Nacogdoches, Texas 1877
Goldie Adams sat apart from all the other little girls at the picnic. While they strung their flowers on the threads that their mothers had given them, Goldie held hers in her lap, pressed between her hands like the prayers she was whispering for the life that she wanted to live.
Each flower, in her mind, belonged to one of the married couples sitting in the semi-circle a handful of feet away from the girls, turned just so to keep a careful eye as well on the boys who ran about and chased one another back and forth along the creek bed running by the church.
The little red paintbrush was for Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge, with her red cheeks and his loud laugh. The daisy next to it was for Mr. and Mrs. Brighton for their primly pressed clothes and overly polite way of speaking. The purple crape myrtle flower was for Mr. and Mrs. Touchton, their gentle words as fair as the flower itself. And the bluebonnet? The bluebonnet was for her mama and daddy, their smiles as inclusive as the way her daddy kept his hand gently over her mama’s knee as if to remind himself that she was there.
Goldie Adams loved love.
She ate it up, her eyes glowing with appreciation as the adults above her visited. She loved love so much it was all she could think about, watching her parents and their friends from church talking back and forth, more involved in their conversation than the ones of her peers behind her.
“Well, I told her to keep her hand out of that water,” Mr. Brighton said in exasperation, obviously only just not rolling his eyes. “She’s lucky it wasn’t a snake. Those moccasins are out in good number already this season. I don’t know what else she expected.”
“Oh, a bit of sympathy maybe,” Mrs. Brighton answered her husband, their usually polite words traded in for hurt and what seemed like embarrassment as well.
“Well, what did you want me to say?” he returned quickly, ignoring the warning glances of the other husbands sitting with them.
“She wanted you to say that you loved her and that you were sorry she was hurt,” Goldie piped up with all the wisdom of her eight years. She didn’t fault him any, even if it was something he should have known. Her mama said that sometimes men were just plain silly and needed to be told things to know them.
The adult’s eyes all swung to her with varying levels of surprise and amusement, their conversation stilted in the face of her too-wise-for-her-age proclamation.
Goldie wasn’t looking at any of their faces, though, not after she’d spoken. No, she looked at her mama and daddy, her blue eyes wide to make sure that she hadn’t put her foot in her mouth again, smiling to find them both doing so at her.
Mr. Adams was outright beaming, his golden mustache bristling and his green eyes dancing, covering his grin with his hand as he pulled at the ends of his mustache with one hand. “Now, my little sun,” he said with a chuckle. “You oughta remember to keep your nose outta grown folks’ business.”
“Aw, now, mon cher,” Mrs. Adams cut in, the verifiable opposite of her husband in all the ways that could be seen. She spoke gently next to his robust way, slim and small next to his large frame, and dark of both eye and hair like her people back from New Orleans. “You know she’s just trying to help.”
“Wasn’t no harm meant by it,” Mr. Brighton said, his voice stiff with discomfort and what might have also been a touch of shame. “I certainly would have upset my wife less if I’d had her advice when it all had happened,” he joked, unable to stay serious in the face of Goldie’s radiant disposition.
“That you would have.” Mrs. Brighton laughed, leaning into her husband’s arm despite their earlier coldness with one another.
Goldie beamed to see her words working. Her chest warmed with the sight of their love rekindled just that easily.
“Goldie here is our little matchmaker.” Mr. Adams laughed, his voice as fond as his green eyes as he reached out to ruffle Goldie’s matching golden curls. “Can’t keep her mind off’a marriage and babies. God help me.”
The adults all laughed, watching Goldie swell with pride like her daddy had just complimented her.
“I think about other things, Daddy,” Goldie disagreed, wrinkling her nose precociously his way as she looked down at the flowers in her hand again, her chest swelling with the importance of it. She didn’t think that having thoughts about marriage and babies was such a bad thing, after all.
“I just know that I’m going to marry a man as kind as he is tall and that we’re going to have five babies…no, six. And we’re going to live in a big house with lots of windows, and when the sun shines in, there’ll be rainbows for my babies to dance to.” It was so important, what Goldie was imparting to the adults around her, her voice serious and her eyes shining with the romance of it all.
The laughter chorused again, her father shaking his head as Mr. Elbridge clapped his shoulder mid-laugh.
