Ilsa pendleton petticoat.., p.1

Ilsa (Pendleton Petticoats Book 3), page 1

 part  #3 of  Pendleton Petticoats Series

 

Ilsa (Pendleton Petticoats Book 3)
 



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Ilsa (Pendleton Petticoats Book 3)


  Table of Contents

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Pendleton Petticoats, Book 3

  A Sweet Historical Western Romance

  by

  USA Today Bestselling Author

  SHANNA HATFIELD

  Ilsa

  Copyright © 2014 by Shanna Hatfield

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. Please purchase only authorized editions.

  For permission requests, please contact the author, with a subject line of "permission request” at the email address below or through her website.

  Shanna Hatfield

  shanna@shannahatfield.com

  shannahatfield.com

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Praise for Ilsa

  “You will laugh — cry — get angry! If you enjoy historical romances you will not be disappointed.”

  Amazon Reviewer

  “If you think you know what to expect, throw that out of the window! This book twists and turns through history with loads of details and fun, flirting and frivolity, fear and freedom.”

  Amazon Reviewer

  “Historically realistic with a good storyline!”

  Amazon Reviewer

  “Watching Ilsa grow from a timid unsure young girl, to a strong, take charge young woman, was so much fun and I rooted for her the whole way.”

  Amazon Reviewer

  “This book captivated me from the start. I loved the way the story opened with excitement from the very beginning. Filled with adventure, intrigue and a lot of laughter throughout the book made it a great read.”

  Amazon Reviewer

  Discover all of Shanna’s books on Amazon…

  To those who are

  so much stronger

  than they believe…

  Chapter One

  1901

  Chicago

  Furtively glancing over her shoulder for the fifth time in as many minutes, Ilsa Thorsen continued her frantic pace toward the telegraph office.

  If Aunt Louisa found out she’d escaped the confines of her room, there would be no end to her punishment.

  Earlier that morning, after the maid left her breakfast tray, Ilsa listened for the turn of the key in the lock. The resonating click sentenced her to another day spent captive at the Dubois residence where she lived with her aunt and uncle. When the sound failed to come, Ilsa had a brief window of opportunity to make a plea for help.

  Hastily scribbling the message she wanted to send to the one person who could save her, she grabbed coins from her hidden stash. Cautiously, she made her way out of her room, down the stairs, and out the front door. Uncle Henri was traveling and Aunt Louisa always left the house for her dress shop at precisely eight each morning. At half past the hour, with the hired help in the kitchen or cleaning the house, Ilsa raced down the front walk and out the gate, hoping her absence would go undetected.

  At any moment, she expected to feel an authoritative hand grab her arm and drag her home. Ilsa propelled her feet forward while continuing to keep watch behind her. Rapidly rounding the corner at the end of the block, she hastened her step and entered the telegraph office.

  She fought to subdue her roiling emotions and breathe normally as she took her place in line. Aware of those around her, she kept her head down until it was her turn to step up to the counter. Ilsa slid her simple message across the smooth surface along with the necessary coins.

  The man behind the counter read her note and lifted his gaze to study her. “Are you sure this is what you want to send, miss?” he asked.

  “Yes, please.” Unable to thwart the look of desperation that filled her eyes, she dared to meet his steady gaze. The middle-aged man had a kind face and his expression was sympathetic as he smiled at her reassuringly.

  “Is there anything I can do to help you, miss?”

  “No, sir, I don’t believe so, but thank you for the offer. If you can please send that message to my sister, that is all the help I’m asking for today.” Ilsa gave him one last pleading look then made her way out of the office and back toward her aunt’s stately home.

  Behind the screen of a shrub near the kitchen door, Ilsa watched to make sure the tattletale cook had her hands and attention buried in a batch of dough before sneaking in the door. She scurried upstairs to the room Louisa made into her personal prison for the last year.

  Fervently praying her sister would receive the telegram and come to her rescue, Ilsa realized Aundy would never have allowed herself to get into such an unthinkable situation.

  Strong, stubborn, and confident, Aundy was everything Ilsa knew she’d never be. She often envied her sister for her height and capable demeanor.

  Ilsa knew when people looked at her they saw a delicate and fragile girl, not a self-sufficient woman. That was the precise reason why she was in this horrid predicament.

  With a beleaguered sigh, she sat in a chair by the window. Thanks to one of her failed attempts at escaping, ornate iron bars now ran across it, obscuring her view. Resigned to another day spent alone in the room, she picked up the dress she’d been embellishing and got to work.

  Ilsa was proud of her talent with a needle, coming from a long line of talented tailors, milliners, and seamstresses. The flash of silver as she whipped her needle in and out of the fabric, created a beautiful row of intricate stitches.

  Women from all over the city of Chicago sought out her ability to transform a simple piece of cloth into a wearable work of art. Of course, few of them knew Ilsa worked the magic in the fabric, thinking it was her aunt. The formidable woman owned a dress shop that catered to the city’s most elite and exclusive clientele.

