Loving a Runaway Bride (Preview)

Chapter One

Jeremiah Farthing – Jess to his friends – ran a hand through his red and curly hair. It was a feature of his family that he had long become used to. His sister, Carrie, had the same colour, and her three children were keeping up the tradition. Jess had a smattering of freckles across his nose and would have laughed if anyone had called him handsome. Standing just short of six feet tall, he had the trim body of someone used to physical work, and quite a few of the local young women would have been pleased to have his attention. He lived just outside of the town called Emerald Springs.

He stamped his boots on the floor to shake off the soil and went into the barn to check that all was tidied up and secure for the night. Jess was a farmer in a small way but had enough land to grow wheat and oats for the local needs and vegetables as well. The soil was good and fertile for the crops, and like most other people in the land of wide-open plains, he kept a few chickens for his own needs and a couple of cows for milk. These creatures came inside the barn at night along with the horses he kept for work and riding. He talked to the creatures in a soothing voice as he did the last-minute check before looking forward to the stew he had left simmering in the pot on the stove. Jess was a contented man in lots of ways. The life he lived was the one he wanted, but it was hard work, and he was ready to sink into a big easy chair in front of a roaring fire.

The little dog, Bobby, that was his constant companion, stayed at his heels and knew that food would be waiting when the chores were done. He was a cheerful little fellow of uncertain heritage, but he was useful around the farm and company in the house. Jess looked back down the barn to the door and started to walk towards it when he noticed Bobby looking intently at the hay piled in the corner.

“Surely not a rat,” he grumbled out loud and heard a faint squeaky noise that did not seem like a rat. If it had been a rat, Bobby would have dived into the fray by then to dispose of it. Jess was a little more cautious as the dog was telling him something was wrong. He pulled his handgun from his holster and picked up a fork that was there to move the hay. With the fork, he gingerly moved the straw to one side, half expecting some sort of wild creature to spring out when it was disturbed. Nothing happened, but there was definitely something in there. He holstered the gun and moved more hay, and whatever was hiding tried to go further into the corner. Jess reached forward and grabbed an armful of the hay to throw it out of the way and stopped with his arms in midair as what he had revealed was a woman. She screamed out loud and tried to dive further away from him, but there was nowhere to go, and she stopped with an expression of hopelessness on her face.

Jess dropped the hay and tried to look friendly because the young woman in front of him was clearly terrified.

“Good Lord,” he exclaimed. “What on earth are you doing hiding in a barn?” He held out a hand to help her up, but she shrank further away. “I won’t bite. I promise,” he added with a smile, but she did not respond. Jess sank to the floor and sat with his arms around his knees. The dog leaned against him, and he stroked its head. “This is Bobby, and I am Jess,” he said in the most conversational tone he could manage. There was no reply, and he tried a few more sentences. Bobby took the initiative in the end and crept forwards on his tummy to nudge the arm of the visitor shivering in the barn. He reached up, licked one of her hands, and involuntarily she stroked the dog on the head.

“We really don’t bite,” Jess said with a smile and saw a slight glimmer of relaxation in the woman in front of him. “Is somebody frightening you?” he asked with a stroke of understanding and received a nod from the girl on the floor. “I’ve got stew on the stove if you want to come and tell me about it.” Bobby gave her another lick, and she almost made a move to stand up. Jess offered a hand from his own position on the floor, and she tentatively reached out to take it as they stood up together. “I won’t hurt you,” he said, “Bobby likes you, and he doesn’t give everyone a lick on the hand.” For the first time, a slight smile crossed the woman’s face, and he noticed that her eyes were a brilliant and vivid blue. She stood at about his shoulder height and had long black hair that curled slightly. It was tied back out of the way but escaping to fall around her face. He continued holding her hand and felt the tremors that were still affecting her whole system. There was something in the way that this girl shivered and yet clutched his hand that spoke to Jeremiah, and he felt a connection that he could not explain.

