Silver Matlock is a Colorado beauty in search of revenge against the man who stranded her at the altar and fled with the remnant of her family's fortune. She is determined to find the man who betrayed her trust.
Jared Newman, rugged as the West itself, is relentless in his pursuit of lawless men—but unable to escape his own tragic past. Hardened by his life as a bounty hunter, he must learn to forgive before he loses his soul.
Joining forces, the two set out in search of Silver's betrayer. The handsome but embittered Jared finds himself powerfully drawn to the beautiful woman whose drive for justice equals his own. But lack of honesty keeps Silver and Jared from fully trusting each other, even as a shocking revelation intensifies their pursuit of the cunning—and deadly—quarry.
"Hatcher delivers another thought-provoking historical novel." —CBA Retailers + Resources
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
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The Heart's Pursuit
By Robin Lee Hatcher
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 Robin Lee Hatcher
All rights reserved.
Bright sunlight glared down on the small town of Twin Springs, Colorado, as Jared Newman stopped his pinto gelding in front of the saloon. Silence reigned along the main street. If he hadn't ridden through here three days earlier, he would have thought the town abandoned. Not a soul in sight.
He removed his battered Stetson and raked his fingers through his hair, then stepped down from the saddle. He knocked the hat against his pant leg a few times, shaking loose the trail dust. He was bone weary, and his temper had seen better days. The latter was due to the unseasonable heat. The former was due to the man who rode with him.
"Get down, Peterson. We could both use something to drink."
His prisoner obeyed, sliding to the ground, his wrists cuffed in front of him.
With a jingle of spurs, Jared ushered Lute Peterson through the swinging doors of the Mountain Rose Saloon. The narrow room was dimly lit and musty smelling. Two men, a circle of smoke lingering above their heads, glanced up from their game of cards. A blonde in a dress that might have been the height of fashion a decade or two earlier lounged against the bar.
Behind her, the bartender swirled a white cloth along the bar's hardwood surface. He grinned at the new customers, but his expression changed fast enough when he noticed the cuffs on Peterson's wrists. His gaze shifted to Jared. "What'll it be?"
"Sarsaparilla. Two." He tossed some coins onto the bar.
Peterson cast a look of disbelief in Jared's direction. "Sarsaparilla? How about a whiskey?"
Jared ignored him.
The woman sidled closer. "Haven't seen you in here before. Where you headed? Or are you new to town?"
He glanced at her. A generous dusting of powder and rouge had been applied to her angular face. Like her dress, she might have been attractive at one time, but life had left its mark around her eyes and in the cynical corners of her painted mouth.
When he didn't answer, she smirked. "Cat got your tongue?"
He would prefer to ignore her question the way he had Peterson's request for hard liquor, but he had a feeling she wouldn't leave him alone until he answered. "I'm taking my prisoner to Denver."
The bartender set the two glasses on the bar. Jared grabbed one and brought it to his lips, draining the drink in one long gulp.
"You a lawman?" the woman asked.
"Of a sort." He tossed another coin onto the bar. "I'll have another one."
"You look tired, mister. You should stay in town for the night." She leaned closer, smiling an invitation.
Jared caught a whiff of her cheap cologne and grimaced. "Sorry. We're in a hurry."
"I ain't in no hurry." Peterson grinned as if he were a friend instead of a common thief headed for jail. "I'd stay with the lady if she wants company."
With a shake of his head, Jared addressed the bartender again. "Where is everyone? The town looks deserted."
"Big wedding over at the church." The man poured
Jared another sarsaparilla. "Our fair town's leading family's got a daughter getting hitched. Just about everybody's there."
"But none of you went." Jared tossed back this drink the same way he had the first.
The blonde at his elbow laughed. "Do we look like the type to get invited to a church weddin'?" She snorted.
Jared shrugged, then looked toward Peterson. "Let's go."
"Why don't we spend the night here, like the lady asked?" He grabbed his glass and downed the drink. "Ain't you tired?"
Jared took hold of Peterson's left arm and steered him out of the saloon. "Mount up. We've got a lot of ground to cover before dark."
Too bad Twin Springs didn't have a sheriff—something he'd learned when he passed through the town the last time. It would suit Jared just fine not to have to ride into Denver to collect his reward. He'd like to be done with Peterson.
As they stepped toward the horses, Jared's hand still gripping Peterson's arm, he glanced in the opposite direction—and stopped dead in his tracks. A young woman raced toward him, a vision in white satin and pearls, her long lace train dragging on the dusty planks of the boardwalk. As he watched, she jerked the filmy veil from her head and sent her ebony hair cascading down her back, then tossed the headdress into the street.
