Saturday, February 1, 2014

Marrying Jenna by Charlene Raddon

At last, Branch McCauley was about to marry the woman of his dreams, Jenna Leigh-Whittington. Today. But Jenna has other plans. Glancing out the window as he dresses for the ceremony, Branch sees her gallop past in her wedding dress, scuffed boots, a gun belt around her waist above a plump bustle, and a Stetson on her head. Where was she going? The church was in the opposite direction. What could Branch do but go after her and find out what she was up to?


Park City, Utah, 1879
            Marshal Branch McCauley leaped from his horse and looped the reins over the railing of the stairway to the family’s second floor living quarters. He took the steps two at a time. No matter what, he couldn’t be late for his wedding; eight months it had taken him, after she’d finally accepted his proposal, to get Jenna to name a date.
            Luckily, he made it to his room without being seen. The last thing he needed was his sister, Maura, bawling him out for being late. No one outshone Maura when it came to scolding a man, and she’d worked hard to make this wedding outshine all others.
            Fingers trembling with excitement and nerves, he went to work unbuttoning his shirt. Deep inside, he only half believed that, within an hour Jenna would be his wife. Their relationship had started out as rocky as a boat on a stormy sea. Wild and untamable; that was Jenna. Had anyone told him back then that he’d wind up hitched to her he’d have fled the Territory. But, now, he knew without a doubt their marriage would be rock solid.
            Where was she? Getting into her wedding dress? He couldn’t wait to see her in the lacy, ivory, silk gown he’d glimpsed when the box arrived yesterday from the dressmaker. Jenna would be the most beautiful bride Park City—hell, Utah—ever saw.
            Still fumbling with buttons, he walked over to the window and glanced down onto Park City’s main street. As the marshal, keeping an eye on the town had become an integral part of him, as instinctive as breathing. The usual wagons, horses, people crowded the rutted dirt road and board sidewalks.
            A woman galloped past on a familiar looking horse. Matter of fact, she looked familiar too.
            Her dress—that lacy, silk wedding dress, for hell’s sake—flew out behind her, the train of fabric flapping right along with the horse’s tail. Her drawn up skirt exposed her old boots in the stirrups, along with a bit of stocking-clad leg.
            “Well, hell,” he muttered.
            Her bustle stuck out over the rear of the saddle like a silk duffle, and her gun belt with its .44 Starr Army revolver encircled her waist at an awkward angle. Yard-long, mahogany-colored hair streamed out from under her stained Stetson.
            People froze in place. Wagons halted. Not even a dog barked. Everyone gaped after Jenna as she sped past. Branch understood. Folks weren’t used to seeing a woman in a wedding dress, scuffed up boots, a Stetson, and with a gun belt around her waist. Didn’t surprise him a bit.
            Where in damnation was she going? The church was in the opposite direction.