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Authors: Katie Wyatt

Winter's Torment

BOOK: Winter's Torment
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Pioneer Western Romance
Mail-Order Bride
Book Five
Winter’s Torment




Katie Wyatt


Copyright © Katie Wyatt 2015


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the publisher.


The characters and events in this book are fictitious, and any simulators to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.


This book is dedicated to YOU, the reader.


Thank you so much for downloading this book.

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Thank you for reading, and for joining me on this mail order bride journey.


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Scene 1

Winter Lindstrom blinked back tears that threatened to spill as she watched the toddler play on his mother’s lap. The child and his mother sat a few seats ahead of Winter inside the train car, slowly chugging its way across the Kansas plains toward her destination of Dodge City.

She had already come so far that it felt as if she could separate her life into two different parts; before, where she had stepped on the train in Bangor, Maine, making multiple connections, waiting in endless stations on her journey westward to meet and marry a literal stranger, and after.

Heartbreak and grief had propelled Winter onto this path, the only one open to her now. Try as she might however, she couldn’t put the past completely behind her. Every time she saw a toddler she saw her own bright little Andrew, his white-blond hair so much like hers, his ice blue eyes, and that wonderful smile that still made her heart melt with love for him.

It had all ended on a frosty winter’s day. She and her husband Gunter and their little boy had been on their way to church when the buggy had slid on the icy road and toppled. Even though Winter had tried to protect her son, clutching him close, she had failed. The force of the fall had ripped her small son out of her arms. They had all been tossed out of the buggy. Her husband had escaped with a few bumps, bruises, and cuts, and Winter had suffered a broken arm. It was little Andrew who had been dealt the cruelest blow; one that had broken his neck and ended his life in an instant.

Every time Winter thought of her two-year-old boy her heart broke all over again. To make matters worse, her husband had blamed her for his son’s death. She should’ve held on tighter, somehow protected him, even though it was Gunter who had been urging the horse faster because they were late for church. Naturally, that was her fault too. She had taken too long to get ready, and, not wishing to arrive at church services late, her husband had taken chances he might not have otherwise.

At any rate, following the funeral, with Winter’s heart crushed, Gunter had slowly yet inexorably pulled away from her. She knew he continued to blame her for their little boy’s death, although she, and everyone else in town, knew it had been nothing more than a tragic accident. Nevertheless, deep inside she blamed herself as well, although rationally she knew that her son’s fate had been out of her hands. She hadn’t been able to go to church since the accident.

Every week, every month that passed, brought renewed tension and anxiety between the couple. By spring, her husband had grown increasingly withdrawn and angry. He disappeared at times. Sometimes it was overnight, sometimes it was for days on end. What he did during that time she didn’t know. Gradually, she grew to stop caring as well. He wasn’t a nice man anymore. He barely spoke to her, and when he did, the things he said were hurtful.

Then, one day, Gunter had up and told her he was divorcing her.
! Scandal, shame, and embarrassment had followed. He had left Bangor after the divorce, one of the first in her small neighborhood that had ever been finalized. The look she got from people afterwards had surprised and hurt her. These people had been her friends, but that was before. Before the accident. Before the scandal of a divorce.

With nothing left to do and nothing to fall back on, Winter had made a hard decision. She had to leave her beloved Maine and try to make a life for herself somewhere else. A distant relative, out of a sense of duty, or so he claimed, had reluctantly given her a little bit of money to travel south to New York City, where she thought she would be able to find work, but the amount of people and the size of the city had frightened her. She realized that she would never make it there. It was then that she saw the advertisement for mail order brides in a local newspaper.

Amazed and appalled that she would even consider such a thing, she carefully perused the ads, and after some time arguing back and forth with herself, had written a brief response to a man named Henry Olsen, a blacksmith who owned a shop in Dodge City, Kansas.

Faster than she would have imagined, he sent her a train ticket and an offer of marriage. At her wit’s end and nearly broke, she had few options. She accepted. What else could she do? She had no real schooling, although she could read and write and do basic math. She could sew, but she was no fancy seamstress that could compete with the fashion makers in New York City, nor even any of the milliners. She could bake, but competition for a job in the city was intense.

Besides, she didn’t like the crowds, the smells, or the noise. So here she was, sitting on the worn upholstery fabric of the train seat beneath her, thinking once again of Winter
and Winter
. This train journey provided a clear demarcation of her past and her future.

She was no longer the Winter that she had been when her son was alive. Part of that Winter had been buried with her son. She had no idea what the future would hold, but could it possibly be any worse than her past?

Day after day after day she had traveled. Henry Olsen had not only sent her a train ticket, but also a little money to pay for food along the way. She used it sparingly, eating only once a day. She was a proud woman, and didn’t particularly care to take anyone’s charity, but then again, he was to be her husband, wasn’t he?

