Today I’m going to do another sample from The Stagecoach Bride.
In this scene, Lillian finds out the man she was supposed to marry has accused her of stealing from him (something that isn’t true) and now she’s an outlaw. This scene starts out with a fight she’s having with Wade who is Mic’s (the hero’s) brother. Noah is also Mic’s brother. Charles was the man she was supposed to marry. And Robert is just someone you’ll have to find out about when you read the book. I can’t give away everything. 😉
“If I’m such a burden, then why are you keeping me here?” Lillian asked Wade. “I didn’t ask to be here. I didn’t ask to be kidnapped from a stagecoach. You wanted your money so badly you just couldn’t resist taking an innocent woman and forcing her to this place. If money is all you care about, then go to find something Charles will actually pay for since I’m so useless.”
“She can’t go,” Noah said. “Caleb said the reward money was too much for anyone to ignore.”
Wade released her and she stepped away from him, glad for the distance between them. “Reward money?” She glanced at Mic. “He meant the ransom, doesn’t he?”
Mic glanced away from her, looking uncertain. “No. Charles’ answer to our request was to…” He met her eyes and pulled the folded paper she’d asked about that second day. “His answer was to make you an outlaw.”
Lillian accepted the paper as Mic held it out to her, hesitating to unfold it since she already knew she wasn’t going to like what she’d see.
Mic continued to talk, his voice low, almost soothing. “Charles accused you of stealing from him and offered a reward of $1000 for your capture.” He motioned to the paper. “If I’d known he’d go that far, I would have thought of another way.”
“What other way was there?” Wade snarled.
“I could have given him what he asked for!”
“No! It’s not an option. Do have a death wish, Mic?”
She slowly unfolded the paper, the arguing around her drowned out by the sudden rush of fear crashing into her. At the very top was “Wanted” and below that was a very accurate drawing of her. The face wasn’t bad. She had a common enough face, the kind that could blend into a crowd. Even her name ‘Lillian Christian’ wasn’t enough to draw attention to her since she’d made it up before she hurried out of Virginia. But her hat was another matter. The ‘V’ etched into it next to the rose was a dead giveaway that Robert would recognize. It’d been the symbol in her family, and now it was the very thing that made her an easy target.
She looked between Mic and Wade who were still arguing. “Who will see this?”
“Everyone,” Wade snapped. “They post them at every jail house. It’s only a matter of time before the area knows, then the territory. The longer you hide, the farther it spreads.”
Too disturbed by the hat in the picture, she ignored Wade’s tone. Everyone? So it was only a matter of time before people back East would see it? If that was true, then she wasn’t safe anywhere. People all over would be looking for her. Who could resist $1000? It would only be a matter of time before they took her to Charles, jail or, worse, Robert.
And Robert knew she was worth a whole lot more than $1000. He was probably already looking for her. With the size of the country, she felt safe. He could spend his whole life looking for her and never find her as Lillian Christian. She’d been so careful before she left, making sure she left no traces of her new life. Except for one thing. The hat. How could she have known that something so small could be so important?
“Lillian! Are you coming?” Mic called.
She looked up from the poster, unaware that the three had already made their way to the cabin. She glanced back at the poster and folded it. “Yes, I’m coming.” Later. There was no sense in making rash decisions. She’d decide what to do about this later.