“That’s a lot of children.” Mrs. Touchton giggled, running her hand softly over her obviously rounded belly.
Goldie shrugged, not sure she quite agreed. Her eyes drifted back to her mama, whose dark eyes shone at her with a more silent sort of laughter.
“You just love to love, don’t you mon cher?” she teased, reaching out with one hand to fix the way her father had earlier mussed her golden curls. There was a deep fondness to her words as well, not that Goldie knew that.
She was too used to being fussed over—smiles and gentle teasing were all she knew in her day to day.
She was a pretty girl, everyone liked to tell her that. With golden skin that was a cross between her mama’s deep tan and her daddy’s pale freckles, she was the perfect balance between her two parents. She had her daddy’s ‘sunshine hair’ as her mama liked to call it but cast in the same tumble of curls that fell down her mama’s back. And her eyes, while big and almond-shaped like her daddy’s, were a shade of honey compared to her mama’s black eyes.
A pretty, happy girl and everyone couldn’t help but smile in the face of her boundless optimism.
“I’m going to be so in love,” Goldie answered her mama, staring back at her flowers and missing the amused glances the adults all traded over her head.
She just knew it.
She’d grown up on the stories of how her mama, a rich princess from the faraway lands of New Orleans, had met her daddy and fell in love at first sight. Her parents told her how they’d traveled back to Texas on love and little else to build a life on their farm and have her.
Goldie saw their love every day, in her mama keeping the books for her daddy and keeping him from being run all over by those who would use his good nature against him. She also noticed it in the way her daddy used his big shoulders and hands to keep her mama safe and to lift her when she couldn’t reach the top shelf.
She saw it in the flowers left on the windowsill, fresh-picked every day for her mama, and in the coffee brewed before her daddy even woke up.
She heard about it in the scripture. The Pastor told them of how God ordained man for woman and woman for man, leading them to their rightful partners and when the time for it came no matter what trial or tribulation came before.
Goldie Adams was only eight years old, but she knew that her whole reason for being alive on this earth was love. She was meant to fall in love, to give love, and to show love.
Her fingers brushed gently over the flowers she held in her palm, the adult’s conversation forgotten and passed over her head as she tried to imagine what her ‘love flower’ would look like when she was older.
She paid attention to only the flowers, really, for the rest of the church picnic, dozing off at her mother’s feet with her head against her calves as she daydreamed over her flowers.
It was only hours later, half-awake, and only that much because of how her daddy jostled her as he picked her up, that her mind went anywhere else.
Being in her daddy’s arms put her so far off the ground that her arms instantly moved to cling to him, her bleary blinking against the late afternoon sun all that she could manage for a few minutes as he carried her over towards the wagon, so that they could go home.
“You could have woken her up, mon cher.” Mrs. Adams chuckled, her strongly accented words cutting through the haze of Goldie waking up and making her blink even harder.
“She won’t be little enough for me to keep carrying her like this for much longer,” Mr. Adams assured his wife, a faint note of regret in his words as they reached the wagon, and he moved one hand to help his wife up into it first.
Mrs. Adams laughed. “Donnie, that girl’ll be small enough for you to move about as big as you are for the rest of her life,” she teased, holding her arms out for Goldie to be passed to her after she’d settled in the wagon herself.
Goldie smiled sleepily, lifting her face to her mama’s knowing black eyes and only freezing as she closed her fingers in her palms.
There were no flowers.
Her smile fell from her face as quickly as it had come, her amber eyes widening and her little body turning and squirming to fight her way out of her mama’s arms with a sudden cry.
“My flowers!” she cried out, tears choking her little voice as she tried to scramble over the side of the wagon despite her mother holding her back. “Wait! No! Mama, Daddy, we can’t leave my flowers!”
Mr. Adams seemed taken aback, his brows furrowed as he fought to stop his daughter from fighting out of their hands and arms and running back towards the creek bed they had left behind. “We’ll get you new flowers,” he offered pragmatically, trying to shush his suddenly distraught daughter as best he could.
“They won’t be the same!” Goldie cried, tears pouring down her face. “They won’t be love flowers, Daddy! If I leave them, I’ll never find love. I’ll never have it!”
