Read Violet: Bride of North Dakota (American Mail-Order Bride 39) Online

Authors: Heather Horrocks

Tags: #Historical, #Romance, #Fiction, #Forever Love, #Victorian Era, #Western, #Thirty-Nine In Series, #Saga, #Fifty-Books, #Forty-Five Authors, #Newspaper Ad, #Short Story, #American Mail-Order Bride, #Bachelor, #Single Woman, #Marriage Of Convenience, #Christian, #Religious, #Faith, #Inspirational, #Factory Burned, #Pioneer, #North Dakota, #Runaway Groom, #Jilted Bride, #Change Status, #Northern Lights

Violet: Bride of North Dakota (American Mail-Order Bride 39) (7 page)

BOOK: Violet: Bride of North Dakota (American Mail-Order Bride 39)
5.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“These are great, Sis,” Daniel said around a mouthful. “You’ll make some man a great wife someday.”

“Be sure to tell Sven that.”

“And have him pound in my face? I don’t think so.”

“He’ll be flattered.”

“Right.”

The door to the bedroom opened, and out walked Violet—and he swallowed a larger bite than he’d planned and coughed, taking a sip of water.

She looked like an enchanting fairy maiden, her molten golden-red curls twisted up neatly around her head with her pale blue dress flattering her shapely form.

He gulped. He was going to have to fight the men off with a stick!

Violet looked at him tentatively. “Will this do for our purposes?”

Amelia tinkled a laugh.

Before his sister could say anything, Daniel set down his fork. “It will do nicely.”

Amelia said, “Your pancakes are nearly ready.”

Violet shook her head. “I am much too nervous to eat, if you will forgive me.”

Amelia nodded and gave the shorter woman a hug. Standing together, he could see they were nearly the same height. His sister told Violet, “Good luck.”

Then she looked at her brother and frowned. “You be sure to introduce her only to men of character, men such as you would have a true sister marry.”

A true sister? He would never be able to see Violet as a
sister
, not while she wore this form-fitting dress and her hair glowed and his hands wanted to
—Look away, man!
His
voice was raspy as he said, “I will,” and he pushed back from the table. He pulled his coat off the hook and stuck his favorite hat on his head, then turned back to her.

She stood in her blue dress, holding her reticule.

“Where is your coat? You’ll need it.”

She smiled up at him. “I’ll retrieve it now.”

She turned, her dress swirling nicely around her legs, and his heart clenched. How was he going to be able to do this? And how was it that she had this sort of power over him?

He turned to find Amelia smiling at him. She crossed her arms and said, quietly, “Why do you not offer for her hand, brother? You obviously find her pleasing.”

He shook his head. “I am too old. It would be unseemly.”

Amelia crossed to him and placed her hand on his arm. “I have seen greater age differences. You are only ten years older.”

“It would be unseemly,” he repeated, and his voice roughened.

“I don’t want you to have regrets. Remember that, Brother, as you show her around town to other men.”

“I will remember.”

“She is not like Opal.”

Startled at the name no one spoke around him, he turned away, unwilling to continue this conversation.

Violet came back in, bundled up in the brown coat she’d worn at the train station. If he could just keep her outside, where men couldn’t see her form through the coat, he might be able to get through this day.

He and Sven had brushed aside yesterday’s snow from the walkway and he led Violet to his wagon, handing her up to the seat. She smiled down at him sweetly. “Thank you, Mr. Lund.”

He nodded and smiled back, his heart tapping out a faster rhythm than normal. “You’re welcome, Miss Keating.”

“Will you introduce me to men at church, as well?”

“I will, but Sunday is three days away. It will be good to start today. I know which men attend church, if that is important to you.”

“It is.” She smiled again, perhaps a little mischievously. “Are you a church-going man, Mr. Lund?”

“I am.” He climbed up beside her and flicked the reins, and the two horses trotted jauntily.

The day was much warmer than yesterday and the sun shone, warming them even more. The snow had stopped during the night, and a coat of pristine white covered everything, but was melting on the roads.

Violet seemed anxious, looking out at the surroundings, and then back at her hands clenched tightly in her lap. He supposed it would be stressful to meet men and hope they would like her enough to make an offer to her—and then hope that any man who did was a man who would treat her right and one she could grow to love.

His heart hurt at that thought. She wasn’t his and could never be, but it still didn’t mean he wanted to give her up. This silly heart of his didn’t know what it wanted.

They stopped first at the town’s general store, run by Emil Schultz. It was early-to-mid morning, and men would be by to pick up packages and supplies. Several wagons were tied up outside.

He was going to make quite a stir by taking Violet inside, where she might even take off her coat. He would have to make sure they weren’t inside for long enough for her to get overwarm.

When he opened the door, he saw four men, including Emil.

Two were men he would not recommend to a lady of gentle breeding, and the proprietor was two decades older than Daniel—though he studied Violet much too closely, as did they all—and so that left one contender. Gregor Koch.

Daniel leaned down toward Violet, and whispered. “I will introduce you to all four men, but the only one who is a good enough candidate for you is the man wearing the black Stetson.”

Gregor took off his Stetson, and ran a hand through his dark hair.

She nodded and looked up into Daniel’s eyes, whispering back, “I trust your judgment.”

