Golden Hearts; The 2nd Book In The Frontier Hearts Series Of Books
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Newest Release: Golden Hearts is a December-May Canadian historical western romance written with British spelling. Contains sex and mild swearing.
Learn more about how Vernon Marshall reached Prosper.
Alberta—Bertie—Jepsen walked down Prosper Street, her heart buoyed by the hope she might finally find new clues as to who murdered her husband.
Vern was a witness who had looked the train robbers in the eye not one week prior. He would know some detail, some nugget of information that would break open the case.
She knew it as sure as the mountains knew cold. Vern held the answers to something that had plagued her for the last two decades.
Bertie entered the Prosper Edition’s newspaper office.
Gladys stood behind the typesetter, glasses perched on her nose, and ink-stained sleeve guards rolled up to her elbows.
The woman never strayed more than a few feet away from the printer.
“There’s no new information.” Gladys’ tone was gentle, grandmotherly.
Bertie placed a nickel on the counter, grabbed a paper, and skimmed the headlines. Speculators were buying coal by the ton, stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange were rallying, and there were fears farmers couldn’t get their wheat to market because of the rail strike.
The article down the page on the train robbers repeated information she already knew. So much for investigative reporting.
Bertie stared at the page until the words blurred and her mind blanked.“Bertie?” Gladys turned the printing press, and it spun out another edition.“Did you receive the Winnipeg Free Press?”
“Not by train, but we received the headlines by telegram.” Gladys tilted her head to a second stack of newspapers.
Bertie swapped the nickel for a dime and picked up a copy. Exhausted hope spread through her—a type of hope that had flared and fizzled so often. Her scars had scars.
She meticulously combed over every newspaper, archive, and telegram, and piece of gossip and even rumours that made their way to Prosper with each train, traveler, and theatre troupe, in her search for clues.
If she found her husband’s murderer, she could burn that chapter of her life, scoop up those ashes and toss them to the wind.
Her husband was a horrible husband, a two-week whirlwind mistake that cost her happiness. A two-week mistake that left her living under the shadow of scorn and suspicion for Lief’s death.
But Fate had always been cruel to her. And Bertie was convinced that Fate would find a way to change the wind and blow those ashes back in her face.
“Did you send for the archives?” Bertie tucked the newspapers under her arm.
Gladys cranked the printing press, and the press spun out another newspaper. “The Vancouver, Montana Messenger, and the Chicago Tribune have all confirmed my request. It’ll be expensive bringing their archives. More so with the train strikes.”
“I’ll pay any cost.”
“Sometimes, no matter how hard we look, we can’t find the answers.” Deep creases formed between Glady’s brows, the kind of creases she had when printing sad news or writing an obituary.
The weight of that ugly possibility weighed on Bertie’s chest, pressing against her until she struggled for breath. She pulled her shoulders back, shrugging off some of the weight. “Someone, somewhere knows who murdered Leif.”
“Bertie. You’re young. You can still have a good life.”
“I need answers.”
Vernon Marshall carried a dented suitcase off the train onto the wooden platform grateful he had arrived in one piece. One dented piece, but in one piece.
The stiffness in his knee and shoulder from the trainwreck four days earlier had eased a little, but not enough to make walking comfortable.
He hopped down from the platform, and the jolt of pain through his leg was his immediate punishment.
He drew in a long breath of air, Albertan air. It was light on guilt and heavy with opportunities.
The townsmen had an honourable look about them, a sense of having built a good living in the hinterlands. They walked with purpose and pride, without swaggering or swashbuckling.
Away from the scandal and whispers that dogged his family in Toronto. Prosper, Alberta, was a fine place to forge a golden future.
Moving his brother, his brother’s wife, and their young daughter to Prosper was a good idea. A diamond of an idea.
Vern walked the length of the platform, feeling dizzy, weaving like a drunken sailor who couldn’t hold his rum. What was wrong with him? His one-year-old niece had steadier legs.
Vern’s older brother, Clement, alighted from the train, turned to his wife, Victoria, and offered his hand to guide her to the platform. Victoria held little Georgianna.
“What do you think, Vern?” Clement’s tone was reserved and betrayed no emotion, the way all lawyers spoke.
“I think the gold vein yields good results.” Vern flagged a porter, gave him instructions to bring their trunks and suitcases to the Anderson Hotel, then tipped him a dollar.
Clement inclined his head towards a carriage. “Ride in the coach?”
“I’d like to stretch my legs.” Victoria eased Georgianna to the ground. “And, I think Georgie has had enough with sitting.” Victoria followed Georgie up the street, guiding her away from the horses, carriages, and men at work.
Vern removed a letter from his inside jacket pocket and reread the directions to his smithy. “I’m going to find my shop. See what the place is like.”
He strode past men in pinstriped suits with gold pinky rings, men checking their gold and silver pocket watches, and barely dressed prostitutes with thick gold necklaces calling out to cowboys.
Glittering gold everywhere—no better sight for a goldsmith.
He stopped at the intersection of Prosper and Anderson streets. The Anderson Hotel had large windows, an imposing veranda, and an air of importance. It was freshly painted dark green with beige around the windows.
In Toronto, such a building would be a private gentleman’s club, like the club to which Dad used to belong. Like the club that had revoked Vern’s membership on account of how Dad died.
Prosperity was freedom. Freedom from prying eyes, freedom from rumours of Dad’s death, freedom from things left behind in Toronto. Freedom to start again.