Falling form her horse, Morgan wakes to find herself without identity. Now Morgan is forced to trust in strangers who act as friends, yet she senses danger lurking close by. Who or what can be trusted? Caring new friends encourage her to turn to God for comfort and help, but Morgan is angry at a God she is not even sure exists. To make matters worse, Morgan becomes sick.
One day a face in the crowd restores a piece of memory that sends Morgan fleeing in terror into the midst of a blizzard. Aided by a handsome drifter, she makes her escape. But can she really trust him?
Trampas is a tortured young man who has lost his family in a raging fire. He, too, is running from a sorrowful past. Drifting from town to town Trampas meets a beautiful, mysterious woman in serious trouble. He is in a perfect position to help her; but, will his morbid memories let him?
Someone has been burning down the homesteads in the area. The search is on to find the culprit and bring him to justice. Suddenly the destruction turns personal. You'll not be able to put down this delightful love story that takes place in an old mining town in Colorado during the post Civil war era. The tapestry of interwoven lives unfolds beautifully in this suspenseful, romantic tale.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)|
About the Author
Growing up in the back woods, Kathy enjoyed riding horses, dog sledding and commercial fishing with her family. As a young woman she attended Bible College in Washington State where she met her husband and obtained a Bachelors of Theology, shortly after that she followed with an R.N. Degree. Today she is a stay at home mom who in her spare time loves to participate in prison ministries, youth groups, worship teams, and visiting the homeless on the streets, occasionally she gets the opportunity to join in with a missionary trip.
Read an Excerpt
By Kathy Lasher
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Kathy Lasher
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMorgan wiped a hot, sticky hand across her forehead and smoothed her unruly black mane into an ivory hair-clasp. Funny-that clasp was the only keepsake she had left to remind her of the pampered life that used to be hers. Sighing, she stood to face the long row of carrots before her.
I must finish this row before the baby awakes or I'll never get these weeds out, she thought. She wished she were down at the creek wading in the cool water, but this was her moment un-hassled to wrestle the weeds out of the ground. When the baby's mewing sounds warned her that time was running out, she began grabbing the green invaders by the handfuls. Done! Morgan threw her hands into the air in triumph as she gazed victoriously over the garden and then at the bundle wrapped in the basket.
"I beat you, you little rascal," Morgan crowed as she swooped to pick up her bundle of love. Tufts of wispy blond hair lay against the soft pudgy cheeks; uniquely blue eyes stared back at her, little lips stopped their trembling and bloomed into a full smile. Thankful she had finished the carrots before the crying had begun in earnest, Morgan cooed and smiled back at the eight month old.
Finding a cozy nitch, Morgan settled down to feed the hungry infant and found herself dozily reliving the not so distant past.
It seemed it had all started so long ago. Morgan's mind wandered back to when she was a young lady living at home-the pampered daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cordova, wealthy land-owners in the vast Colorado hills.
Her daddy had range cattle and a lot of them. Morgan used to accompany him on rides into the hills to check on the herds and oversee the men who worked for him. Never failing to bring a sparkle to her eye and a rosy blush to her cheeks, the fresh mountain air seemed to enhance her beauty which brought many an admiring gaze her way as they traveled throughout the land. Prestige and wealth together with adoring parents made Morgan quite a sought-after prize to the young ambitious men of the county. Many a night would find two or three gentlemen callers visiting on the large veranda with the Cordovas.
For a moment Morgan was brought back to the present when the chubby baby wiggled and a strand of wavy hair slid over her eyes. Morgan raised a work worn hand and brushed it away. Her hand was a delicately shaped hand, but there the refinement ended for now the nails were chipped and torn. The dirt had ground its way into the cracks and many a callous thickened her palms-no dainty, pampered hands now. Morgan wondered what her old maid Delilah would say if she could see her now with her wind blown hair and deeply tanned skin.
Dreamily sitting in the shade, Morgan allowed herself to think back to the events of the past that had brought her to this present time.