Undoubtedly the daughter of the aforementioned leading family of Twin Springs. But a happy bride she was not. What had caused her to flee the church? A case of cold feet, perhaps. If so, they must be frigid indeed. Despite himself, an amused grin crept into the corners of his mouth.
At that moment, the fleeing bride seemed to become aware of the two men standing in the street beside their horses. She came to a stop on the boardwalk, and her eyes lifted to meet Jared's. Silver-gray in a pretty face, they were awash with tears and filled with pain. His amusement vanished.
"We going or not, bounty?" Peterson demanded.
The woman's eyes widened a fraction before she continued past them in a flash of white, disappearing moments later around the next corner.
Jared was sorry she'd seen his grin. He regretted finding levity in her apparent sorrow—whatever the cause of it. "We're going." He gave Peterson a little push toward his mount.
The sooner they made Denver, the happier Jared would be.CHAPTER 2
Silver Matlock sat on the edge of the settee, staring at the carpet, her hands balled into tight fists in her lap. Tension gripped the small parlor, as it had gripped the house ever since her disastrous would-be wedding six days earlier.
"Are you telling me we could lose the store, Gerald?" her stepmother demanded.
"The store. Our home. Everything."
"But that's impossible. We couldn't be ... impoverished." Marlene Matlock's voice lowered as she grasped the severity of their situation. "Gerald, that's not possible. We helped build this town. We are the family everyone looks to. We—"
"It's not impossible, my dear."
Hearing the tiredness in her father's voice, Silver looked up.
"We are facing ruination." He ran the palm of his right hand over his bald head. "We've spent above our income for too long."
Her stepmother's ill temper returned. "Are you saying this is my fault? You know we couldn't allow Silvana to be married without a proper wedding."
Gerald Matlock shook his head. "It's much more than the expense of the wedding, Marlene, and you know it. I've tried to make you understand. Business has not been good for a long while. Twin Springs isn't growing as it once did. The money from selling that piece of land was to have paid off the mortgage and our other debts. With it stolen, there's nothing left to fall back on. We are out of options."
Blinking back tears, Silver watched as her father left the parlor, his shoulders slumped.
She knew the family's financial crisis was neither because of her stepmother's spending nor because of the mercantile receipts falling off. Those things hadn't helped, but the current crisis was her fault. All her fault. Hungry for a man's affections and pressured by her stepmother to find a husband, she'd fallen for Bob Cassidy's considerable charms much too easily. Why hadn't she listened to that tiny voice of doubt?
"Whatever shall we do now?" her stepmother whispered.
Silver remained silent. She had no answer.
Her stepmother turned to look at her. "That man of yours has ruined us."
"I'm sorry, Mother."
"We're all sorry. Much good it will do us." She dabbed beneath her eyes with a handkerchief. "Oh, we should have known the minute he came calling on you he was up to no good. Why else would he come?"
Of course they should have known. It wasn't possible Bob Cassidy could have loved Silver. It wasn't possible he'd truly wanted to marry her. Why would he? She was no great beauty like her stepsister. She had no great fortune to inherit from her father—even before this latest disaster—and she hadn't been blessed with the usual feminine attributes used to attract a man's interests.
Yes, the Matlocks should have known Bob was up to no good.
Silver rose and left the parlor. A short while later she entered her father's office at the back of the mercantile. She'd known she would find him there, going over the record books one more time.
"Papa." She brushed her fingers across the back of his neck before resting her hand on his shoulder. "What can I do to help?"
He raised his head to look at her, and a lump formed in her throat. He looked years older than he had only a week ago. "There's nothing any of us can do, Silver. There's no proof Mr. Cassidy is the person who stole from us. And even if there was proof, it isn't likely the authorities would be able to restore our property should they find him. It's all gone. The cash. Your stepmother's jewelry. Everything."
Silver touched the necklace beneath the collar of her dress. "I still have Great-Grandmother's locket. You could sell it."
"It would never bring enough to make a difference, my girl, but thank you for offering. I know what it means to you." He patted her hand.
"Perhaps the sheriff in Denver can find ..." She trailed off as her father shook his head.
"I doubt it." He sighed. "Sheriff Cooper promised to do what he can, but I'm afraid it will never be enough."
"God will help us, Papa. He'll show us how to save the store and our home." She said the words with more conviction than she felt.
And if He doesn't help us, I'll find a way to do it myself.
Excerpted from The Heart's Pursuit by Robin Lee Hatcher. Copyright © 2014 Robin Lee Hatcher. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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