Idaho fairytale bride ro.., p.1

Idaho Fairytale Bride (Rocky Mountain Romances Book 2), page 1


Idaho Fairytale Bride (Rocky Mountain Romances Book 2)

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Idaho Fairytale Bride (Rocky Mountain Romances Book 2)

  Praise for Books by

  Jacquie Rogers

  Mercy: Bride of Idaho

  (American Mail-Order Brides series #43)

  “This installment of the American Mail-Order Bride series did not disappoint. I am crushing on Quill. Mercy was a whirlwind of enthusiasm and an inspiring role model. I found myself smiling often throughout the book. Jacquie Rogers always delivers!” ~Vickie Raynor, Amazon Reviewer

  Blazing Bullets in Deadwood Gulch

  (Honey Beaulieu – Man Hunter #3)

  “A rip-roaring ride that will leave you hootin' and hollerin' and ready for more! Honey and her entourage of hilarious animal sidekicks are back again for another kickass round of action, adventure, and fun while on the hunt for more of the Old West's wiliest outlaws!”

  Ann Charles, USA Today Bestselling Author

  Much Ado About Mustangs

  (Hearts of Owyhee #5)

  “There are a lot of fun surprises and events that make this story another wonderful read by Jacquie Rogers.” Shirl Deems, reviewer

  Copyright 2017 Jacquie Rogers

  Camp Rogers Press


  Table of Contents

  Idaho Fairytale Bride

  Chapter 1

  Books By Jacquie Rogers

  Dear Reader


  Rocky Mountain Romances series

  Montana Gold

  About Jacquie Rogers

  Idaho Fairytale Bride

  by Jacquie Rogers

  To Moriah.

  I wish a Happily Ever After to you.

  Chapter 1

  Once Upon A Time

  1887 – Oreana, Idaho Territory

  “I see a wagon coming.” Moriah Jensen’s mother, Edith, peered out the kitchen window. “Two wagons—looks like oxen are pulling the second one. With all of the delays, I wondered if the Dillons would ever get here.”

  Moriah wrote “analyze the motives of the handsome prince and Cinderella” in her lesson plan, then put down her pen and wiped the ink from her fingers. “Frankly, I’m not in any hurry for them to arrive.”

  “It’ll be better this way, you’ll see.” Edith stepped back from the window and reached for her bonnet.

  “Less work, for sure.” Moriah had never wanted her mother to sell the farm or the cattle after her father died, but she had to concede that it had been tough on both of them to keep up with all the chores. They didn’t have the wherewithal to put in crops, so their only income was Moriah’s salary as Oreana’s only schoolteacher, plus the money she made on the side as a tutor.

  “You won’t have any cows to feed or baby calves to care for before you go to the school.” Edith tied her bonnet at the side of her chin, which was stylish. “You’ll appreciate that when it’s cold this winter. And during the summer, we’ll have help with the garden, which will be nice especially during harvest, and we won’t have to cut and stack hay ever again. I’m sure after you get used to the notion, you’ll realize that selling the ranch was a good idea.”

  “Maybe, but I’m not enthused about having a strange family living in our barn until their house and outbuildings are built.”

  “They seemed like nice folks.”

  “Mama, you’ve never met them—you did all your business over the wire.”

  “And letters. Mrs. Dillon’s penmanship is quite lovely.” Edith took off her apron. “Get your bonnet on, dear. We don’t want to appear inhospitable.”

  Moriah rescued the inkpot from her cat, Lily. The sneaky feline sat on a kitchen chair and every once in a while, would poke the inkpot with her paw, slyly inching it to the edge of the table.

  “Lily, stop that!” She grasped the tortoise-shell cat by the scruff and put her on the floor. “You know you’re not supposed to be on the table.”

  “I told you, cats don’t belong in the house.” Edith stood there with her arms folded and that glare only mothers could muster. “Are you going to make yourself presentable, or not?”

  “Of course, Mama, we want to greet them properly.” Moriah stood. “I’ll touch up my hair and grab my bonnet. Be out in a lamb’s shake.” She went to her room, happy that it still was her room and that the Dillons had agreed to buy the ranch without the farmstead.

