Mail Order Bride: Blinded By Love (Brides Of The West: Book 1)

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Mail Order Bride: Blinded By Love (Brides Of The West: Book 1) Page 3

by Leah Wyett

  I went back to tell my man, John, what was going on and make a plan. John said, “I will circle around and Indian up on them from the rear.” Indian up means to sneak. I don’t know if you ever met an Indian but they are a sneaky people.

  I was to go around the front, that way they would be trapped between us. I checked the loads in my pistol. I was worried there would be a killing that night, and I didn’t want it to be me.

  John mounted his horse and settled the shotgun across the front of his saddle. He went around behind them at a wide angle. I have to admit to you, dear Hazel, that at this time, I was filled with self-doubt. I had never been in a gun battle, nor had I ever hunted a man. I waited the amount of time that John and I had agreed upon before I went in, the whole time worrying over it like a dog would a bone. I called on my faith in the Lord and I called on the spirits of my parents to look after me. It wasn’t so much my life that I was praying for, although that was a consideration, it was that I myself didn’t have to take a life. I felt calm after that, I think my father was with me. I mounted my horse and I trotted her around to the front and that’s when all hell broke loose.

  I thought when they pulled their guns that they had seen me and I pulled my pistol at once. But then I heard a rustle in front of me and realized that it was a bobcat that had captured their attention. John took that opportunity to aim the shotgun at their backs while I had mine trained on their fronts. One of them had pulled out his own gun, but was still too focused on that cat to notice me or John.

  The cat suddenly realized he was outnumbered I think and took off. That’s when the second man laid eyes on me. He went for his gun and the firing commenced. I was still on my horse and when I fired my big colt. It bucked in my hand. The noise was like that of a cannon and made me lose the ability to hear for a moment. A cloud of smoke that had belched from the gun cleared and I realized then that I had missed my first shot. One of his shots got my horse though. Poor thing buckled under me and by some small miracle, I managed to roll and keep a hold on my gun. I stood up, and was able to take steady aim that time. That round caught the rustler in the arm, causing him to fall back. He got up and tried to run. I hope that this next sentence doesn’t make you see me as a cowardly cowboy, but instead of taking the kill shot, I aimed for his leg and got it.

  Needless to say, it was a long night. These boys had to be watched all night, one so he didn’t run and the other so he didn’t bleed to death. We got ‘em to the sheriff the next morning with the only death being of my horse. She was a good mare and I hated to lose her but I made myself believe that it was a quick, painless death.

  So, my sweet Hazel, that is my rustler story. I have many more that I will reserve for when you’re at my side and we are snuggled alongside a fire drinking tea.

  I’m sure, by now, you have found the cabinet card that I enclosed. I hope you find me pleasant to look upon. The mustache was a whim but is gone now. I look at our moon here in Texas at night, Hazel, and it makes my heart glad to know that at least we share that. So tonight, when you look at the moon, know that I am looking at it as well, and thinking of you.

  I hope you enjoy your birthday, my sweet Hazel, and I hope you enjoy the gift I have sent. I will count the hours until I receive your next letter and I hope that this all finds you well.



  Hazel re-read the letter three times. She enjoyed the story, it was exciting and it also showed her that he was a man with a conscience. He’d had the option to kill and he hadn’t taken it. She also liked that he remembered it was her birthday. She couldn’t believe he had sent her a present. She hadn’t gotten a present from a boy before, unless you counted Pa’s and brothers. She didn’t know how her parents would feel about him sending her a gift, and the postmaster was bound to have a field day with it. She supposed that she would find out how everyone felt when the package arrived. Something was bothering her still about the photo. She looked at it again. She just didn’t see the man that she’d come to know as Heath in his eyes….

  Chapter Three



  September 18th

  “You’re in an awfully foul mood today.” John said to Heath. He had been slamming things around all morning, snapping and the staff and barking at John.

  Heath only glared at him and continued what he was doing, which was cleaning and oiling his Colt.

