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The Outlaw's Bride
Carolyn Davidson

The Outlaw's Bride
Carolyn Davidson

When an outlaw meets an outcast!Shunned by her tribe, Debra Nightsong simply wanted to tend her farm alone – until a mysterious stranger arrived. He said he meant no harm, yet his brooding presence unnerved her – perhaps there was pleasure to be found in the arms of this outlaw…On the run and in search of a hideout, Debra’s farmhouse was just perfect for Tyler. He vowed not to take advantage of the mesmerising beauty, but he soon regretted his words! Could they both have finally found a place to belong…together?

Praise for Carolyn Davidson

“Carolyn Davidson creates such vivid images,

you’d think she was using paints

instead of words.”

— Bestselling author Pamela Morsi

“Davidson wonderfully captures gentleness in

the midst of heart-wrenching challenges.”

— Publishers Weekly

Redemption “[An] unflinching inquiry into the serious issues of the day.” — Booklist

Oklahoma Sweetheart “Like Dorothy Garlock, Davidson does not stint on the gritty side of romance, but keeps the tender, heart-tugging aspects of her story in the forefront. This novel is filled with compassion and understanding for characters facing hardship and hatred and still finding joy in love and life.” — Romantic Times BOOKreviews

A Marriage by Chance “This deftly written novel about loss and recovery is a skilful handling of the traditional Western, with the added elements of family conflict and a moving love story.” — Romantic Times BOOKreviews

She was lovely, and definitely not what he’d expected when he’d heard of an Indian woman living alone beyond the edge of town.

She couldn’t be more than eighteen or twenty years. Her dress clung to her form, and the black hair she’d flung over her shoulders formed a dark cape that hung past her waist.

She carried two sacks, one in either hand, hefting them easily. Tyler felt a heaviness in his groin as he watched her approach the house, and fought it with a sense of scorn. He wasn’t here to take advantage of a woman, but to find a sanctuary of sorts. At least for a week or so.

Her footsteps were silent as she walked across the porch and the sound of the door opening seemed magnified in the stillness of the night. He moved swiftly to stand behind the door as it opened…and waited.

Reading, writing and research – Carolyn Davidson’s life in three simple words. At least that area of her life having to do with her career as a historical romance author. The rest of her time is divided among husband, family and travel – her husband, of course, holding top priority in her busy schedule. Then there is their church and the church choir in which they participate. Their sons and daughters, along with assorted spouses, are spread across the eastern half of America, together with numerous grandchildren. Carolyn welcomes mail at her post office box, PO Box 2757, Goose Creek, SC 29445, USA.

I love brides…grooms, too, for that matter. And none are so precious to me as brides and grooms within our own family. My son Jon has given three of his four daughters to the men of their choice during the past year or so, and our family has become all the richer for their presence as couples in the far-reaching web of the Davidson clan.

So to the three beloved grandchildren who have newly entered the realm of marriage, an institution of which I am very fond, I’d like to dedicate this book, with its own message of prevailing over the hardships life has to offer to those embarking on this course. To Rachel and David, karen and Rob, and finally to Jennifer and Tom, I offer my best wishes as a grandmother and a veteran of marriage. May God richly bless your unions, and may His presence be alive in the years you spend together.

And, as always, I dedicate my work to my own love, the man who has been a beloved companion and has devoted himself to me for many years…to Mr Ed, who loves me.

Dear Reader,

As a writer I enjoy travelling in new directions, and writing this book was indeed a switch for me. I have the greatest respect for those who lived in the great land of America before my forefathers ventured to the shores. I thought long and hard before deciding to attempt the telling of a story that would reveal some small part of the Native Americans and the impact they have had on individuals – those who knew them and those who joined with them in marriage, thus increasing the blend in the melting pot of our country.

Debra Nightsong was a very special heroine to me. She was strong, a woman of her people who chose to live her life with a man of another race, and did it well. The union she formed with Ethan Tyler changed her life, changed her as a woman and sent her on an adventure like no other. Unions such as Debra’s with Ethan form the complex civilisation we live in in America, for such marriages seem to produce strong people, perhaps blending within them the finest of both races. And, like Debra, each of us has our own story to tell, an adventure that is ours alone, one I feel we are compelled to pass on to the generations who will follow. I hope my story will appeal to all of my readers, and that your hearts will open to those who are a result of marriages such as that of Debra and Ethan. For beneath the skin we are all brothers.

Carolyn Davidson

The Outlaw’s Bride

Carolyn Davidson

www.millsandboon.co.uk (http://www.millsandboon.co.uk)

CHAPTER ONE

Holly Hill, The Dakota TerritoryJune 1888

STEALING A HORSE was guaranteed to give a man sleepless nights. And Ethan Tyler was no exception. Only the fact that the poor nag should have long since been put out to pasture aided his insomnia, but the fact that he’d taken another man’s animal weighed heavily on his mind. He was tired of running—it was time to call a halt and make decisions.

