The Evergreen Bride

The Evergreen Bride

by Pam Hillman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630584764
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/20/2014
Series: 12 Brides of Christmas , #3
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 88
Sales rank: 117,975
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Award-winning author Pam Hillman, a country girl at heart, writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age. She lives with her family in Mississippi. Contact Pam at her website: www.pamhillman.com.

Read an Excerpt

The Evergreen Bride


By Pam Hillman

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Pam Hillman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63058-476-4


CHAPTER 1

The piney woods along Sipsey Creek, Mississippi, December 1887


Samuel Frazier's heart skittered into double time when Annabelle Denson rushed into the sawmill. She grabbed his arm, her touch sending a jolt of awareness coursing through him.

"Papa said I could go!" Annabelle's evergreen eyes danced beneath the woolen scarf draped over her hair.

Had Pastor Denson given in, then? Samuel looked away, dread filling his chest. "Where?"

Annabelle swatted his arm and moved away to sit on the low stool he'd made just for her. Every day, after she rang the school bell and the Sipsey Creek schoolchildren swarmed out of the schoolhouse and raced toward home, Samuel dusted the sawdust from the stool, hoping she'd stop by on her way home. Most days she did.

"To Illinois, of course. As if you didn't know."

Of course.

It was all she'd talked about for weeks, for months, actually. A trip to Chicago, Illinois, to visit her cousin Lucy. So she could have a white Christmas. He turned away from the excitement on her face, back to the board he'd been working to smooth. He made another swipe at the piece, the scrape of the plane filling the void left by his silence. It wasn't his place to derail Annabelle's dream of a little snow-filled adventure. But maybe when she returned, when he and Jack got the old sawmill fully operational again, he'd get up the nerve ...

Annabelle tossed the woolen scarf back, and the feeble sunlight streaming through the open shop door landed on hair the same dark mahogany as the hope chest he'd made for her last Christmas. She pulled an envelope from her pocket and waved it in his face. "Aunt Eugenia is going to visit and Papa said I could go, too. He says the train isn't a safe place for a lady traveling alone."

"You don't agree?"

"In this day and age?" Her nose scrunched up, reminding him of Lilly, her two-year-old sister, refusing to eat boiled okra. But, although Annabelle might be cute as a button, she definitely wasn't a child. Not by a long shot. She'd turn twenty next summer. "Goodness, Samuel, it's almost the turn of the century, and women travel alone all the time these days."

"Some women, maybe, but not the sister and daughter of a respected minister from the Mississippi pine belt." He couldn't resist teasing her. "Maybe Reverend Denson should reconsider."

"Oh no, he's already agreed, so it's settled. He can't change his mind now." Annabelle clasped the letter to her chest with both hands. "My very own white Christmas. It'll be glorious."

The snow couldn't be half as glorious as the glow on her face as she talked about it. Reluctantly, Samuel lowered his gaze and brushed the film of sawdust off the board. Smooth as silk and perfect for a slat in the rocking chair Reverend Denson had ordered for his wife. "But you'll miss Christmas here with—"

With us. With me.

He bit back the words he wanted to say, and finished instead, "—with your family."

"They'll hardly know I'm gone come Christmas morning. And besides, Jack will probably spend the entire day with Maggie's family anyway." She swiveled on the stool. "By the way, where is my brother? I can't wait to tell him my news."

"Gone to take a load of logs to Abe's." He and Jack snaked logs out of the woods around Sipsey Creek and hauled them to Abe Jensen's sawmill twice a week. Two days lost in travel that could be spent harvesting trees if they had their own circular saw.

"Why does Jack always go?"

"You know Jack." He shrugged. "He likes to be out and about, meeting people. And besides, I've got to finish this rocking chair."

Annabelle stood and ran her hand along one of the rungs of the half-finished chair. "Mama's going to love this."

The scent of rose petals, or lavender, or whatever women tucked between the folds of their clothes in a chest of drawers still clung to her dress even after a day of teaching. Flustered by her nearness, he concentrated on the chair and muttered, "Hope so."

"Of course she will." She dusted off her hands. "Speaking of Mama, I need to get on home and help her with supper. Don't forget to tell Jack my news."

"I'll tell him."

She headed toward the door, but whirled around, cocked her head to one side and studied him, tiny frown lines on her forehead. "You're excited for me, aren't you, Samuel?"

"Of course I am, Annie-girl. It's what you've always dreamed of." He tossed a handful of sawdust toward her. She dodged away, laughing as she brushed the flecks from the hem of her brown skirt. "Just don't run off up north and forget all about us poor ol' folks here at home."

"I'd never forget y'all." She flashed him a bright smile as she headed out the wide barn-like door he'd propped open to let in a bit of sunlight. "See you Sunday."

