SNEAK PEEK: Christmas at Dove Creek by Scarlett Dunn

christmas-at-dove-creek-coverChristmas at Dove Creek by Scarlett Dunn

With snow on the prairie and the stars heralding new hope, it’s the season for the lost to find their way home–and love to unite solitary hearts…

She rides like an angel and she’s a crack shot. And Lily Starr is determined to shepherd a helpless group of outcasts from Missouri to Wyoming by Christmas–including a pregnant woman whose blessed event is drawing near. So encountering handsome Thorpe Turlow along the dangerous trail is a welcome unexpected gift, for he’s as formidable as he is reserved. Besides, understanding this gentle, secretly wounded man is another challenge Lily isn’t about to resist…

After the heartbreak he’s found, Thorpe just wants to retreat to his peaceful Dove Creek ranch. But he’s never met anyone as resourceful and straightforward as Lily. Somehow, she’s reigniting his faith and giving him the courage to trust again. And if they survive the arduous trip ahead, he’ll do whatever it takes to give her a lifetime of joy and love…



Wyoming Territory 1868

The small-town one-room church was as hot as Hades. Though the pastor had opened both doors in hopes of lowering the searing temperature a notch or two, not one hint of a breeze filtered through. Thorpe Turlow stood ramrod straight on the makeshift altar, wearing a tailored black suit, a crisp white shirt, and a black string tie, looking more handsome than ever, if that was even possible. The pastor and the town doctor stood beside him, politely conversing as they waited for Thorpe’s soon-to-be bride, Evelyn Tremayne, to make her appearance. One glance at the folks in the pews snapping their paper hand fans back and forth said they were as miserable as Thorpe was in the stifling heat. No doubt their patience was also running as thin as his while they waited for the beauty of the territory to bless them with her presence. As it was, patience had never been one of Thorpe’s virtues, and after thirty minutes of waiting, his temper was simmering. Tugging at his collar for the umpteenth time, he was tempted to shed his confining jacket, rip off his tie, and unbutton his shirt. “Why does it always take women so da . . .” His eyes met the pastor’s and he quickly amended what he was about to say. “Darn long to get ready?”

Considering the circumstances, the pastor overlooked Thorpe’s testiness. To his way of thinking, the groom had every reason to be cross. There wasn’t another woman in town, other than Evelyn Tremayne, who would have kept Thorpe Turlow waiting. The pastor’s own wife had told him every single lady in town would give their eyeteeth to wed the tall, good-looking rancher. “Thorpe, don’t try to understand women. One time I heard a pastor say that God offered to give him the desire of his heart. The pastor told God he desired to understand his wife. And do you know what God said?”

Thorpe and the doc both shook their heads.

The pastor leaned in close and whispered, “God asked him what his second desire was.”

Eliciting a chuckle from both men, the pastor continued with his nervous chatter. “I’ll never understand women. They’ve planned their big day from birth, so you would think they would arrive on time if for no other reason than to make sure the groom hasn’t changed his mind.”

“It never fails,” the doc agreed. “They harangue you to death trying to get you to the altar and then they make you wait forever once you’re there. I think it’s their way of making you think you are about to escape that noose.” The doc joked, yet silently he hoped the bride didn’t show. He’d been at odds with himself all week trying to decide if he would be out of line to tell Thorpe the secret he held about his betrothed. Thorpe was a good man as well as a friend, and he didn’t deserve what was about to happen to him.

While Thorpe appreciated their attempt to keep the mood light, in all truth, he didn’t feel like laughing, and it was more than the heat getting to him. He’d almost called off the wedding several times in the last two weeks. He couldn’t put his finger on what was troubling him, but he had a deep-seated feeling he was going to regret this union. Only his sense of honor prevented him from doing what that little voice inside his head told him to do.

The pastor turned to look at the congregation wedged elbow to elbow in the pews. “I don’t see that Englishman here, the duke or earl, or whatever his title. Did he go back to England?”