“I’m Daisy O’Malley,” she whispered, and the shakiness was still in her voice. There was a trace of an Irish accent in the voice, and as she spoke, the Irish insight that she had felt since a child told her that this man was a friend. Daisy knew that as if it was written on his forehead, and for the first time started to breathe more normally. Jess didn’t know what had made the change, but he felt it and smiled.

“Come and have something to eat. I’m not the best cook in the world, but I’m not the worst either.” He turned and spoke to the dog. “Come on, Bobby. Lead the way to dinner.” The dog pricked up its ears at the word dinner and bounded ahead towards the house. Daisy smiled at the response and walked alongside the man. She looked cautiously into the room and saw that there was no one else there. She had been caught too many times before to walk into a trap. The feeling that this was a man to trust flashed back inside her head, and she stepped inside.

“Live by myself,” he said, offering the information. “Jess Farthing.” He held out a hand and formally shook the one she offered in return. The place was warm and comfortable, and suddenly Daisy was ravenous. Her mouth almost watered at the sight of the stew in the pot, and he ladled out a generous portion and offered some bread as well. Jess ate his own meal and made sure that Bobby had his share. He watched with a half-smile as his unexpected visitor devoured everything he put in front of her. Finally, she sat back, and he gave her a coffee and offered a comfortable seat.

“Tell me who frightens you like this,” he suggested and threw some more wood on the fire. She wrapped her hands around the coffee cup and hesitated. He smiled, and Bobby pressed against her legs. She dropped one hand onto the dog’s head and nodded as if she had made a decision.

“My parents both died. Dad was a baker, and we were doing okay,” she paused, and her eyes were looking back at the past. “I went to work in the kitchen of a grand house because I could bake and cook, but it was horrible, and I saw an advert for a mail order bride.” He filled up her cup and waited. “It looked wonderful – a new start, my own home, and this open country that seemed much friendlier than the city.”

“But?” he asked, and she told him that Mikey Dennis was fine for two days, and then he started to hit her and was very cruel.

“In the end, when he was out working, I ran away.”

“Will he look for you?” Jess asked and quelled the horror he was feeling at what this woman had been through.

She nodded. “He always said that because he had paid my fare to travel here, he owned me.”

“So, we find the money to pay him back, and then you will be free,” Jess said.

She looked doubtful. “He is a nasty person who wants revenge.” Looking away, she said, “Anyway, where would I find the money?”

Jess reached across and touched her arm. “Not everybody is awful, and some of us will help you.” She shook her head, and a tear trickled down her cheek. She didn’t bother to wipe it away, and Jess Farthing’s heart went out to her. “Can you ride a horse?” he asked, and she nodded. “Come on then, let’s go and see my sister.” Daisy had her doubts but felt better with a full tummy and being warm. She followed him to the stable, and he took out a large chestnut horse. “Second thoughts,” he told her. “Rio here will take us both.” He saddled up and led the horse outside. Bobby went back to settle on the straw, and Jess grabbed his hat and a jacket. He felt to make sure his handgun was in the holster and found a jacket for Daisy as well. “Right up you go,” he said and gave her a hand up. Then he swung up into the saddle behind her and clicked for Rio to start. “It’s not far to Emerald Springs,” he said to the back of her head. “My sister and her husband have a store there.” He kept up a general conversation about his sister Carrie, husband Jed, and three children as they walked gently along the track to the town. There was no one about. Darkness cloaked them, and for once, Daisy O’Malley was happy to leave the responsibility to somebody else. As they entered the main street, things were still quiet and a couple of people went in and out of the hotel. Sounds came from a couple of bars, and the seats outside of the sheriff’s office were empty.

Jess headed for a store past the small wooden church and took the horse around the back. The store was closed for the night, and he tied Rio to a rail and helped Daisy down.

“Will she not mind us just arriving?” she asked anxiously, and he smiled in the darkness.