Her words made no sense, inflamed like they were, but both Mr. and Mrs. Adams shushed her. Mr. Adams handed his wife the basket he’d been carrying and backed away from the wagon with his hands up in defeat.
“Now, Goldie, that doesn’t make any sense, sunshine, but I’ll go and fetch your flowers for you, you hear? Can’t have you upset like this over something we can fix so easy,” he soothed, winking at his wife while he rolled his shirtsleeves back up.
“You promise?” Goldie asked, her voice warbling with worry.
“Of course, mon cher,” Mrs. Adams assured her daughter, brushing her wild curls back from her face gently and pressing a kiss to her forehead. “Your daddy and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you have your true love,” she teased, her lips twitching as Mr. Adams harrumphed but moved off to go after Goldie’s flowers regardless.
Goldie sank back into her mama’s chest, her tears calming and her breath hitching in the back of her throat as she looked after her daddy moving off to do what he’d promised. Her mama’s words rang in her young head, imprinting on her in a way that no one could have predicted.
Whatever it took….
Nacogdoches, Texas 1888
Snow dusted the opera house’s roof, the prelude to the coming deluge that would decorate it come the next morning. All of the houses on the same side of Main Street were the same. The clouds that hung overhead and puffed in the distance promised even more snowfall when the temperature drop came late in the evening.
Almost everyone walking down the street was bundled up, their forms huddling together as they stopped to talk or walked briskly in whatever direction that they were otherwise headed.
Only one figure seemed to meander, walking more slowly than any of her counterparts as she strode with a vacant smile, obviously daydreaming as she went.
“Goldie!” a voice called out, a figure dashing to chase after the golden-haired girl with a huff.
Goldie stopped, surprise transforming her features as she turned to greet Chris Palmer. Her lips twitched slightly at the way that his nose burned bright red from the cold. The fact that it matched his hair wasn’t lost on her, though she wasn’t about to say as much, knowing how often he’d been teased for it in school.
“Did I forget something earlier, Chris?” she asked gently as he skidded to a stop in front of her, pulling his jacket about him as if it might somehow ward off the cold gusts that were randomly blowing on them.
“No, well….” He paused, exhaling heavily and wincing at the sight of his breath forming a cloud in front of his face. “Not exactly. I just reckoned I’d check with you before I sent off the thing you dropped off earlier.”
Goldie’s smile slipped, but only for a moment, her honey-colored eyes softening as she nodded. “I can see why you’d want to check,” she offered serenely, her expression evening out as she shrugged. “I want you to send it off, though. I thought it through, I promise.”
Chris didn’t seem at all relieved by her words, his frown deepening as he cast his gaze around as if to ensure that no one was close enough to be eavesdropping. “Are you sure?” he asked again as if pressing her to consider her decision further.
Goldie might have found his insistence in the matter irritating if she hadn’t known that it came from a place of worry. Chris, like most all the other men her age around town that remained, couldn’t help but view her as a younger sister of sorts. She’d known when she’d seen him working at the post office that day that he’d find what she was sending off uncomfortable. It was just a chance that she’d been willing to take.
A chance she still thought was worth taking, she reckoned.
“You are.” Chris sighed, not even needing her to verbally answer him to know the truth of it. He sighed, a worried look in his gray eyes as his shoulders sank. “Please tell me your mama and daddy know at least,” he begged, suddenly looking afraid at the prospect that they might not.
Goldie did laugh at that. She knew how much the boys in town still feared her daddy, only because of his size. “You’re not going to get in any trouble for sending it off, Chris,” she promised with an understanding nod.
Chris eyed her dubiously, his head slightly tilted, but the longer he stood across from Goldie, the redder he seemed to get, the cold obviously getting to him more quickly than he’d anticipated. “All right,” he finally said with another sigh, shaking his head as if he didn’t understand it. “I’ll send it off for you then. But you be careful with all’a that, you hear?”
Goldie chuckled, watching as Chris spun about on his heel, not even waiting for her reply before he started all but running back to the post office.
She watched him go for only a moment, her lips twitching as she turned back the way she had been heading. Her steps were light as she walked unhurriedly back down Main and towards the edge of town—or closer to what had been the edge.