“Nicholas Ainsworth. He’s still at the ranch. He’ll probably ride to church with Evelyn and her father.” Ainsworth had been a guest at the Tremayne ranch for several months. Evelyn’s father told him Ainsworth was the son of a friend, and he came to Wyoming specifically to study cattle ranching. Evelyn had mentioned several times that Ainsworth was an aristocrat, but Thorpe didn’t put a lot of stock in titles. All the same, he figured it was a good thing Ainsworth had inherited wealth because the man wouldn’t make a good rancher if that was his aim. After spending some time with the Englishman, it was Thorpe’s opinion he could sit a horse well, but he was scared to death of longhorns. And he wasn’t inclined to work the long hours necessary to run a ranch.

Hearing the congregation begin to grumble about the heat and the wait, the pastor thought it was extremely rude of Evelyn not to arrive on time. He wouldn’t dare state his thoughts aloud as Mr. Tremayne was a generous benefactor of the church and he could ill afford to offend him. “Thorpe, do you think I should ask everyone to wait outside under the shade trees?”

Thorpe looked over his shoulder to the entrance of the church. No buggy in sight. What in heaven’s name was taking the woman so long to get here? “That might not be a bad idea. I would understand if they all want to go on about their business.” It had been his preference to have a small wedding with Evelyn’s father and the preacher in attendance, but Evelyn was adamant they invite everyone in town. Well, everyone Evelyn considered respectable, which didn’t include the soiled doves from the saloon. Now here he stood facing the stewing guests and Evelyn was nowhere in sight. She didn’t have a care if everyone in town was inconvenienced. It was all about Evelyn.

When the pastor stepped away, the doc thought this might be the only time he would be able to speak to Thorpe privately. “Thorpe, I need to talk to you.”

“Ladies and gentleman . . .” the pastor began, but was interrupted when Curtis Ryder, Thorpe’s ranch foreman, entered the church and hustled down the aisle.

“Thorpe, I need to speak with you,” Curtis said.

Hearing the urgent tone in his foreman’s voice, Thorpe turned from the doc. “Excuse me a minute, Doc.” Curtis’s expression was serious and Thorpe knew something was wrong. “What is it?”

Reaching the altar, Curtis grabbed Thorpe’s arm and urged him toward the back door so he wouldn’t be overheard. He positioned his back to the now silent assembly and spoke in a low tone.

Thorpe pulled back and stared at him with narrowed eyes. “When?”

“Before dawn.”

“Tell the guests to leave, Curtis.” Thorpe turned and stalked down the aisle, stripping off his tie before he hit the threshold.

“Thorpe, we need to talk,” the doc yelled after him. When Thorpe didn’t look back, he added, “It’s important.”

Curtis put his hand on the doc’s shoulder. “Let him be right now.”

Thorpe Turlow walked out of that church a changed man.



Chapter One

    Missouri 1876

    This is a helluva way to die, was Thorpe’s first thought when the arrow slammed through his left shoulder. Slumped over his horse, Smoke, he prayed the arrow tip wasn’t laced with poison because it was stinging like the devil. Without any commands from Thorpe, Smoke was still moving fast, but the band of braves were staying with him. Smoke was a strong, stout horse and difficult to outrun, and right now he seemed to have his own plan. Thorpe trusted him to make it to the trees if the two of them were going to stand a fighting chance. He hated endangering Smoke’s life, the horse meant more to him than a human friend. That single thought spurred him into action. He wasn’t about to let anything happen to Smoke or himself as long as he was still breathing. It wasn’t in my plan to die today, you sons-of-Satan.

Gripping Smoke with his thighs, Thorpe steeled himself against the pain, pulled his .45, and turned to fire at the eight warriors closing the distance behind him. His rifle might have been the best option, but the pistol only required one hand. By his third shot, he’d managed to hit one brave, knocking him off his horse. The remaining seven warriors were not deterred, they kept coming. He thought he might have winged another brave, but he’d emptied his gun and he needed to reload or pull his rifle. To keep from making himself a larger target for their arrows zipping by his head, he leaned over in the saddle as he deftly pulled cartridges from his belt.  Holding his .45 against his thigh, he was in the process of opening the chamber when he felt Smoke slow a step. Looking up to see what had alarmed his horse, he saw a black and white Appaloosa in front of the trees about two hundred yards away. The Appaloosa was facing him, standing totally motionless in the drizzling rain, but Thorpe didn’t see a rider. The Indians chasing him were also riding Appaloosas. The thought that more braves could be waiting to ambush him in the trees filtered through, yet instinct told him his only option was to make it to cover of the trees if he wanted to stay alive. He stayed the course.