  “You haven’t got a letter back lately, is that the problem?”

  “It’s been over a month.” Heath told him.

  “Maybe she’s just been busy.” John told him.

  “Maybe she knew the picture wasn’t me. Maybe she could tell.” Heath said, sitting the gun down on the desk and looking up at his ranch foreman and friend.

  “How would she know?” John said.

  “I don’t know, but I can’t think of another reason for her to not write by now. Unless she’s ill.” he said. “Do you think she is ill?”

  John laughed. “You’re a wreck over this little girl, Heath.”

  “She’s not a little girl!” he snapped. “She turned eighteen over a month ago. She’s a woman.”

  “Then what keeps you from bringing her here and making her your wife?” John asked him.

  Heath gave him a look that said he already knew. It was the elephant in the room and there was no reason to talk about it. Heath was about to say something else when Sally interrupted. She had finally learned to look at him without flinching and today, she looked him in the eye and smiled.

  “Mr. Lee just got back with the mail, sir.” Heath jumped out of his seat and he was smiling too.

  “It came?”

  “Yes, sir.” she said with a grin. She held out the letter. Heath took it from her and then surprised them all by grabbing her by the shoulders and kissing her cheek.

  Oh, dear. Sally, I’m so sorry. I lost my head.” She smiled again. “It’s okay, sir. I know how happy the letters make you. Excuse me, please.”

  He yelled, “Thank you, Sally!” as she left the room and then he turned to John, who was grinning broadly.

  “I told you, you worry too much.” John stood up then and said, “I have work to do, I’ll leave you to your letter.” John had some of his own to write but hadn’t found the enthusiasm.

  Heath was still smiling when John left. He took his tea to his favorite chair and as he sat down, he ran the envelope under his nose. He knew it had gone through many hands to get to him since it left hers, but he liked to close his eyes and imagine that he could smell her delicate scent. He slipped the flap of the envelope open then, unfolded it, and read,

  My dearest Heath,

  Please forgive the tardiness of my reply to your most recent letter and photo, and your incredibly thoughtful gift. My father took ill just after my birthday and I was left to do much work around the farm. Pa has recovered nicely, however, and I am slowly being relieved of my extra duties. Today is the first time I’ve had the time to write.

  Let me say first of all, that the book you sent me was absolutely lovely, and My First Love was such an appropriate title. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I am savoring it for a moment when I’m alone, and I promise to think of you with each passage I read. I am touched, and honored that you would have seen this book and thought of me. My ma made me a lemon cake for my birthday, it’s my favorite. Hopefully, next year, we can share one.

  I hope things are well in Texas and your herds are growing and the rustlers are laying low. I really enjoyed the story about the rustlers and will hope for more in the future. Things are much the same here in boring Ohio. The night of my birthday, I went to a dance in town. I was asked by my father to go with the neighbor boy, Bobby. Although I didn’t want to, I did it for Pa. We didn’t dance at all and Bobby was as weird as he always is. But I’m glad I went because Pa also promised me if I went with him, he would leave me be about writing and receiving these letters. So far, he has done well with that promise. He was, howe
ver, very ill for quite some time. The other thing he did say that I should share with you is that when you and I finally meet, he will be there. This is not to frighten you at all, but as a warning so you will be prepared for what you are seeing my father is a big man. Not just big, he is a giant and the simple sight of him frightens even the bravest of souls sometimes. He’s a good man though and I think when it sinks in to him that I’m a woman grown, he will be willing to give his consent.

  I’ve digressed when what I meant to say was that Bobby O’Donnell tried to steal my first kiss while we danced. I didn’t mean to kick him so hard, but I am certain that he won’t try it again with me or anyone else for a very long time, and he won’t tell on me either because then he would have to tell that he was trying to kiss me.

