When the cooking, shopping, and decorating is done, take some time to kick back and enjoy your home, all the treats you’ve made, and especially the wonderful feeling that giving gifts brings. And if the temperature outside is chilly and you’re curled up and cozy, gift a book to yourself!
The first two books in the Crawford Family Series is now available as a box set and includes a free bonus novella. Here’s an excerpt from the first book in the series, Train Station Bride, when our heroine Julia arrives by train and must find the man she’s been corresponding with and arranging to marry. It does not go as Julia planned.
Julia stood on the step of the train and looked at the vast crowd of people. Her departure from her lifetime home was the least of her problems at this moment. How would she ever find Mr. Snelling in this crush?
The conductor shouted in her ear that her trunks and bags were being deposited on the boardwalk, one car down. Julia thanked him and hurried to find her things. It was difficult, working her way through the throng especially being at best shoulder height with some of the shorter men and women. She found her leather strapped trunk and her other bags and planted herself beside them, looking through the mob for a fiftyish, balding, thin man. It was impossible. She couldn’t see further than a lapel. She stood on tiptoe with no better results. Julia had to get a better view but didn’t want to leave her luggage to find a higher vantage point.
Julia stared down at her trunk. Glory hallelujah. Her trunk. She would stand on it and have a clear view of all the faces milling about. Her mother and Jolene would have a fit if they knew what she was thinking of doing. Better though to imagine their censure than find herself east bound if she couldn’t find Mr. Snelling. She had no doubt her father would be sending someone to escort her home. Julia had to be married when that day arrived.
* * *
Jake Shelling inched his way through the crowd, Pastor Phillips in tow. He had forgotten completely about the Founder’s Day Celebration. Town was packed with every farmer, rancher and their families for miles around. He wondered if Flossie was keeping her family home because of his new bride coming to town. If so, Danny and Millie would have a thing or two to say to their Uncle Jake about missing the biggest party of the year. He didn’t need to crane his neck much to look for his bride-to-be. He towered over most of the crowd. And he figured Miss Crawper would be easy to spot. A woman near six foot tall. He guessed she’d be blonde. Hadn’t he read somewhere that most folks from those Norwegian countries were blonde? Jake straightened up as he saw upswept blonde hair under a yellow hat. He grabbed the Pastor’s arm and yanked him through the crowd.
“Miss Crawper,” he shouted when he finally got close enough. “I’m Jake Shelling.” The train shifted on the track as the woman turned. Jake couldn’t hear her reply but he could see the gauzy fabric moving in front of her mouth.
Miss Crawper sure was gussied up in fancy clothes for a widow woman just off the boat. Jake didn’t know much about fashions but having listened to his two sisters for as many years as he had made him sure this woman was wearing expensive, fashionable clothing. He introduced Pastor Phillips over the roar of the crowd. The woman seemed to stand in a daze. But then Jake realized she had no idea what he was talking about.
“And you’re sure you want to do this, Miss Crawper?” Pastor Phillips shouted.
The woman’s head turned from the Pastor and back to Jake. The crowd shouted in unison as the woman replied, and he was being elbowed and bumped by every man jack that went by. Jake was pretty sure she had repeated her name.
“We know who you are,” Jake said slowly and very loud as if he were talking to a child. He pointed to his chest, then to her, then to the bible held in the minister’s hand. He motioned as if putting a ring on his finger. She nodded.
Pastor Phillips took the woman’s hand, placed it in Jakes’ and opened his book. She looked up at him and then at the pastor. He couldn’t see her face clearly, but he could tell she was a beautiful woman. He had expected her to be big-boned. But for her near six foot, this woman was dainty. Not skinny with no meat on her bones but round, and soft and sweet smelling. Delicate looking and shiny as the intricate yellow fabric she wore. Just glowing like the sun from the top of her yellow hat to the matching purse.
The pastor elbowed Jake as he closed his book. Jake slipped the ring over white gloves . . . and hell’s fire. His bride had fainted. Jake caught her in his arms as the crowd began to thin away to watch the rodeo scheduled in the pasture behind the train station. Pastor Phillips was fanning her with his hat. Jake held his new bride in his arms easily and surveyed her from her head to her yellow shoes. Hell, this woman wasn’t six foot tall. She wasn’t five foot tall. Jake looked down at the station platform beside him. A black trunk sat there. Good God. She’d been standing on a trunk. This couldn’t be Inga Crawper. Who in the hell had he just married?
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