“Wait until you meet her, and you’ll know the answer to that one.” Jess knocked at the door and called out to say who it was. His brother-in-law opened up and asked if anything was wrong. Then he saw that Jess was not alone and stood aside to let them in. Carrie Mackie came over to see what was happening and gave her brother a raised eyebrow that asked a million questions.

Jess grinned. “Carrie and Jed meet Daisy O’Malley. She needs your help.”

“Come and sit down,” Carrie invited and sat herself to listen to the story. Jess recounted what he knew, and Daisy did say a few words, but it was clear that she was still very nervous.

“I feel terrible putting you to such trouble, and I’m wearing filthy clothes. Jess fed me, and that was wonderful, but it will be better if I just leave.”

Carrie shook her red curls and looked at her brother.

“If you need help, we will help. If you need clean clothes, I’ll find some. If this monster turns up, we’ll pay him off and send him packing.” She smiled at the newcomer. “We have lots of good friends who would help if needed as well. So, no more talk about leaving. It will be a pleasure to sort out this – what was his name? Mikey Dennis.”

“See I told you what Carrie would say. Heaven help Mikey Dennis if he takes her on.”

Daisy smiled a genuine smile for the first time, and Jess Farthing felt a little jump inside his ribcage that was nothing to do with his sister.

Chapter Two

Carrie turned suddenly and shouted at the door to the back of the house.

“Show your faces, you naughty boys. I know you are behind that door.” Three ginger-headed boys from the oldest at twelve to the youngest at two came into the room and gazed at Daisy.

“Were you really in the barn?” the middle one asked, and Daisy nodded.

“And your uncle found me and gave me some stew to eat.”

“He might have shot you,” the eldest pointed out, and Daisy nodded again.

“I was lucky to escape with my life,” she agreed solemnly, and the boys looked at their uncle in a whole new light.

“Right you three,” Carrie told them with great authority. “This is your cousin Daisy from Denver. Understood?” They nodded. “Who is it?”

“Cousin Daisy from Denver,” the three chorused together, but little Ben didn’t quite get it right.

“Who?” Carrie demanded again, and the same answer came from all three. She turned to Daisy.

“These are Jerry, Tom, and Ben, cousin Daisy.” Daisy offered her hand to each of them. They shook it as if it was a pact, and then went back to bed on command.

“You are quite staggering at getting them to do as they are told,” Jess told his sister with a grin.

“Thank the Lord,” her husband spoke for the first time. “They would drive me crazy.” Daisy actually laughed out loud. It was a breakthrough. The four of them sat and gradually managed to get some background from her as she understood that they really did want to help and they believed her. Jed Mackie was reassuringly steady and solid. Carrie saw someone who needed mothering, and she was very good at that, and Jess was glad that he had them to back him up. He knew he would have looked after this unexpected visitor even without the help.

Carrie jumped up and took the newcomer into the bedroom. She pulled out clothes and started to sort out what she could give away.

“No, no. I can’t take your clothes,” Daisy protested, and Carrie stopped and gave her the same look she used on the boys.

“Okay, I know how those three youngsters feel.” She raised her hands in the air in submission and changed out of her dirty and torn things into clean ones that made her feel so much better. Carrie handed her a hairbrush and left her to wash her hands and face in the washbowl in the room. She took with her some other clothes that she went to parcel up for Daisy to take with her.

“We have no spare room,” she said to her brother, “but she can have clothes, and maybe we can find her some work.” He agreed and said that he had already thought of that.

“Do you think she will have my spare room?” he asked worrying that the girl might be afraid.

“Let’s ask,” Jed said sensibly as Daisy came in with a spring in her step after a wash and clean clothes.

“Ask what?” she said, and Carrie asked if she would be happy to stay in Jess’s spare room as they did not have one. Daisy looked at the man who had saved her from hunger and desperation and felt that flash of intuition that told her he was a good man, and she would be safe.

“If it will not be a nuisance, I will be happy to,” she answered. “I can work to pay for it.”

“We will work out some jobs for you,” Jess told her, and she interrupted to tell them that she was a good cook.