  Ilsa wished she’d gone to live with Aundy the first time her sister asked her to travel to Pendleton, Oregon.

  Loath to admit it, Ilsa had been afraid. From the stories Aundy shared through her descriptive letters, Pendleton sounded like a wild western town with cowboys, miners, Indians, and Chinese men roaming the streets.

  She didn’t like noise or dirt or anything disorderly and feared what life there would be like since she’d never known anything but the city.

  An unladylike snort burst from her mouth as she considered her circumstances. Aghast, she looked around to be sure no one heard her.

  For someone who detested disorder, her life quickly spiraled out of control.

  Shuddering, she thought of her detestable fiancé, Delmon Bertrand. Ilsa was sure his name was really demon. If horns suddenly sprouted from his head, she wouldn’t have been surprised in the least.

 
; Lately, she’d endured a considerable amount of time in his unbearable presence. Their upcoming marriage had been arranged by her aunt and uncle, despite her many protests.

  Aunt Louisa planned for her to wed Delmon in a few weeks. Ilsa could not, would not, let it happen.

  Uncle Henri had friends at the station who would call if she tried to board a train, so it seemed pointless to run away by rail. She could use her stash of money to hire a cab to get her out of town, but she had no idea what she’d do then.

  Desperate yet determined, she worked on the project Louisa demanded she finish before the day was through. Ilsa snipped the last thread on the dress as the bedroom door burst open and her aunt charged into the room.

  “You stupid girl! I told you to be ready to leave at five on the dot and just look at you.” Louisa waved her hand at Ilsa in disgust. “Your hair is a mess, your frock is wrinkled, and your appearance is not at all suited for a dinner engagement. Poor Delmon hates to be kept waiting, as you well know.”

  Absently recalling Delmon invited them for dinner, Ilsa set down her scissors, shook out the dress she’d spent the day finishing, and showed it to her aunt.

  “I finished Mrs. Longcamp’s dress. Isn’t it lovely?” Ilsa admired the pale green creation that made her think of sea foam. Not that she’d ever seen sea foam, but what she imagined it would look like.

  “Yes, yes, she’ll be thrilled.” Louisa didn’t even look her direction as she sorted through Ilsa’s dresses and chose an orchid pink gown trimmed in bright pink lace.

  Ilsa hated it for the simple fact that Delmon selected the color and Louisa made it.

  “Change into that,” Louisa ordered, hanging the dress on a hook and walking to the door. “I’ll send Mary in to do your hair. You have seven minutes before you’ll force me to make you sorry for not following my orders.”

  Ilsa watched her aunt leave the room with her face a picture of calm acceptance. The second the door shut and locked, though, she stamped her foot and tossed a pillow across the room.

  The helpless, worthless feeling she experienced left her angry and frustrated.

  Viciously yanking on the ugly gown, she smoothed down the gaudy pink lace around the collar as Mary arrived. The maid styled her straight blond hair into an elegant style that rested on top of her head.

  “Thank you, Mary.” Ilsa smiled at the servant who tried to be a friend to her since she moved in with her aunt several years ago. Louisa discouraged their friendship, going so far as to threaten to fire Mary if it continued.

  “You’re most welcome, Miss Thorsen.” Mary bowed and went out the door.

  Quickly gathering a wrap, her gloves, and reticule, Ilsa took one last look in the mirror and forced a smile as her aunt opened the door and motioned her forward. “Hurry up. Delmon’s carriage is waiting.”

  “Yes, Aunt Louisa,” Ilsa said, wanting to jump in the carriage and keep going until she found herself at Aundy’s ranch in Oregon.

  Instead, she carried herself regally, following her aunt down the steps and into the carriage that would take them to Delmon’s ostentatious home he shared with his father.

  Louisa never failed to be impressed by the overdone décor the Bertrand family preferred.

  Ilsa never failed to feel overwhelmed by the dark house stuffed with expensive works of art, uncomfortable furnishings, and her fiancé.

  Welcomed by Delmon at the door, he kissed both their cheeks. While pressing his thin lips to Ilsa’s, his hand wandered improperly down her spine and lightly tapped her backside.

  Deftly moving away from him, Ilsa pointed out a new painting he acquired since her last visit two weeks prior. He and Louisa launched into a lengthy conversation about the finer points of Impressionism and the relatively new style of art.

  “Will your father join us this evening?” Louisa asked as they finally took their seats in the dining room.

  “No, he had another engagement, but sends his regards.” Delmon spoke to Louisa but kept his lecherous gaze fastened on Ilsa.

  “Perhaps he’ll be able to join us Sunday after church. We have the loveliest meal planned.” Louisa smiled imploringly at Delmon. “You’ll be there, of course, won’t you, dear?”

  “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Delmon settled his attention on Ilsa. Her skin crawled as she thought about marrying the despicable man in just a few weeks.

  After dinner, Louisa excused herself to give them a few minutes alone in the parlor. Ilsa wanted to scream when Delmon began chasing her around the room. From experience, she knew if he caught her, he’d either touch her inappropriately or press one of his sloppy kisses to her lips.