Even as he rode the trail from Holly Hill to the small farm he sought, he thought of the man who was even now missing his nag and his conscience bothered him with the theft he’d committed. Sending the horse back to town would be a problem, but one he’d figure out one way or another.

With that settled, Tyler looked ahead toward the farmhouse he’d been told was just three miles from town, at the end of a long lane, shaded by tall trees. A woman lived there, alone and unprotected. A woman whose parentage was in question, some saying she had a native mother, an unknown father and was probably no better than she should be. Others said she was to be respected, a woman alone, no matter her heritage.

Whichever she was, Tyler knew he could prevail upon her to hide him, for how long he didn’t know, but at least he would convince her that he needed a hiding place for a while, and his skills at working around a farm would pay her well for her help.

He rode as quickly as the nag he’d borrowed would allow, hoping against hope that his arrival would preface hers by at least an hour. He needed time to put his horse behind the barn, should there be one, break in to her house and then lie in wait for her to arrive. His senses told him he was being followed and it was time to go to ground.

He would be gentle with her, for she was no doubt a crone, a woman of years who kept to herself and lived quietly. A grandmotherly sort, he imagined, a woman set in her ways, but perhaps thankful for a helping hand for a short while. Not a woman who would tempt him to abandon his celibate lifestyle for want of her charms.

He rode down the narrow lane toward her holdings, admiring the clean lines of her buildings, the neatly kept yard and the buildings surrounding it. There was a shed, less than a barn, but a sturdy structure, and a smoke house, side by side with another small structure, probably a milk house or corncrib.

The house was a typical farmhouse, with a wide porch and windows that looked out upon the backyard. Ridiculously simple to break in to, he thought, sliding a kitchen window upward without much nudging. He climbed within, relishing the scent of the bread she must have baked this morning. Before she went to town and left herself open to a scalawag such as he, a man who climbed through her window and into her house, awaiting her return.

The sun had set, painting the sky with soft colors, promising fair weather for tomorrow, and he waited, his patience long, his stomach well tended by the loaf of bread he found on the kitchen cabinet. Old or not, the woman could bake bread, he thought, and then tensed as he heard the sound of a horse, the soft whicker that sounded from the yard.

He rose and stood by the window.

The woman rode astride, defying the rules society back east had set down for a female on a horse. No saddle darkened the back of the golden mare she rode, only the flowing skirt that hung halfway down her legs, catching the breeze as she rode. Double saddlebags lay across the animal’s rump, apparently balanced there, for they did not depend on a saddle to hold them in place.

As Tyler watched from the window in her house, she brought the horse to a halt there in the first light of the moon, never touching her reins. Only the pressure of her knees against the animal’s sides caused the mare to slow her rapid pace and then stand, head lowered, next to the watering trough.

In a smooth motion, the rider slid to the ground, exposing a slender thigh as her dress pulled up, then she approached the horse’s head, rubbing her knuckles against the mare’s long nose, speaking to the animal as she removed the bit and bridle from the pale horse. The mare bent her long neck gracefully and drank from the trough, her rider waiting patiently. And then they were headed for the small stable that sat in utter darkness just beyond an enclosed chicken coop, the mare following her mistress as might a faithful pet. The woman’s dress swayed against her body, exposing moccasins beneath its hem.

The barn door was opened and the woman and her mare went inside. In less than five minutes, the slender female emerged, tossed her dark hair back and lifted her face to the skies. The glow of moonlight illuminated her and Tyler inhaled sharply.

She was lovely, and definitely not what he’d expected when he’d heard of an Indian woman living alone beyond the edge of town. She couldn’t be more than eighteen or twenty years. Her dress clung to her form, and the black hair she’d flung over her shoulders formed a dark cape that hung past her waist. She carried two sacks, one in either hand, hefting them easily. Tyler felt a heaviness in his groin as he watched her approach the house, and fought it with a sense of scorn. He wasn’t here to take advantage of a woman, but to find a sanctuary of sorts. At least for a week or so.

Her footsteps were silent as she walked across the porch and the sound of the door opening seemed magnified in the stillness of the night. He moved swiftly to stand behind the door as it opened…and waited.

DEBRA SLIPPED HER FEET from the moccasins she wore, kicking them to one side of the open kitchen door, then stepped inside and pushed the heavy portal closed behind her.

Without warning, a rough hand covered her mouth, forcing her head against a solid wall of muscle, and the burlap sacks of foodstuffs she’d been carrying landed on the floor beside her. A powerful arm circled her waist, and held her firmly.

From behind the door, where he’d apparently been lying in wait, a tall figure shadowed her. He’d hidden there, and now he had the advantage over her. She was, of necessity, silent, his hand not allowing her mouth to open. But she could fight soundlessly, and her hands reached back over her head, fingers curved and aimed at his face.

She felt a fingernail dig deeply into flesh, and the indrawn breath of the man who held her. With a quick move he captured both her hands and drew them behind her back, turning her in his arms to face him.
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