  Moriah had more lesson plans to do than time to do them in as it was without this distraction, but she knew her mother was right. The Dillons would be their new neighbors whether she liked it or not, and it wouldn’t do to start off on a sour note. Actually, she had no issue with the Dillons per se, but her mother’s decision to sell the ranch still grated on her.

  The Jensens had spent ten years building and improving the ranch. Her father had died there. Letting it go seemed akin to cutting off one arm. She’d tried her best to talk her mother out of it, and even signed a three-year contract with the school board to ensure a steady income.

  But her mother’s decision to sell hadn’t been about the money so much. The chores had simply overwhelmed them both—work, work, work from dawn to dusk and even that hadn’t been enough.

  She combed the errant dark brown strands away from her face, then pinned the locks securely. She chose her town bonnet rather than the one she wore for chores even though the latter shaded her eyes from the bright sun better. But the town bonnet matched her blue gingham dress better. Or maybe she should wear her Sunday dress. First impressions were important.

  “Moriah Rose!” her mother called. “Get your bottom out here right now!”

  Moriah jammed the bonnet on her head and, still tying the ribbon, hurried to join her mother, who stood by the front door with her hand on the knob.

  “Take off that sour expression and put on your pretty face,” Edith chided.

  “Mama, I’m twenty-three years old.” But she smiled, partly because she thought being treated like a first-grader was funny, and partly to appease her mother.

  The lead wagon was stacked high with furniture and personal belongings. An older man drove it, with a woman nearly his age on the passenger side, and a small boy in the middle. Behind that wagon, a man rode a fine-looking dun, and a boy quite a bit older than the one on the wagon rode a blue roan. Several hundred feet back, an oxen team pulled two wagons.

  Edith waved and the other woman waved back. A brown dog the size of a shorthorn calf loped around the wagon and headed for Moriah full tilt just as Wilbur, Moriah’s gander, ran out to protect her. The big goose flared his wings and honked, but the dog kept running toward them.

  “Mama, I don’t think that dog has ever seen a goose before.”

  “Sure he has.”

  “Then he must not be very smart.”

  As she said that, Wilbur flew up, squawking all the way, and bit the dog’s nose. The dog yipped, turned tail, and ran back to the wagon with Wilbur strutting after him, head high and honking insults in goose language.

  “Come up here, Prince!” the boy yelled.

  The big dog bounded up on the seat, scrambling over the woman and nearly knocking her off, then curled up on the little boy’s lap and whimpered. All Moriah could see was the boy’s hand petting the dog—the rest of the boy was completely hidden.

  Moriah couldn’t help but giggle.

  Her mother discreetly elbowed her. “Behave.”

  Wilbur waddled to Moriah’s side and she stroked the top of his head. “You’re very proud of yourself, aren’t you?” The smug goose strutted around in a circle as if he wanted to make sure everyone saw him—which he likely did want.

  By then, the rider had spurred his horse to a trot and rode up to her and Edith. He sat back in the saddle and tipped
his hat.

  “You ladies all right?”

  Moriah could barely utter a word, for she’d never seen such a handsome man. If she’d made out a list of all the most attractive features a man could have, she could’ve checked off every single item right then and there.

  “We’re just fine,” Edith said. “Your dog had a rather harsh greeting from Wilbur, though.”

  “You named your goose Wilbur?” He chuckled. Even his chuckle would be on that list. So would that twinkle in his brown eyes, as inviting as the first cup of coffee in the morning.

  But Moriah couldn’t let him know how he affected her. She took a step forward. “And what’s wrong with that name?” Wilbur punctuated her question with a honk.

  “Not a thing, miss. Not a thing. But I have to say, we’ve come two thousand miles and that’s the first guard goose I’ve seen.”

  By then, Wilbur had waddled in front of Moriah and stood between her and Mr. Dillon—at least, she presumed the man was Mr. Dillon. It was time for introductions.

  “You’ve met Wilbur. I’m Moriah Jensen and this is my mother, Edith.”