Growing up, she would have already long stepped over the town’s lines and had a far walk still left to go back home, but the town had grown over the years with her, stretching and spreading out closer to her family’s farm on the outskirts. By the time she’d walked past the last business in town, she could already see the white gate that led to her house, gleaming in the late afternoon sun and topped with its own dusting of snow.
Her steps quickened only once she had passed the gate, nervous energy bubbling from her stomach all the way through her fingertips. She’d been confident when she was talking to Chris, but now that she was on her way to talk it over with her parents, she suddenly wasn’t entirely sure of herself anymore.
The porch planks creaked under her footsteps, the front door announcing her with the same squeaking hinges that her mother had been after her father for years to fix.
Goldie heard everything. Her chest was tight as she followed the sound of her father’s boisterous laughter from the entryway to the kitchen.
Her parents were exactly where she’d expected them to be. The familiarity of their inherent routines was a sort of comfort as Goldie paused in the doorway to watch them.
Belle Adams stood in front of the kitchen counter, the knife in her hand chopping against the cutting board with sharp, quick cuts, her face downturned but a smile playing about the corners of her lips. Donnie Adams stood just out of the way, his body angled in such a way that his mass couldn’t interfere with his wife’s business, watching her with a look of blatant adoration.
For Goldie, it was like a balm to her nerves, seeing their love displayed so open and habitually. Her hip knocked on the door frame as she finally moved to pass through it, the soft thud announcing her before she could greet either of them.
“Goldie!” Mr. Adams boomed, his grin growing as he took her in, one arm lifting almost immediately to fold her into his large side and squeeze until all the breath whooshed out of her. “I was just asking your mother where you’d gotten to. Did you get lost on the way back from town?”
His gentle teasing kept the smile on Goldie’s lips, though she did wiggle just enough to work her way out from under her daddy’s arm. “No,” she huffed, pushing at his arm with a laugh as she spun about so that she could kiss her mama’s cheek before heading over to the pitcher of iced tea on the counter. “I just had an extra stop to make,” she offered cryptically.
Her father’s grin shifted, willing to drop the subject just that easily, but Goldie could feel her mother’s shrewder, question-filled eyes on her as she poured her drink.
“Well, so long as you’re home in—”
“Aren’t you going to ask her what stop she had to make, mon cher?” Mrs. Adams cut in, her dulcet tones cutting off her father’s louder voice without so much as having to raise her voice.
Goldie’s lips twitched, turning to rest her back against the counter as she watched her parents trade a weighted glance. “Mama,” Goldie complained, though there was no real complaint to her tone.
“Don’t you mama me, mon cher,” Mrs. Adams muttered, her knife moving quicker against the cutting board as she tossed her just starting to gray, black hair over one shoulder. “You have something on your mind, yeah?”
Goldie nodded, lifting her tea to her lips to buy some time, trying to decide how to broach the subject.
“Well, what was this stop you had to make, sunshine?” Mr. Adams asked, his tone still jovial, though Goldie could hear him fighting for seriousness because of his wife’s pointedness.
“I stopped by the post office,” Goldie admitted, her fingers tightening against the glass in her hands as she turned it within the circle of her palms.
“Oh,” Mr. Adams breathed a sigh of relief, his grin returning as easily as he had swallowed it back. “Sending a letter off? Who were you writing to? Vanna? Marcie? Both of those girls moved recently, didn’t they? I know you weren’t writing your Grandmama Margie—”
“Donnie,” Mrs. Adams interrupted, speaking under her breath as she glanced up knowingly at Goldie from under her brow, still effortlessly chopping the mound of vegetables she was sorting.
“I wasn’t—Well, I did hear from Vanna,” Goldie answered after a brief pause, her eyes glancing between her mama and daddy. “You know she just moved to Kansas? She’s real happy, you know. Says her husband is everything she hoped he would be and that she wished we could have been there for her wedding.”
“Wedding?” Mr. Adams had been picking pieces of raw vegetable off his wife’s cutting board, popping them in his mouth idly as he listened, but he stopped with a slight frown at the mention of Vanna’s marriage. “Oh, right, she did that newspaper-advertisement thing. I reckon her mama’s real happy to hear that, though, good for her.”
