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Engrossed in her passion for cataloging antiques in an old home, Liz Baxter encounters the ghost of the original owner. However, Rance Livingston doesn’t believe he’s a ghost. He claims it’s 1901, and she’s his long-lost wife. The harder she tries to convince him she’s not, the more she starts to wish she was.
Rance can’t explain how the woman wearing strange clothes got into his house, or why she insists it’s 2018, but he's convinced his and Beth’s love was so strong, her spirit would have found a way home to him. He doesn’t care about what happens in the future. He just wants Liz to realize she’s his Beth. His wife.
Through trial and errors and with a love that grows stronger with every encounter, Liz and Rance fight for what they believe will be the happy-ever-after—the other deserves, but will that mean they can be together?
Page Count: 346
Word Count: 89982
1901, Cody, Wyoming
Rance Livingston fit the final two pieces of black stove pipe together and secured them with a few taps from the hammer before stepping back to admire his handiwork. It took up the entire wall and had set him back a fair amount, but the smile on Beth’s face when she saw the blue and white cook stove, trimmed in shiny chrome and decked out with two top warming ovens and a glass temperature gauge on the oven door, would be worth the cost of a hundred stoves. The dozen of kisses she’d bestow upon him were worth far more than years of profit. Money could never compare to the loving they’d share when she arrives home.
In the twenty-nine years he’d walked this earth, he’d never once fancied himself a marrying man, but it had happened in a remarkably short amount of time. Along with the ring on his finger had come more love and joy than any one man should have a right to experience.
Beth had insisted upon the ring. Said she wanted the whole world to know he was hers and would be forever. He had the same sentiments, except, to him, forever wouldn’t even be long enough.
Smiling to himself, for there was no one else for miles around, though he really wouldn’t have cared who saw him grinning like a fool, he returned the hammer to his wooden tool box and hoisted it up by the handle to carry out to the tool shed. Hell, if he didn’t have a skip to his step. Webster had promised the stove would be here, but Rance hadn’t completely believed it would happen considering Webster’s past promises of freight arriving on time.
The old man had come through, and just in the nick of time. Beth would return home from visiting her family in Billings today—in a few hours actually—and his heart thudded at the thought. Knowing she missed him as much as he missed her promised her homecoming would be amazing.
After three months of marriage, he should be able to be parted from her for a few days without feeling like he was only half there. Maybe that would come in time—the ability to be separated from Beth and not miss the very dickens out of her. Perhaps after forty or fifty years of marriage. Up until then he’d go right on missing her, and loving her. That he’d do until he hit the grave, and beyond. He’d pledged forever, and meant it.
Rance returned to the kitchen and hands on his hips admired the stove once more. He could almost see Beth standing before it, her blue eyes sparkling as she examined each little part of her surprise. The warming ovens, the water reservoir, the temperature gauge, the handle that lifted the burner plates, the fire box. He grinned again. She was going to be surprised.
She wasn’t the type to ask for anything, and she’d probably say he shouldn’t have bought it and surprised her, all the while being tickled pink he had. He was going to love every moment of it, and in between kisses, assure her that they could afford it and that she was worth it. She was and they could. Life was good, and he couldn’t see a way for it to get better.
With that thought warming his insides, he collected his hat and headed for the barn to complete the morning chores before it was time to hitch up the buggy and head into Cody in order to collect Beth from the railroad station. The morning sun was big and bright and already casting down heat that was intense for May. Beth would appreciate the shade of the buggy’s awning, and he’d appreciate the privacy. There was no way he’d be able to resist stealing a kiss or two on the way home.
The smile on his face slipped away as a chill tickled his spine. He spun around, toward the house. Seeing just the empty porch, he turned and scanned the barn, the yard, the hills.
There was no sign of anyone, anywhere.
He could have sworn he heard Beth shout his name. Call for him. He took off his hat and shielded the sunlight with his hand. After gazing down the long and vacant road for a time, he put his hat back on. It must have just been the wind.
Thinking he’d heard her voice hung within him the next few hours, making him lonelier than the past five days put together. He felt empty without her, and that made it hard to concentrate on the horses, the chores.
A nagging sensation still hung with him a few hours later. He’d just hitched up the buggy when approaching hoofbeats had him walking around the barn instead of toward the house. The rider was approaching fast, and he waited, watched, until the single horse traveled beneath the overhead board he’d erected after burning the name Rocking L deep in the wood. Beth had said the sign was beautiful, and that it would make her smile every time she returned home. It made him smile every time he looked at it.
He wasn’t smiling. Recognizing the rider, a quiver vibrated up his spine and caused a frown. Although they’d been friends for several years, the sheriff rarely traveled out to the ranch in the middle of the day. “What are you doing out this way?” he shouted as the man rode closer.
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