Message From The Author
In my new western romance, you will meet Luke Shardlow, a bad new boy from the baddest part of town, and Charity Barnham, capable daughter of a wealthy rancher. Charity will turn out to be both Lukes blessing and curse. The story is loosely based on a certain fairy talesee if you can guess which one! (Hint: theres a frog in it) Ive hidden a lot of passion, joy, laughter and tears in the pages of this book, just for you, and Im eager to know what you think.
Be sure to check out my website, too, at www.lindalaelmiller.com. There will
be lots going on there, over the next few months, including information about my new short-historical series from Pocket, called THE WOMEN OF PRIMROSE CREEK.
Im sure Bridget, Christy, Skye and Megan will liven up those early, rainy days of spring.
Excerpt From the Prologue of ONE WISH
She peered intently at the water, then kicked off her small, glimmering shoes, stood up and, gathering the doll close, waded straight into the boiling, splinter-spiked scallops of shallow water at the edge of the creek.
She moved as purposefully as Moses leading the children of Israel toward the Red Sea.
[Watching her in the water,] a shout of irritated alarm boiled up into his throat. Even a girl should be able to see that the water was too high, too swift, too angry for such foolery. Come back, he commanded silently, but of course she only went further out, holding the doll in one arm and raising her skirts with the other hand.
He growled a swear word and hoisted himself onto his bare feet. Get out of there! he yelled, spitting the words one by one like the seeds of some bitter fruit. Are you stupid or something?
She looked up at the sound of his voice, and he saw by her expression that she was only baffled, not scared, like any sensible person would have been. Just that small motion of her blonde, ringleted head was enough to throw her off balance; she slipped and went under.
He cursed again, climbed down the tree with knee-skinning haste, and bounded into the cold waters of the creek. The girl floated downstream, her petticoats brimming around her upturned bottom like the petals of a water lily.
He splashed after her, an action contrary to his thoughts, which were anything but charitable. She was too stupid to live, he reflected, shivering as he fought the icy currents to reach her.
Somehow he got to her, managed to curve an arm around her middle and drag her upright. Her head broke the surface. She sputtered and choked, her thick lashes beaded with water, her wide eyes gray as a storm-brewed sky, and kept a death grip on the doll, as though it might somehow save her.
Renewing his resolve, he began fighting his way toward shore, numb to the center of his bones, praying to a God he had never believed in that he could hold on, reach, solid ground before they both drowned. The effort required considerable strength, but he managed it, after the fight of his young life, and lay breathless and spent in the mud, still grasping the girl.
She sat up and regarded him solemnly, blue with cold, wet to the skin, and apparently heedless of the fact that shed nearly gotten them both killed. Ive muddied my dress, she said. My best dress. She held out the doll. And just look at poor Delilah!
He stared at the girl in furious amazement. I figured you must be touched in the head, he grumbled, scrambling up off the cold ground, and I was right. If my pa sees I got my clothes wet, Ill get whupped for sure. Come to that, Ill probably die of the pneumonia before he can lay a hand on me!
She had the gall to smile at him, and that was when he realized who she was. It only made him madder, that she was the only child of the wealthiest, most powerful rancher in that part of the territory. As such, she should have had better sense or, leastways, somebody to look out for her.
Since you saved my life, Charity Barnham announced with a queenly sniff, I hereby grant you permission to kiss me.
He made a face.
She looked indignant, on top of being bedraggled, filthy and wet clear through. Very well, then, she said stiffly, you may have three wishes, if you wont take a kiss. Tell me your name.
Luke, he answered, without intending to speak at all. Luke Shardlow. And I dont need nothin from you.
She sighed in a long-suffering fashion. One wish, then. But if you read fairy tales, youd know that you are fully entitled to three.
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