Friday, January 04, 2013

Featured Chapter--Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabot


Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, October 1886
Amanda Cabot
It was only the wind.
Charlotte Harding wrapped her arms around her waist, trying to convince herself there was no reason to tremble like a cottonwood leaf in a storm. The creaks that had wakened her were simply the building shuddering from the force of the wind. That was all. No one had broken in. No one had found her. She and David were safe. But the brave thoughts had no effect. They never did.

With a sigh, she fumbled to light the lamp. As the soft yellow flame chased away the darkness, she slid her feet into slippers and padded across the room. Perhaps it was foolish. She could see that the intruder had been nothing more than a figment of her imagination, the product of her fears. Her bedchamber was empty, except for David. Sweet David. The love of her life

Charlotte stood at the side of his crib, looking down at the red hair so like his father’s. Other than his eyes, which were the same shade of brown as hers, her son was the image of his father. The trembling that she’d managed to quell re- turned as thoughts of David’s father and the fears that always accompanied those thoughts assailed her once again. Tak- ing a deep breath to soothe her ragged breathing, Charlotte shook her head. She had to stop this worrying. It had been almost a year since she’d moved to Cheyenne, and no one had come looking for her and David. She had done everything she could to ensure that no one would know she had once lived at Fort Laramie as the wife of First Lieutenant Jeffrey Crowley. What she feared most would not happen. The baron would not find them.

Though the lamp that she held over the crib did not disturb him, David stirred, perhaps alerted by the sound of her breathing or the scent of her toilet water. “Mama,” he mur- mured as he held out his arms.
Charlotte smiled and set the lamp on the floor. She knew what her son wanted. Slowly, she stroked the length of each of his arms, then let him grasp her hands. “Yes, David, Mama’s awake, but you need to go to sleep.” Crooning softly, she moved his arms back to his side and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “Sleep now.”

As his breathing became regular, Charlotte’s smile faltered. Today was her son’s first birthday. Though she intended to celebrate only that wonderful event, she could not forget that today was also the anniversary of Jeffrey’s death and the day her life had changed forever. Pampered, coddled Charlotte Crowley was gone, replaced by Charlotte Harding, a woman who had learned that while life could be more difficult than she had thought possible, it had many rewards. Though this year had been far different from her dreams, Charlotte could not regret what it had brought. She had new friends and a new life in a new city. She had learned that she could be self-sufficient. Best of all, she had kept her son safe. It was worth the lies.

“Gentlemen, I call this meeting to order.” Barrett Landry used his fist to rap on the table. His visitors looked up in surprise.

“A meeting?” Warren Duncan lit his cigar, taking a puff before he continued. “I thought it was simply an opportunity to sample some of Mrs. Melnor’s fine food.” The older of Barrett’s two guests, Warren was a distinguished-looking man with steel-gray hair, light blue eyes, and a nose that would have made a hawk proud. Though he confided little about his background, other than his graduation from an unspecified law school, his cultured accent led Barrett to believe that he was originally from the East, perhaps even Boston. But Bar- rett did not pry. If there was one thing he had learned since arriving in Cheyenne, it was that a man’s past was best left in the past. He certainly had no desire to advertise many aspects of his own.

Richard Eberhardt leaned forward, his keen brown eyes sparkling. “Does this mean you’ve come to your senses and decided to take our advice?”

“It does.” Barrett smiled at the man who was almost a decade older than his own thirty. Rail thin and an inch or two under six feet, Richard was not a man anyone would call handsome, and yet his confident gait told onlookers that he was not to be overlooked. The combination of his shrewd mind and what some called his Midas touch had turned Richard into one of the city’s wealthiest merchants.

“The trip to Rawlins was the final step,” Barrett told his advisers. The convention had confirmed what Richard and Warren had claimed, that the political power brokers were looking for new blood and that Barrett had a good chance of winning their approval. If everything went the way he hoped, even the residents of Northwick, Pennsylvania, would have to admit that Barrett Landry was an important man.

“And so, gentlemen . . .” Barrett paused when a soft knock announced the butler’s arrival. Only when Mr. Bradley had placed the tray of coffee and cinnamon rolls on the low table and closed the door behind him did Barrett complete his an- nouncement. “You’re looking at a man who hopes to have a future in governing this fine territory.”

“Hallelujah!” Warren raised his cigar in a salute. “This calls for a round of brandy.” Barrett’s lawyer was nothing if not predictable. He let out a melodramatic sigh at the sight of coffee before taking another puff of his cigar. Less inclined to imbibe strong spirits, Richard poured himself a cup of coffee.
The three men were seated in what the architect had called the morning room of Barrett’s home, perhaps because it was situated at the back of the house and faced east. This morning the sunshine that seemed to be a Cheyenne staple was strong enough that Barrett had drawn the heavy velvet draperies half closed, leaving the room bright but not blindingly so.

“Brandy?” Barrett stirred a spoonful of sugar into his coffee. “You know you won’t find any strong drink in my house, and before you reach for the flask I know you carry with you, consider that we need our wits about us if we’re going to plot strategy.”