  “Charles Dillon but most everyone calls me Tex—except my mother.” He cocked his head toward the wagon. “Those are my folks, the boy on the horse behind the wagon is my brother Jeff, and the kid underneath the dog is my son Arthur—he just turned six. I’ll introduce y’all once they pull up.”

  “They can park the wagons in front and to the side of the barn,” Edith said. “Then please come in the house for refreshments. I’m sure you’ve all had a long day.”

  “Much obliged, ma’am. Ma will appreciate that.” He reined his horse around and headed back to the wagon. Moriah’s gaze followed him all the way. She wondered where his wife was. After all, if he had a son, he surely had a wife.

  “Close your mouth, daughter.” Her mom winked at her. “Although I have to admit, he’s quite a looker.”

  Moriah couldn’t argue, but remembered her former fiancé, also a looker. And a cheater. He’d done her a service by standing her up at the altar, although she hadn’t thought so at the time.

  “Too much of a looker for his own good—and certainly for the good of any woman who falls for him.”

  * * *

  Tex rode to the wagon carrying his folks, son, the dog, and all the household goods they could jam in it. He had to get his mind back to the business of settling his family instead of pondering over the lovely Miss Jensen. Moriah was her first name. Fitting. One day, maybe she’d let him call her that.

  He smiled what he hoped was assurance at his mother. “Mrs. Jensen offered refreshments, so you might want to go visit before we start unpacking.”

  “What a relief.” Grace Dillon shoved the dog off the wagon so she could stand. “I’m parched, and we’re all so weary of sitting, I doubt my backside will ever recover.”

  “Could’ve been worse—we could’ve driven the wagons the whole way,” Tex pointed out. She’d only ridden the wagon from the train station in Caldwell to The Rocks, so maybe fifty or sixty miles, although the rutted road didn’t make for an easy trip.

  “Three days of that old business is plenty enough for me, too.” Tex’s pa climbed down from the driver’s seat. “Grace, you stay right where you are. I’ll be around to help you as soon as my old bones can get me there.”

  “Hurry up, Morgan. I have to visit the privy. Arthur, you better come along with me.”

  Tex dismounted and looped the reins over the wagon tailgate.

  As Morgan passed him, he muttered to Tex, “Did you get a good look at the young lady?”

  “I did. She could use a little loosening up, to my mind.” And he was up for the job. It had been five years since his wife had died of yellow fever—a man could only be a saint for so long.

  Arthur scrambled off the other side of the wagon and took after Prince, who was stalking Wilbur. Tex took after his son. No six-year-old boy ought ever be between a curious bird dog and a killer guard goose. Especially one named Wilbur.

  With one hand, Tex caught Arthur by the suspenders and lifted him off the ground, the boy’s feet still running. “Slow down there, son. Prince is gonna have to come to terms with that goose himself, for we have new neighbors to meet and lots of unpacking to do.”

  “But Prince don’t know about ducks!”

  “Doesn’t, not don’t. And that’s not a duck—it’s a goose named Wilbur.”

  “I don’t like him.”

  Tex didn’t much care for the crotchety bird himself. “Give the goose some time. You might come to be best buddies.” He put his son down, now that the boy’s feet had stopped moving.

  “My best buddy is Prince.”

  “Let’s go help your grandma. We have a whole passel of bags and such to carry in. But before that, we’re going to Mrs. Jensen’s house for a bit. Don’t forget your manners.”

  Fifteen minutes later, and after the lot of them visited the privy, the five of them stepped up on the porch where Mrs. Jensen met them with a tray of tall glasses filled with lemonade.

  “I’m so glad you’re finally here! Quench your thirst and then we’ll all introduce ourselves. I also have coffee on to boil if you’d like some,” she said. “And we have freshly baked cookies in the kitchen. You’re welcome to come in and sit on the couch, or stay out here where it’s cooler but the chairs aren’t as comfortable.”

  Tex wanted to go in, for Moriah must be in there and he wanted another look. In fact, a whole study would be in order. But he didn’t say so.

  “After that awful wagon ride, I believe certain parts of me would much rather sit on the couch, if you don’t mind,” his ma said as she accepted a tall glass of lemonade. She turned to his pa. “Morgan, coffee or lemonade?”