Roy. It had been a dream comes true when the dashing blond haired man came riding into her life. From Virginia he haled, where his family had owned a plantation before the War. He came west to make it on his own. Roy's southern gentleness completely won her heart. His boyish freckled face smiling hopefully when he asked for her hand, made it impossible to deny him.
Morgan was swept off her feet, and within a few months they were married. Daddy helped set them up on one of his smaller cattle spreads as a start. A fine house, a maid, a cook, a stable boy, and a few cowhands-what more could one ask for?
She and Roy would often walk hand-in-hand through the trees and fields they owned and marvel over their good fortune. Sometimes Roy would pick a violet or some other flower in bloom, and slip it into her neatly woven hair, then pick her up and whirl her around in circles. What a pretty dream; too bad it had ended so suddenly.
During their first winter together Roy became intensely harsh and intolerant of the men they had hired for help. Morgan attributed his attitude to the one-after-another storms that hit the farm. Delilah, Morgan's black maid-who was such a dear friend of Morgan's, became formal and aloof. Morgan was confused.
Gradually all the men that worked for them were replaced until all the hired help were strangers to her. Morgan observed that they seemed to leer at her with disrespect. Roy still loved her and treated her with kindness; but when she voiced her concerns, he said a lady didn't need to worry her pretty head about business.
The man that came that strange day must not have known Roy well, Morgan had thought, because he called him, Jud. The man had dark brown hair and black eyes that seemed to bore into her. Something about him made her uneasy. When the stranger and Roy went for a ride, Morgan quickly mounted on Ginger and followed.
She kept them in her sight until some trees ahead obscured her view. Morgan slowed down; she didn't want them to see her eavesdropping. When they came back into view, she saw the dark-eyed man yank Roy off of his horse and begin to yell harshly. Wishing to hear better, she dismounted; slipping through the bushes she made her way closer to where she could make out bits and pieces.
"I'm not that man any more, ... I can't do it ... not anymore. I'm somebody now ..."
"You'd better ... I not going to let you weasel out of a deal ... turncoat ..."
Rustling through the dry leaves, a gust of wind had overwhelmed their voices, but Morgan continued to watch in horror as the stranger pulled his gun and struck Roy. He fell dead!
"No!" Morgan shrieked. She shoved her fist into her mouth as the evil eyes of the stranger met hers. Gasping for breath she turned and ran to her horse. Shaking and trembling, her foot kept slipping as she tried to get it into the stirrup. She dared not look behind her yet, for she knew it would slow herself down. Holding firmly to the stirrup at last her boot slipped in. Smoothly Morgan pulled herself astride and in a panicked fright she mounted and fled into the forest. Pounding hooves let her know the man was behind her somewhere. Desperately Morgan slapped the reins across Ginger's rump, sending him forward through the lonely terrain and although she heard nothing behind her, Morgan knew she was not safe anywhere near. Frantically, she rode deeper and deeper into the forest. Branches grabbed at her and the twigs clawed her face, yet she felt nothing except the need to escape. The forest of Aspen's diminished before her and the steep, rocky foothills loomed ahead. Pulling Ginger to a standstill, Morgan let the blowing horse catch its breath, while she peered over the trees below. She could see nothing, but the look on the evil man's face filled her with a sense of dread and she knew she must press onward. Surely, below in the woods, the villain was waiting for her to return.
Resolution crossed Morgan's face and she nudged Ginger upward.
How much time had passed Morgan didn't know, just that her bottom was ever so sore. Every time Ginger jolted over a rock, or slipped on the loose gravel, Morgan could feel her muscles crying out in pain. Which mountain pass they worked their way through, Morgan was not sure. She was unfamiliar with this area. On either side the cliffs jutted up sharply, with overhangs. Cactus had found their way into the foliage, while the trees were an occasional, jagged evergreen that held fast to the malnourished soil with determination.
