Clara Cross ran away as a young girl after the suspicious deaths of her parents, and has spent the last nine years trying to find safety from a man she had reason to fear. Finally landing in the small town of Agate Gulch in the high Colorado mountains, she believes she may have found a safe home at last, and can send for the brother she had to leave behind. Sam Tower is the man she loves—but would he ever give her a second glance? When Clara’s past catches up with her, her survival depends on her own strength and courage, as well as Sam’s.
Sam Tower runs on a ranch with his friend, Paul Ward, near Agate Gulch. Sam has been running from the past since the loss of his family, and the injury he received as a fife and drum boy in the Civil War. Clara is everything he admires and loves—but she is too good a person for him. When Clara is kidnapped, Sam begins a journey of discovery and finds what he’s always wanted—a HOME FOR HIS HEART.
“So, Sally, are you and Paul ever going to get married?”
Paul Ward and Sam Tower had started ranching on the Welty spread five miles outside of town a year ago. They’d taken over after John Welty was killed in a stampede. They were new hires when the accident happened. Mrs. Welty was happy to sell to them, especially since Paul was hurt while trying to save John.
Paul and Sally had been spending quite a lot of time together. Clara thought they were perfect for each other. She hoped for an announcement soon. Her friend deserved to be happy.
“He has to ask me first,” Sally said as she blushed. “And what about you and Sam?”
“What about me and Sam? We’re just friends, nothing more, so stop your matchmaking, you hear?” Clara laughed, turning her head so Sally wouldn't see the moisture in her eyes.
Clara admitted to herself, she was half in love with Sam. Tall Sam with the brown eyes, dark brows, and blond hair. Clara knew he enjoyed her company, but just as friends. No one would want someone who looked like her.
“No one’ll want an ugly girl like you.” The words from her childhood kept running through her mind every time she thought of Sam. If only she were pretty.
Sally’s insistent words broke through Clara’s reflections.
“But Clara, he is a great catch. He’s a hard worker, kind, and considerate. And he doesn’t like to fight—unlike some of the others around here.”
“I’m not blind, but—let’s finish bringing out the food.” Clara said, hoping to change the subject.
Clara was glad Sam was a friend. It started with her cooking, and a comfortable friendship had grown from those first few meals. With her looks, Clara knew it would never be more.
From inside the restaurant, Clara heard the sound of horses running, then coming to a stop. The door flew open, and in walked Sam and Paul.
“Where’s the pie?” shouted Paul.
“Where’s the tables?” asked Sam at the same time.
“The pies are safe from your sticky fingers. You’ll have to wait, just like the others,” said Sally as she walked up to Paul. She threw her arms around his waist, raising her face for a kiss.
He pulled her close for a quick kiss and hug.
“With the weather so nice, we’ve decided to eat outside this year,” said Clara, in answer to Sam’s question.
“Don’t tell me you moved the tables outside by yourselves,” said Sam. “If you’d waited, we could have helped.”
“You’re just in time to help set up the barrels and planks,” Clara replied.
“Point us in the right direction,” Paul said, as he moved toward the door.
“Be glad to help,” said Sam, following Paul out the door.
Soon, the area was full of talk and laughter. Clara stood off to the side watching. Her friends and patrons were enjoying her offerings—a warm and happy feeling. How far she’d come since that fateful night when she ran away and changed her name!