From Chapter One
Hawk’s Peak, Montana Territory
A HAWK AND ITS mate soared high above their heads. White clouds tipped with gray created a continuous patchwork in the vast, blue sky, casting shadows over the snow-capped mountains. A cool, spring breeze caressed Amanda’s face and whipped her unbound hair over her shoulders. She’d left the house wearing only a shawl, preferring to relish in the warmer air after the long, harsh season.
The winter of ’84 had been one of the coldest in Amanda’s memory. Although it had been her first in Montana, she was no stranger to the hardships of the western frontier. No matter how settled the land became or how many people from the East ventured in search of the same dreams which brought her parents west, she loved the wildness the land fought to retain.
“I’ll never tire of this sight.” Not a soul within one hundred miles could miss the grand mountain ranges that crisscrossed the land and protected their valley.
“I won’t either.” Brenna wore a heavier wool shawl, the edges gathered over her growing belly. Amanda smiled at her friend—one of many she’d made since arriving at Hawk’s Peak—and imagined Brenna as a new mother once again.
Brenna and Ethan Gallagher already had one son, Jacob, named after Ethan’s father and born in Scotland, Brenna’s homeland. The courage to leave behind everything and everyone she knew at Cameron Manor to journey across an ocean and vast continent impressed Amanda. She’d embarked on her own journey when she left home, but it compared nothing to what Brenna must have experienced.
Brenna stopped at a point in the meadow and bent over to pick a few sprigs of wild lupine and add them to the basket she carried over one arm. Calves frolicked in the nearby pastures, another sign that spring had come regardless of winter’s efforts to linger. In her lyrical voice with her refined Scottish accent, Brenna said, “When I first stepped foot off the stage, the sheer enormity of what I’d done paled in comparison to the beauty of these mountains. I abhorred the circumstances that forced me to flee, and yet without those trials, I wouldn’t be here now. I wouldn’t have Ethan or Jacob.” She patted her belly and smiled. “Or this one.”
“I envy you, Brenna.” Amanda continued walking, but it was Brenna who stopped, surprised by the quietly spoken words.
“What a dear thing for you to say, but there are many who could say the same of you.”
Amanda was quick to assure Brenna. “Please, don’t think me ungrateful for what I have. I’ve been blessed many times over in my life. I envy the way you approach life, every day with such hope.”
“It got me into trouble often as a child,” Brenna said with a smile. “Give yourself time. I often feel as though you’ve always been a part of our lives, but it wasn’t so long ago when you arrived.”
Amanda stared across the quiet meadow, fixated on the swaying grass. “Before you met Ethan, did you ever . . .”
“Did I ever what?” Brenna asked. “You may ask me anything, and I’ll answer if I can.”
“Did you ever wonder if you were strong enough to live the life you always wanted?”
End of Excerpt
Journey to Hawk's Peak © MK McClintock
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