Authors: Linda Bridey
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Westerns, #Romance, #Historical, #Victorian, #Holidays, #Historical Romance
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Mail Order Bride: Westward Christmas
Montana Mail Order Brides: Book Eleven
Dr. Ben Walker sat at his desk in the office that he shared with his partner and friend, Dr. Marcus Samuels, and their nurse, Hannah Night Sky. He kept reading the chart in front of him, but he couldn’t retain the information it contained. Ben pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. It wasn’t fatigue that plagued him. It was an inability to concentrate because he couldn’t get a certain blonde-haired, gray-eyed woman out of his mind.
Sasha McCall had come to Dawson close to a year ago and she had made quite an impression on him. She was a beautiful woman with a sweet disposition and a little she-devil mixed in. He’d found that combination exciting and beguiling.
At thirty-one, Ben found his thoughts turning to settling down and having a family. Although he had been out with several women and had enjoyed a few private liaisons with a couple, he thought about Sasha on a daily basis. He had hoped that she would return to Dawson for a visit, but so far there had been no word that she was planning a return trip.
As he sat there at his desk, which he preferred to keep neat, Ben began to form a plan. He was the type of man who went after what he wanted and didn’t stop until he had attained his goal.
Marcus entered the office and flopped down in his desk chair. His desk was a complete mess, with books stacked everywhere and charts lying about haphazardly. Ben didn’t understand how he could find anything and yet he could always quickly put his hands on what he needed.
Marcus had delivered two babies in a day and a half and was exhausted. Dawson was having what Marcus called a “bumper crop” of babies that fall.
Marcus looked at Ben with an exhausted expression and said, “If anyone comes for me, tell them I’m not here. I’m all done in.”
Ben said, “Why don’t you go upstairs and get some rest? Hannah and I can handle things here.” Marcus and his family lived in the apartment over the clinic.
Marcus said, “Are you sure? Because if you’re serious, I’ll take you up on that.”
“Yes, I’m serious, but first I need something from you,” Ben said.
Marcus sighed and looked at Ben with dismay on his handsome face. “What’s that?”
“It’s a very simple thing. I need you to write me one of those snazzy ads for a bride,” Ben said.
Marcus’ eyes grew wide. “You’re looking for a bride?”
Ben’s face showed his annoyance. “Why should that surprise you so much? Yes, I am thinking about settling down, and there’s one particular woman I hope to reach. So don’t submit it to the papers; just give it to me and I’ll take it from there.”
Marcus thought that was an odd request. “You don’t want it in the papers, but you’re looking for a bride,” he stated.
“That’s correct, sir,” Ben said with a smile. “I have a plan, but I am not ready to divulge it at the present time. Will you write it?”
Marcus was intrigued. “Yeah, I’ll write it. What do you want it to say?”
“I’ll leave it to you. If there’s anything I want changed, I’ll let you know. I doubt there will need to be any adjustments, however. All of your ads thus far have been spot on.” Ben said.
Marcus nodded and yawned. “Okay. I’ll have it for you tomorrow sometime.”
“Good enough,” Ben said. “I appreciate it very much.”
Marcus yawned again. “I’m fading fast here, Ben. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Sleep well, Marcus,” Ben said, and watched him walk out of the office.
True to his word, the next day Marcus had the ad for Ben. He read it and grinned.
“Dr. Samuels, you have written the perfect advertisement, as I knew you would,” Ben said.
“Good. I’m glad you like it,” Marcus said, and yawned. He was still tired from the day before. “I think my age is starting to catch up with me.”
“Oh, bull crap,” Ben said. “You’re in just as good a shape as I am and I’m ten years your junior. It’s all that running you do. I mean, we run with Elliot, but you do extra running down to the camp and such.”
Marcus smiled at his use of the swear word. Somehow when Ben swore, his Georgia accent made it sound classy instead of vulgar. He and Ben had taken to running some mornings with Elliot Bradbury, the owner of the general store in Dawson. Elliot ran every morning, rain or shine, and was the fastest runner in the county. When he ran foot races with the Lakota braves who were his friends, he always won.
Marcus said, “You know it always amazes me that you and Elliot have become such good friends after you attempted to woo Abby away from him.”
Ben smiled. “As I told him, the better man won. I always enjoy a competition but can recognize when the fight is over and I should count my losses and move on. It became clear to me that Elliot and Abby were meant to be together. He can keep up with her rapid conversation, while I cannot. It’s uncanny how he keeps track of everything she says.”
“That it is,” Marcus said. “So what are you gonna do with that ad?”
“I’ll tell you once I see if my plan is successful. You’ll be the first to know,” Ben said.
“I’m gonna hold you to that,” Marcus said.
Suddenly they heard a Lakota whistle and they knew that Marcus’ nephew Mike was coming to visit. They’d discovered last year that the young man’s intellect was in the genius range. He had rapidly advanced through all of the grades that his Aunt Claire, who ran the Dawson school, taught. He had exceeded her educational expectations and he was now ready for college at the tender age of seventeen.
