In a world where women are expected to be silent, Charlotte refuses to ignore injustice. When she defies the powerful bank president, it causes repercussions that can devastate the Redding family. In standing up to the town bullies to protect Cotton, Charlotte finds an unlikely ally in the handsome young half-Chinese outlaw, Johnny Tan. But will Johnny prove to be Sanderson’s nemesis or his saving grace?
Charlotte knows she can’t stay in Fort Bidwell, where circumstances seem to be ripping her once-happy family apart. Determined to leave, she must convince Sanderson to give up the security of his railroad job, pull up stakes, and head for Idaho, with A HEART FOREVER WILD…
The thundering hooves from both the stampede and the onslaught of soldiers vibrated the ground. “Sanderson!” Charlotte had to shout to be heard over the growing din. The scene before her unfolded in slow motion as Jerry lifted Minerva, Jay Jay, and Cotton into the wagon with expert precision, one after the other.
Cotton’s normally musical voice tore from his throat in a hysterical shriek. “Mr. Sanderson! Don’t forget Button and George!” Tears left wet trails down his bronze face while more still shimmered in his clear, blue eyes. His arms trembled as they reached for his wolf pup.
George whimpered, scared and helpless, until Jerry plopped Button into the wagon beside him. At once, the gray pup ceased his cries and began to snarl and snap at his brother and friend, both of their fluffy tails wagging, oblivious to the mortal danger that careened toward them from seemingly all directions. Cotton folded his little body over the puppies as Minerva draped her arm over Cotton. Her emerald eyes, wide and staring, darted to and fro.
Sanderson’s strong hands snapped Charlotte from her trance. “Come on!” Her grip tightened around tiny Charlie. “We gotta clear out!”
Nicolai flung his huge head as the herd of wild horses drew nearer and the shouts of the soldiers grew louder. He stomped his hooves as though he may take off with the mustangs at any moment. Achilles, hooked to pull the wagon alongside the younger stallion, glanced over his gray shoulder and whuffed.
Cocoa and Peanut zipped through Jerry’s legs as he pitched a few bags out of the birthing tipi that Charlotte had called her home—the warm, snug, safe place where precious Charlie had come into the world and she herself had almost exited it. Both buckskin and cloth bags landed at her feet in the thin layer of mud. Careful not to trip over them, Charlotte quick-stepped to Sanderson and shoved Charlie into his waiting arms.
Once Charlotte was safe in the wagon bed with her family, Jerry tossed in the rest of the bags as she reached for Charlie.
Sanderson’s eyes were as wild as she’d ever seen. As she accepted their child from him, he was looking everywhere but at her. “Hunker down, going to be a rough ride,” he called, disappearing around the side of the wagon. Nicolai stomped and reared, making the wagon lurch as snippets of conversation made its way back to the bed where Charlotte tried to remain brave. Sanderson’s voice was the clearest. “You drive and I’ll ride!”
Cries from the Indians drowned out Jerry’s reply.
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