For her, this journey was nothing more than a matter of convenience. She felt a bit guilty about that, but she had been left with few choices. She would try to do right by Henry Olsen, but she didn’t hold out hope that she would ever feel anything close to love again. She had given most of it to her little Andrew, but with his passing, her heart had been irreparably crushed.

The sharp and sudden blast of the train horn, followed by the ringing of the bell in the distance atop the locomotive startled her out of her musings. An excited murmur passed among the passengers in the train car.

“Dodge City!”

“We’re finally here!”

She stared out the window, her heart thudding nervously. Other than that, she felt nothing.

Scene 2

Winter stepped off the Santa Fe Railroad train car and onto the platform into the early evening air, not sure what to expect. The sun slowly settled to the west. The train depot was a little larger than the one in her native hometown.

She had heard plenty about Dodge City, the rough and wild frontier town that had been built years ago to protect travelers who ventured west on the Santa Fe Trail. She had heard that it was nearly lawless— a cattle town rife with wicked morals and more than several gunfights every day. She wondered when she would see the famous longhorns, or one of the cattle drives that brought, as the tales were told, hundreds, sometimes thousands of cattle, driven right through the streets of the city on their way to the yards after long trail drives from Texas.

As she stepped off the train she nearly bumped into a man wearing a dark suit and bowler hat. “Oh! E-excuse me, Sir,” she stammered.

“My fault entirely, Ma’am,” the mustached man murmured, removing his hat and offering a slight bow. “Deputy Bat Masterson at your service.”

“Winter Lindstrom,” Winter replied.

He made a noise in his throat. “Fascinating name. May I escort you inside?”

“No need, Bat.”

The voice came from behind Winter. She turned around and saw a huge man approaching. Of course, at only five feet tall, most men did look large to her, but this man stood well over six feet tall. His shoulders were broad, his arms long. His long-sleeved shirt was rolled up to his elbows, displaying thick and hairy forearms. He walked with a slightly bowlegged gait.

The deputy turned and grinned. “How you doing, Olsen?” he asked, extending a hand. He turned back toward Winter. “Ma’am, this is Henry Olsen, one of the town’s best blacksmiths.”

Winter stared at Henry Olsen, who also stared at her. He glanced at the deputy and smiled. “Bat, may I introduce you to my fiancée, Winter Lindstrom?”

The deputy guffawed and slapped the blacksmith on the shoulder. “You devil. I always knew you had it in you.”

The deputy turned to Winter and once again tipped his hat. “Congratulations to both of you,” he said, and then bid a quick farewell.

Winter shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other. She didn’t want to stare, but Mister Olsen was
! He didn’t wear a hat, and she noted his dark, curly hair was long, brushing his collar in the back. A day or two’s growth of beard darkened his cheeks. He wasn’t handsome by any vivid stretch of the imagination, but he wasn’t ugly either. He wasn’t heavy, just solid.

And here she was, looking so puny beside him.

“My, my, my,” he said, shaking his head slightly. “May I say you’re a very lovely woman, Winter?” He extended a hand hesitantly toward a stray strand of hair that had escaped her bonnet, and then let it drop down by his side. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen hair like yours. It’s lighter than the color of corn silk!”

“According to my mother, that’s how I got my name,” Winter said, trying to make conversation. “She said when I was born, my hair was nearly white. Coupled with my fair skin and blue eyes, she couldn’t think of a more appropriate name.”

Henry smiled down at her. “The name suits you perfectly.” He gestured down the street. “Excuse me for the way I look,” he said, ruefully rubbing a hand across his stubbled jaw. “I wasn’t sure if your train was arriving today or tomorrow. I’ve been meeting it every day this week.”

She made a sound to imply that she didn’t mind. “I understand. Please don’t worry about it.”

“I have a blacksmith shop in town, but it’s not a fit place for a woman,” he continued, speaking quickly. “I also have a ranch about four miles outside of town. If you have no objections, we’ll stay tonight at the Dodge House, and then first thing in the morning we’ll go visit the preacher.”

Winter’s heart thudded dully in her chest. She supposed there was nothing else she could do. She had informed Henry about her divorce, but apparently the scandal of divorce didn’t come with the same impact out west as it did in her native hometown. She wondered about that. She had also briefly mentioned the fact that she had lost her child. He hadn’t asked questions, but she wasn’t sure if it was because he was being polite, to spare her pain, or because he just didn’t care. Looking up at him, she decided that it wasn’t the latter.

He looked like a kind enough man, and the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes bespoke a sense of humor. Still, what did she know? They had only exchanged two letters, and one could only express so much in writing. In them he had told her that he owned a blacksmith shop in Dodge City, and that his ranch outside of town, where he ran a large herd of cattle. Longhorn cattle. That was about it.

One thing she did get a sense of was that Henry Olsen was pleased that she had finally arrived. The journey had taken a couple of weeks, and she was tired, worn out, and her emotions were a jumbled mess.

BOOK: Winter's Torment
3.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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