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Sophia's Leap-Year Courtship: Timeless Romance Single, #2

Sophia's Leap-Year Courtship: Timeless Romance Single, #2

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Sophia's Leap-Year Courtship: Timeless Romance Single, #2

ratings:
5/5 (2 ratings)
Length:
145 pages
2 hours
Released:
Feb 24, 2017
ISBN:
9781386053552
Format:
Book

Description

SOPHIA'S LEAP-YEAR COURTSHIP: A brand new historical romance novella from USA Today bestselling author Kristin Holt.

Union Pacific Station Agent Chadwick Hughes has everything in a state of readiness to welcome his mail order bride…everything but the bride. The woman he’s corresponded with for a year didn’t change her mind or miss her train in Omaha—she never existed. Chadwick’s mortified to discover he’s been swindled by a fraudulent matrimonial agency in Chicago. He needs a lawyer if he’ll ever recover a dime of the fortune he spent on worthless membership fees and the nonexistent bride’s transportation west.

Sophia Sorensen, Attorney at Law, is a spinster on the edge of propriety. The good people of Wyoming Territory are open to a lot of things, including Lady’s Privilege during Leap Years, but some aren’t fond of her day-to-day behavior. Why, the woman rides her bicycle hither and yon, showing her petticoat ruffle and ankles. She might be the least ladylike specimen beneath Wyoming skies, but it’s entertaining to watch her court the U.P. Station Agent, Chadwick Hughes, the most-eligible bachelor in the county.

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Released:
Feb 24, 2017
ISBN:
9781386053552
Format:
Book

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Sophia's Leap-Year Courtship - Kristin Holt

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The Timeless Romance Authors

Sophia’s Leap-Year Courtship

By USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin Holt

––––––––

Union Pacific Station Agent Chadwick Hughes has everything in a state of readiness to welcome his mail-order bride . . . everything but the bride. The woman he’s corresponded with for a year didn’t change her mind or miss her train in Omaha—she never existed. Chadwick’s mortified to discover he’s been swindled by a fraudulent matrimonial agency in Chicago. He needs a lawyer if he’ll ever recover a dime of the fortune he spent on worthless membership fees and the nonexistent bride’s transportation west.

Sophia Sorensen, Attorney at Law, is a spinster on the edge of propriety. The good people of Wyoming Territory are open to a lot of things, including Ladies' Privilege during leap years, but some aren’t fond of her day-to-day behavior. Why, the woman rides her bicycle hither and yon, showing her petticoat ruffle and ankles. She might be the least ladylike specimen beneath Wyoming skies, but it’s entertaining to watch her court the U.P. Station Agent, Chadwick Hughes, the most-eligible bachelor in the county.

Dedication

For Dad, who taught me to ride a bike. His example inspired in me a lifelong love of reading.

Chapter One

Evanston, Wyoming Territory

October 1888

Chadwick Hughes waited on the Union Pacific platform, heart pounding and mouth dry, as the first passengers disembarked.

He released his breath in a narrow stream. The moment he’d been waiting for, preparing for, had come.

He smoothed his suit coat, Miss Bentley’s letter crinkling in his breast pocket. He’d checked it a hundred times. This was her train. The marriage license, complete with their names and yesterday’s date, waited in his coat pocket. Per Miss Bentley’s wishes, they’d take the buggy directly to the courthouse to be married.

Doc Joe, his closest friend, dropped a hand on Chadwick’s shoulder and squeezed to convey calming strength.

Chad needed strength. As much as he could borrow. It wasn’t every day he met his carefully selected and painstakingly courted bride.

He scanned the passengers, skipping over men and children, couples and families, searching for a bonnet done up in red ribbons.

She’d promised red ribbons on her hat and blonde curls beneath.

The cabinet card she’d sent showed dark eyes, an elfin face with a little, pointed chin. Her many typewritten letters revealed much about herself, dreams, wishes, and thoughts. So much vitality, life, and capacity to love in a tiny package. Miss Lina Electa Bentley stood exactly five feet.

C.C.! Today’s the day. Roger, a ticket clerk, interrupted Chad’s search and lingered to watch the passengers. I knew it when I saw you’d taken a day off. A wide smile showed a gold-capped tooth. Everybody’s rooting for you, old fellow.

Roger wasn’t mean, likely had no idea how difficult he made this on Chad. But Chadwick couldn’t, wouldn’t, greet his bride for the first time with the men gathered ‘round. He’d introduce her to everyone later.

The bulk of the crowd had moved toward the baggage cars. Shouts rose over the din. A child’s cries punctuated patches of silence. Behind it all, the station crew loaded freight, took on fuel and water, separated baggage, hefted trunks into the baggage car, and welcomed departing passengers.

To anyone else, the scene would appear frantic. To his trained eye, dozens of U.P. employees worked in harmonious railroad precision.

All that choreographed effort did nothing to ease the tension in his neck and shoulders.

Where was she?

Which one’s yours? Roger scanned the thinning crowd.

I’m not in the mood to chew the rag, Roger. Chad rolled his shoulders. Let me greet my gal in private, won’t you?

Don’t want an audience, even among friends?

Can’t say I do.

Good-natured laughter, a hearty slap on the back, and Roger ambled away.

