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The Gifted Book 2
Herbalist Moira Devlin is a woman imprisoned by the gift she must hide and the past she must elude. She is asked to care for the people of Mineral when the town physician unexpectedly passes. To please her mentor, she agrees and only uses her healing power when necessary and covertly, just as she was taught. All is well until a new doctor arrives and threatens her newfound freedom.
Doctor Anson Locke has traveled to the Indian Territories to escape the memories of the family he couldn't save. He doesn't count on a distraction as lovely as Moira Devlin, a peddler of snake oils, just like the one who poisoned his wife.
Can Moira and Anson overcome their pasts and find love?
Page Count: 296
Word Count: 74234
If the mountain wouldn’t come to her, then she would go to the mountain.
Moira unpinned her apron and draped it on a wall peg. The starch held the cotton stiff and crisp even after hours of wear. Her simple day dress likewise showed little signs of creasing. Quiet days like today barely produced a pucker much less a wrinkle. While she didn’t wish ill health on anyone, there surely had to be someone suffering who needed her help.
She penned a quick note to Mrs. Lidle. The elderly widow had left earlier that morning to visit her convalescing sister. She didn’t want her companion to worry if she returned to find the place empty. Mrs. Lidle had agreed to stay at the office and act as assistant and chaperone without any compensation other than meals and a room. While the woman did little more than greet visitors, Moira was grateful for her kindness. And relieved. It was shocking enough that an unmarried young lady had assumed the position a man usually held—she didn’t need to throw dirt in society’s face by living alone.
She slung a thin wool cloak around her shoulders and snagged the physician’s handbag from the table. The black leather had been burnished to a soft, marbled gray over the years. Even the oak handle had been worn smooth and slick. The bag had served Doctor Troutman and the people of Mineral well. She hoped to do the same with a little luck and a lot of perseverance.
Her heels clicked on the floorboards, sounding like a clock in the wee hours of the morning when every tick stoked sleep’s rebellion. On the other side of the hallway, the waiting room stood silent and empty with chairs lined in precise formation, awaiting patients. It had been that way since her arrival a month ago. Only a handful of folks had ventured inside, those desperate to ease the ache of a decaying tooth or the spasms of a tiresome cough…or men merely curious about the young lady who had come to administer to the sick. Those were few and far between and wouldn’t put coins in her purse. Nor would it fulfill her pledge.
The matron of Seaton House orphanage had asked her to stand in as healer when the beloved town physician had unexpectedly passed on. The people of Mineral were important to Mrs. Campbell; therefore, they were important to her. She would do everything in her power to honor her mentor’s request—to please the one person who had offered shelter and understanding when no one else would.
She tugged open the door and stepped onto the boardwalk. The late afternoon sun painted the main thoroughfare in broad orange strokes. Carts and wagons trundled past, their wheels clattering on the dirt-packed roadway. People rushed about, eager to complete their tasks before darkness set in, which it did in a hurry once the sun disappeared behind the towering mountain peak to the west. Established nearly fifty years ago, the mining community of Mineral sprawled at the foot of the Shoehorn. While mining operations still managed to unearth pockets of silver, the railroad coming through had been the chief boost to the town’s population and economy.
Residential homes spread out to the south, tucked away from the dust and noise of the bustling business district. The smaller single-story dwellings of the merchant class stood as a buffer to the more ornate two-story homes of the wealthier citizens. She wouldn’t find many open doors in either community. Not yet. Given time and proof of her abilities, they would come around. They had to. Failure was not an option
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