The Queen of Cherry Vale by Judith B. Glad

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When newly widowed Hattie Rommel chooses a second husband, she doesn’t expect him to fulfill her most secret dreams. She just wants him to take her to Oregon.

Emmet Lachlan marries Hattie with the understanding that he will be free to leave her behind, once she is safely in Oregon. He is a wandering man, not a settling-down farmer. Then an old trapper bequeaths them a map to a valley where gold lies on the ground for the taking.

While Emmet and Hattie gather the gold, they also discover each other. Even lost in love's magic, they both know it cannot last. When they run afoul of murderous renegades, they must flee across untamed mountains to the hidden valley Hattie calls Cherry Vale. In the home she's always longed for, Emmet discovers a peace he's never sought. The end of summer means they must resume their interrupted journey. Can Hattie leave the only place that's ever felt like home? And if she does, will Emmet give up looking for what's on the far side of the hill?


Emmet had done his best to avoid talking about how he'd done for her while he'd fought for her life. He felt a certain embarrassment at the way he'd handled her body. Although most of the time he hadn't cared whether she was naked or wearing cloth of gold, his body had always been aware of hers. And that was a source of shame to him.

It was one thing to lust after a woman in the best of health, another thing entirely to want one who was helpless and dependent.

The only good thing about his animal lust was that he'd split enough wood to last them the winter through.

"How much did you save?"

She hadn't spoken to him much as he was in and out during the afternoon. Now he wished she'd stayed silent, for he dreaded the moment when he'd have to tell her of her losses. This moment.

"Let's get you into bed first." When he went to help her undress, she stopped him.

"I can do it," she said, her hand holding his away from the buttons at her throat. "If you'll just hand me my gown and step outside?"

With great relief, he did so. Staring up at the moon, he noticed it was surrounded by a ring. It would get cold tonight.

Winter was coming.

She called him and he went back inside. Avoiding the sight of her.

It was almost dark, the early dark of October. Soon the days would be too short to do anything but the necessary tasks to stay alive. Hunt. Fish. Mind the livestock.

Damn the livestock! He wasn't a farmer! He paced, three steps from the sand wall to the door, four steps from the fireplace to the bunks.

"What did you save?" Her quiet voice came out of the darkness of the lower bunk. He could see nothing of her save her pale face. "You said the wagon rolled. Did... could they save it?"

"We saved two wheels--sold 'em to that bas... to Coonrad. And the canvas. It wasn't torn too badly. A couple of staves, some hardware, and the harness. I traded all but the canvas for food."

"None of the cargo?" Her words were tremulous. And resigned.

"A few chests and boxes. What floated free. A lot of the stuff sank."

She said nothing for long moments. Finally, "What was in them? The chests and boxes, I mean?"

"All your bedding, and one chest of clothes--your...Mr. Rommel's, I think. Most of the food--the kegs were attached to the sides of the wagon. But we lost some flour and sugar anyhow, because it got wet."

This time there was no doubting the hopelessness in her voice. "That's all?"

He listed the rest of what they'd salvaged, mostly furniture, nothing that might be called her treasures. "I'm sorry I couldn't find a Bible, or letters, or any of that sort of family keepsake."

He waited. At last she said, "What about the other wagon? Did we lose anything there?"

"It came across slick as a whistle. So Silas and I went through everything and picked and chose what to bring. We had to have space for you, and wanted to bring what you'd need most, in the Willamette Valley." He was aware that her hand, which he'd somehow taken hold of, had tightened on his. "We got rid of a lot of your hus... of Mr. Rommel's tools. Left 'em hid under a pile of sagebrush and rock, up a side canyon about a mile from the river. Didn't figure you'd have much use for them, if you're plannin' on farming."

"That's all right, although they were probably worth a fair amount. As long as you found Karl's gold, that's all that matters."

"Gold?" Emmet said, an empty sensation growing in his belly. "What gold?"

  • Published by: Uncial Press

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