Whew! We made it through the week and into the weekend! I had two–count them, two!–new releases this past week. First was Howard Haskell Takes A Bride as part of the Love’s Prelude box set, and then came His Tempting Bride (spicy)/Miriam: The Tempting Bride (sweet). I haven’t share an excerpt from His Tempting Bride in honor of its release yet, so here you go! And here are a couple of new characters for you to keep your eyes peeled for….
It was several more seconds before she could bring herself to move from her spot and head for the stairs leading to her room on the second floor. She was in serious trouble if Cody could leave her speechless like that.
Miriam started as she reached the stairway. At the top of the stairs, huddled together, twin looks of mischief on their faces, stood Meizhen and Meiying.
“Mimi,” Meizhen repeated. Neither twin had mastered the correct pronunciation of her name, so they’d settled for calling her ‘Mimi.’
Miriam picked up her skirts and rushed up the stairs as the twins gestured for her.
“Show?” Meiying asked.
“Yes!” Miriam scooped both twins into her arms when she reached the second-floor hallway, and the three jumped and hugged in excitement. “Miles convinced Howard Haskell—the town’s founder and mayor—to help us finance a performance. It will be held in the assembly room at the school on March 5th. Howard wanted to use the school to draw attention to the way it’s growing.” She had no worries about speaking quickly to the twins. They understood far more than they were able to speak themselves.
“We are safe,” Meizhen breathed out in relief. “So good.”
“So happy,” Meiying echoed.
“Yes, it’s perfect.” Miriam whisked them along the hall to the hotel room they were sharing. There was only one large bed, but a cot had been brought in for her. “It will be so nice to rest for a while, even though we have so much work to do before the show.”
“And handsome cowboy?” Meiying asked.
“What handsome cowboy?” Miriam used the excuse of taking off her coat to turn away from them. Her Chinese friends were smart and would know in an instant what she was hiding.
“Handsome cowboy in lobby.” Meizhen scolded her with a playful swat. “Very handsome.”
“Very nice,” Meiying added.
“Very close,” Meizhen took it further.
Both twins made a sound as though they knew all about what sort of things happened with handsome men. Of course, if their background was anything as hair-raising as Miriam’s own background, they probably knew all about those things and more.
“It’s nothing,” Miriam insisted. “Well, not nothing.” She crossed the room to hang up her coat and began undressing for bed.
“Tell about not nothing,” Meiying said, crawling onto the bed and laying on her stomach with her chin propped in her hands.
“Yes, tell, tell.” Meizhen copied her, and within seconds, the two of them were wide-eyed and eager to hear the story.
Miriam let out a breath. “Oh, very well.” She stood before the foot of the bed as though she’d just taken the stage. “Before coming out west, I was…I was staying at a place called Hurst Home. It’s a place where women in trouble can go to be safe.”
The twins exchanged sad looks, as though they could have used such a place.
“Hurst Home is owned by a man here in Haskell, and he and a few others had the idea that the women from Hurst Home could come here as mail-order brides to marry ranchers working in the area.”
“Oh.” Meizhen twisted to sit straight. “Mail-order bride.” She nodded fast, gesturing between her and Meiying.
“Yes.” Meiying sat too. “Mother was mail-order bride from Guangzhou.”
Meizhen nodded. “Mother and Father return to China for children. Brother Chi-ming come back here.”
“Send for us to be mail-order brides,” Meiying finished.
“You?” Miriam blinked, rushing to plop on the bed with her friends. “I had no idea.” She paused. “But…but you’re not married, are you?”
“No,” both sisters said in unison, shaking their heads.
“Arrive San Francisco, but cannot find brother,” Meiying said.
“Hear say he move east with railroad,” Meizhen added.
“We look for him.”
Miriam clasped her hands to her chest. “What a beautiful, sad story. And how frightening to arrive in a foreign land, barely speaking the language, alone, friendless.”
The twins looked at each other and laughed.
“We speak English,” Meizhen said.
“We have uncle in San Francisco,” Meiying added.
They both shrugged, and Meizhen said, “Big adventure.”
“Much fun,” Meiying seconded.
They grinned and giggled over their predicament to the point where Miriam felt as though she was even more of a coward than before. Here her friends had gone through a much more frightening trial than she had, and yet they were able to face whatever life threw at them without getting cold feet. If Cody had sent for one of them, they would be married with babies on the way by now.
“Handsome cowboy is right,” she sighed, slumping, then flopping to her back.
“Why handsome cowboy right?” Meiying asked.
“You marry handsome cowboy?” Meizhen followed with a wink.
“I don’t know.” Miriam sighed, throwing an arm over her eyes in a dramatic post. “I simply don’t know.”
But if the show was going to go on in Haskell—and it was—she would find out.
Miriam: The Tempting Bride is exclusive to Amazon at http://amzn.to/1qRDjzz
His Tempting Bride is available at:
Amazon – http://amzn.to/1qRCVku
Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1123730031