“It’s okay, son, keep moving.” Smoke picked up his pace and Thorpe kept his eyes on the horse in front of him as he loaded his gun. He figured the horse would soon move out of the way with Smoke barreling down on him. Arrows continued whizzing by, but before Thorpe had a chance to fire again, he heard the report of a rifle. With the sounds of the horses thundering behind him, not to mention hearing his heart pound away in his ears from the pain, it was difficult to determine the origin of the shot, but he thought it came from the trees ahead. He prayed whoever was holding that rifle wasn’t aiming at him.  When he turned to fire, he saw one brave fall from his horse. Someone was lending him a hand. Aiming as best he could, he fired and another brave hit the ground. He looked ahead to see they were just a few yards from the Appaloosa, and he spotted a rider leaning over the side of the horse holding a rifle trained on the braves. Another shot rang out. Thud. Four warriors down. He gave thanks that the rider on that Appaloosa wasn’t shooting at him because he was deadly accurate.  With a slight squeeze of his thigh he signaled Smoke to pass the horse on the opposite side of the rider. Flying past the Appaloosa, three things struck Thorpe at once: There was no saddle on the horse; whoever was riding that horse was very skilled to be able to make a perfect shot from that position, not once, but twice; and that was one very well-trained animal.

“Don’t stop!”

Unless his ears were playing tricks on him, the voice belonged to a female or a very young man riding that horse like a brave.

The rider turned the Appaloosa and followed Thorpe into the interior of the dense thicket. Several minutes ticked by as they weaved their way through the trees until they happened on a felled tree surrounded by heavy brush. They both slid off their horses and when the rider reached for Smoke’s reins to move him out of danger, Thorpe saw his rescuer was indeed a young woman. They took cover behind the cottonwoods, and the woman handed Thorpe his rifle she’d pulled from the boot. Positioning herself behind a tree, she pulled her rifle to her shoulder. Thorpe glanced at her. The determined look on her face said she was prepared to give anyone who appeared through the trees a lethal greeting.  Remaining silent, they waited for the warriors. Within seconds, soft rustling sounds told them they were no longer alone in the brush. The woman quickly dropped to one knee and took aim. Thorpe didn’t see the braves, but he braced his rifle against the tree to hold it steady as he aimed in the direction of the sound. Right after she fired, they heard what sounded like a groan. Three braves remaining. Silenced ensued. Minutes later, the woman stood. “They’re leaving,” she whispered. They listened until the sound of hooves grew faint.

Thorpe figured the warriors might be retreating for the moment, but he wasn’t foolish enough to think they wouldn’t be back. He slumped against the tree and slid to a sitting position. The woman approached him, propped her rifle next to the tree, and kneeled down beside him. When she removed her hat, long blond hair tumbled past her shoulders. Large, clear blue eyes met his. Thorpe thought he must be hallucinating, or he was already dead and in heaven because he had to be staring at the face of an angel. Everyone always told him his ex-fiancée was a beauty, but compared to this woman she was downright homely.

She spoke softly as she glanced at his shoulder. “Let me take a look.”

His gaze met hers and he nodded.

She tore a small hole in his shirt to get a better view of his wound where the arrow was protruding from the back of his shoulder. “Why weren’t you wearing a slicker?”

Thorpe chuckled. He hadn’t expected that question. Now that his adrenaline had abated he was really feeling the pain, and even though he was drenched from the rain, sweat was rolling down his face. He removed his Stetson and swiped his forehead with his shirtsleeve. “The rain came quickly and I had stopped to pull out my slicker when they surprised me.” He noticed she wasn’t wearing one either and her clothing was so wet it was clinging to her body, but he didn’t point that out. She was wearing black trousers and a white blouse, and he figured that was the reason he couldn’t see her on the Appaloosa, she blended in with the horse’s coat. “Can you break it off and use my knife to push it through?”

