Single father, John Atwood, is raising his daughter the best he can in the wilds of the Colorado Territory but knows he needs help. No woman he knows wants to take on the raising of his daughter who hasn’t spoken since she saw her mother brutally murdered during a bank robbery. Can Sarah, John and their two daughters overcome their pasts and find happiness together?
New York City April 10, 1867
Sarah took a deep breath, turned the knob, and walked through the door to a better future for her daughter and, if she were lucky, for herself.
The office was small and precisely kept. A single desk with a straight, high backed wooden chair, one in front and one behind, sat in the middle of the room. She’d noticed the flowered curtains were open on the way in, curtains tied to the side. The small area was flooded with dazzling afternoon light. The walls were whitewashed and the desk well organized. There were several tables with neat piles of files along one wall. The other wall held several rows of pictures of women and men. None smiling, as that was the way pictures were taken, but all appeared to be wedding pictures. Below each picture was a small brass place with the names of the bride and groom and the date of the wedding.
A small, woman in her late thirties with fiery red hair, sat behind the desk. When Sarah got closer she saw gorgeous dark blue eyes behind the wire rimmed glasses perched on the end of her nose. Her eyes were so dark a blue they could almost be called violet. They were striking and clear, honesty shone from them along with a “no nonsense” attitude.
“May I help you?” the woman asked.
“Um. Yes. My name is Sarah Johnson. I saw your advertisement for mail order brides.”
The woman looked Sarah over, taking in her clothes, her hands clasped in front of her and ending at her face.
“First, let me introduce myself. I’m Margaret Selby and I own Matchmaker & Company. Please, sit down. You’re older than the women we usually have. You’re also better dressed and don’t appear to be hungry. What would bring someone like you to my door?”
“I’ve been living with my great aunt. She passed away suddenly two weeks ago and the lawyer says I need to find other lodgings. My cousin, William, has inherited everything except a small stipend she left for me. William is selling everything. MaryAnn and I have nowhere else to go.”
“So, you are a widow?”
Now was not the time to be less than truthful, if she wanted this woman’s help. “No.”
“I see. How old are you, Miss Johnson?”
“And your daughter?”
“MaryAnn is five.”
“Tell me, Miss Johnson, how did you come to find yourself with child at age twenty-two without being married? Surely you knew how those things happened by that age.”
In 2001, she saw an ad in the paper for a writers conference being put on by CRW and decided she’d attend. One of her favorite authors, Catherine Coulter, was the keynote speaker. Cynthia was lucky enough to have a seat at Ms. Coulter’s table at the luncheon and after talking with her, decided she needed to get back to her writing. She rejoined both CRW and RWA that day and hasn’t looked back.