mother referred to as ‘someone walking across your grave.’ I wanted to ask for more details. What kind of hard times would these be? But I was a coward and kept silent.

Zee and Jesse’s marriage proved the palmist right. Jesse was a dangerous puzzle: a loving husband and father who kept his “work” separate from his family, though Zee heard the lurid rumors of his career as a bank robber and worse. Still, she never gave up on him.

And he earned her love, time and again.

 

The Woman Who Loved Jesse James

by

Cindi Myers

Bell Bridge Books

 

Copyright

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead,) events or locations is entirely coincidental.

Bell Bridge Books
PO BOX 300921
Memphis, TN 38130
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-61194-105-0
Print ISBN: 978-1-61194-082-4

Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 by Cindi Myers

Printed and bound in the United States of America.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

We at BelleBooks enjoy hearing from readers.
Visit our websites – www.BelleBooks.com and www.BellBridgeBooks.com.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Cover design: Debra Dixon
Interior design: Hank Smith
Photo credits:
Cover art (manipulated) © Ateliersommerland | Dreamstime.com

:MWtw:01:

 

Dedication

For Jim, Always

 

Acknowledgments

I need to thank many people for their support in making this book come together. Colleen Collins, Emily McCaskle and Isabel Sharpe read early versions of the manuscript, and their comments were immensely helpful.

Thanks to the Duetters, the BGs and the Fairplay Secret Society for cheering me on and providing encouragement as I wrote. To the Hand Hotel and Mike Stone for the best writer’s retreat ever.

And many thanks to Deborah Smith and Debra Dixon and everyone at BelleBooks and Bell Bridge Books for their enthusiasm for this project.

Finally, I couldn’t have done this without the love and support of my husband, Jim. Love you.

—Cindi Myers

 

Prologue

“There is a dash of tiger blood in the veins of all men; a latent disposition even in the bosom that is a stranger to nerve and daring, to admire those qualities in other men. And this penchant is always keener if there be a dash of sin in the deed to spice the enjoyment of its contemplation.”

—The Kansas City Times,
September 29, 1872

March, 1881

From the upstairs window of the house that was to have been our refuge, I stared down at the line of men with guns. That line of men on fine, fast horses, loaded rifles laid across their saddles, loaded pistols at their hips, had come to destroy everything I held most dear—to destroy me in the process.

I gripped the window sill with hands like ice, determined not to surrender to the terror that threatened to buckle my knees, and looked back over my shoulder at my children. They slept peacefully, sweet angels unaware of danger. I feared for them, of course, but that fear was a beast behind a locked door, contained for the moment.

The terror that threatened to overpower me was for their father, the man to whom I had linked my fate years before. My fear for him was a demon I wrestled daily, the distaff side to the love that bound us together.

I cast one more fond look on my sleeping children, then felt in the pocket of my dress for the pistol their father had given me so many years before. I had never fired the weapon at anything other than tin cans or old bottles, but I would use it now if I had to, to defend all I loved.

I shut the door softly behind me and started down the stairs. If this was the end, then I would stand with the man those gunmen had come for. I would stand with Jesse; my heart gave me no other choice.

 

Chapter One

I never meant to fall in love with Jesse James, but I might as well have tried to stop a tornado or a prairie fire. The summer that sealed our fate, when we saw each other with new eyes and our love began to grow, Jesse was all heat and light, and I was tinder waiting for a match.

But I wasn’t thinking of Jesse that hot August day in the summer of 1864 when my oldest sister, Lucy, was married to Bowling Browder. I merely welcomed the distraction of a celebration after years of hardship before and during the war.

“I hear tell there’s to be a band, with fiddles,
and
a flute player,” my best friend, Esme Purlin, said. Clad only in shimmy and drawers in the stifling heat of my attic bedroom, hair twisted in dozens of rag curls all over her head, she waltzed across the floor, arms extended to grasp the hands of an invisible beau. The air was heavy with the scent of honeysuckle that trailed across the sloping tin roof below my window, sweet with the promise of honey from the bees that droned among the golden blossoms.

“And dancing,” I said as I struggled to roll my own hair in the strips of rags I’d torn from a worn-out petticoat. “Lucy promised there’d be dancing.”

“It’s a shame
we
can’t dance,” Esme said, letting her arms fall to her sides. “It always looks like so much fun—though perhaps that’s why Papa says it’s sinful.”

“I don’t care if it’s sinful or not,” I said. “If someone asks me, I intend to dance.” How many chances would I have to whirl around a dance floor in a man’s arms?

BOOK: The Woman Who Loved Jesse James
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