  At the mention of seeing you, with or without my father in tow, my heart began to hammer and my breathing got shallow. I am heartily in anticipation of it, my dear Heath, as I hope you are as well. I know that we agreed not to rush this at all, but I am eighteen now and I want you to know that whenever you are ready to receive me, I am ready as well.

  On one final subject, I feel the need to address your photograph. First of all, it was very handsome although I was happy to read you hadn’t kept the mustache. Something about it has troubled me, dear Heath. As I gazed into the eyes of the man in the picture…I see a stranger. I don’t have anyone else to pose this question to, so forgive me for asking…Do you think it’s only because we haven’t met yet face to face. Or, do you think it’s something else? Perhaps my inexperience in these things is just speaking out loud.

  I should run now as Pa is expecting me in the wheat field. I will be waiting to exhale until your next letter.



  The part about her letter that resonated within him was what she said about the photograph. He felt terrible deceiving her, but he wanted so badly for once in his adult life for a woman to get to know what is inside of him before they see how he was packaged. Hazel was more perceptive than he gave her credit for. He would have to rectify his own mistake and soon. He was as anxious to meet her as she was him.

  He re-read the part about her father. What would he think when he saw him? Would he leave his daughter thousands of miles from home with a beast? He doubted it; if it were his daughter, wouldn’t he be just as cautious? He sat the letter on the table and got up and paced the floor. He wanted to see her....

  “Sally!” he yelled, too loudly.

  “Yes, sir?” Sally came running.

  “Where is John?”

  “I believe he went out to the stables, sir.” she told him.

  “Go fetch him and tell him to hurry.” Sally nodded and left. Heath continued to pace while he waited. Suddenly catching the eye of a photograph of his mother, he stopped. He felt like she was speaking to him. It wasn’t that he could hear her words so much as he could feel them. She was telling him to be himself, to show Hazel his heart. That’s what he was trying to do with the letters, but what if it wasn’t enough when she actually came here? He didn’t know if his heart would survive.



  OCTOBER 30th

  Hazel and her mother were at the church arranging the pies they had brought for the bake sale. The church had an annual carnival just after harvest every year, and for as long as Hazel could remember, she and her mother made pies or cakes for the bake sale.

  Hal Morgan grew pumpkins like Hazel had told Heath. He didn’t grow enough to sell, or even to eat really. He had a small patch out in back of their house where he grew a few every year, picking the biggest and brightest to cultivate for the contest at the Harvest carnival. This year, he had one that weighed twenty-six pounds and he was so proud of it, he looked almost ready to bust. When they were ready to hand out the ribbons, Hazel’s mother went over to him and left Hazel to tend the pie booth. She was daydreaming and because she had no customers, she took out the most recent letter she had received from Heath. She carried them all tied in a ribbon in the pocket of her dress. She had four total in a period of as many months. Looking around again to make sure everyone was focused on the pumpkin judging and no one was interested in buying pies, she sat down and re-read the letter:

  Dearest Hazel,

  I hope this letter finds you and your family well once again. I hope that your father’s harvest was plentiful. I am so glad that you enjoyed the gift I sent to you. I did think that “First Love” was a fitting title as well. I’ve read it, and I think it is a good book, an interesting perspective from the Russian culture.

  I have never been in love with a woman, Hazel. I have never even courted one. As you talked about your sheltered life, I must say that I, too, led a fairly sheltered life here on the ranch. I was taught much about the world and traveled some with my parents. I learned to care for cattle and horses and, lately, to run a household in the absence of my dear mother. I’ve never been to a dance, and I have to admit that although it shames me some, I felt a mild twinge of jealousy that Bobby O’Donnell got to escort you to one and I did not. I’m glad he didn’t get to kiss you, and shamelessly, I am glad that you think he is weird.

  I have been to Africa and I’ve seen elephants and giraffes and lions and all of the exotic animals that most people only dream about seeing. I’ve been to Europe and I’ve dined in Paris. I’ve been to Mexico countless times and Spain once. My father loved to travel and he loved to hunt. He was maybe a bit disappointed in his son, who refused to shoot anything along the way but I had many reasons to also believe he loved me.

