That Fateful Ride
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by Aliyah Burke
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: The Nebraskan Territory is a harsh place and yet love finds a way to bloom; still, Cy has to fight to keep the woman who has stolen his heart. Rebecca Freeman assumes her brother's identity and rides for the Pony Express. She thinks she's ready, not counting on Cy Spencer or her attraction for him. Cy is the station manager for a stop along the route. Discovering one of the riders is really a she; they strike a deal for his silence, and grow closer every day. Soon it doesn't matter how wrong it was for them to be together. When her brother returns, can Cy let her go? Or will he put everything on the line to find the woman who came to him on that fateful ride?
eBook Publisher: MLR Press, LLC/Passion in Print Press,
eBookwise Release Date: September 2012
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [98 KB]
Reading time: 59-83 min.
1860, Nebraska Territory
"I have to do this, Mama," Rebecca Freeman insisted, hefting the heavy saddle on the back of her dun gelding, Polaris. Hot dry air flowed over her as the wind picked up, swirling and sending up little dust cyclones. She blinked a few times, doing her best to keep the dirt from stinging her eyes.
"You're a girl who's got no business riding there." The disapproval was so strong she could taste it. "None!"
Rebecca sighed and flipped up the stirrup to settle upon the seat. "Mama, I have to. We have no choice. We need the money. Robert's laid up with his injuries. I can do this. They'll never know." She refused to budge an inch.
"You get caught and you'll be wishin' you was dead. We can figure something out. Stay home and take in more washing."
Her mama spoke the truth and she didn't want to think about how much it worried her. Cinch tightened, she patted Polaris on the neck as she dropped the stirrup back down and went to stand before her mama. Sally Freeman was a tall beautiful woman who had seen her more than her share of difficulties. She could cook a mean meal out of next to nothing or shoot the wings off a fly if she so chose.
"I won't get caught. I ride and shoot better than Robert. Besides, I can't take in extra washing, it won't do enough."
Her mama scowled and crossed her arms. "You come back in and let me fix yer hair. You made a mess of it."
She nodded and dutifully followed her back inside their small house. It was as much of a blessing as she'd get. Hair fixed and wrapped along with her breasts, she peeked in on her brother. Shallow, rasped breaths filled the room and she blinked back tears as she kissed him on the head.
"Stay alive, Robert."
"Becca," he said on a graveled, pain-filled voice. "You can't. I changed my mind. It's too dangerous."
"I know the trail and the oath. I can do this. I am doing this." One final kiss and she headed out. Her mother waited by the door and handed her a small bag.
They exchanged no hugs or words. Rebecca did her best to ignore the pile of thick black locks, which lay on the hard packed dirt fluttering around courtesy of the wind. It was a sign. The loss of innocence. The changing of times and it unsettled her.
By Polaris, she adjusted the red neck cloth as Robert always wore. She preferred blue, but from this moment on, she was no longer Rebecca Freeman. Now she was Robert Freeman. Reins in one hand, she swung up with considerable ease into the saddle and rode off towards the station to await her first pickup. She spared no looks back. Robert wouldn't, so neither would she.
She had gone to the station before and had met the station master. A crotchety yet fair old man, which was all that mattered to her. It took her a good while to get there. Once she arrived, she tied Polaris in some welcome shade and headed in. At the last minute, she remembered Robert walked heavier than she did and so she stomped a bit harder, jangling her spurs.
A bell clanged above her head, announcing her arrival. It all looked the same.
Her heart pounded. This was the first test, to see if she could pull this off. "Yes sir."
"Delivery won't be here for about ten minutes, if he's on time."
"I'll be outside."
She tugged briefly on the brim of her hat before heading back out. The wind had picked up again and she leaned against a pole of the shelter over Polaris. Behind them sat the barn, which housed The Pony Express horses.
Off in the distance a cloud of dust grew closer and closer. The air changed. Crackling with energy, it skated up and down her spine. Even Polaris must have felt it for he lifted his head; ears swiveled toward the incoming rider and snorted. She untied him and double-checked her saddle. She looked up to see Ethan nearing.
"You know you're supposed to use our horses."
Yeah she knew, but she trusted Polaris with her life, so she'd ride him. "This is my sister's horse. He runs like the wind."
Ethan stood beside her. He was a large man and she watched him run sure hands over her mount. A grunt of approval before he patted his side.
"Good and sturdy. Looks like one of those Injun horses from the Blackfoot region. Saw some of them a whiles back. Good stock. Keep an eye on this horse, people are liable to want to steal him."
She hesitated; she'd not expected him to know the region she'd acquired him. Thankfully, the approaching rider made it so she didn't have to respond. She mounted, the familiar feel calming her nerves. This was it. The time had come.
Polaris sidestepped beneath her, feeling her anxiousness. Absently, she patted the muscled neck. Easy boy, it's almost time. She shifted and relaxed a bit more at the accustomed creak of leather.
Ethan hurried out into the sun yet she hesitated. Two deep breaths before she touched her heels to Polaris and moved him out. Butterflies swarmed in her belly and she sought to keep her doubt hidden.
You'll be fine, she told herself. She knew the route, had gone over it numerous times until she was confident. Yet, all that assuredness slipped to a hiding spot back in the dark recess of her mind.
The hoof beats grew louder and she felt the tingle race up her spine again. Excitement began to replace the uncertainty. A brown horse thundered into view, wet with sweat and blowing hard. The man sawed back on the reins and the animal slid to a halt, almost sitting on the ground.
Ethan ran and grabbed the delivery and waved at her. "Let's get going, boy!"
She moved Polaris near, ensuring to keep her hat low over her eyes. The moment he secured the mochila, the mail pouch, she set her heels to Polaris and they shot off. Part of her almost sent him off in a dead run, but she knew that would be stupid. He would exhaust himself. Therefore, they loped. Polaris had a large stride and they would make good time. Also, if they ran into any hostiles, he would have some speed left in his reserves to get her out of danger. As they headed out of sight, she cast a glance over her shoulder.
She'd done it!
Managed to fool them and had set out on her first leg of running the Pony Express.