Jennifer Matthews was raised as a privileged New York debutante of the mid-1880’s. Following the deaths of her parents her Uncle, Julian Carlman, came to her rescue. Only it wasn’t a rescue. When Julian attacks Jennifer with nefarious intent she strikes him dead and flees to parts west. There she meets and marries the man who could save her or be her worst nightmare.
This book has been previously published.
1855 Adler Creek, Wyoming
“Marry you? You want me to marry you?” Christina Jeffers laughed without humor. “You don’t seriously mean…” her laughter becoming hardier “…you think I’d marry you?”
“That’s generally where a courtship leads, Christina.” Brett Parker told her, how stunned he was at her rejection clear in his tone.
“Oh, Brett, you sweet man. Yes, generally it does, but I can’t marry you.”
“Why the hell not?” Brett Parker asked.
Stopping her laughter for only a moment, Christina told him, “Brett, look in the mirror…you’re half Cheyenne. I couldn’t possibly marry an Indian let alone a dirty half-breed.”
Refusing to show the hurt he felt at her answer, Brett stood and pulled himself up to his full six feet four inches. Drawing in a deep breath, he looked down at the petite blond sitting before him. It took all his control not to wring her lily white neck when he answered, “And here I thought giving a whore a proper name was worth my time.”
He caught Christina’s hand a second before it would have connected with his jaw. “I am not a whore!”
“No? Then what do you call a woman who spreads her legs for any man who happens by?”
“I’m better than you, Brett Parker. I’m White, all White. You can only try to pass. No self-respecting woman is going to marry you. Maybe I have slept with a few men here and there…it’s not like a crime for a widow to take a lover, you know. But I’m no whore.”
“No, Christina, you aren’t better than me. You aren’t better than anyone.”
He stepped away from her. As he grabbed his coat, she called after him, “Brett, just because I won’t marry you doesn’t mean we can’t carry on.”
“What?” He knew his surprise at her statement showed clearly on his face.
“Well, until I find a decent White man to marry, I don’t see why I can’t have you in my bed…that’s all any of the women want with you, Brett, your body and your money. I thought you knew that. You may as well give your body to me because I don’t need your money.”
Drawing on a lifetime of control, Brett walked out the door, taking care not to slam it lest the depraved woman on the other side know just how angry and hurt he was by her comments.
He controlled his gait, making sure his strides did not change from the length he normally took. Clenching his hands, he forced himself to lose the image of choking Christina with them and to let his arms hang loose. He knew he was half-White, half-Indian and so did the entire town of Adler Creek. Everyone accepted him for who he was—a Deputy Sheriff and because of his father’s business acumen, a fairly well to do rancher—but most importantly, a self-made man. Yeah, a self-made man who isn’t good enough for any woman to marry. Despite how his father fought for Brett to be treated as an equal, despite how hard Brett tried himself, it was clear the old prejudices were alive and well in Christina Jeffers. Vowing to never again become involved with a woman, especially a white woman, it took all his effort, but he strode past the saloon and walked on to the Sheriff’s office where his lifelong friend and boss, Rick Hansen, sat behind his desk reading the local paper.
“Thought you wanted tonight off to take care of some personal business,” the blond haired, green eyed Sheriff greeted his Deputy. His smile quickly faded when he saw Brett’s face. “You want to tell me what happened?”
“You want me to buy you a drink?” he asked while opening a desk drawer and pulling out a bottle of whiskey.
“Okay, then we’ll sit here and talk.”
Brett ran his fingers through his collar-length black hair. He’d worn it long in his younger days, but now, as a Deputy Sheriff, he felt it important to be as White as possible. Drawing in a deep breath, he paced back and forth across the room while he exhaled, finally coming to stop in front of Rick’s desk. “I asked Christina Jeffers to marry me.”
“You did?” His surprise at Brett’s actions evident in his tone. “And?”
“And she said no…she didn’t just say no, she threw it in my face that I’m a half-breed. She said no self-respecting woman would ever want to marry me.”
“Well that’s just one stupid bitch’s opinion.” Rick slouched back in his chair, causing it to creak with the movement. His Nordic ancestry evident in his broad shoulders and heavily muscled body.
“No. No, it’s not. She said some hateful things, but Rick, they were true. She said that women only bothered with me for my money…not because I’m someone they could…love…”
“Brett, she’s just one woman…one woman who has slept with half the men in this town. You’re better than her and if she can’t see that, it’s her problem, not yours.”
“Yeah, well it will be a cold day in hell before I put myself out like that again.”