Samuel watched her go, her dark skirts swaying with each step. The loblolly pines, with their bright wintergreen needles that towered along each side of the road, marked her path, and he couldn't help but remember how her green eyes lit up with excitement when she told him about her trip.

As she rounded the bend out of sight, the smile slipped from his face and he turned back, his gaze surveying the dilapidated building he and Jack owned. Summer before last, they'd bought it on credit when old man Porter had called it quits. They'd poured every dollar they could into the business, working their fingers to the bone to get it up and running again.

They could fill small orders for lumber by cutting boards with a crosscut saw in a saw pit, but Samuel dreamed of a steam engine and circular saw like Abe's. They'd never make a decent living with just a crosscut and the sweat of their brow. Porter hadn't been able to make a go of it either. He'd said he couldn't compete with the newfangled saws. But Jack and Samuel were young and eager.

And broke.

But they had dreams of expanding, one step at a time. In the meantime, he'd keep making furniture and hope chests, snaking logs out of the swamp, and hauling them to Abe. But someday, he and Jack would have their own steam-powered saw.

And then he'd court Annabelle.

CHAPTER 2

As soon as supper was over, dishes washed, and the kitchen spotless, Annabelle excused herself to write a letter to Lucy. An excited buzz built inside as she penned questions, asking her cousin what to pack, how many changes of clothes she would need, how many outings Lucy had planned.

She frowned, thinking about how fashion might be different in Illinois than it was in Mississippi. Was there time for Lucy to send her a couple of catalogs of the latest styles? She tapped her pencil against the letter, thinking. Between teaching and helping her mother around the house, she didn't have time to make a new dress. She'd just have to make do. Scrapping the idea of a new outfit, she continued her letter, urging Lucy to ask her father about accompanying Annabelle back home to Mississippi.

Lucy, you really should come for a visit. It's been seven years since you moved away. You tell me that none of the young men there catch your fancy. Well, there are plenty here that I think you'd do well to set your cap for.

Do you remember Amos Rosenthal? He's taking over his father's dry goods store and would be a good catch. And Willie Godfries started working for the railroad just last week. No, never mind about Willie. From what I've heard, he's a bit wild, although I shouldn't say things like that without proof. But as they say, where's there's smoke, there's fire.

Annabelle studied her letter, trying to think of someone else that would entice Lucy to come back to Mississippi. She grinned. If her cousin came for a visit and just happened to fall in love with someone local, then they'd get to see each other all the time.

Her gaze landed on the hope chest in the corner of her room.

Samuel.

Oh my goodness! Why hadn't she thought of it before? Samuel would be perfect for Lucy. She chewed her pencil, trying to think of a way to describe her brother's partner and best friend. Her words filled the page.

I have the most perfect beau in mind for you. Do you remember Jack's partner, Samuel Frazier? He and Jack have started their own business, and he makes the most exquisite furniture. He made my hope chest last Christmas. I'm sure I told you about it. It's so beautiful, and sturdy, too.

But I'm sure you're not interested in the quality of his furniture, are you?

Samuel is tall, but not too tall, mind you. And he's very handsome, at least all the girls say so. Mama would skin me alive if she saw this letter, but he really is just perfect. He does like to tease me, though, and that's a bit bothersome, but it's all in good fun. I don't think he realizes it, but sometimes I can tell when he's teasing because he'll act like he's ignoring me by keeping his hands busy, but then he'll give me this funny little crooked smile.

Annabelle stopped writing and let her thoughts wander back to the afternoon at the sawmill, trying to visualize how Samuel had looked when she'd barged inside. He'd been engrossed in his work, his large hands smoothing a slat for her mother's rocking chair, his hair mussed from a hard day's work, a late afternoon shadow covering his lean cheeks.

She bit her lip.

How could she explain to Lucy how Samuel's dark hair curled over his ears just so, even though he'd been promising to get a haircut for weeks? Or how his brown eyes twinkled when he teased her about her trip to Illinois? Or even how respectful he was when her mother invited him over for Sunday dinner? He always thanked Mama for the meal and never asked for seconds for dessert.

She smiled. But that didn't stop Jack from reaching across the table and cutting two extra large pieces of pie and plopping one on Samuel's plate. Samuel never said a word, just threw her a wink, and gave her his crooked little grin.

Her heart tripped a little at the thought of that grin. Without even trying, he'd probably gotten his way with that dimpled smile from the time he was knee-high to a cricket.

But how to explain all that in a letter to Lucy, in such a way that would make her cousin want to come to Mississippi to visit? She shook her head. She'd just have to tell Lucy more about Samuel when she got there. It shouldn't be too hard to convince her. Pleased with her plan, Annabelle finished her letter and addressed it.

She stored her writing supplies in her hope chest, smiling as she ran her hand over the smooth lid, stained dark and polished to a high sheen. Samuel did make beautiful furniture, and he really did have a nice smile.

He'd be the perfect beau.