Though the day was warm, wind tore over the high plains, tugging at hats and little girls’ ringlets.

But no red-trimmed bonnets. And no blondes.

Chad paced.

Sweat soaked through his best shirt beneath his Sunday suit.

Had all passengers detrained?

Seconds dragged past. The whistle sounded as the station crew finished tasks. Back and forth, back and forth—Chad forced himself to stand still. He caught a porter by the crook of his arm. All the end-of-the-line passengers off?

Maybe, maybe his bride wanted to pin on her hat, pinch her cheeks, tuck her book inside her reticule . . .

Yes, sir, Mr. Hughes. All clear. The porter doffed his cap.

The engineer blew the whistle. The few remaining travelers headed toward the station.

Disappointment, sharp and abrupt, slapped Chad.

He conjured possibilities like missing her connecting train in Omaha. Or regrettable tales of falling asleep in her seat, only to awaken in Salt Lake City.

But he’d never been one to rationalize.

Joe’s hand settled on Chad’s shoulder and stayed. Comforting, like all good country doctors.

She changed her mind. He moistened his tongue and tried again. She isn’t coming.

I suggest we check the telegraph office. Maybe she wired, explained a delay.

Sure. But it wouldn’t do a lick of good. The rail yard fraternity was tight. If a wire had come, a messenger boy would’ve sought him immediately.

His posture sagged.

The engine built up steam, the fierce vibration of the platform enough to shake a body’s bones.

Chad watched the train as it gained speed heading west.

Joe squeezed once more, then let his hand fall. When was your last contact from her?

Four days ago. He absently patted his breast pocket. Telegram. Final travel plans. This train. Today.

A headache pounded behind his forehead. Suddenly the weight of this disaster pressed upon him, as if he alone carried an express crate on his back.

Miss Lina Bentley was perfect, precisely right. She’d already accepted him. Everything waited in excruciating preparedness—her house, her buggy and team, their life together.

She’s been delayed, Joe repeated.

Chad nodded.

Sometimes lies soothed the worst of the pain.

Sometimes not.

What on earth was he to do now?

***

Sophia Sorensen needed level-headed advice.

Wasn’t that worth a chuckle. As the only female attorney in Evanston, the whole of Uinta County, and likely in the entirety of Wyoming Territory, women turned to her when they needed level-headed advice.

Sophia had spent too much time examining this problem from every angle. So now she’d turn to the one other professional woman in town, a dear friend whose advice she trusted implicitly.

She let herself into the clinic operated by Doc Joe and his mail-order bride, Doc Naomi. The pair had been married last July and blissful ever since. A quick glance about, a pause to listen. Naomi swept the floor with brisk motions. No patients at the present. No sign of her doctor husband.

Oh good, Sophia said by way of greeting. You’re here. Where’s Joe?

House calls. Naomi set her broom in the corner. The clinic smelled of soap and lemon. She must’ve just scrubbed the room they called the surgery.

Sophia rolled the weekly newspaper into a baton and thumped it into her other palm. That blasted newspaper man, Thomas Fisher— Sophia shoved aside a rising tide of fury— "is at it again. I can tolerate him calling me Lady Lawyer and mocking my bicycle-riding habits. But this time he’s gone too far. Listen to this."

Naomi ushered Sophia into a chair, so Sophia sat, taking care to accommodate her bustle. She’d prefer to pace.

"‘Our Lady Lawyer’s practice has so few patrons, she employs no typewriter girl, no stenographer, no secretary. Perhaps if she were wed,’ Sophia left off reading, met Naomi’s gaze, then rolled her eyes to the heavens, emphasis added, ‘the traditional folk of Evanston would have confidence in her husband. Folk would trust the man had the Lady Lawyer under control. Gentlemen of Uinta County, will anyone step forward and wed the headstrong Lady Lawyer? Anyone? Anyone?’"

Oh dear. Naomi sat.

"That man blends a kernel of truth with fuel for a bonfire of his own making. With his constant criticism, how am I to gain a single client? If I had but one successful experience practicing my profession, others would follow."

You and I face strong opposition. It’s the way of things.

From Naomi, and Naomi alone, would Sophia accept such talk. But Naomi had fit easily into Doc Joe’s medical practice. Because Joe welcomed her with enthusiasm. And women wanted a female doctor.

So far, all Sophia had managed to do was dispense legal advice to a few women. Never once signing a client, and never collecting a dime for her trouble.

Her savings would only last another six months at the outside, though she lived in a cheap boardinghouse, ate only two meals a day, and hired no help. If things didn’t improve soon, she’d have to accept Aunt Edna’s offer. A grim probability.

Sophia rolled the paper into a tight tube. She’d prefer to scrunch it into a ball and throw it in the kindling box. He slandered my good name. He prints lies as if they’re truth. People in this town believe what they read.

What will you do about it?

Sophia refused to look at her friend for several seconds. "Every Thursday I grab the new edition of this pathetic, four-page paper and flip to the

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  • (5/5)
    Great read! I love her style and endearing characters. Will definitely read this author again!
  • (5/5)
    Such a sweet romance. Chad and Sophia are just great. One of the few novellas that has nailed it entirely.