“My dad was a baker, and I grew up watching him work, but when he died, I worked in a very grand house, and they ate fancy food. I can bake and make pastry of all sorts.” She hesitated and told them that she knew a lot about plants and making things from them.

“Like what?” Jess asked as growing things was his life.

“Hand creams, cough medicine, creams to heal wounds, and things like that.”

Carrie held out her hand to show a red patch. “That won’t go away,” she said, and Daisy told her that she would take the herbs from Jess’s garden and make her a soothing paste to take it away.

“So, the plan is to tell everyone that cousin Daisy is visiting from Denver and keep a lookout for any strangers?” Jed asked.

“I am off the beaten track a little bit, so it will only be when we come into town,” Jess remarked. “Daisy can breathe easy and decide what to do when it seems she is safe.”

“Thank you so much, all of you,” Daisy told them. “I will pay you all back in the end, I promise.”

“We’ll come out to see you in a couple of days,” Carrie said as they stepped outside. Jess looked down the street, and there was nobody about. They climbed back aboard Rio and set off back to the farm. The place was starting to look familiar to Daisy, but she stayed close to Jess as he put Rio back in a stall and made sure the animals were looked after. Then they went back into the house, and he lit a lantern to show her the way to the spare bedroom.

“It needs a dust and tidy,” he apologised. “I will find some blankets.” As he stepped out of the room, Daisy gazed around at her safe-haven that some providential being had provided.

“I can make the bed myself,” she said as he dumped pillows and blankets on the bed. “Tomorrow, I will do the dusting and see what other help you need.” He sat on the edge of the bed, and Daisy let a solitary tear drift down her face.

“I just do not know how I will ever be able to thank you,” she whispered and sank down beside him.

“You don’t have to thank me. People should help out when they can.” He paused. “My ma would haunt me from above if I left someone in trouble and walked away.” He chuckled, “You saw Carrie. My ma was exactly the same.” Without thinking what he was doing, he slipped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a friendly hug. He felt her stiffen immediately and loosened the hold. “Sorry,” he apologised, but she relaxed and leaned against his shoulder.

“Force of habit,” she told him and dropped her head onto his shoulder. “It is such a relief to be safe.” He let her lie there for a few moments and cursed inwardly the man who had turned this lovely girl into a shivering wreck. He thanked whoever was up there listening for bringing Daisy to his door. At least she was safe.

“If he does turn up, I won’t let him take you away,” he told her. “Sleep sound. I’ll be in the other room, and Bobby will be on the alert with his superb hearing.” He stood up, dropped a kiss on the top of her head as he would have done to one of Carrie’s boys and went to lock up and make sure the fire would keep going until morning.

Daisy O’Malley lay on the bed and sobbed quietly with relief, gratitude, and because she could finally give in and let her defences down. She shuffled the pillows, slipped out of her clothes, and pulled on a nightshirt kindly provided by Carrie. By the time she settled herself in the bed, sleep had taken over and given her the rest she so badly needed. She woke to find daylight filtering through the shutters at the window and Bobby snuffling at the side of the bed. It took her a few seconds to remember what had happened and to luxuriate in the feel of a soft bed. She made way for the dog to jump on the bed and rubbed his ears. Jess called from the door to ask if he could bring in coffee, and when she answered, he came in carrying two steaming cups.

“How did you sleep?” he asked.

“Like the proverbial log,” she answered with a smile and shuffled to a sitting position to take the coffee. “How wonderful to sleep on a soft bed and not to worry. Thank you again. You have no idea how much it means.” Jess looked at her and saw a very beautiful young woman from whom sleep had removed the lines of stress and worry.

“Okay,” he answered. “That is the last thank you I want to hear. If you can cook breakfast, I will let out the animals. Agreed?”