It was clear to Goldie that her daddy wasn’t trying to stay on the topic of ‘that newspaper-advertisement thing’ for too long, though she could see when what she had said, and her attitude connected for him. His eyes widened slightly, his thick mustache bristling as he turned more fully to face her.
“Now, I told you we’d help you where we could, Goldie,” he murmured, his eyebrows furrowing slightly and even more at the sound of his wife’s hushed laughter. “We said we’d talk about that marriage business once we knew more about it—”
“And I know more about it now, Daddy!” Goldie interjected, her tone plaintive. “Vanna was who we were waiting to hear from—”
“Who you were waiting to hear from,” her father took his turn cutting her off, shaking his head.
“If you could stop cutting one another off, mon chers,” Mrs. Adams said gently. “Maybe Goldie could tell you what it is that she wanted to share with us, and maybe you could voice your concern in another way, hmm?”
Both Goldie and Mr. Adams went silent, sharing a chastised glance before Goldie sighed.
“The ad was already written,” she said softly, reaching out to touch her father’s wrist, begging him for understanding. “Mama and I wrote it last week, remember? And after I read Vanna’s letter, I just decided it was time to send it out. I posted it for the agency while I was in town.”
Mr. Adams flinched, his mustache bristling as he chewed over whatever words he was holding beneath his tongue. Mrs. Adams, though still seemingly reluctant, seemed less surprised. She nodded sagely, putting her knife down among the chopped celery, onion, and carrots.
“She was going to post the ad, mon cher,” Mrs. Adams said tenderly, touching the back of her husband’s shoulder briefly as she took her chopped vegetables over to the large cast iron pot already heating on the stove.
“I just wanted you to be sure it was the decision that you wanted to make, darlin’,” Mr. Adams objected, clearly trying to be supportive but still voicing his very evident concern. “You know, it’s a big decision to just up and make. And what happens if you meet someone here in the meantime?”
“Oh, Daddy,” Goldie murmured. “Everyone here sees me as a sister, or worse, a daughter. I’m not going to meet anyone here in town. The only way to meet someone is by leaving. Besides, I’ve always wanted to go out West!”
Mr. Adams glanced at his wife—his gaze weighted. It took only a moment, though, for him to relent, pulling his daughter under his arm and kissing the top of her head with a small frown. “Well, it’s done,” he muttered. “Ain’t no use crying over spilled milk. We’ll talk about it over your mama’s stew, yeah?”
Goldie smiled, knowing the biggest battle was already won. She’d told her parents. Now it was just a matter of waiting for someone to see her ad and hoping that she would know who it was she was supposed to accept. Maybe even by Christmas.
Goldie Adams, at twenty years old, was still in love with love. She just hadn’t experienced it for herself yet.
Heart of Gold, Colorado 1888
A warm Colorado sunrise meant the coming of good news. Or, at least, that was what Brian Miller had grown up with hearing from the wizened old coots that liked to play checkers over their morning coffees in his store. He thought it was fitting, or at least he hoped it was, standing behind the counter that late morning with the letters from the post in his hand and his eyes on the nearly empty storefront while he sorted through things.
As unashamed of writing to the matrimony arrangement service as he was, he hardly wanted to go advertising to his customers that he had done so. Or hear all of their advice and opinions on the matter while he worked through what he had done for himself.
“You got more coffee brewing?” Alton Days called out from where he sat alone at his checkers’ table, his old voice rasping through the quiet of the shop.
“I have a pot on for you now,” Brain called back, checking over his shoulder to make sure that it was still steeping like he was claiming. It was a brief interlude, short and sweet, the letters in his hand somehow seeming like they weighed more as he shifted to look back down at them again.
All the different styles of handwriting he looked down at almost made him sick to his stomach. He’d grabbed the marriage catalog the week before on a spur-of-the-moment inclination. One that he’d followed through on, writing to every half-decent ad that he came across.
He wanted to blame something other than a moment of loneliness rendering him weak, but he had nothing else to put it on. He didn’t drink. He didn’t have anyone else in his ear cajoling him. He only had his recent birthday looming in the back of his mind like the countdown of a clock that he couldn’t quite ignore.
People talked about old maids all the time, those crude jokes about women left too long without a man to marry, but no one talked about the reverse of it all.
