Excerpt from Courtships and Carriages. Now available in e-book formats. Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Courtships-Carriages-Great-Plains-Book-ebook/dp/B00OJQHVM6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413575247&sr=8-1&keywords=courtships+and+carriages. Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/courtships-and-carriages-janet-syas-nitsick/1120559303?ean=2940150661622. On Smashwords and visit your other e-book reader devices for availability. Paperback soon to follow e-book release.
Gwen slipped her muslin blouse over her head then buttoned the front. Grabbing the lavender pin-striped skirt, she pulled it over her. Inserting the belt through the loops, she glanced at her image in the mirror, her red eyes glaring back at her. Shaking her head to clear the cobwebs from her brain, she gulped, backed away from the mirror and stepped toward her bedroom door. She had to see Nolan. Squeaking the door open, she scanned the hallway. Her heart sank as her brother climbed the stairs. She did not want her brother to see her in this condition so she gently pushed the door shut. Settling herself in her laced-back desk chair, she decided to comb through her lengthy correspondence.
Gwen grasped the wooden-handled letter opener. She slit the envelope flap open and unfolded a note. Her aunt wanted to borrow her green dress to wear to an upcoming reception. Tossing it to the side to answer later, Gwen came to the bottom of the pile where she opened a letter from Russ.
Sweet Russ. Sweet Russ. He wondered if he could visit her next Thursday to discuss something special. She gulped, believing he wanted to ask her to marry him. Oh, Russ. She stepped toward the window. I do care for you but loving you I just don’t know.
Lifting the lace curtain, she gazed down at the stone path and picket fence below. Gwen pulled her hand away. The curtain returned to its proper place then she headed toward the middle of the floor and paced back and forth.
A knock stopped her. Her jaw clenched before she opened the door. Her brother bowed in front of her.
She giggled. “Come in. Come in, stranger.”
Jim entered. “I heard you in here and decided to see if you had time to talk.”
She nodded and pointed to the desk chair. “Why don’t you sit there?” The springs bounced as she settled on the bed’s edge.
He turned the chair around to face her.
Pulling a handkerchief from her skirt pocket, she wiped her eyelid.
He stared at her. “Your eyes look terrible. You okay?”
“I haven’t been sleeping well. Hoped it didn’t show but it does.”
He lowered his head. A dark curl rested upon his brow. “I don’t know what’s bothering
you but don’t be afraid to tell me.”
Gwen smiled. “I know but it’s something I need to iron out myself.” And, besides
you wouldn’t approve.
“I understand. I’m struggling with a problem myself, too.”
Her brow furrowed. Asking in a soft tone, “Can I help?”
“No, I’m waiting on the Lord for His direction.”
“I wish I had your strong faith.” Could she ever emulate Jim in this regard? She hoped so but doubted it.
As he leaned back, the back of his chair bumped against the desk behind him. Two letters flew to the floor. He picked them up and glanced at the one on top. “I see this is from Russ.”
She took a deep breath. “Yes, he wants to visit me next week. Something important he
“He’s a good man, Sis. He may not be debonair but he’s as solid as a rock.” His face broke into a wide smile as he replaced the correspondence on her desk.
“Yes, he’s funny and kind.” Her voice dropped, struggling to find other positive words, such as “making a great suitor.” Odd, her brother had used that word, “debonair,” which described Nolan and why she was drawn to him.
“Jim, Jim, where are you?” shouted their father from downstairs.
Gwen glanced at the floor before she tilted her head toward her brother. “I don’t know why Pa doesn’t call upon Jackson to get you.”
“He’s not used to having a butler, and besides I would rather hear his voice than see that
She laughed. “You’re right.”
“Well, I’d better go.” He rose to his feet.
Gwen stood up and followed him to the door.
He turned to face her, clasped his hand over hers and stroked the top of her fingers.
His eyes searched hers. “Remember, Sis, I’m here if you need me.” He pulled his hand away.
“Thanks. I won’t forget and don’t make yourself scarce. You’re welcome here, and I’m so happy we’re close, not like some brothers and sisters.”
“Yes, we’ve always been that way.” He turned the knob and opened the door.
Gwen stood several minutes. She wished she could tell him what bothered her, but she could not. He would not like it. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she scanned the hallway. Clear. She ran to pull her shawl off the hook then rushed down the stairs. She headed for the back door. Jackson stood in the kitchen. He glanced at her and grinned as she slipped outside toward the stable to meet the person who awaited her.