“I’m afraid I’m not strong enough to break it off without doing more damage.”

Thorpe noticed she was just a little thing, but her size didn’t matter when it came to shooting. She was one heck of a deadly shot.

Seeing the perspiration on his face, she placed her palm on his forehead to see if he was feverish. She thought most men would have already passed out from such an ordeal.

The contact surprised Thorpe since he hadn’t been touched in months. He might have jerked away, but her soft, cool hand felt good against his skin. Their eyes met again and held for several seconds. She definitely had the face of an angel, but her expression was serious. Her eyes flicked over his face and he wondered if she thought he was going to keel over. “I’m not going to pass out.”

She smiled at his statement. She was worried about him losing consciousness. She didn’t want to leave him alone, but she didn’t know what else to do. That arrow needed to be removed and she couldn’t do it without some help. But if she left him and those braves came back for a second bite at the apple, he’d be at their mercy, and she knew they’d make sure he died a slow, painful death for killing so many braves. Coming to a decision, she reached for her rifle and stood. “I’d best get Jed. It won’t take but a few minutes, he’s not far away. Do you think you can stay conscious until I get back?”

Thorpe didn’t want her riding out of the trees alone. Granted, he might not be in good shape, but he could still pull a trigger. He grimaced as he pulled himself to his feet using his rifle for support. Whistling softly, Smoke came trotting to him. “I’ll go with you. They may be waiting for us.”

She knew he was in a lot of pain, but he was obviously a strong-willed man. “We’ll ride through the trees. Can you get on your horse?”

He wasn’t about to ask her to assist him. She wasn’t even half his size, but she sure had grit, he’d give her that. “Yeah.” He figured Jed must be her husband, and he wondered why he’d allowed her to ride off alone. Thorpe handed her his .45. “Would you mind loading it for me?”

She placed her rifle against the tree. “Of course.” She reached over and without saying a word she started removing cartridges from his belt. When she realized she probably should have asked him before she touched his gun belt, she glanced up and found him watching her with intense dark eyes. She went very still.

Taking the cartridges from his belt was an innocent move, but somehow it felt very intimate to Thorpe. Her head was right at his chest and when she looked up at him, much to his surprise, he had the urge to touch her face. He hadn’t even thought about touching a woman in months. How long had it been? Five, six months? Thanks to his ex-fiancée, he’d found out just how deceitful women could be. He’d been angry with all women ever since, and he sure hadn’t wanted to put his hands on one.

Lily’s mind was racing. The man was so attractive he almost took her breath away. She forced her eyes from his handsomely sculpted face, down his chest, and tried to focus on his gun. Opening the cylinder, she inserted the cartridges with shaking fingers.

Thorpe noticed her delicate fingers as she pushed the cartridges in the chambers. It occurred to him he’d never seen a woman load a gun. Evelyn wouldn’t have touched a gun, much less known the business end. This woman handled the revolver like an expert. She was an unusual woman. “Do you live nearby?”

“No, we’re on our way to Wyoming.” She snapped the cylinder on the .45 in place and handed the gun to him. Pulling a pistol from her waistband, she held it out to him. “If they come back, don’t take time to reload, use this.”

When she turned away, Thorpe heard her say, “Blaze.” Her Appaloosa walked through the trees to her side.

Thorpe tucked her revolver in his belt and reached for Smoke’s reins. “You’re headed to Wyoming this late in the year?” He was also going home, and he’d cursed himself for being the biggest kind of fool for not getting an earlier start. Having finished what he’d come to do in Missouri, he wanted to go home and he wasn’t inclined to wait until spring. Before he set out for Wyoming, he knew the weather could change in a flash and it wouldn’t be in his favor, but he was prepared. The weather wasn’t the only challenge travelers had to consider. As he’d just experienced, there were other dangers that could prove far worse and fatal. It was one thing for a man to travel alone under such circumstances, he only had his own hide to consider, not a beautiful woman’s. The way he saw it, her husband was plain irresponsible for risking her life on such a foolhardy journey. Right now, he was thanking the Good Lord that those Indians hadn’t seen her long blond hair or he’d certainly have more trouble on his hands.