She smiled. “Agreed, if you go and let me get up and dressed.” She was rewarded with a cheerful grin that made her feel good as he took the cups and closed the door behind him. Jess Farthing had a smile that made the sun come out in the room, and the smile that she gave in return made Jess vow to himself to keep her safe. Bobby went at his heels, and she leapt out of bed with a purpose in her step again. The coffee was already brewing, and she found eggs, bacon, and bread in the kitchen. When she heard his footsteps at the door, she was piling food onto two plates and taking them to the wooden table. Jess set about the meal with enthusiasm, and she asked what he would like her to do to help.

“Come and walk around the place with me,” he answered. “You can see what the farm is about. I grow cereals and vegetables. The soil is good, and I keep a couple of horses for ploughing and a couple to ride as well as two cows and a goat.”

“And chickens,” she added pointing to the plate.

He nodded. “This is so good. You said you could bake.” She told him that she enjoyed making bread and pastry, and she would make some later.

“I thought you had a garden as well,” she added.

He told her that his mother had liked a garden. “She said it gave her peace and calm away from the kids.” He laughed. “Carrie was wild. She would ride anything that moved. Drove Mom crazy.” He explained that his parents had come and tried to live off the land that they owned. “I have expanded the farm and maybe will make it better still.” They moved the dishes away from the table, and he handed her a jacket of his own. “It’s a bit big, but you might need it.”

They went outside, and she paused to look around. “I never took in where I was when I arrived,” she said. “There were no kids or loose dogs, and the barn looked warm.”

He waved an arm in the air. “I grow the vegetables nearest to the house because it is easier and the corn and oats further away as they can be left to grow.” She asked what vegetables, and he ran through a list of most things that he grew. She stepped into what had been his mother’s garden and had one of those flashes of insight that came unannounced and she had learned to live with. She put her hand over her eyes. She took one enormous chance with the man she had met only the night before. There was this undeniable connection between them, and she went with her intuition.

“If this is something that you cannot stand, I am sorry.” He looked and waited. “Your mom had ginger hair like Carrie, and as she got older, it went grey. She loved green, and I can see her in a coat that she made in that colour. She is standing in the garden with flowers all around and a fork in her hand.” She opened her eyes and waited for the usual reaction that told her she was an evil woman although in her heart she absolutely knew this man was a good and kind person. He stared at her for a few moments in silence, almost with his mouth dropped open, and then he picked her up and swung her around before putting her back on solid ground.

“Daisy O’Malley you have just told the truth and made it come true.”

She looked at him in amazement. “What come true?”

He pulled her over to a seat made from felled logs and sat down. Then he took a breath.

“My mother had the sight. She could see things that we could not, and she kept it hidden from folk because they thought she was different.” He paused. “You were brave enough to tell me.” He looked up. “I hope she can hear this because she told me that one day someone would come into my life who had the same gift as herself.”

Chapter Three

A smile spread across Daisy’s face that was a transformation. Jess Farthing wanted to take her face in his hands and keep that smile forever.

“My turn to say thank you,” Jess finished. “Do what you would like to with this garden. It is what she would want me to say.”

Daisy stood up, walked around what had been his mother’s pride and joy and saw the plants that she could work with.

“She planted such a great variety of herbs.” Daisy bent and pulled some pieces of two plants into her hands. “If you have oatmeal, I can make Carrie a paste to take the soreness away from her hand. This garden is a delight.”

“Come and see the rest,” he said and led the way through the main barn where she had hidden in the hay and the stable where he kept the horses. They were already out grazing in the corral with the two cows and the goat that was tethered nearby. Jess pointed out the rows of vegetables that were nearly ready to harvest and in the distance where the wheat was still green. She noted that the place was clean and tidy and asked what help he needed.

“I usually pay a couple of people when I need help, but if you can lend a hand with the first harvest of vegetables, I can pay you instead.”

“No pay needed,” she answered. “I will do the work as a t—”

He held up his hand. “No more thank you.”

She smiled and did a little twirl around. “Oh, how lucky I was to find your barn.” At that moment, a call came from the gate, and after a sudden jump of fear, she saw it was his sister, Carrie, jumping down from a sturdy carthorse and carrying a bag.