And that statement stabbed him in the heart. How could she trust him, when what he wanted to do had nothing to do with propriety?

He lifted his head and smiled at the owner, Emil. Then he introduced her, and the old coot came out and kissed her hand, as if he were a serious contender!

The other three fellows came over, one by one, and he introduced them.

All four showed interest—especially when Daniel mentioned she was a
single
lady of breeding and character.

He hated the twinge of jealousy gnawing at him. But he couldn’t marry her, himself. He should be happy his plan was working. But, no, he wasn’t happy.

But he would help
her
find happiness.

Gregor ran his gaze over Violet, and a slow smile spread over his face.

And Daniel clenched his fists. Why did it matter if Gregor liked her? That was the whole point, to find Violet a husband. So why did he want to cram his fist down the other man’s face, to wipe off that infernal smile?

Gregor took her hand and lowered his face until he kissed it, holding it too long and releasing it only reluctantly. “I would be most honored to call on you, if I may.”

Violet flashed an uncertain glance at Daniel. What could he do? This was his insane plan, after all. When he nodded, with a frown, she turned to Gregor and gave him a tentative smile. “I would be pleased if you did.”

Daniel clenched his fists. He must repress the feelings rising within him.

What if Gregor won her heart? Unfortunately, even if it wasn’t Gregor, it would be someone. And then Daniel would avoid gatherings as much as possible so he wouldn’t need to see her with another man.

Finally, Daniel could take no more. “We’d best be moving on.”

Violet followed him from the general store. Outside, Violet said. “Mr. Koch seemed like a gentleman. I’m glad you know these men, as they all seem like good men to me. And yet you knew Gregor Koch was the best man for a husband.”

“Well, in total honesty,” he admitted, not too reluctantly. “Gregor does tend to spend excessive time trying to please his mother, who is demanding and would make a poor mother-in-law. Perhaps we’d best keep looking.”

 

 

My feet are sore from walking so much today—and, even worse, my soul is sore from having men study me as a potential future wife, as though I were livestock. Did they think me fit for breeding, I wonder. At least they did not check my teeth.

(Journal Entry, Violet Keating, October 16, 1890)

 

Violet’s feet had started aching, but she continued to follow Daniel. He’d kept her busy for much of the day.

When Daniel Lund said he would help you with something, he meant it.

After the General Store, he had taken her to other businesses, including restaurants, animal feed stores, and the post office. She’d met several men who seemed interested in her, and who had asked if they might call on her. Each time, she got mixed signals from Daniel—he would nod while frowning.

Now she sat beside Daniel while he guided the horses back toward Amelia’s. He was still frowning, but why? His plan was working. He’d introduced her to at least thirty gentlemen, at least seven of whom were men he’d approved of.

Funny thing, though, he’d been able to name something negative about each of them—even those seven. Maybe
especially
those seven.

“Thank you,” she said.

He whipped his gaze around at her. “For what?”

“For being willing to help me. It means a lot to me.”

“Oh.” And he settled back into his staring-straight-ahead-while-frowning position.

She risked another glance at him. His profile was sharp, his lips in a tight downward line. Her heart softened.

He glanced over at her, and she smiled at him. She saw the sparkle in his eyes and the quick lifting of his lips, and then he looked ahead again, and she had to wonder—
Why not him?

She didn’t know him well enough to ask anything, but he obviously was affected by her presence. What was wrong with her that he didn’t even consider courting her?

She drew the blanket up close about her and looked to the side.

She wasn’t very old, but she’d already learned that life was unfair and rarely offered up favorable options.

This situation was no different.

 

 

I haven’t seen that look on my son’s face for a decade. This young girl who is here to marry James Evans has caught the eye of my Daniel. I hope something comes of it, for she seems a sweet little thing.

(Journal Entry, Brenna Lund, October 16, 1890)

 

Violet had never felt welcomed so quickly in all her life as while sitting around Daniel’s parents’ dining table. The entire family—Daniel, Amelia and Sven, their mother Brenna and father Gabriel, and younger brothers Tom and Zachary—had accepted her as part of the family, for however long that might last, and that meant the world to her.

Brenna Lund had outdone herself with this feast. Swedish meatballs in a rich sauce, served over boiled potatoes with lingonberry preserves, pickled beets, sweet-and-sour red cabbage, and apple pie still ahead for dessert.

Daniel’s mother sat at one end of the table and Daniel, at his mother’s request, at the other. Violet had been seated across from Daniel, though he’d hardly met her gaze all through the meal. Amelia sat next to her and Sven on her other side, and opposite them, next to Daniel, sat his two younger brothers.

Brenna said, “So what do you think of our fair town so far, Miss Keating?”

Violet smiled. “It is lovely. With the snow covering everything in a blanket of white, it looks angelic.”

“Except where the horses trod, and that is not so angelic,” muttered Daniel.

Violet went on. “And I met so many good-hearted people who made me feel welcome. Just as you have all done. I must thank you again.”

BOOK: Violet: Bride of North Dakota (American Mail-Order Bride 39)
5.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Saving Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Legendary Warrior (Book 5) by Julius St. Clair
Sara's Child by Susan Elle
Hotel of the Saints by Ursula Hegi