“It couldn’t be helped,” she answered. “I’m Lily Starr. Do you live near here?” She’d noticed he was traveling light, just a saddlebag and bedroll was on his horse.

“Thorpe Turlow.” He braced himself for the pain he was sure to feel when he mounted. “I’m headed to Wyoming territory. My ranch is there.”

Lily didn’t want to call him a liar, but he didn’t have provisions for such a journey. “Where are your supplies?”

Not only could she ride and shoot, she was also an observant woman. “I imagine those warriors have them by now. I had to let my packhorse go when they gave chase. He’s a fine animal and I didn’t want him to be shot.” He stroked Smoke’s neck. “I figured the two of us would stand a better chance of outrunning them, and if we got lucky, all three of us might survive.”

His answer satisfied Lily. She understood the way he valued his animals, she felt the same way about Blaze and her mule, Daisy. She jumped on Blaze in one fluid motion, and waited a minute for Thorpe to catch his breath once he was in the saddle.

When Thorpe could speak again, he said, “Thanks for helping me out. But what were you doing out here alone?”

“I heard the shots and thought I’d better check it out.”

He wondered why her husband didn’t come when they heard the shots, or another man in her party. “How many in your group?”


He’d expected her to be traveling with a much larger group. “And you haven’t run into trouble?”

“No, we’ve been fortunate so far.” She moved Blaze ahead leaving Thorpe to follow. After winding her way through the trees, she pulled her horse to a halt to get her bearings and to see if Thorpe was staying with her. Considering the pain he was in, not to mention the blood loss, she was amazed that he was still in his saddle. “It’s just a little farther.”

Thorpe didn’t want to lie to her about passing out, but he thought he was close. “We’d best hurry.” By the time three wagons came into view, Thorpe was gripping his saddle horn to stay upright.

“Jedidiah!” Lily yelled as she hopped off her horse and ran to Thorpe’s side.

A large man came running from one of the wagons with a huge dog beside him just as Thorpe started to slide from his horse.

“Help me with him,” Lily instructed. “We need to get this arrow out.”

Jedidiah was a muscular man, but he staggered backward from Thorpe’s weight. “Mercy, Miss Lily, he’s a big one.”

“Yes he is. Some braves were running him down, so we need to keep our eyes open. Let’s get him to my wagon.”

Together they helped a nearly unconscious Thorpe inside Lily’s wagon and situated him on a feather mattress covered with hand-stitched quilts.

“Jed, I can twirl the shaft so I don’t think it lodged in bone. We can break off the shaft and push it through, or we can cut around the entry and pull it out carefully.”

“Break it off and push the dang thing through.” Thorpe could tell the arrow tip missed the bone and he wasn’t about to let anyone cut on him.

The sound of his deep baritone voice made Lily and Jedidiah jump. Lily collected herself and pulled Thorpe’s large knife from his scabbard and handed it to Jedidiah. “You can use the flat of the blade to push it through.”

“Lily, do you need help?” Isabelle yelled from the back of the wagon.

“What’s going on?” Dora asked.

Lily expected the two women would have a thousand questions, but there would be time to explain later. “Bring the whiskey, bandages, and make a yarrow poultice and boil some water. And bring a needle and some thread.”

“You’d best be asking for that whiskey to pour down my throat,” Thorpe said. He tried to stay alert by reminding himself he’d been hit by an arrow before and been shot a couple of times, so he could handle the pain. If those Indians came back with more braves he didn’t want these people facing them alone. Did Lily say four was in her group? One man was in the wagon with them and he heard two other women. That made four people, and that didn’t make him feel a whole lot better.

Lily smiled at him. “You can have a hefty drink before we start.”

Seeing that smile of hers almost made him forget about his pain. Truthfully, it darn near made him forget his own name.

“Lordy be, I may take a swig ’cause I surely don’t look forward to causing you more pain,” Jedidiah said.

“Jedidiah, this is Mr. Thorpe Turlow,” Lily said. “Can you get his shirt off?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Once he helped remove Thorpe’s shirt, he inspected his shoulder. “Mr. Thorpe, you sho’nuf got yourself in a real mess.”

