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Daniel's Bride
Daniel's Bride
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Author(s): Miller, Linda Lael
ISBN No.: 9780671731663
Pages: 400
Year: 199209
Format: Trade Paper
Price: £6.39
Dispatch delay: Dispatched between 7 to 15 days
Status: Available (Active record)

Chapter One Prosperity, Washington TerritoryAugust 2, 1877The noose lay heavy around Jolie McKibben's neck, smelling of sweat and horseflesh and hemp. Frantic protests of innocence had long since rendered her throat too raw to speak, and she felt nothing except a certain defiant numbness as she stared back at those who had gathered to see her hanged. Her blue-green eyes were dry and hot, but a tiny stream of perspiration trickled between her breasts, like a tear gone astray.She stood in the bed of Hobb Jackson's hay wagon, her fair hair sticking to her scalp under the dusty bowler hat she wore, her wrists bound tightly behind her back, her chin at the most obstinate angle possible. She could hear the team of horses behind her, neighing and blowing impatiently in the slow heat of a summer morning. In another few moments, the marshal would give the signal, the horses would pull the rig from beneath her feet, and she would be left to dangle and choke at the end of that dirty rope.All because she'd had the bad judgment to fall in with Blake Kingston. It didn't seem just that she had to die for what he'd done, but then, Jolie had never known life to be fair.


For her, it had been a struggle, right from the very first.The undertaker, a heavy man sweating in a dark suit, dried his brow with a handkerchief and raised his round face to look into Jolie's eyes. "Let's get this over with," he said. "Miss McKibben's been duly tried and sentenced and there's no sense in dragging things out."Jolie felt her knees go weak and tried to put the starch back into them by sheer force of will. "I didn't rob the bank," she croaked out, needing to say the words one last time even though they'd been falling on deaf ears for a month. "And I didn't shoot anybody, either.""Just hang her," someone called from the crowd.


It was then that a big man came out of the mercantile, a flour sack over one thick shoulder, his face hidden by the brim of a large, stained hat. He wore plain brown trousers, a rough-spun shirt the color of buttery cream, and an old buckskin vest. He silenced the yammering spectators just by sweeping them up in a single scathing glance, then set the bag on the wooden sidewalk with an unhurried motion and came down the steps. He crossed a street paved in mud, manure, and sawdust and stood at the rear of the wagon."Now, Dan'l," fretted the wizened old marshal, "don't you go interferin' in this here hangin'. We done tried this woman right and proper, and we found her guilty."Daniel.Jolie's heart gave a surging thump, but she couldn't afford to hope for rescue.


The disappointment would be another burden, and the load she carried was already crushing.The farmer swept off his hat, revealing a head of wheat gold hair, and gazed up at her with eyes the same shade of blue as a summer sky in the early morning. He was not handsome, this man, and yet something wrenched painfully inside Jolie as she regarded him."This the lady bank robber?" he asked, his low voice revealing none of the agitation that raised an invisible charge from the small mob gathered to view the proceedings.Jolie ran the tip of her tongue over dry, cracked lips. For reasons she couldn't begin to sort through, it was crucial that this particular man not walk away believing she was guilty of robbery and murder. She took a step forward, and the rope chafed the delicate skin of her throat."Doesn't look like the type to me," Daniel reflected, raising one brawny hand to rub a clean-shaven chin.


Desperate to find something to focus on other than the grim realities, Jolie took note of the fact that he was the only male present who didn't sport a mustache, a beard, or both.The corpulent undertaker -- his wagon stood waiting nearby, with the name Philias Pribbenow stenciled on the side-waddled forward, mopping his nape with the kerchief. "If you were interested in the proceedings, Daniel," he said, "you.


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