“Mornin’ both of you,” she called and came over smiling. “I managed to leave Jed with the work and get away to see you were alright.” She held up the bag. “Brought some things you might need.”

“Come inside,” Jess said. “Coffee is brewing anyway.” Inside she pulled out more clothes and some material in case Daisy wanted to make things for herself.

“You are both unbelievably kind,” Daisy said with eyes shining with tears.

“But we have a pact. No more thank you all the time,” Jess said, and Carrie laughed.

“That’s what Mom would have said.”

There was a silence as Jess and Daisy looked at each other. “Tell her,” he said, and Daisy took a breath and told his sister what she had seen in the garden. To her amazement, Carrie Mackie burst into tears, and Jess found a cloth to hand to her. He put his arm around his sister and said he felt the same. Then they both pulled Daisy into the hug as well, and Jess felt the water prickle behind his eyelids. In the end, the tears turned to chuckles and then to laughter, and they fell onto the seats. Daisy looked from one to the other. She felt as if she had known these two people forever.

“I was meant to come here,” she stated, and they both agreed with that.

“We lived with Mom being afraid to let people know what she saw, but we knew she helped wherever the visions told her to. She told us that a friend would come who had the same vision and she would need our help.”

“And she was right, and I did,” Daisy finished. “What a wonderful thing to make a vision come true.” Then she looked worried. “But you won’t tell anyone will you?”

They shook their heads in unison. “It stays between us,” Carrie said.

“She left the herbs that will heal your hand,” Daisy said. “If Jess finds me some oatmeal, I’ll make it up for you now.” He went and found oatmeal in the kitchen, and she pressed the green herbs and the oatmeal into a paste and used a small piece of cloth to tie it into a little bag. “Rub it on when your hands are dry.”

Carrie nodded. “I remember now I saw you make it; she would have done the same thing. Why did I not remember that myself?” She shook her red curls vigorously and laughed at her own bad memory.

“Daisy is going to help bring in the first vegetables and try to remake the garden.”

“I’ll bake some pies as well and see what your family make of them,” his new worker added.

“In that case, will you come over in the evening again? I can make some steak, and you can bring the pie.” Jess and Daisy both agreed, and Carrie said she would get back to save Jed from the three monster boys. They waved her off and went back to the house. Daisy said she would come and see what he was growing to put in the pies, and Jess went off to make sure the crops were doing well. She wandered amongst the various plants and found fruit as well as vegetables. She picked enough for what was needed and went to explore the kitchen to start to bake. When Jess came back a couple of hours later with a pail of milk from the cows, his mouth actually started to water at the smell from his own kitchen. She was making him eggs on the skillet, and the pies were cooling on the window ledge. The eggs were delicious, but the pastry on the pies made him gaze at her in awe.

“I have never in my whole life had pastry quite like that. It melts away on the tongue.”

“My dad was good, but at the big house they had a cook who could make magic. I watched her work and kept it to myself.” There were two other pies cooling on the window ledge, and she said she was free to help him outside after the dishes were cleared away. The two of them tidied the meal away together, and she followed him to where he was starting to dig vegetables and lay them onto a handcart. She followed suit, and the pair worked away for another two hours and pulled the cart back to the barn.

“These can go into town tomorrow, but I’ll take some through to Carrie tonight. Thanks for the help, and if you would like to clean up first, I’ll milk the goat and put away the animals.”

“I can find the eggs once I’ve tidied myself up,” she replied and set off to boil water for washing. Jess strolled off with a whistle on his lips to bring in the animals. He had always been happy living alone and enjoyed the work of the farm, but he admitted to himself that Daisy was making life brighter than it had been before. There was something about this Irish woman – an unexpected addition to his life that fitted in as if she was almost an extension of himself.

“She may well still be in danger,” he reminded himself out loud and talked to Rio as he brought him into the stall. “We have to be careful.” He took the pail of goat’s milk into the kitchen and strained it through muslin to start making cheese.