“That I did, Jedidiah.” Thorpe figured Jedidiah wasn’t Lily’s husband after all.

“Miss Lily knew right away those shots we heard meant business. I thank God we was close by.”

“I’m thankful to Miss Lily myself. I thought the Lord sent an angel to help me.”

“And he surely did, yessir, he surely did. He sent this angel to help us all,” Jedidiah replied.

Thorpe wondered what the big man meant by that statement, but he didn’t have the chance to ask because the canvas flap opened. He whipped his Colt from his holster in one effortless motion and pointed it toward the opening.

In light of Thorpe’s weakened condition, Lily was awed by the speed he pulled his gun. She placed her fingers on the barrel of his pistol. “It’s okay, it’s just Isabelle and Dora. They’re traveling with me.”

Thorpe holstered his pistol and looked at her. “Sorry, I guess I’m still edgy.”

Isabelle shoved the bottle of whiskey and other items through the opening. “We’re making the poultice now, Lily.”

“Good. Would you see to the horses for me?”

“Sure thing,” Isabelle said.

Dora leaned over, trying to get a look at the stranger, but Jedidiah was blocking her view. “Do you need some of my tonic? It’ll help relax him.”

Lily looked at Thorpe and he shook his head. He figured a tonic meant some sort of opiate and he didn’t want to be unconscious for a long time. “Whiskey will do.”

After removing the cap, Lily handed the bottle to him. “Here you go, Mr. Turlow.”

Thorpe clasped the bottle and looked into her eyes. “Here’s to avenging angels.” He took a long swig and handed the bottle to Jedidiah.

“No sir, I best keep a steady hand. I ain’t much for spirits. But now you need to take another mouthful before we start.”

Thorpe did as Jedidiah suggested, and after he drained a good portion, he handed the bottle back to Lily. “Let’s get it over with.”

Lily poured some whiskey over his skin and the shaft that was going to pass through his shoulder. After she placed the bottle aside, she positioned herself in front of Thorpe and braced one hand on his right shoulder and one hand on his chest over his heart to help hold him still. Her face was mere inches from his and she looked into his eyes. “Okay?”

Looking down at the small hand over his heart, Thorpe felt sure it skipped a beat. His eyes moved back to hers and he gave a nod. Jedidiah didn’t hesitate taking the shaft between his strong fingers and quickly snapped off the end. He grabbed the knife and placed it against the shaft and pushed the arrow tip through Thorpe’s muscled shoulder.

Thorpe didn’t make a sound, nor move an inch when the tip of the arrow pushed through his flesh. He was staring into beautiful blue eyes before his head dropped to the curve of Lily’s neck seconds later. His last thought was, Miss Lily smelled better than any flower.

Under Thorpe’s weight, Lily fell backward with him landing on top of her.

“He’s bleeding bad, Miss Lily,” Jedidiah said.

Lily tried to push Thorpe aside, but couldn’t budge him. “Help lift him off of me so I can take care of it.” She’d noticed how tall Thorpe was, but when Jedidiah removed his shirt, she didn’t think she’d ever seen a more powerfully built man. His chest was broad with well-defined muscles, as was his arms. She estimated he had to weigh over two hundred pounds.

Lily and Jedidiah finally slowed the bleeding just as Isabelle returned to the wagon with the poultice. Once they had Thorpe’s shoulder cleaned and stitched, Lily held the poultice to his wound as Jed wrapped the bandage around his shoulder. Jedidiah tied off the bandage and together they lowered him to the mattress.

“I ain’t seen too many men bigger than me, but Mr. Thorpe shor’ is, Miss Lily.”

“He’s going to need every ounce of that strength considering the amount of blood he’s lost.” Lily unfastened Thorpe’s gun belt and Jedidiah lifted his hips so she could pull it off. She placed the gun right beside him so it would be within reach if he awoke. The flap opened again, and Dora and Isabelle poked their heads through.

“Who have you brought back this time, Lily?” Isabelle asked.

“She done went and saved Mr. Thorpe here,” Jedidiah answered. “Had an arrow through his shoulder.”

“Indians are close?” Isabelle questioned.

