Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Our Little Secrets (Montana Romance) by Merry Farmer (Excerpt)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Our Little Secrets

One of her light-skirt companions laughed at something and half the men on the platform laughed with her.  It served to underline her question.  His grin broadened.  “As much as I need help at the store, I don’t think I could afford you.”

“I thought you were one of the richest men in town, Mr. West.”

It had been so long since a woman had flirted with him that he’d forgotten how to flirt back.

“Alright, you’ve got me there,” he chuckled.  What was wrong with him?  He should go back to work or run as fast as he could.

He checked to make sure no one from town was listening.  “I just need to make sure all of the crates on this packing list are here.  Oliver can handle the rest.  Then can I take your bags somewhere?” he asked out of sheer mad compulsion to find out who she was and what she was doing there.  He glanced past her to the others.  One of the young women actually lifted the corner of her skirt to show off her calves.  “Do you know where you’ll be staying?”

“I have no idea,” she announced with a flash of excitement in her eyes.  “I’ve been on that train for so long the only thing I know besides my name is that I don’t ever want to get on a train again.”

“And your name is Charlotte Baldwin.” He nodded to the upturned tag on the bag between them.

“My friends call me Charlie.”  She held out her hand.

“Charlie.” He set his clipboard down and took it.  She wore kid gloves with pearl buttons.  Not cheap.  Charlie Baldwin most definitely wasn’t from anywhere nearby.  “How far have you come?”

“From Philadelphia.”

“Philadelphia?” A twinge of bittersweet longing pierced his gut.  “That’s a long way.”

“Yes.” She made light of the distance.  “But I’m here now and I intend to start over, starting now.”  She glanced over her shoulder at the train.

“You do?”  It was just a coincidence, he told himself.  Anyone could be from Philadelphia.  “Why in God’s name would you want to stay here?”

She shrugged.  “Who wouldn’t want to build a new life in a town as homey and picturesque as this?”

Her question was followed by a gunshot from the heart of the town’s main street and a round of screaming from the silly girls disbursing off the platform.  Charlie whipped her head around to find where the danger had come from, hugging her carpetbag.

“Cowboys,” Michael explained with a shrug.  “Someone is probably drunk.”

“But it’s eleven in the morning, at least it is if that clock is right.”  She nodded to the large clock built into the thick stone edifice of the bank.

“They’ve had a late start today,” he replied with a straight face, a twinkle in his eye.

She pinned him with a dubious glance.  Her anxiety melted and a chuckle bubbled up from her slender throat.  She raised a hand to her mouth.  “Oh dear.”

Michael’s long-suppressed desire to be charming flared to life.  He made a half-hearted attempt to squash it.  She was just another newcomer.  A beautiful, intelligent newcomer with winsome eyes and a figure a man would have to be dead not to notice.  Instinct couldn’t have chosen a more inconvenient time to flare.  Then again, a devilish part of him argued, if she had come to town to find a husband….

“Miss Baldwin.  Charlie,” he found himself asking against his better judgment, “Could I buy you lunch?”

“As long as you have enough dimes,” she grinned.



“I’m sure I could find some,” he replied.  “Let me just get Oliver situated and I’ll show you the town.”

This was either his lucky day or the beginning of pure disaster.

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Genre – Western Historical Romance

Rating – R

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