When he rescues a beautiful woman from the mountain lake, Clayton McArthur questions the secluded life he has chosen. Too many battles gave him enough scars and stories to last a lifetime, but reuniting with old friends and healing past wounds helps him to see a life beyond the memories of war. When a man from Gwen Armstrong’s past arrives, and secrets are revealed, will Clayton return to his solitary life or trust in the gift only Gwen can give?
"Whisper Ridge" came about a few years after I wrote the first stories. I was ready to return to the town of Whitcomb Springs when the character of Clayton McArthur came to me. From where, I cannot rightly say, but he came fast and true, and was determined to have his story told. Gwen Armstrong was a surprise, for I did not know her history until a few pages in, and then she became like an new friend I couldn't wait to learn more about. Clayton and Gwen are as special to me as all the others in the quiet Montana town, and I hope you enjoy their story.
Be well, be kind, and enjoy!
Available in e-book and paperback and part of a collection
Western Short Story
western short story, American historical romance, western romance, historical western romance, western fiction
Whitcomb Springs, Montana Territory
LITTLE COULD COMPEL Clayton McArthur to lay down his pencil and turn his mind away from pleading eyes, bloody wounds, and cries in the darkest hours of night.
Little else except a beautiful woman’s sleek body gliding through unclouded water.
He willed his mind to turn away and leave her to the obvious enjoyment of her impromptu swim. Five minutes earlier, he had watched from his rocky perch as she set down a basket of wild berries, stripped down to her chemise and pantaloons, and dove into the crystal-clear mountain lake.
Mesmerized, he told himself a gentleman would at least make himself known. He could not leave his place on the cliff without walking the same trail he used to climb up. The trail curved around two sides of the lake, and his horse rested beyond there. Leaving without causing her some embarrassment was not within his power. The only sounds he heard beyond his thoughts were her splashes and the gurgling water that flowed alongside the trail to meet the lake.
Strands of amber hair escaped their confines when she floated above and skimmed below the water. He picked up his pencil again and applied it to paper before the image left his imaginings. The details of her face remained a mystery, for he had only glimpsed fair skin before she sought the cool depths of the lake. The pencil fairly flew in Clayton’s skilled hand, and her face emerged on paper. He gave her gray eyes without knowing for certain of their true color and scarlet lips because he wished them so. None of this came through in the sketch made with the charcoal tip, but in his mind, her vivid coloring was as clear as the sky above.
When she returned to the grassy bank and emerged from the water, Clayton forced his eyes away. Only when a soft cry traveled to where he kneeled on the cliff did he look down again.
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