He was planning on starting the winter semester at Rush Medical College in Chicago, Marcus and Ben’s alma mater. Over the past year, he had shown an amazing aptitude for practicing medicine and had decided to follow in Marcus’ footsteps to become a doctor.
He appeared in the doorway and entered the office.
“Howdy, fellas,” he said with a smile.
Ben said, “Well, there’s our future physician. How are you, Mike?”
“Good. Guess what?” he asked. This was his favorite question, it seemed.
“What’s that?” Marcus asked.
“Jenny said she’d wait for me while I’m at college,” Mike said.
He had been courting Jenny Cartwright, one of his former classmates since August.
“That’s fantastic,” Marcus said. The couple was cute together and everyone got a kick out of them.
Ben said, “Congratulations, Mike. That’s wonderful.”
“Yeah, I think so,” Mike said. “So what kind of cases do we have today?”
Marcus and Ben let Mike assist on some things since he no longer went to school. He wasn’t starting college until after the New Year and he had time to help out around the clinic.
“Pretty simple stuff so far, but you never know what’s going to happen,” Ben said.
“Okay. Just let me know what you want me to do,” he said. He selected a medical book from a large bookshelf in the office and sat down Indian style on a chair, where he began to read.
Marcus and Ben exchanged smiles. They knew that Mike was in a world of his own when he was reading. The building could fall down around him and it wouldn’t faze him. Ben looked at the time and went to see if his first patient was there.
The brisk early November day in Nebraska was perfect for riding, and Sasha McCall enjoyed the trip as she rode into Lexington to run some errands. Her Morgan horse was one of the pair that she had taken to Dawson, Montana that last year when she’d helped her Lakota friend, Sparrow, escape from her abusive Lakota husband.
She’d met the love of Sparrow’s life, Jack Samuels, and his family last December and had become fast friends with all of them. She had hated leaving them, but had to return to Nebraska to take care of some matters. Now with the holiday seasons approaching, she was feeling a yearning to return to Dawson to be with them again.
Sasha stopped by the post office and picked up her mail. She sorted through it as she left the post office. One letter caught her attention because it was from Dawson. The writing was bold and elegant and she thought it beautiful. Her heart skipped a few beats when she saw the return address.
Ben Walker had taken her out to dinner one evening and they had developed an instant connection. It was one of the reasons she hadn’t wanted to leave Dawson. That his name was on the envelope filled her with excitement. Standing by her horse, Sasha opened the envelope. Inside was another, smaller envelope that had a number one on it. She took it to mean that she was to read that one first.
When she did, a small piece of paper fell into her hand. It read:
Ladies, this is just what the doctor ordered! Devilishly handsome physician seeks a marriage-minded woman who desires children. She must be between the ages of 25 to 33 and enjoy dining out and a little bit of rowdy night life. The lovely lady must also be able to deal with the sometimes demanding life of a busy doctor. With his jet black hair and green eyes, 6’1”, 183 lb. physique, he’ll raise any lady’s heart rate. Send your letters stat!
Sasha laughed to herself. She knew that Marcus must have written the ad. While she’d been in Dawson, she’d been told that Marcus ran a part-time mail-order-bride service. It was said that his ads were unique and quickly caught the attention of available females, and now she had the proof. Sasha opened the letter in the envelope.
I do hope this letter finds you well. Please pardon me for being forward, but I find that sometimes it is best to be direct. While you were here in Dawson, I enjoyed our short time together immensely and I regret that we did not have more time to spend together. I did chastise my colleague for not introducing us sooner.
I find myself at a time in my life where I am contemplating marriage and starting a family, hence the ad I have sent you. If I am wrong, please tell me, but I feel as though we hit it off splendidly and I think there is a good chance that you and I would make an excellent match. The enclosed advertisement has not been placed in the papers yet. I wanted to give you the first crack, so to speak.
Frankly, I desire to see you again and with the holiday season around the corner, I think the festive atmosphere would be perfect for getting to know one another better. If money is an issue, please let me know. I would happily send you the funds to cover the trip. It would be a small price to pay for the chance to see you again.
If I do not receive a reply from you within a month, I will take that to mean that you are not interested. Although I will be deeply disappointed, I will respect your wishes and not contact you again. However, I am fervently hoping that will not be the case.
Ben’s letter made Sasha smile, and she couldn’t stop smiling as she mounted her horse and went about her other errands. That he had been thinking about her so much pleased her immensely and was a boost to her bruised ego in the area of romance. Marcus’ ad had been spot on about Ben. He was indeed devilishly handsome. His jade green eyes were mesmerizing and his shiny, black hair made her fingers itch to run through it.
His was a powerfully built man and when he’d kissed her there had definitely been chemistry between them. Ben was a delightful dinner companion and very gentlemanly in his treatment of her. He opened doors, helped her get seated at the table and had seen to her every need. Sasha had never been treated like that by any man, including her late husband.
Once she was finished in town, Sasha put her horse into a fast canter so she could get home and send a reply to Ben.