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River Bend by Barbara Shepherd

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  • Belle Strong expected her husband to meet her when she stepped off the ferry in north Texas, but she was in for a surprise—her husband is dying. Pregnant and alone, she faces challenges along the Red River where her world includes fur trappers, Indians, and a rugged sea captain.

    Jacob Owens spends most of his life on the high seas and is a self-proclaimed bachelor. But when a green-eyed beauty enters his world, he finds his thoughts drifting in different directions.  Why can’t he stop thinking about her, and why is he trading fine beaver pelts for exquisite fabrics to surprise Belle to use in her quilting?

    Can she protect her son in such an uncivilized country?   Or will she be forced to rely on a complete stranger?

    Rating: non-romance
    Page Count: 358
    Word Count: 85490
    978-1-5092-1795-3 Paperback
    978-1-5092-1796-0 Digital

    Excerpt

    “Play here by the window where I can see you, son.”

    “Yes, Mama.”

    When the massive door opened for him, Johnathan went outside to play and waved at his mother through the glass. Old Bailey shut the door.

    Every time Belle looked out the window, her son was on his knees, playing wagon train with his covered wagons. Daniel, before he left, had carved horses and made a buckboard for him.

    Belle continued to check on her son while embroidering wild roses on a dresser scarf until his screams pierced the air.

    “Mama! Mama!”

    She looked up to see her son in the clutches of a mounted Indian. A terrified Johnathan screamed and struggled as the big brave crushed him to his ribs. Seizing the pistol from her sewing box, Belle raced outside.

    Angry Wolf taunted her, his laugh as cruel as he was ugly. He grunted the words, “You leave Tejas now.”

    From the porch, Belle took aim and prayed aloud. “Dear God, forgive me if I miss the kidnapper and shoot my son.”

    No mother should have to decide such a fate.

    When she saw Angry Wolf press his knees against his horse’s belly, she had seconds to fire before he turned and rode away. She would never see her son again.

    “Johnathan, stop screaming!” Her words had no effect. She yelled louder.

    “Sky Prince!”

    The boy’s screams changed to whimpering.

    “Code word—Froggy!”

    Johnathan jerked hard to the right, surprising Angry Wolf. Belle squeezed the trigger. The ugly brave stopped laughing when blood spurted from his chest. He released his grip, dropping the child who landed on the ground where the excited horse stamped.

    “Alligator!”

    Her son responded to her voice again as she’d hoped, rolling away from the dangerous hooves of the frightened horse. It turned and ran with a teetering Angry Wolf until he fell off, landing in a silent heap, never to laugh again.

    Belle dashed down the steps to wrap her arms around her son, tears streaming down her face. He was muddy but unharmed. “I’m sorry, son. We should have left Texas before this happened.”

    Johnathan smeared her tears. “Don’t cry, Princess. You remembered the secret code.”

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River Bend

River Bend

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