“We shot all but three and they left,” Lily said quickly so they wouldn’t be alarmed.

“They’ll be back with more,” Isabelle warned.

“Oh my, would you get a look at him, Isabelle,” Dora said, her eyes roving over the large man lying prone on the mattress.

It seemed to Isabelle that he almost filled the entire interior of the wagon. “Merciful heaven! Look how big he is!”

“He’ll eat a ton,” Dora added.

“I got a feeling Mr. Thorpe can be a big help,” Jedidiah commented. He figured any man who pulled a gun as fast as Thorpe was a man who could probably deal with a whole lot of trouble.

“And he told me he was headed to Wyoming. He said he had a ranch there,” Lily told them. “It would be helpful to have someone along that is good with a gun.”

“You mean if he doesn’t die,” Isabelle said.

“He is not going to die!” Lily said. “Don’t even say such a thing. Quick, say a prayer.” She didn’t know what it was about Thorpe Turlow, but she could tell he wasn’t a man that one arrow could fell.

Dora and Isabelle rolled their eyes at her. “You pray enough for all of us,” Isabelle said.

Lily gave them a stern look as if they were two misbehaving children.

“Okay, we’ll pray for him,” Isabelle said to satisfy Lily.

Jedidiah laughed. “You should know that Miss Lily has a direct line to the Almighty. Why, even Mr. Thorpe said he thought she was an angel that came to save him.”

Dora couldn’t take her eyes off the big man on Lily’s bed. He had a striking face and the broadest chest she’d even seen. “At least this injured critter only has two legs,” Dora commented. “And I have to admit he’s much more handsome than Blue.”

“I guess that’s a matter of opinion,” Lily said. She wasn’t really thinking about Thorpe’s striking face. The comment about Thorpe’s appetite forced her to consider their limited supplies.

“I have to leave for a little while.” She glanced up at Jedidiah. “Look after him, Jed. Make sure he stays put if he comes around.”

“I’ll get those wet pants off him,” Jed told her.

“You just said Indians are roaming around out there,” Isabelle said, fear creeping into her voice.

“Keep your guns handy. If you see anything just start firing. I don’t expect I’ll have to go that far,” Lily told them. “And I’ll leave Blue here to alert you if trouble is coming. Start packing up camp because we need to keep moving for a few more hours.” She didn’t want to say she expected those braves to come back, just like Isabelle said, but that was what she was thinking.

“Miss Lily, it don’t sound safe for you to be out there wandering around by yourself. Where are you going?” Jed asked.

“Mr. Turlow had a packhorse that he had to release and he seems fond of his animals. I’m going to see if the Indians captured him.”

You can purchase Christmas at Dove Creek at:

10600415_733996163323499_3983258390453746241_nScarlett Dunn, author of historical inspirational romance novels: PROMISES KEPT, FINDING PROMISE, LAST PROMISE and CHRISTMAS AT DOVE CREEK (release 11/2016). The first novel in her WHISPERING PINES trilogy will be released 2017.

Scarlett has always loved stories of the old West, and the courageous individuals who faced tremendous challenges to forge a new life. She describes her heroes and heroines as individuals of strong character who possess the desire to do the right thing, but may take wrong turns along the way. “I strive to give my readers an inspiring story of love.”

Scarlett lives in Kentucky, the bluegrass land of beautiful horses. An avid animal lover, she is surrounded by various four-legged creatures.



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Twisted Reveries Book Three By Meg Hafdahl

Twisted Reveries Book Three By Meg Hafdahl Thirteen more chilling stories of gothic Macabre by Bram Stoker Nominee, Meg Hafdahl In Twisted Reveries 3, Bram Stoker Award...

SNEAK PEEK: The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes By Cat Sebastian

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes By Cat Sebastian Cat Sebastian returns to Georgian London with a stunning tale of a reluctant criminal and the...

Floral Fiction

Have we got a bouquet of beautiful books for your weekend! Our picks of the season share more that gorgeous floral cover art; These...


ALONG THE SHORE BY Rochelle Alers Set on a charming North Carolina island, the latest novel in national bestselling author Rochelle Alers’ unforgettable, heartfelt Book...