“Your mother taught you well,” Daisy said from the doorway, and as he turned that little flip inside his chest somersaulted. Carrie had thoughtfully found a hairbrush, and Daisy had brushed down her dark hair to frame her face and had changed into a long dress that cinched in at the waist with a tie belt. Jess had thought she was a pretty girl even when she was hiding in the hay, but now she took his breath away. “What’s wrong?” Daisy asked, suddenly doubtful again, but his smile took away the fear, and he told her that he was just not used to seeing a beautiful woman in his stable.

“This woman is collecting eggs whilst you wash. I‘ve left you hot water,” she answered and picked up a basket to look for the eggs. “Tomorrow,” she called over her shoulder, “I would like to start on the garden.” He stood deep in thought for a few moments and realised that she needed a purpose in her life.

She stored the eggs in the wired cupboard that was meant for them and left the basket in the stable. By the time she spoke to the horses and went back to the house, Jess was washed and changed. He had not really noticed that he was taking more care than usual, but his jeans were clean and fairly new. They fitted him well, and the plain blue shirt was tucked in at a trim waist.

“You look pretty good yourself,” she said with a glint in her eye.

“Thank you, my lady. Are we ready to go?” They worked out that it would be easier to go on Rio once again as Daisy could carry the pies. Bobby was left in the barn, and they set off again towards Emerald Springs. The hotel was looking busy as were the bars, but no one was about that knew them and they reached the store safely. Daisy was starting to feel less threatened even in the town, and Carrie threw the door open as she heard the horse’s steps outside.

“Pies,” Daisy said and handed them over. She said hello to the boys who chanted back, “Hello Cousin Daisy.” She had to smile at the rehearsed response. Jed told her to come and sit at the table, and Carrie produced steaks with potatoes and greens. The boys attacked their food enthusiastically, and Jed observed that at least it kept them quiet. The meal was good, but when they started on the pies, every one of them looked at Daisy in amazement, even young Ben.

“How did you manage to cook like that?” Carrie asked in disbelief. “It is heavenly.”

Daisy told them again about growing up with a baker but learning from the cook where she worked. “You have to sell these,” Carrie finished. “I can sell them in the store.” Jed agreed with his wife and asked them to work out what it cost to make. It was what he excelled at and why the store was so successful. Jess asked what she used, and they talked figures back and forth. Carrie suggested a price that seemed huge to Daisy, but she was talked around by the others. “We can halve the profit. What do you think?” Carrie looked at both Daisy and Jess who glanced at each other.

“If I am baking, it means less time helping you,” Daisy told him.

“If you can look after the garden and the herbs beside the house, I can get young Marquez to come and help on the farm. He is trustworthy and won’t gossip,” Jess answered and asked if she would like to do it.

She looked at Carrie. “Will it work?”

“Will it work?” Carrie repeated. “What was that pie like, boys?” They rubbed tummies and made full up smiley faces.

“Is there any left please?” Tom asked, and they all laughed.

“Let’s try it for a few days and see the reaction. Cousin Daisy from Denver is a fine baker. Then when we find some time, I would like to visit my friend Annemare at the ranch. You’ll like her, Daisy, and she is another who would help without asking any questions at all.”

“And you have no interest in the wedding preparations at all?” her husband asked sarcastically. She ignored the jibe and told Daisy that Annemarie was going to marry Ash Hammond from the neighbouring ranch.

“We’ll all be invited. I bet she wants some of those pies once she tastes them.”

“I don’t know whether I should go anywhere yet,” Daisy said doubtfully, and Jess put in that if she was going to the Rolling Jay, then he would be riding shotgun. She gave him a smile of thanks and felt better. Intuition told her that this man was very special, and she trusted him completely. Just looking at his face made her smile and look forward to a life that was worth living again.


“Loving a Runaway Bride” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

She was a runaway from a cruel man who wanted to chase her and claim what he thought was his property. Who could know that finding shelter for the beautiful Daisy O’Malley in Jess Farthing’s barn would lead to love?

