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Annie Campbell, lone survivor of her family, lives at a remote farm near the North River, raising pigs and trying to grow enough to feed herself, and to stay out of the crosshairs of the Thurmans, violent men who run the town of Bridgewater. Annie’s secrets threaten her safety, even as she rescues and nurses Matthew Gentry.
Matthew knows he must return to Paradise, to grieve with his family. Will his heart lead him back to Bridgewater and Annie Campbell?
Read an Excerpt:
The rain had finally stopped long enough for Annie Campbell to feed the hogs and not get soaked to the skin. She pulled on her father’s brown hat, the brim bent down so far that it was barely recognizable as a brim any longer. She stepped into her brother’s boots, pushing down on the newsprint that lined the soles where the leather had worn through. She pulled on her coat over the heavy wool shirt she wore and tucked the legs of her flannel pants down into her boots. She threw another log on the fire before she left and stirred the soup in the back of the fireplace.
Annie moved the shotgun from her right hand to her left and picked up the bucket sitting on her front porch beside the old rocker. There were plenty of scraps there to keep the hogs happy and fat, and the fatter they were the better price she’d get from Jeb Barlow, a neighbor man who took her hogs to auction in Harrisonburg when he took his heifers. For a price, of course.
“Dinnertime!” she called. “The sun is finally coming out and I’m able to get out here and feed y’all.”
Two great pigs and nine piglets came trotting over to the trough where Annie was dumping the scraps. They were snorting and oinking loud enough that she could barely hear herself think. But it was springtime, her hogs would sell soon, and it was a beautiful day. Even though she was not naturally happy or ebullient, the sun breaking through after endless weeks of wet, chilly spring weather was threatening to make her feel some joy. What an odd feeling, she thought, as she spun in the warm sunbeams. Maybe tomorrow she wouldn’t even need her coat when she went out to do her chores.
She took a look along the fence line she intended to fix this spring, and fix it she would starting tomorrow, the whole way down to where it stopped at the stand of trees. Past those trees was the North River, just a large stream at this point but with all the rain, she imagined it was well over its banks as had happened on other occasions.
There was something standing there just inside the tree line. She brought her shotgun up to her shoulder instinctively, but it wasn’t a who. It was a what. A deer? No. Her eyes were playing tricks on her now. She walked down the slope toward the trees to get a better look. She stopped dead in her tracks when she realized it was a horse. A horse meant a man. She turned and ran back to the house as fast as her feet would carry her. She threw the bar over the door and climbed on the stool to see out the slit on that side of the cabin. The horse had walked out of the trees and stopped in the tall grass. She climbed down, opened her mother’s sewing box, picked up the tray that held the spools of thread, and pulled out her father’s spyglass.
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