Heat from the hot sun, shone down relentlessly onto Morgan's bare head. Ginger was so tired. Slowly they etched their way down the pass. Morgan hoped now that they were entering into the trees again that they would find a creek to drink from. She was so dizzy. The beams of sunshine seemed to shimmer and dance over the rocks. A pounding welled up in her head, building, louder ...
How long she rode before she slid off in exhaustion, she never knew, only that the raging fear remained to haunt her.
* * *
The black, beady, eyes searched the hillside futilely for the annoying, eaves dropping girl. Why did she show up to complicate matters? Again his eyes perused the hillside. His horse sidestepped as though frustrated at the delay as well. Trees had thinned; while the rocks had become craggier. No way could such a soft, pampered lady continue onward through such terrain. Decision made, the man smiled, tightening skin over the angular face indented with heavy pock marks. Pulling his horse roughly around, the hardened man, backtracked through the trees to await the mouse to enter the trap, for surely the lady would seek shelter at the home ranch believing it to be her safety.
* * *
When Morgan awoke she could remember nothing. Something cool and damp on her forehead brought Morgan to her senses. As her eyes fluttered open a soft brogue greeted her.
"Aye, missy, yer awake. Sit up a bit and I'll give you a sip o' the best cool mountain water ye ever had." A mature woman assisted her into sitting position and held a dipper to her mouth. "Come now, lassie, go slow, just a wee bit at a time noo."
Nothing ever tasted so wonderful, thought Morgan as the fresh cool water trickled down her throat.
"Where am I?" She croaked through cracked lips.
"Lassie, yer with me, Hannah, at me homestead. Let's get ye to bed and let ye rest." Morgan complied and together they made it into the cabin where after she was tucked into bed, she drifted immediately into blessed nothingness.
When Morgan awoke, the pungent smell of bacon was filling the room. She sat up weakly, a pounding in her head washed over her then dissipated. She looked around the quaint cabin which was plainly but cozily furnished. There was a black cook stove in one corner of the room next to a water pump and sink. A small log table was under blue calico curtains which decorated the only window. Another cot leaned against the wall adjacent to hers. Both cots were covered with thick and brightly colored quilts. The sound of the door opening drew her eyes to a small middle-aged woman who had strawberry blond hair with wisps of gray, who was carrying a large bundle of firewood.
"Lassie, yer awake at last. I thought ye would never be rousing; ye slept so long." As the woman smiled, crows feet wrinkles crinkled pleasantly around her sparkly gray eyes. "Hi, I'm Hannah."
She set the bundle of wood down in the tub by the stove and came over to Morgan. "How ye feeling? Ye were a bit under the weather when I found ye under the Aspen trees, to be sure."
Morgan extended a hand. "Hi, I'm ... I'm.." She paused. There was such a fuzzy feeling in her head along with the pounding that she wondered if she might be dreaming. She looked up at Hannah with a frightened look as the realization hit her. " I don't know who I am."
Chapter TwoThe small cabin where Morgan had found herself was nestled among a few shady, cottonwood trees. A welcome relief in the hot July sunshine. Hannah had given Morgan the tour this morning where she met Betsy and Babe, the two milk cows; threw feed to a few hens, and petted, Honey, the big wagon horse. In the corral, stood the sweat stained sorrel horse, a horse of breeding and quality that had carried Morgan to Hannah's. Morgan opened the wooden gate and began to slide her hands gently over the gelding as it munched contentedly on the hay. It was scratched along its chest and legs but other than that was obviously none the worse for wear. Running her hand over his sweat dried hair again and again and combing her fingers through his mane, Morgan lingered over her gelding, knowing that he must know who she was even if she did not recognize him. If only he could talk!
When she did tear herself away from the horse, she took in the valley with its beautiful golden grass waving in the breeze and the trees surrounding, in the distance an occasional mountain peek poked upwards. The sky was a distant blue, the clouds mere wisps, the air a luxuriant aroma of hay, horses, and foliage.