The man swore to keep her safe and vowed that the person who did this to her would suffer. Through many shades of danger they made a team and it turned out to be Jess who needed her help on more than one occasion.

Neither of them would admit to falling love in case the partnership came to an end. Daisy had lost her family but the friends who came to her aid formed a strong and lasting bond.

The story is about friendship and a love affair that steals the reader’s heart along with a slight touch of the supernatural.

“Loving a Runaway Bride” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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49 thoughts on “Loving a Runaway Bride (Preview)”

  1. It sounds like the beginning of an interesting story! As I read it I kept wondering where Daisy was from, how far she had traveled before hiding in Jess’s barn, and how she got there. Perhaps you do tell us later in the book. If not, I hope in the final version you will tell us, preferably in the beginning. That could be a whole first chapter!

    I like how every action and person is given a detailed description in your writing! All the characters seem like wonderful people that I would like to know.

    I also read “Home to Find Love” and thought it was a wonderful book. I recommend reading it now, and learn about the town and some of it’s characters, including the Annemarie mentioned near the end of this story. It is a sweet clean story with lots of action and a bit of mystery.

  2. WOW!! Great story! I love how you bring everyone together and bring out the “second sight” of the Irish! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story!

  3. I am so happy to have found an author who writes stories that are exciting, historical, adventuresome, romantic and true to life without the undesirable and offensive elements so often found in today’s choices. I look forward to many more hours of enjoyable reading.

  4. Re: Loving a Runaway Bride preview.
    Characters are quickly captivating and make me want to read the entire book when it is published.

  5. I totally enjoyed Loving a Runaway Bride. I would loved to have read more if it was a novel instead.
    Thank you so much, Frankie

  6. Read just enough to peak my curiosity. Questions running thru my mind, when and how does their romance come about. How does the pie business prosper? Does the towns people accept cousin Daisy? When and how does her husband find her? Will she be a bride again?? So I will have to get the book to find my answers.Like the book so far.

  7. I like the directness of the book….a unique storyline presented that flows seamlessly…can’t wait to read the rest of the book….Awesome writing Aurora Hanson.

  8. I greatly enjoyed the preview of Loving a Runaway Bride and I will be eager to read the entire story when you’ve got it ready. I very much liked the way you introduced the special “sight” that Daisy had. Your writing flows well and the descriptions enrich the characters and the plot.

    I do a lot of reading and I’m so happy that you take care with proof reading. There were no missing words, misspellings, or other mistakes that I caught.

    I also read Home to Find Love from beginning to end. It was a good story, though I must say the love story evolved rather quickly.

  9. I read the preview and cannot wait until it is available to fully read. I love that it is partvof the “Home to Find Love” series so I can read about the upcoming wedding with Annemarie and Ash.

  10. So nice to find such a wonderful story! I hope the rest of the story is coming out soonest! Can we pre-order the book now? Also, Thank you very much for the free story, “Home to Find Love.”. I will probably have it read before the end of the day. Both of the stories sound exactly like stories that will stay with you, stay in your mind and will just make your day better every time you think of them. These are REAL stories, not throw away tripe! Stories that are real, stories that make you feel better and that give you hope. Thank you so much for real stories!

  11. I loved what I read in the 1st chapter and would like to say I can’t wait to buy it but I am a 83yr old pensioner from South Africa and the exchange rate defeats me except when its offered free or at 99c on Book Bub or Amazon

  12. I was immediately drawn to each character’s uniqueness and especially that the others are drawn to Daisy and she to them. Their willingness to help warms the heart. The something extra added helped to understand how she could feel their genuineness and quickly feel close to them. I’m curious to see how the “sight” becomes involved as the story progresses. I love that she is capable, has truly useful skills to help earn her keep. The wholesomeness of the interaction between Jess and Daisy is especially pleasing to me. Would love to read the rest of the story.

  13. This was a full length book and with the number of the characters it took that to cover all the stories. Although historical romance is my favorite read, this was especially, good. It was so real!

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