Cord Matthews sets his sights on the open Montana Territory when the War Between the States rips everything from him. Olivia Bartlett, the only woman he's ever loved, has been killed--a cross marks the place where she lies buried. Cord builds a new dream, but a ghost from his past won’t let him forget what his heart wanted most.
Olivia, forced to flee her Virginia home, finds new purpose as a nurse to the wounded at Fort Laramie, Wyoming Territory. War and separation haven’t diminished her love for Cord Matthews, or her stubborn belief that he is coming for her. Danger threatens once more with the impending arrival of a new commander at Fort Laramie--a man who has already tried to kill her once. Olivia flees to Montana Territory, seeking refuge.
Reunited on the Montana frontier, can Cord and Olivia hold tight to their love and defeat the man who seeks to destroy them both?
Like a fly, a voice buzzed around Olivia. The distressed nature of the voice entreated her to answer, but instead she swatted at the intrusion and leaned into Cord. The gray wool of his uniform brushed against her arms and raised tiny bumps over her flesh. Gentleman’s rhythmic cadence lulled her into a sense of peace. How many times had the buckskin horse carried she and Cord to their many adventures? She twisted in the saddle and lifted her face to gaze into Cord’s amber eyes memories passed between them. His mouth spread in a slow grin and he winked.
Olivia squared her shoulders and jabbed her forefinger into the rough wool covering his chest. “You will come back to me, Cordell Matthews.”
Cord’s chuckle rumbled under her. The sound blanketed her in warmth and settled in her heart.
“You could give a general lessons in how to issue orders, sugar.”
An invisible force shook her shoulders threatening to unseat her. She frowned. Cord’s grip tightened, but he continued on as if nothing untoward happened. Livy followed his lead refusing to ruin this time with Cord.
“Yes, Livy, the whole of the Union Army couldn’t keep me away from you. Then I’m going to marry you, and we’re going to settle here and raise horses and babies.” A long road loomed just a few feet away. Disquieted both shifted in the saddle. His arm tightened on her waist and pulled her closer. Cord tugged Gentleman’s reins, stopping him at the crossroads. One road led Olivia back to the Matthews’ farm. One led Cord to war.
Olivia held Cord’s hand and slid from the saddle. She brushed her lips across his knuckles. “I love you, Cord.”
“I’ve always loved you, Olivia Bartlett, and I suspect I will through this life and the next. You don’t be giving your heart to anyone else while I’m gone.”
She held his gaze. “Never. No matter how long. God be with you.”
His hand slipped from hers and he spurred Gentleman forward. Olivia stood waving long after any sign of man or horse disappeared. Tears streamed down her face and her hand dropped.
Olivia turned her face to the trees lining the road. A breeze rustled the trees and carried a voice. “Aunt Liv, please!”
A weight shoved with vigor against her shoulder. Olivia resisted the pull to open her eyes. She pressed her face deeper into her pillow holding onto her dreams, where Cord was. Real or dream, Olivia cherished any time she was allowed with him.
“Aunt Liv, p-please, I n-need you!”