Anson’s Mail Order Bride by Kit Morgan

KitMorgan_AnsonsMailOrderBride_HRWhat an honor and a privilege it was to be able to write a story for Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Kindle Worlds! I first met Debra at a writer’s conference in 2014. She’s a wonderful person, not to mention a fantastic writer! If you love the books in her Montana Sky Kindle Worlds, and haven’t read the actual Montana Sky Series, then you’re in for a real treat! I’d read several before being invited to work on this project, so was somewhat familiar with Sweetwater Springs, but Morgan’s Crossing was a little new to me, and it was even more fun getting to know the town and the characters before introducing Anson Jones and his mail-order bride Zadie Barrett to the little community.

As to Anson and Zadie, here’s a little more about their story: When Anson Jones discovers one of the men who embezzled money from his family’s company hid the loot near Morgan’s Crossing in Montana Territory, he leaves Oregon and travels there under the guise of setting up a horse ranch. Then all he has to do is wait for the culprit to slink into town, dig up the money, and have him arrested. There’s only one problem. Anson just sent train fare to the Pettigrew Bridal Agency for his mail-order bride! He can’t bring a woman into such danger and telegraphs the agency to stop everything. But when his message to Mrs. Pettigrew is altered, she thinks he wants her to send his bride to Montana! Misunderstandings, a loony villain, plenty of romance and a few surprises make for a fun romp.

For a taste, here’s an excerpt!

“I have a list,” Anson said and pulled it from his shirt pocket. “Would you mind filling it while I go pay a visit to the bathhouse?”

Ralph’s bushy brown mustache twitched as he took the list and scanned it. “Sure. Oh, and ya got a message here.”

“I do?”

Ralph went to the other end of the counter where a small pile of mail sat and snatched an envelope off the top. “El Davis dropped it off when he came to town yesterday. I told him I’d give it to ya the next time ya came in.”

“Much obliged,” Anson said and took it from him. It was probably a letter from his father or uncle. But no, it couldn’t be – the envelope had just his name on it. No address at all, not even the name of the town. “That’s odd.”

“Maybe it’s from someone in Sweetwater Springs. Ya got more horses comin’ in?”

“No, not yet. A lot depends on how sales go the next few months.” Not bothering to wait and read it in private, Anson tore the envelope open and … “Great Scott!”

Ralph’s eyes widened. “What?”

Anson slapped his forehead and pulled his hand down his face, but his shocked expression remained. “I have to go!”

“Go? Ya just got here.”

“I mean I … I have an emergency!”

Ralph’s face twisted up in confusion. “What kinda ‘mergency?”

“I … well, I sent for a mail-order bride a while back, and …”

Just then several women entered and went straight to where the fabric was hung. “You were saying?” Ralph urged. “What about your mail-order bride?”

“Mail-order bride?” one of the women said, turning to them with a smile. “Oh, how lovely!”

Anson shook his head in panic. “No, not exactly …”

“What do you mean?” another asked. The two began to approach.

Anson started to sweat. No matter how small the town, if there was one thing he’d learned over the years, it was that a woman about to be added to the ranks always caused a stir.

“Is your bride on her way?”

“What?” Anson said, his thoughts racing around in his head like a whirlwind.

“Your mail-order bride,” the first woman repeated. “If she’s here, we’d like to meet her.”

For the first time, Anson noticed her Southern accent. As thick as it was, he should have caught it the first time she spoke. Clearly he was rattled. “Uh, well …”

“Good grief, does that letter say she’s in Sweetwater Springs?” Ralph asked. He noticed Anson’s horrified expression, slapped the counter and laughed. “Now don’t that beat all! Ha! You didn’t know she was comin’, did ya?”

Anson swallowed hard. He was sinking deeper into the pit of raging gossip, and quicker than he could climb out. If he didn’t do it, though, he’d drown in a growing sea of whispers as it spread all over town. (Or worse, get caught in the riptide of his own tortured analogy.)

It didn’t matter that there were farms and ranches all over kingdom come between here and Sweetwater Springs – folks would eventually find out he had a bride. In fact, all they’d have to do was attend church in Sweetwater Springs and that would be it. Any chance of quietly sending his bride to Clear Creek to wait things out would be lost. And he needed to send her away, because if Mortimer Penworthy came sniffing around after the stolen money, he might figure out who Anson really was and high-tail it out of Montana altogether.

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