  For all of the things I have done, Hazel, I would trade them every one for the chance to take you to a dance or a harvest festival, or just simply on a moonlight horseback ride across my ranch. I let myself believe those things are going to happen someday and I pray to the good Lord each night that He would see fit to make me worthy of a woman like you.

  I will do what I can to try and arrange for us to meet soon, for I can hardly wait a moment longer.

  For now, my dear, be well, and look at the moon that we share and know that I am looking at it as well, thinking of you.

  Eternally and forever yours,


  “Good afternoon, fine lady.” Hazel heard. She turned to see a man dressed in boots and a cowboy hat standing at the front of her booth. He looked slightly familiar, but she didn’t think they had met before. She quickly tucked the letter into her pocket and got up to greet him.

  “Good afternoon.” she said. “Forgive me, but I was watching the pumpkin growing contest. My pa is a big contender.” she said with a grin. “Can I interest you in a pie?”

  “I will probably take two.” the man said. “But first, I have a question.”

  “What’s that?” she said.

  “Might you be Hazel Morgan?”

  “Yes…” she said.

  “Good, I thought that looked like you. I have something for you.” Hazel looked at him suspiciously. What he was proposing was quite improper whatever it was he had for her. She didn’t know this man, did she? How did he know her name?

  She glanced across to where her pa was, hoping that if she had to scream, he would hear her over all of the other carnival noise. The man noticed her looking around and he realized that he had frightened her. “Forgive me.” he said. “I should have introduced myself. I’m John Hartwell, I’m a ranch foreman at Key Ranch in Texas and Heath Key is a very good friend of mine.”

  Hazel let out the breath she was holding and then recognition crossed her face. “Oh, my! The photograph! That wasn’t Heath at all, that was you!” She looked nervously back toward her pa once more. He was still focusing on the judging that was going on. She was suddenly so confused. She thought that Heath was a good man, an honest one. He led her to believe he was sending for her soon, and she had written back that there was nothing she wanted more. Why would he send a photograph of someone else and tell her that it was him? “What are you two up to?” she said, angrily.
  “Please, Miss Hazel, don’t be alarmed. I would beg you to allow me to give you the letter my friend has sent for you, and let me explain.”

  “How do you explain such a blatant lie?” she said. “I suppose everything else that he said was a lie as well?”

  “No…not at all. Heath is falling in love with you, Hazel. That’s why he sent me…Please, read the letter and then come see me with any questions you might have. I’m staying at the boarding house in town. I’ll be there until tomorrow morning.” He lay a letter down in front of her then and tipped his cowboy hat before leaving. Hazel watched him go in a blur of emotions. He didn’t buy a single pie and now her chest hurt and she didn’t quite understand why. She picked up the letter the man had left. She thought about opening it then, but looking up she saw her ma and pa coming her way. Pa was wearing the blue ribbon. Hazel stuffed the letter in her pocket and pasted a big smile on her face. She would spend this time today with her family, the ones who she knew would never deceive her.

  Chapter Four


  “And look! I won this, too!” Laura was showing Hazel the rag doll and the whistle that she had won at one of the carnival booths as Hazel was helping her get ready for bed.

  “That’s wonderful, Laura. Now wash your face.”

  Laura put the water and the soap on her face and then she said, “Hazel, why do you look like you want to cry? Didn’t you have fun at the carnival? Are you upset because you had to sell pies and you didn’t get to have any fun?” Hazel forced a smile and said, “I had a great time at the carnival. Pa got the blue ribbon and Ma and I did very well selling our pies. I didn’t mind working the booth a bit. Perhaps my eyes are only tired.”

  “You look different when you’re tired.” Laura said, not willing to let it go. “Is it because of that man?”

  “Which man is that?” Hazel asked her sister.

  “The one I saw talking to you at the booth. Whatever he said upset you, I could tell.”


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