She wished she was only visiting this nice lady, and not staying on simply because she didn't know where she was from or who she was. It made her feel vulnerable and defenseless. Hannah had said she would enjoy Morgan's companionship, and that Morgan was welcome to stay as long as she wished.
The wind blew a lock of hair into Morgan's eyes and she undid the clasp to fix her hair again. Morgan's hand gently felt the cool ivory ornamental hairpiece and then looked at the inscription on the inside-To Morgan with love. At least she knew her name; somehow just that statement gave her a sense of value.
The crumpled heap Hannah had found her in, unconscious on the ground with her horse nearby, was not much to go on to remembering her identity. Her loss of memory could have been due to the bump on her head she received from falling off her horse. The inscription on the clasp proved that someone, somewhere loved her and she was special to them. Maybe they were even looking for her now, worried about her. A twinge of fear crept over her as she wondered if possibly they were the reason she had to escape! Morgan shivered even in the hot sun.
"Morgan would ye like a cool cup o' buttermilk?" the woman, Hannah, had returned from the cabin and was holding a cup her way.
"Certainly, and thank you." Morgan took a sip of the delicious thick buttermilk. "This is great." Her violet eyes met Hannah's. "I appreciate you taking me in. I am beholding to you."
"Tis nothing, me lassie." Hannah assured her. "I'll let ye earn yer keep if that is what's worrying ye. I've gardens to weed, cows to milk-I've been lonely fer a while so the company will be nice. Please feel welcome to stay until ye know who ye are and what ye be about."
Morgan took a deep breath and smiled at Hannah. She did feel welcome, and although she felt like she was missing out on the life she was supposed to be living somewhere, it brightened her outlook to think that Hannah just might turn out to be a very good friend.
* * *
While saddling his horse the pock faced man barked out directions to the group of rough looking men leaning against the corral. He'd grown impatient waiting for the raven haired lady to return and when a week had gone by without hearing word of her he realized a hunt was in order. Hopefully she had simply died in the rough, mountainous, terrain. Her death would solve all his problems. Hopefully she had not completely blown his cover. Just in case, he left instructions with his men, now controlling her ranch.
* * *
Whoosh, whoosh, the milk sprayed into the bucket Morgan was holding. She had taken this job since she had arrived a month ago, to help Hannah, and found it to be pleasant now that she was getting the hang of it. Having learned to grab the teat and squeeze with a rotating firm motion, she now competently aimed the stream of milk into the pail.
She rested her head against Betsy's flank and day dreamed to the soothing sound of milk filling the pail. After filling the first pail, she turned to Babe. Babe was quite a job all by herself as she had a habit of stomping her foot and swishing her big tail.
More than once Morgan had been smacked in the face with that heavy tail as she was trying to milk. No relaxing with this old girl, Morgan thought wryly. She poured Babe her feed and tried to sit balanced on the three-legged stool.
The creamy smell of the milk wafted around Morgan, causing a wave of nausea to sweep over her. Ugh. If I could just stop feeling so poorly, life would be much better, Morgan mused. She had been feeling this way off and on since her arrival and was worried she may have eaten something that was starting to turn bad, yet Hannah seemed fine.
Perhaps the unsettled feeling in her stomach was from being so helpless and unable to remember who she was and where she was from. Morgan sighed as she set her mind on milking and began to sing the cow a song to calm them both.
But later when Hannah set a plate of eggs and bacon at the breakfast table her stomach began to churn anew. As soon as Hannah's back was turned Morgan tried to slip the food into her apron.
"Tis not good going without food, Morgan."
Startled, Morgan jumped to look at Hannah who stood facing her, hands on her hips.
"Ye are still not feeling well?" The concern in the older woman was obvious.
"I'm sorry, I'll try to eat," Morgan promised, even as her stomach entirely rebelled. "Um, excuse me." Morgan leaped from the chair and ran outside towards the outhouse.
Excerpted from Morgan's Quest by Kathy Lasher Copyright © 2010 by Kathy Lasher. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.