At twenty-five, Brian was starting to see what that felt like, no matter how his father assured him that he was young still. It wasn’t about how young he was or wasn’t. It was about starting a family before he was as old as Old Man Norbert and just having his first child. Attending the social that his ma had put together in celebration of Old Man Norbert’s firstborn had forced things into perspective for him.
He was getting older.
And he was lonely.
In a town where men outnumbered women nearly three to one, it was difficult to be optimistic about just stumbling upon his love like his mother seemed convinced he would. Nearly every girl he had attended school with was already engaged…or led the kind of lifestyle that he didn’t think was especially suited to motherhood.
He had no desire to marry a woman who could chew tobacco with the miners or drink her weight in spirits.
These women, though….
He’d begun receiving answers to the original letters that he sent out only days after he’d posted them. Many of them weeded out immediately for the same reason that so many of the women in town were as well. Old enough to be his mother, angry and bitter, women looking after the rush of a lifestyle that he couldn’t contend with…All of them fell to the wayside, their letters remaining unanswered.
He could see several in this batch that, just upon opening, felt as if they would turn out the same as well. More than one envelope had obviously had perfume sealed inside of it, his nose wrinkling at the onslaught of the heavy scents.
He sighed, running one large, calloused hand through the black waves that hung down over his forehead and pushing them back raggedly from his face.
The letters were all the same, he realized with a frown, skimming over the first few. A woman in Littleton with three children who was looking for a place to stay and spoke of her cooking skills…a widow with no interest in any real relationship, only a marriage of convenience…a woman in Tennessee wrote of her desire to visit the ‘Wild West’, with claims to adventure already that made Brian just uncomfortable to consider.
One after another, he skimmed their contents, his heart sinking along with his hopes.
Until he came to a plain letter with no perfume wafting out of the envelope upon opening.
I am glad to receive your response to my advert indeed. You were, in fact, the first to respond and in such a timely manner that I could scarcely believe the quickness of it.
I can’t speak as to my expectations for Colorado, as you asked, as I have little knowledge of the state in any real way. Heart of Gold sounds like a lovely name for a town, though. It is actually what first seemed to me to be a sign of our compatibility. Goldie, Heart of Gold. Perhaps that’s too forward and optimistic, but I reckon if I cannot speak my mind to you from the start, then we won’t have much to build off later.
Your letter arrived the day before Christmas for me, another sign if you will.
I don’t know your belief system, but I’ll speak to mine. I was wary of putting my ad out there at all, especially with my mama and daddy worrying about it, but I felt compelled to do so. I believe wholeheartedly that God will lead me to my intended husband through these letters.
As I mentioned in my ad, there isn’t a wealth of options for me here in Texas, and though I’ll be sad to leave my home behind, I am looking forward to expanding my horizons with travel.
Oh, I feel as if this letter is skipping all about. It’s not as easy to carry a conversation on through pen as in person, is it? I’ve never been much of one to write, but I hope that it isn’t too disjointed for you.
I know you asked after a picture and inquired as to why one was not included in my advert, but I didn’t send one for you this time either. I noticed you didn’t send one at first either. Which isn’t to chastise you! No, not in the least. I actually prefer it this way.
I’d like to believe that if we get along well enough over our letters first, then we can share pictures if you’d like. My daddy has teased me something awful about how I’ll comb through the pictures sent and choose my intended off that. And, while his teasing was well-meaning, I’d like to believe that isn’t my main intention here. Is it vain to try so hard to prove myself not vain?
I like to believe that I am a good woman of God, but I know that I still have room to grow as well. I do enjoy Sunday service. I’m so glad to hear that you also attend church.
As for hobbies, I have quite a few. I enjoy sewing and cooking. I reckon those are important to include considering everything. I enjoy taking long walks, gardening, and I make a habit of volunteering here in town. I do like animals, though other than a few farm dogs and other such livestock, my father isn’t much a fan of any others.
Every kitten that I rescued over the years was sent to be a barn cat or given away. My father claims they make him sneeze, but I think it is more that he cannot abide by fur.
This is getting rather lengthy, and I don’t wish to bore you. I’d be glad to answer any of your other questions, and I ask that you answer the same ones you asked of me so that I may get a better idea of you, sir.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Wishing you well,
She did ramble, Brian thought with a soft snort, rereading the portions of her letter that he found the most interesting. She certainly wasn’t well-written, but she was frank and open, and she spoke with such a hopeful tone that even the rambling of her letter seemed charming rather than off-putting.