CHAPTER 3

"Timber!"

Samuel scrambled out of the way, Jack right on his heels. They didn't stop until they'd put a safe distance between themselves and the severed pine. Samuel held his breath. Would it fall true?

For a split second, time stood still; then a faint groan wafted across the clearing. The sound sent a shaft of excitement through Samuel's veins, along with a healthy dose of fear in case the tree went wild.

The faint cracking and groaning grew louder until a great rent split the air and the trunk tilted, slowly at first, then gaining speed as it fell toward the forest floor littered with pine needles.

Limbs the size of a man's thigh split and rent the air with cracking, popping noises. Mere seconds later, the long, tall, loblolly pine slapped against the forest floor with a heavy thud that shook the ground where they stood.

Samuel let out his breath and slapped Jack on the back. His partner grinned, wiped the sweat glistening on his brow, and settled his hat more firmly on his head. "Mighty glad that's done."

"Laying 'er down is just the beginning."

"The rest can wait. I'm starving." Jack walked away, and Samuel followed, stomach growling. Come to think of it, lunch did sound like a good idea.

They found the rucksacks they'd hung on a low-lying limb to keep safe from prowling critters and settled in for a well-deserved break. They tucked into thick slabs of ham and leftover biscuits Jack's mother had sent with him that morning.

Samuel swallowed the last of a biscuit and rested his head against the rough pine at his back. If they didn't have to delimb the tree and snake it out to the road, he'd take a short nap right then and there.

"You should see Abe's new circular saw." Jack spread his arms wide. "Forty-eight-inch blade. I've never seen the like."

Samuel snapped to attention. "Did you ask him about his old saw?"

"Yep." Jack picked up a pine needle and threaded it through his fingers. "He'll let us have it for half the profits on the lumber we cut. But we have to dismantle it and haul it ourselves."

"What about the saw blade?"

"Still has all its teeth. All it needs is a good sharpening. You think it's worth it?"

"Maybe." Samuel pondered Jack's question. "Having a circular saw, even one that small, would be better than using the crosscut in the saw pit."

"But on halves? That don't seem rightly fair for Abe to get half of what we make sawing logs."

"It's his saw, and we can't afford to buy it outright." Samuel shrugged. "And besides, he'd keep a tally and eventually we'd own it, fair and square."

"We'd still need bigger machinery eventually, if we're gonna make a go of it."

"Gotta start somewhere."

"I know, but time's a wastin'."

Samuel squinted at his friend. "Maggie?"

"Yeah." Jack tossed the pine needle away, and it bounced off the nearest tree.

"Have you popped the question?"

"Not yet." Jack grimaced as he swiped crumbs from his trousers.

"You know she'll say yes." Why wouldn't she? Jack and Maggie had been courting nigh on to two years now. Everybody expected them to get married. It wasn't a matter of if, but when.

Jack cleared his throat. "I've been meaning to talk to you about that."

Samuel arched a brow. Jack's gaze met his, then skittered away to focus on the evergreens swaying in the breeze high above their heads. He acted plumb nervous, and nothing fazed happy-go-lucky Jack.

"I can't ask Maggie to marry me without a place to live. And we barely squeaked by last year, what with buying that freight wagon and another pair of mules."

"Is that all that's stopping you?"

"I'd ask her tomorrow if I knew I could provide for her." Jack's eyes took on a look of desperation. "Her pa's been making noises about moving on, out west somewhere."

No surprise there. It was a known fact that Maggie's pa had wandering feet and uprooted his family every couple of years. Jack's reasons for not asking Maggie to marry him were the same ones that kept Samuel from courting Jack's sister, except Samuel had plenty of time to get up the nerve to court Annabelle.

Jack didn't have the luxury of waiting.

"Then let's accept Abe's offer. As soon as we get the saw up and running, we can start cutting lumber to sell, and also stockpile some to build a house for Maggie."

Jack stood, slapped his hat against his pants, and grumbled, "And when are we going to have time to do all this cuttin' and sawin'? We're already working from sunup to sundown."

"You're just gonna have to do less courtin' and more working. Come on, let's get started. If we get this pine snaked out, we'll earmark some more trees before nightfall."

CHAPTER 4

"Do you think it might snow?" Annabelle asked Maggie as the congregation filed out of church after Sunday morning worship.

"I doubt it." Maggie pulled on a frayed woolen coat and buttoned it up. "It'll just be cold and wet and muddy, but it probably won't snow."

"Jack thinks it will. Here I am headed to Illinois in a couple of weeks and everyone's talking about it snowing here in Sipsey." Annabelle laughed as she settled her scarf over her head. "God sure does have a sense of humor."

"We lived up in the mountains of Tennessee once, and it snowed so much Pa couldn't even get to the barn. I thought I would freeze to death." Maggie's features softened as her attention veered toward Jack standing with the men at the potbellied stove. "You can keep your snow and your white Christmas. I'm happy right where I am."

