Painted Montana Sky: A Montana Sky Series Novella, page 11part #3.50 of Montana Sky Series
He gave her a sheepish grin. “Yes. But I changed my mind right quick!”
She laughed. “What made that happen?”
Tapping a finger on his chin, he pretended to think. “Started with besting Widow Murphy.”
Lily gathered her reins in one hand and gave him a playful smack on his thigh with her other. “Be serious.”
He captured her hand. “I am serious. My wife’s leaving poisoned my mind, and I didn’t even know it. I was bitter. When Widow Murphy took a stance against Dove…that pushed me to stand with you. Cleared my thinking somewhat so I could see the pretty lady I’d rescued. Then I started paying attention to your character. Saw the good person you are, Lil, inside and out. Took me a while, though, to rid my system of the taint.”
Moved, Lily squeezed his hand. “But you did, and that’s what’s important.”
“Thank God!” Tyler said fervently.
She gave him a warm smile. “I’ll be back as soon as I’ve packed my things and bid adieu to my family and friends. Although my father and Emma won’t let me be married without them. Sophia may not be able to get away from her production. She’s playing the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s, The Magic Flute.”
“I look forward to meeting your family. They are welcome to stay at the ranch for as long as they want.”
The rest of the ride passed in serious conversation as they opened up to each other, sharing stories of their pasts, of their hopes for the future. They crested a small hill, and Lily reined in.
The familiar ranch lay before her: the house, barn, outbuildings, the stream and hot springs, the big oak with the table underneath. Only this time, Lily studied them with proprietary eyes, feeling a deep sense of contentment, of belonging.
Tyler watched her with a loving expression on his face. “Welcome home to Green Valley Ranch, Lil.”
Through a mist in her eyes, at a distance down the road, Lily saw the familiar form of Oliver riding his pony, his shoulders slumped, the picture of dejection.
With a surge of maternal love, Lily pointed at the boy. “Let’s hurry. Someone desperately needs to hear our news.” She urged the mare into a canter.
Tyler kept pace with her as they rode to tell Oliver that his book had indeed brought him a mother.
Six Weeks Later
In front of the doors of the white-steepled church in Sweetwater Springs, Lily paused with her father and her sister Emma. Sophia, who’d taken a week off from the opera, waited inside to sing Lily up the aisle.
Emma smiled, her eyes already glistening. The white roses she carried trembled.
“Don’t you dare start,” Lily ordered the sister who looked so much like her. “You’ll get me going, and I don’t want a red nose at my wedding.”
With a nod, Emma gave a shaky laugh.
Lily leaned over to press her cheek against the younger sister who’d been such a source of comfort and support since her accident. Dear, dear Emma.
“I will miss you so much!” Emma kissed Lily’s cheek. “Be happy, sister.”
“Oh, I will. So very happy!”
Emma reached up to gather Lily’s veil over her head. She lowered the lace to cover Lily’s face.
Her father watched the two of them, pride shining in his violet eyes—the same color he’d bequeathed to his daughters. White streaked his brown hair and the side-whiskers that filled out his thin cheeks. “You look just like your beautiful mother, Lily. It takes me back, it does, to the day I married her. May you have as blessed a union as we did.”
“Thank you, Papa. I think we will.”
Her father fished a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his eyes. “I never thought I’d see this day. Although I prayed for you, I also doubted. I guess I should have trusted the good Lord.” Bending his elbow, he held out his arm. “Shall we go, my darling girl?”
“Yes, Papa.” She tucked her hand in the crook of his arm and gathered up the heavy white satin of her skirt with the other.
Emma trotted up the steps ahead of them and opened the door.
Her father guided Lily up the stairs.
At the doorway, Emma handed over the bouquet of white roses.
Lily released her skirt and took the flowers, inhaling their sweet scent, and then eagerly stepped into the church. For the last six weeks, she’d dreamed of this moment, her imagination making up for all the hopeless years that came before. Now she paused at the foot of the aisle to savor the moment.
At her entrance, Sophia, standing by the piano, nodded at Elizabeth Sanders who played the introduction to “Oh Perfect Love.” Then Sophia’s beautiful voice floated into the air. The power of her music worked its magic on everyone. Within a few verses, many of the people in the pews surreptitiously wiped their eyes.
Lily gazed at Tyler, waiting for her in front of the minister, Oliver at his side. The boy’s excited expression and the love shining on Tyler’s face brought tears to her eyes.
Pulse racing, she glanced up at her father.
He gazed at her with deep paternal love. “Are you ready, my dearest?”
Lily gave him a luminous smile and squeezed his arm to signal yes. She turned her attention back to her bridegroom.
Misty-eyed, she moved toward Tyler, her father’s arm steadying her. She was too engrossed in reaching the side of the man of her dreams to even feel her limp. All Lily wanted was to take Tyler’s hand and walk by his side for the rest of their lives.
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I’m blessed to have had a wonderful, talented team working on Painted Montana Sky.
Many thanks to:
Delle Jacobs, cover artist
Louella Nelson, developmental editor
Linda Carroll-Bradd, copy editor
Adela Brito copy editor
Amy Atwell, formatter
Thanks to my family for the read-throughs, suggestions, and copy edits:
Hannelore Holland, Hedy and Larry Codner, and Tracy Suttle
MONTANA SKY SERIES
Wild Montana Sky
Starry Montana Sky
Stormy Montana Sky
Montana Sky Christmas: A Sweetwater Springs Short Story Collection
Painted Montana Sky: A Sweetwater Springs Novella
Glorious Montana Sky (Fall, 2014)
Mail-Order Brides of the West: Trudy
Mail-Order Brides of the West: Lina (January 2014)
Look for future Montana Sky books, novellas, and short stories.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Debra Holland is a psychotherapist and corporate crisis/grief counselor, who lives in Southern California with her dog and two cats. Painted Montana Sky is the latest story in her award winning Montana Sky Series. In addition to sweet historical romance, Debra also writes fantasy, science fiction, as well as nonfiction. Debra has published The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving with Alpha Books. Look for her other fiction and nonfiction books online. You can download her free ebooklet: 58 Tips For Getting What You Want From a Difficult Conversation on her website: http://drdebraholland.com.
Table of Contents
Montana Sky Series
About the Author
Debra Holland, Painted Montana Sky: A Montana Sky Series Novella