Authors: Jennifer Rogers Spinola
Half French and half Arapaho, Collette Moreau was sold to a trapper as his bride and forced to leave her beloved home. When her husband is murdered, Collette is blamed for his death and flees into the wilderness. There she crosses paths with a washed-up cowboy named Wyatt Kelly … in a race for hidden treasure.
Justin Fairbanks, a young Civilian Conservation Corps recruit, is trying to escape his troubled past. Raised by his abusive, drunkard father, Justin learned to drink, steal, and “raise Cain” from his youth—until the car he was driving hit and killed the local pastor. Though Justin played tough on the outside, the incident shattered him. When the pastor’s daughter arrives unexpectedly at the camp, Justin is forced to face what he left behind. And Lia must decide if she can forgive—and just how much.
After the Ashes
Friends and firefighters Thomas Walks-with-Eagles and Alicia Sanchez are from dramatically different backgrounds. Thomas is an Apache Christian from a reservation in Arizona; Alicia grew up with shocking abuse in Juarez. Their relationship takes a deeper turn when they’re called to fight the 1988 fire in Yellowstone. But as the fire blazes out of control, doubt and the deadly inferno threaten their future.
Researcher Taka Shimamori and park ranger Jersey Peterson haven’t hit it off well. Jersey is threatened by Taka’s blabbering scientific-ese and resents his brief commitment to Yellowstone. Which is what most people have done in her life—come and go. Taka wishes Jersey would let down her hardened guard, but she’s made it clear that people, especially from his background, can’t be trusted. Then a renegade group of poachers threatens the park, and trusting each other means more than ever….
© 2013 by Jennifer Rogers Spinola
Print ISBN 978-1-61626-745-2
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-62029-692-9
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-62029-691-2
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.
All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
Cover design and illustration by Kirk DouPonce, DogEared Design
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses
Printed in the United States of America.
If you’ve ever ached, like I have, for wide open spaces, shimmering geysers, waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, ice-cold lakes, and giant saw-toothed Rocky Mountains capped with snow, then you’ll find yourself in awe of Yellowstone National Park. The first time I saw it as a college student—the farthest I’d ever traveled away from my Southern home in rural Virginia—I was overwhelmed. So different from the gentle ripples of the Blue Ridge Mountains and green farm fields of my childhood. Yellowstone, with all its vast and towering splendor, was love at first sight. And that love has never left me.
I couldn’t wait to take you on a trip to Yellowstone—past and present—and introduce you to some of the quirky, flawed characters who might have crossed its borders over the years. Yellowstone attracts all kinds: artists, students, park rangers, vendors, firefighters, researchers. Each from different backgrounds, different families, different stages in life. And each one brings his or her own web of problems. Of hurts, of disappointments. Of joys and brokenness.
Which is where our Lord comes in.
To heal, to speak truth, and to bind up the wounds in His own unique way. Speaking in a personal voice to each struggling soul and taking us on a journey. A journey to healing. A journey that leads to Him.
I hope you’ll hear His voice as you read.
And I hope you’ll catch His whispers as you walk through His masterpiece of Yellowstone, the land I loved dearly from my first step off the bus.
For He makes our deepest dreams come to life—even those we never thought possible.
I know because He’s brought me back. After moving from Japan to Brazil, I now live in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, surrounded by Ponderosa pines and mule deer and rugged slate-blue mountains. Just a few miles from the Wyoming border, and a couple of hours away from Yellowstone National Park.
Almost fifteen years after my first trip to Yellowstone, and I have come home.
May God use these stories to bring you home to Him. Thank you for reading.
Jennifer R. Spinola
P.S. The Thoen Stone and the legend of Black Hills gold I’ve written about in this book is real by the way! If you’re ever in Deadwood, South Dakota, stop by the Adams Museum and see the real sandstone carving. And look me up—I’m not far away!
To Roger and Kathleen Bruner, my friends,
Bass Pro Shop partners, and writing confidantes.
None of this would ever have been possible without ya!
hoa, there, boy—easy. Easy,” Wyatt Kelly whispered, tightening the reins as Samson eased his way through the squeaky stable gate in the shadows. “Not a sound. Shh. That’s it.” He clucked softly and pulled the large stallion to a stop, listening. Straining for any sound in the chilly, moonlit night.
A weak shiver of dry grasses rattled together in the wind, a skeletal and foreboding sound. The distant flutter of an owl’s wings, the faraway squeak of a field mouse. All cold and autumn-chilly under a brilliant, frost-white moon.
The same bright moon that had hid its face in a mournful sliver the day the Cheyenne murdered his family so many years ago. Leaving their bodies crumpled on the prairie grasses and skinny Wyatt Kelly bawling his eyes out. Shaking in terror.
The only thing he’d brought with him to his uncle’s ranch as a lonely child was his father’s mare and gentle, loyal Samson, her only wobbly colt. Wyatt had spent his younger years crouched in the stable, talking his lungs out to Samson.
And Samson listened, blinking great liquid eyes.
The only part of his family, save the distant and skeptical Uncle Hiram, that remained intact.
“That’s it, Samson,” Wyatt whispered, pulling on the reins. “Quiet, old boy. We’ll be back before you know it.” He pulled off his cowboy hat to hear better as he turned back toward the ranch house, which lay darkened with night, its windows black.
He held his breath as he flicked the reins slightly, urging Samson ahead, step after silent step. Wincing with each slight patter of gravel under Samson’s massive hooves or the faint groan of leather saddle and reins. The clink of metal stirrup against boot, the squeak of the chilly lantern handle.
Wyatt’s palm turned clammy against the cold barrel of his Winchester rifle as he eased Samson past the log smokehouse and barns, keeping his head down and reins taut. Past the ranch hands’ quarters and the long log fence, cold wind fluttering his black coat around him like a shroud. Wyatt didn’t trust any of the ranch hands—none of the stable boys or Irish washerwomen. Not the sour-faced cook who turned out apple tarts and hearty stews. And especially not the mysterious Arapaho girl who’d come from a French trapper’s colony in Idaho, all her Indian beads and braids hidden under her bonnet and demure white-and-blue cottons. Her cool demeanor unnerved him; Uncle Hiram swore a married girl that young and alone looking for work must be up to no good. After the gold, even.
And yet she trained horses like nobody he’d ever seen. “Jewel,” folks called her—for no one really knew her name—brushed and braided and combed manes and tails, hauled feed and scrubbed troughs, poured water and broke the skins of ice that formed across the surface of the water barrels on frosty mornings. Wyatt and the stable boys would pause, mesmerized, as she trained and saddlebroke the wildest, most cantankerous colts from the end of a slim leather tether—moving in graceful circles, her long skirts and shawls swishing and beaded necklaces making a bell-like clinking, like iced branches in the winter wind.
But not even Jewel had a clue where he was headed tonight. He hadn’t spoken a word—just slipped out to the ticking of the mantel clock, lifting his rifle from above the fireplace.
If only he could get to Crazy Pierre’s old homestead in time to find the gold.