Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013 -

Mail Order Mayhem

by Rue Chapman
Published: May 08, 2013
Words: 43,943
Category: western,romance
Orientation: M/F
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Bella gritted her teeth as the coach hit a particularly large hole in the road, almost catapulting her into the lap of the leering salesman in the seat facing hers. She managed to avoid his grasping hands and gripped the looped strap at the side of her seat.

"Not much further now," the large, comfortable woman sitting beside her smiled. "I'll be that glad to get back to my Otis. Lord only knows what he's done while I was away; it'll take me a month o' Sundays to get the house back in good order again. The man doesn't know how to wash a plate. Or his own clothes. He'll be missing his Lottie, I know that. Ah, but he's a good man in other ways. And you can't expect them to be perfect, can you?"

Lottie nattered on comfortably about her Otis, and the ranch, and her visit to her daughter for the birth of her first grandchild. Bella nodded at the right moments and pretended to listen while her mind ran along the same path it had followed for the last four weeks.

Just one month ago Isabella Sophia Wincanton was living a perfect life. The only dark cloud was the loss of her mother when she was young, but she was the cherished only child of a loving, wealthy, and indulgent father. She was engaged to be married to her childhood sweetheart, Adam Majors, the son of her father's business partner. It was just three days to her wedding and the house was full of gifts and clothes and excited friends.

"... And the baby is such a dear little thing. Looks a little like Otis, but that'll change once she gets some hair..."

And then her world ended. Her father went to work one morning, sat down in his office, and died without a sound. The doctors said it was his heart -- it could have happened at any time.

"... Only in labour for ten hours, she was, which is good for a first..."

And suddenly there were problems - the business had lost a lot of money, and apparently it was all her father's fault. Joseph Majors, his business partner, tried to help, but it seemed the house and furniture had to be sold to cover the losses. All her treasured books, her mother's jewelry, even her fine gowns had to go. The wedding was cancelled - her father's funeral was held on the day that should have been her wedding day. By then Bella was numb to the disaster that had become her life.

"... I know he's been missin' me. He paid the schoolteacher in town to send me a letter tellin' me everything was doin' fine. Otis never had time to get any learnin' himself. But just sendin' the letter means he's missin' me somethin' dreadful..."

But it kept getting worse. Adam hadn't set a new date for the wedding, and he visited her less often. Her friends had all slipped away, too.