  “Wouldn’t mind a little of both—lemonade to cool me down and coffee to wash the trail dust out of my throat.”

  Mrs. Jensen handed them each a lemonade. She even had a smaller glass to fit Arthur’s hand. “Come in the house and I’ll pour the coffee when it’s ready. I bet the boys wouldn’t mind some milk, too. I’ll have Moriah run down to the springhouse and get some.”

  After they all followed her into the house, Tex looked around for Miss Jensen. She came out of the back room wearing a different hat that wasn’t as flattering but definitely more practical. In a way, she was even more alluring in the bonnet’s brown drabness, for her fair skin and big blue eyes were anything but drab.

  “I’m fetching a roast for supper,” she told her mother. “Do you want anything else from the springhouse?”

  “Milk and butter. Oh, and stop by the root cellar and pick up some potatoes, carrots, and onions. I’ll take some lemonade and cookies out to the bullwhacker.”

  Tex put his hat back on and said to Miss Jensen, “I best go with you to help carry all that.”

  “No, I—”

  Her mother escorted them both to the door. “That’s very thoughtful of you, Tex. I’m sure Moriah’s grateful for your offer.”

  But Miss Jensen glared daggers. Yep, she could use quite a bit of loosening up. It would take considerable patience, but that was one thing he could afford.

  Chapter 2

  Tex tried to think of something clever to say as he and Miss Jensen stepped onto the porch. Maybe he could get her to crack a smile.

  “I’ll be helping the bullwhacker for the next hour or so. We have to get our things out of the weather or Ma will have my hide. Plus, he has to leave early enough to get back to Oreana before dark.”

  Miss Jensen nodded but didn’t say a word.

  The dog, still sticking close to the wagon for fear of Wilbur, woofed once and sprang to his feet, tail wagging. He took a couple of steps toward them—but one honk from the gander sent him back under the wagon. The bullwhacker, who was already unloading some of the lighter items, patted the dog on the head.

  Tex laughed. “Prince must’ve decided that the shade of the wagon is a whole lot better than risking another goose bite just for a couple of pets.”

/>   Miss Jensen picked up an empty basket from the side of the porch and handed it to Tex. “They’ll make friends eventually.”

  “The horse team and wagon are ours. We hired the ox team and wagons at the depot in Caldwell.”

  “That’s nice.”

  Nice? He didn’t think of it as anything but a conversation starter. And apparently a conversation ender.

  One thing Tex hadn’t counted on was the persistent guard goose. He stayed right square between Tex and Miss Jensen as they walked to the springhouse. If Tex got too close, the gander would honk his fool head off, and one time he even delivered a swift and painful peck to Tex’s shin. The rest of the time Wilbur just glowered evilly at Tex with his beady little goose eyes. But that was just as well, for Tex needed to get a handle on the lay of the land before he made any grand courting plans.

  “How many geese do you have?” he asked her.

  “Just the one. Someone left him beside the road and he adopted us.”

  “Maybe he wouldn’t be so surly if he had some company.”

  “I think he’s sweet. And anyway Ma ordered six geese—they should be here next week. Goose eggs are better than chicken eggs for some things, but we didn’t want to add more animals and more chores until you came.”

  “That’s how we got Prince—or he got us, more like it. We were about a mile out of Caldwell and he joined up with us. I tried to coax him to leave but he wouldn’t, and Arthur wanted to keep him in the worst way. Then the dog saved Arthur from stepping on a rattler, so I gave in and let him stay with us. My son loves that big mutt, and we’ve had him less than three days.”

  “Kindred spirits, maybe.”

  Like her and Wilbur? He almost laughed at the thought. Both the gander and the woman could use a little loosening up.

  In the springhouse, Miss Jensen selected a roast and a small crock of milk. She put the roast in the basket he held but kept the crock. “We’ll load the basket the rest of the way in the root cellar.”

  “I can carry both,” he offered.

  “Not necessary.” She cradled the milk in the crook of her arm and left the springhouse before he could make a second attempt at gallantry.

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