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To get away from her late husband’s questionable deeds, Ella Winslow takes her three children and heads west to the unsettled Washington Territory to claim land she believes she’s inherited from her father.
Tucker McAlister was fired from his position as deputy marshal for arresting the mayor’s brother-in-law for spousal abuse. His mentor has found him another job, first escorting the wagon train going west, and then as the new marshal in the growing town of Tacoma, Washington Territory.
The trail is long and hard, yet Ella is more than up to the task. Still, Tuck feels the need to watch over her and her children, whether she wants him to or not. It isn’t until they arrive in Washington that he realizes his protection will now need to extend even further than the wagon train itself.
Will Ella’s faith allow her to trust again and make a safe home for her family, while welcoming Tuck into her heart?
Read an Excerpt
U.S. Marshal’s Office
St. Joseph, Missouri
April 20, 1870
Tucker McAlister settled against the wooden railing opposite Willard Davis’ desk. The older man leaned back in his chair and raised his head. His faded brown gaze, gray hair shot through with strands of white, and grizzled beard easily gave away his age. Not to mention the wear and tear thirty-odd years of being a lawman had put on his body.
Tuck held his breath. This was it. Davis was about to announce his retirement, leaving the job of marshal open for the taking. Given Tuck was the deputy with the most experience, he figured he was a shoe-in for the job.
Unfortunately, he’d figured wrong.
“The mayor wasn’t pleased with you arresting his brother-in-law,” Davis said, his narrowed stare aimed in Tuck’s direction. “No doubt with all the high-priced solicitors making their way into town, the whole fiasco is going to be thrown out of court like so much dirty bathwater.”
“He’s guilty as sin, and you know it.”
“I know it, you know it, and—no doubt—the mayor knows it. This isn’t the brother-in-law’s first brush with the law. However, the reprobate claims his wife provoked him.”
“There’s no cause for a man to strike a woman, especially one with child. It’s assault.”
“She’s his wife,” Davis pointed out.
Tuck could feel the flush of anger staining his throat, his face. “That still doesn’t give him the right.”
“And the man’s lawyers are claiming you didn’t have the right to give him a black eye and broken wrist.”
“He charged at me when I put myself between him and his missus. I was defending myself when I punched him in the eye. As for his wrist, he did that himself when he swung and missed. I can’t help it if I was standing in front of a brick wall when I ducked.”
Davis snorted a laugh before continuing. “I agree with everything you’ve said, Tuck. You’re my best deputy—the one man I’d trust to take over for me when I retire—and I know you were only protecting the woman.” Heaving a sigh, he added, “However, the mayor’s demanding I fire you. Right here. Right now.”
“No, you can’t do that,” Tuck argued. “I’ll appeal to the state marshal’s office. Surely, they’ll have my back.”
“Their hands are tied. The governor supports the mayor’s request.”
“I was only doing my job, boss.”
“I know, and it’s not fair. I told ‘em so, too.”
“What am I supposed to do? Keeping the law is all I’ve known since I came here eight years ago.”
“You should’ve already been promoted and posted somewhere within the state, Tuck. Hanging around here out of loyalty to an old coot like me hasn’t done you any good.”
“It wasn’t as much loyalty as it was gratitude. You gave an inexperienced, bitter young man a job, a purpose. I owe you everything.”
“What you owe me is to accept the favor I’ve called in from an old friend.”
“A favor? What kind of favor?”
“I got you a job escorting a wagon train headed to Oregon and then on to the Washington Territory. You leave in two-day’s time. Once you get to Yakima, you’ll need to send a telegram to Marshal Burt Macklin in Olympia.”
“They’ve got a job for me in Olympia?”
“Not there, but the territory’s expanding rapidly. They need a marshal in Tacoma who can cover the town, and the surrounding county. Macklin will meet you in Tacoma to swear you in. Then, as soon as you’re settled, you’ll be able to hire yourself a deputy or two.”
“You told them about me?” Tuck asked.
“I told Burt you were the best deputy I’ve ever trained, and darned near the best shot I ever saw. That was all he needed to hear.”
“Does he know I’ve been fired?”
Willard Davis shrugged. “Probably not. I didn’t see any reason to bring it up.”
About the Author:
Nancy Fraser is a best-selling and award-winning author who happily jumps across multiple romance genres with gleeful abandon.
She’s also the granddaughter of a Methodist minister known for his fire-and-brimstone approach to his faith. Nancy has brought some of his spirit into her Christian romances. And, her own off-beat sense of humor to her clean & wholesome books.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
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