The other letters sat off to the side, their opened contents spilling over the counter as he focused his attention instead on Goldie’s heartfelt words.
Was it optimistic of him, too, to find the fact that she had found ‘signs’ in their correspondence appealing? Or was it simply foolishness masquerading as its less offensive cousin?
He didn’t know, but he found himself smiling at the letter in his hand all the same.
A low whistle from off to the side drew his focus away from Goldie and her letter, though, his eyes jerking up in time to see Mr. Days standing off to the side, a picture in hand that he looked down at with raised brows.
“Now, son,” Mr. Days drawled, amusement and appreciation filling his voice as he turned the picture back to show Brian one of the women who had written on the back of the portrait. “Either you’ve been sent a lot of misdirected mail, or you’re entertaining quite a few young ladies here that we don’t know about.” He chuckled, putting that picture down and trading it for another.
Brian winced, knowing that he was about to have one of the very conversations he’d been hoping to avoid with his discretion.
“It’s nothing untoward, Mr. Days,” he answered with more ease than he felt. Clearing his throat, he began gathering up the letters and pictures that had spread out upon setting them down. “I only recently decided to look into those bride adverts we keep seeing.”
The older gentleman snorted, handing a letter over with a knowing smile. “I reckon I wouldn’t be too keen on advertising that myself,” he mumbled, nodding. “Back in my day, we had it easier. You found a nice girl around town at church that you found appealing, and you asked her pa about courting her.”
“I think that’s still generally how things are done, Mr. Days.” Brian chuckled, amused at the dissonance between the ‘youth’ and those who considered themselves so aged. “That’s just not as possible here in a town with so few women,” he continued, pausing with a slight frown.
“I’m hardly one to judge, son,” Mr. Days said, waving his hand dismissively as he looked off, a far-away look entering his clouded blue eyes. “Did I ever tell you about my Suzie? Hardly the most civilized way we met.”
Brian smiled, putting away all the letters under the counters and carefully folding Miss Goldie Adams’ letter so that he could tuck it into his front apron pocket for later. “You have,” he agreed amicably. “You met her while she was robbing a train, didn’t you?”
“I did.” The old man sighed, his smile fond as he sat down at one of the stools by the counter with a pleased little shuffle. “Woman held a gun to me before she ever asked my name.”
“And you fell in love with her still.” Brian chuckled, shaking his head as he went to fetch the pot of coffee so that he could pour the older man a cup.
“Aye. I love her still,” the old man said with a smile. “Fell in love with her and chased her over half the country before she left me for a farmer. I’ll tell you now, boy, you find love where you can, and you make sure you enjoy it while you can. If I’d a had half a mind, I would’ve married the lass from the start and not waited til it was too late, and I’d lost her.”
Brian’s lips twitched as he pushed the freshly poured, still steaming cup of coffee over to Mr. Days. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he promised, thinking back on Goldie’s talk of signs and compatibility.
Maybe I’m a fool…but I’d be more of one to ignore her letter in its entirety. I know that much for certain.
“Blooming Like a Golden Rose” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Goldie Adams has always been a romantic soul, longing for the man fate intended for her. In the small town she lives though, her chances of finding a respectable husband are slim, so looking for the perfect match in the paper seems to be the most sensible solution. When an honorable young man answers her ad, a bright new world opens up right in front of her, but this adventure comes along with unexpected perils…
Could this perfect stranger be the soulmate she has been looking for, or will her dreams be turned to dust?
Although Brian Miller is an honest man at marrying age, he hasn’t met the woman of his dreams yet. Finding Goldie is more than he could ever have prayed for, but her innocence and unfamiliarity with the Wild West make him unnerved and doubtful of their future. After a series of unfortunate events, he becomes even more fearful and protective of her, damaging their fragile connection.
Is his love for her enough to keep her close to him and off harm’s way?
Goldie and Brian have to turn to their faith in one another to make their newfound relationship work. Can they overcome the difficulties that seem to be tearing them apart? And what will happen when other forces align against them with even more ominous intents?
“Blooming Like a Golden Rose” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.