Kissed by a Stranger by Cynthia Woolf


Widow Laura Fitzhugh has lost everything but her wonderful daughter. Josie is the light of her life and the only reason Laura keeps going. Offered a home and a job in Morgan’s Crossing by her cousin, Laura jumps at the opportunity.

Bill Simms lost his wife and daughter to influenza seven years ago and has closed himself off from everyone, hoping to never feel that pain again. A chance run in with a beautiful little girl who kisses his cheek, changes his life forever.

A threat from Laura’s past forces Bill and Laura to work together to save Josie and perhaps themselves in the process.


July 24, 1887

They had spent two weeks with Michael’s parents in Philadelphia before coming here. As soon as his letter arrived with the offer of a job and home, Laura had packed up the clothes they’d worn and headed out to Montana Territory.

Laura had Michael’s letter with her. They hadn’t seen each other since they were children and she wanted to prove she was who she said she was. The trip to Morgan’s Crossing was not for the faint of heart. The train from Philadelphia to Sweetwater Springs required several changes, in Chicago, in Denver, in Cheyenne and then again in Bozeman. That wouldn’t have been so difficult if she wasn’t traveling with all her possessions. Though not a lot by most standards, she nonetheless had three trunks for herself and Josie.

Upon arriving in Sweetwater Springs, Josie had been a ball of pent-up energy. She got off of the train running and ran up and down the platform. Laura gasped when she saw Josie suddenly fall and ran to her.

A gentleman was already there, picking up Josie and dusting her off.

“There you are, little one. You’re fine. No harm done.”

“Thank you, mister.” Josie’s eyes filled with tears. She wrapped her arms around the man’s neck and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

The gentleman reddened and patted her on the back.

“You shouldn’t go around kissing strangers, young lady.”

He said it with mock anger, though Laura saw his small smile and heard the fake gruffness.

“You’re not a stranger. You saved me.”

“I just picked you up and dusted you off. Anyone could have done that.”

“But no one else did. You saved me.”

Laura watched Josie interact with the stranger. Her daughter was definitely taken with the man who’d helped her. She didn’t just go around kissing strange men. She’d never reacted to any of the men she met in The Fitzhugh like that.

“Thank you for helping my daughter.”

The man was tall, over six feet, with black hair, just a little too long so it curled at his collar. His clear green eyes were warm when he looked at Josie and turned to vibrant emerald green when he looked at Laura. No warmth shone for her as there had been for her daughter.

A well-groomed mustache was over full lips that frowned when he spoke to Laura. “You should keep a closer eye on her. She could get hurt running around the train like that.”

Laura squared her shoulders as anger loosened her tongue. “We’ve been on a train for more than a week. She has a lot of energy stored up that she needs to get rid of. Running around on the platform is infinitely safer than letting her run in the streets, wouldn’t you agree?”

The man said nothing, but tipped his worn Stetson and turned to Josie.

“You take care and mind your mama. And remember what I said about kissing strangers.”

He patted her on the head and headed down the boardwalk with another man Laura recognized from the train.”

Well that was an odd conversation.

Laura looked down at her precious daughter.

Josie was watching the man walk away.

“You should marry him, Mama.”

Taken by surprise Laura was at a loss as to how to respond.

“We don’t even know that man’s name. Besides he didn’t seem to like me at all. Just you, Pumpkin.”

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