"You'd be happy anywhere as long as Jack was there, and you know it."

A shy smile twisted the corners of Maggie's mouth, and color bloomed in her cheeks. "Well, maybe."

"Maybe, my foot." Annabelle grinned and bumped her shoulder against Maggie's.

Soon the church emptied, and Annabelle helped her mother gather up the little ones as her father brought the wagon around.

"Maggie, I hope you'll join us for dinner." Annabelle's mother tossed the invitation over her shoulder as she herded her brood out the door. "Samuel, that goes for you, too."

"What about me?" Jack called out as he closed the damper on the woodstove.

"I couldn't beat you off with a stick, Jack, so I guess that means you're invited."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Evergreen Bride by Pam Hillman. Copyright © 2014 Pam Hillman. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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.

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The Evergreen Bride 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Would be great to see these short stories fleshed out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Y
Heidi_Reads More than 1 year ago
Ah, I love stories of unrequited love! You can just feel Samuel's longing for Annabelle, but he wants to wait until his fledgling business has the means to support a family before he declares his affections. Even though he'll miss her, he doesn't say anything to put a damper on her trip. The sweetness of the story comes from Annabelle's slow awareness of Samuel as an extremely attractive man with his strength, steadiness, and quiet humor. This novella was such a pleasure to read! For only 99 cents, it's a fabulous deal for a delightful story. (I received a copy of this book from a giveaway which did not affect the honesty of my review)
Melissa0003 More than 1 year ago
This is a delightful Christmas short story. While the third book in a twelve book series, it does stand alone as a separate story. This book was sweet and loving. Annabelle and Samuel are friends who realize they have something more.  Annabelle wants a white Christmas and decides to take a trip to visit a cousin.  Samuel knows how he feels about Annabelle, and he has yet to tell her. But as her trip gets closer and closer, he worries she may not come back.   Ms Hillman’s writing style keeps you turning the page and you hope Annabelle discovers that Christmas is so much more than a white Christmas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story and well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Annabelle wants nothing more than a white Christmas. In Mississippi that is not likely, so she plans to visit her cousin in Chicago. But she has no idea that Samuel, business partner of her brother Jack, is about to break his heart over her leaving, lest she decide to stay. And then a snowstorm takes a hand...
SunnieReviews More than 1 year ago
The Evergreen Bride was the 3rd in a series of 12 wonderful stories of Christmas Brides.  Pam Hillman weaves a lovely story of the Christmas Season. Annabelle has plans to leave her home in Tennessee for a 2 week Christmas trip to Chicago.  The story infers as though perhaps she is hoping that by making the trip to her cousin Lucy's that there might be a chance of her meeting a new beau.  Her brother and his friend Samuel own a lumbering business together and Annabelle does not see the opportunities that are right at her very doorstep.  This is such a sweet story of Christmas and finding love. A wonderful Christmas romance.  I truly enjoyed the happy feelings that this book created for me.  I can't wait to read the rest of the series.  It is a very enjoyable read and historical romance.
Jaquelyn More than 1 year ago
A sweet short story about how we are sometimes blind to the great things that are right in front of us.  We often take for granted what we have, and don’t realize it’s true value until something causes us to.  Annabelle Denson has been dreaming of going to Illinois to visit her cousin Lucy for the longest time.  She can think of little else but going there and having a white Christmas.  Samuel Frazier and Annabelle’s brother Jack are best friends and they own a sawmill together.  Samuel has had feelings for Annabelle, but wants to wait to court her until he is making more money, and he thinks he has all the time in the world.  Annabelle is too lost in planning for the trip, and thinking about everything they are going to do, to notice how Samuel feels.  Will she see what’s right in front of her before it’s too late?  Will Samuel tell her how he feels before she leaves and meets someone in Illinois?  Evergreen Bride is a sweet love story that shows how one moment in time can open up our eyes to great possibilities.  Evergreen Bride is book number three in the 12 Brides of Christmas Series.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Romance, and a quick satisfying read. I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing in return for my honest opinion.  All opinions expressed are my own.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this cozy little romance story! Annabelle dreams of a white Christmas and plans a trip up north to Chicago. Her brother’s sawmill partner, Samuel, is sweet on her and realizes he doesn’t want to lose her. The story of these two finding out their feelings for each other while keeping up with life’s demands and hardships made this a beautifully sweet romance.  This author has a knack for giving the characters engaging personalities and lovable quirks that draw you in and make you root for them. I could feel the sparks and tension while reading the scenes between Annabelle and Samuel. I also loved the ending – how perfect! You have to read this to find out! You won’t be disappointed – I highly recommend. I received this book for an honest review. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She's always dreamed of a white Christmass. And Samuel will do whatever it takes to make sure she gets one...