  “Stop it, Delmon. This instant!” Ilsa maneuvered a high-backed chair between them, desperate to escape not only his presence, but also the entire situation.

  “I love it when you play hard-to-get, my little pet,” Delmon said, smoothing down the sides of his thin black mustache.

  Rather than give him the manly appearance he sought, the mustache and tiny patch of hair beneath his bottom lip looked like some foreign strain of dark, fuzzy mold infected his face. The thought of it brushing her own skin made her quiver in revulsion.

  Mistakenly reading her reaction, Delmon’s eyes gleamed with lascivious intent. “You shiver in anticipation of my kisses.” He made a grab for her as she moved from behind the chair to the sofa. A few more steps and she’d reach the door, although she knew she couldn’t outrun the annoying little man.

  While Ilsa stood barely five-feet tall, Delmon was only a few inches taller. No wonder he was still single. Between his unacceptable behavior, his lack of a personality, and his slight, short frame, she could easily see why he’d managed to stay unmarried for more than thirty years.

  Well past her nineteenth birthday, Ilsa was in no rush to wed, especially to someone she couldn’t stand.

  Delmon lunged at her, falling on top of her on the sofa. A scream began working its way up her throat. Before it escaped, Louisa returned to the room and suggested it was time for them to retire home for the evening. The woman completely ignored the fact that Delmon had Ilsa pinned beneath him while he pressed unpardonably close against her.

  After making a hasty departure, Ilsa settled her skirts around her in the carriage. She jumped in surprise when Louisa’s hand connected with her cheek in a resounding slap. Glancing up in shock, the hate she read in her aunt’s eyes left her reeling.

  “You ungrateful strumpet! Two more weeks and Delmon can do whatever he wishes with you, but until then you will keep him at bay. Do you understand?”

  “But I didn’t do anything. I was…”

  “Shut your foul little mouth.” Louisa hit her leg with her reticule before staring out into the night.

  Ilsa kept her back straight and chin up as she returned to her room, determined to fight back the tears of anger, frustration, and fear threatening to overtake her. The turn of the key in the lock behind her echoed with harsh finality, reminding Ilsa of her impending sentence to a life of misery if she would truly be forced to marry Delmon. Rushing to her bed, she collapsed on the soft covers, soaking the pillow with her tears.

  Chapter Two

  Pendleton, Oregon

  “Rider coming. Fast.”

  Aundy Nash shielded her eyes from the sun and looked up at her adopted son as he carefully stepped across the rows of the garden and pointed down their lane.

  “Can you see who it is, Nik?”

  “Not yet, but he’s kicking up a lot of dust.” The boy gave Aundy a hand as she got to her feet and brushed clumps of rich dirt from her skirt.

  “Let’s go see who it is,” she said, leading the way around the side of the house to the front yard.

  Tony Campanelli pulled his horse to a stop at the end of the walk and hurried her direction across the green grass of a well-kept lawn.

  “What brings you out to Nash’s Folly, Tony?” Aundy asked as he took her hand in his and gave it a friendly squeeze.

  “Bad news, I’m afraid.
Tony handed Aundy the telegram he pulled from his shirt pocket.

  Swiftly reading the succinct message, she felt her knees weaken, but held herself upright.

  “Aundy, is everything okay? What’s it say?” Nik asked, offering his arm for support as she mutely walked up the porch steps and sank onto a rattan chair.

  “It’s from my sister,” she said, handing Nik the brief missive.

  Please help me!

  Ilsa

  “What’s this mean?” Nik asked, looking from Tony to Aundy. At sixteen, on the cusp of manhood, he was still a boy who had been largely sheltered from the world while he spent most of his life herding sheep.

  “It means I should have brought Ilsa home a long time ago. I knew something was wrong when she sent those trunks of fabric and sewing notions at Christmas. I haven’t heard a word from her since.” Aundy pressed her hands to her cheeks and released a sigh.

  “You want me to find Garrett?” Tony asked, uncertain what he should do. He’d come to care a great deal for the Nash family, especially since his sister, Caterina, and Aundy were close and Caterina’s husband, Kade Rawlings, was Garrett’s best friend. It made them practically related, at least by his Italian family’s standards.

  “That would be a great help, Tony. Thank you. If you’d ask my husband to come home as quickly as possible, I’d appreciate it,” Aundy said, getting to her feet and rolling back her shoulders. “We’ve got a train to catch.”

  “You do?” Nik asked, watching as Aundy opened the screen door and stepped inside the house.

  “Yes, we’re going to Chicago and I’m bringing Ilsa home.”

  The banging of the screen door and Aundy’s footsteps echoing across the wooden floor of the front room filled the morning silence.

  “I saw Garrett out with the cattle when I rode in. I’ll go fetch him,” Tony said, patting Nik on the back. “Maybe you should let Dent know what’s going on so he can be prepared to handle things while Garrett and Aundy are gone.”

 
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