Richard settled back in the leather upholstered chair, balancing a plate on his knee. “What strategy? It seems to me you have everything Wyoming will need in a senator. You have plenty of money and a nice house for entertaining when you’re not in Washington. You’re not too hard on the eyes.” Richard shrugged his shoulders. “The only thing you’re lacking is a wife.”

Warren nodded. “I agree.”

Their reaction was not what Barrett had expected. His friends had been encouraging him—haranguing him was more like it—to enter politics, claiming that when Wyoming became a state, its citizens would need a man like him repre- senting them in Washington. He had invited them here this morning, rather than meeting at the club, because he wanted their discussion to remain confidential. It seemed he shouldn’t have worried. There would be no discussion, at least not of anything important.

“Doesn’t either of you think that political views and plans for the state—assuming we can convince our citizens and Congress that Wyoming should become a state—are important?” he demanded.
Warren raised an eyebrow, deepening the wrinkles that half a century of living had carved in his forehead. “Do you really believe that voters listen to that? Especially with women voting, what’s important are appearances.”

“And that means you need a wife,” Richard interjected.

“Exactly,” Warren agreed. “You’ve got the trappings. Now you need a good woman to stand at your side and convince voters that you’re a family man.”

This was definitely not going the way Barrett had planned. He’d imagined discussions of platforms, politics, and public appearances,notmatrimony.Hisfriends’advicewasenough to make him reconsider the whole idea. “Why are you so focused on a wife? I don’t see either one of you enjoying marital bliss.”

“True.” Richard drawled the word. “We’re also not at- tempting to convince the citizens of Wyoming that we’d serve them better than F.E. Warren or Joseph Carey.”
Warren and Carey were the primary reasons Barrett had convened the meeting here. Both were prominent members of the Cheyenne Club, and he hadn’t wanted any mention of their names to be overheard.

“What chance do you think I have of defeating either one of them? Carey’s been a popular mayor, and Warren—the other Warren,” Barrett said with a nod toward his friend, “was territorial governor. I’m a virtual unknown compared to them.”

“They both belong to the other party,” Warren said after another puff of his cigar. “We need a change. That’s where you come in. You’re a fresh face. You’ve got good ideas. I heard you address the cattlemen’s association, and you’re as convincing as F.E. You’re what we need.”

Richard nodded. “I agree with Warren. You’re what the territory needs. Your ideas are fine, but you need more than that.” He took a sip of his coffee, keeping his eyes fixed on Barrett, as if waiting for his reaction. “Voters like family men. They believe they can trust them. That’s why you really ought to be thinking about marrying. Besides, a pretty lady at your side will help draw in the crowds.” Richard raised an eyebrow. “It’s not just for the campaign. A wife would make your life better. Think about it. 

You don’t see F.E. or Carey living alone.”

Barrett didn’t live alone. Not precisely. He had a cook and a butler, both of whom had quarters in the house, and assorted other servants who spent the day making certain that the house was in impeccable condition. But he had no wife. That was true.

“I’ve been thinking about it,” he admitted. It wasn’t only his friends’ admonitions that had triggered the thought. It started with a letter from his brother Camden, saying that he and Susan Miller would be wed by the time Barrett received the news. Though two years Barrett’s senior, Camden had claimed that he would be the last of the three Landry boys to marry. Now it appeared that he would be the first, for Harrison had shown no sign of romantic entanglements.

“What do you think of Miss Taggert?” Barrett asked. Of all the women he’d met in Cheyenne, she was the only one he could envision marrying. That was why he’d been spend- ing more time with her lately, even though they were not officially courting.

“Miss Miriam Taggert?” Richard’s voice sounded strained.

Barrett nodded. “I believe she is the only Miss Taggert in Cheyenne.”

Warren snuffed his cigar as he nodded vigorously. “It’s a brilliant choice. She’s blonde; you’re dark. You’ll make a striking couple. Plus, having her father’s newspaper behind you will help sway undecided voters. I don’t always agree with Cyrus Taggert’s views, but there’s no doubt his editorials are powerful.” Warren rose and laid a hand on Barrett’s shoulder. “I knew I was right to support you.”

Leaning back in his chair, Barrett gave his attorney a wry smile. “And the fact that I pay you handsomely for legal work and that there will undoubtedly be more work if I run for office didn’t influence you?”

Warren shook his head. “Not for a minute.”

It was a lie. “Be careful, Warren. You know how I feel about liars.”

His friend wrinkled his impressive nose. “How could I forget? You’re this generation’s Honest Abe.”

The slightly mocking tone made Barrett want to wipe the smirk from Warren’s face, but before he could speak, Richard crowed, “That’s it. Warren, you’re a genius. We’ve got our campaign slogan: Landry Never Lies.” 



Amanda Cabot, Waiting for Spring
Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2013. Used by permission. 






After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But when a notorious robber believes she knows the location of a long-lost treasure, she flees to Cheyenne and opens a dressmaker's shop to lie low and make a living. When wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry enters the shop to visit her best customer, Charlotte feels drawn to him.
If Barrett is to be a senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming, he must make a sensible match, and Miriam has all the right connections. Yet he can't shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.
Soon the past comes to call, and Barrett's plans crumble around him. Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness?

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