Separated from her twin during the Orphan Train selection, schoolmarm Serena Sullivan searched for her brother Bill over fifteen years. Just as she gets a lead on his whereabouts, she is railroaded by a crooked sheriff and set to hang for the murder of the sheriff’s best friend.
English playwright Daman Rutledge has come to the American West on business for his brother when he witnesses a woman about to be executed. On impulse he rescues the beautiful stranger and goes on the run with her across the Kansas prairie. Along the way Daman finds the muse he’s been missing and loses his heart to the raven-haired beauty with haunting amber eyes.
As they try to escape the long arm of the law, Daman seeks to prove Serena’s innocence before it’s too late. They find love – and the truth – on a journey that changes their lives.
“You’ll need to come with me.”
Serena’s head whipped around. She stared at him in disbelief. “An unchaperoned woman in a man’s company? You must be insane.”
“I owe it to you. It’s something the Chinese believe. If you save someone’s life, then you are responsible for that person for the rest of your life.”
Daman grinned. “I did save that pretty neck of yours.”
Serena blushed and looked down. A protective wave swept over him as he looked at her profile. He began thinking aloud.
“Now how to pull it off?” He looked her over. “How about my ward? The American cousin and poor relation who has lost her parents.”
She narrowed her eyes. “I am twenty-five, you know. A little long in the tooth for being anyone’s ward.”
“Hmm.” Daman thought, constructing the storyline as he spoke. “Still, a cousin could work. Maybe a loving but stern aunt raised you. She died and left you a nice inheritance, but you were taken advantage of by a man who wanted the money and not you.”
Serena gasped at his words. He amended the story he spun.
“No, you look much too smart for that to occur. Let’s say train robbers killed your fiancé. Or wait. A bank robber. Who’s that James character I’ve heard of?”
Daman smiled as the wheels in his mind turned. “Never mind that now. We can iron out the details later. We’ll make you heartbroken, practically a widow. Robert could have died a week before the wedding.”
“You know, Robert, your dead fiancé. Now if we—”
Serena interrupted him. “For having given up writing, you have quite a fertile imagination.”
Excitement overcame Daman. It had been a long time since the creative juices flowed through him. In the space of a few minutes, he seemed his old self again. Creating seemed natural once more.
“Anyway, I came to represent your British branch of cousins at the wedding. Now I’m your greatest comfort. We can say you’ll accompany me back to London when my business is completed here.”
Daman thought a moment. “You’ll need the props. The proper clothes. Sorry, but you’ll be in mourning, unless the tragic event happened six months ago.”
“Westerners don’t typically conform to such conventions as lengthy mourning,” Serena informed him. “Of course, I have no clothes, mourning or otherwise.”
Daman waved that thought away. “The earl has scads of money. Now, what else needs to be done?”
His excitement built. He knew a large part of it was weaving the fantasy once again, playing God with people’s lives, bringing into existence what he wished to be and then making it so.
Yet another hidden part of him knew that spending time with the lovely Serena Sullivan also encouraged him to continue fabricating a history for her. He hadn’t been attracted to a woman in ages. Not since Daphne left. Of course, he’d physically satisfied himself with a string of women, but none captured his fancy.
Serena Sullivan did.
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As a child, Lauren Linwood gathered her neighborhood friends together and made up stories for them to act out, her first venture into creating memorable characters. Following her passion for history and love of learning, she became a teacher who began writing on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones.
Lauren’s novels focus on two of her favorite eras, medieval times and the American Old West. History is the backdrop that places her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grows into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.
Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.