A hot, historical western stand-alone story with a satisfying HEA.
With no ties to Texas, Dixy secures a ride to the next town on her way out of the state. The driver, Tobias Poe offers to let her rest. While she’s in the back, he is shot.
Rushing to save him, she arrives in Naked Bluff, Texas.
The town’s doctor, Nathaniel Murphy can’t save him, but can he save her?
Penniless, alone, and now a murder suspect, Dixy has no alternative but to accept his help. Can this couple build a future together? Or will a killer silence her forever?
The Country Doctor’s Bride is a hot adult story that explores the passion of having multiple partners. MMF
“Miss Hawthorne, I can’t believe we’ve been talking like two chickens in a hen house since we left Centerville.” Tobias Poe smiled. His sweet, southern charm had won Dixy over from the moment she’d met him more than an hour ago. With his grandfather style, snowy white beard, and teasing blue eyes, he had easily brushed aside any awkwardness between them with a warm handshake. Moments later, he helped her up onto the wagon’s bench. Once they were on the road out of town, he jumped into a conversation about the places he’d been and the people he knew.
Dixy studied the vast expansion of land around them and noted the barren fields hugging the rugged trail. The crops harvested weeks ago. Now only old corn stalks and rotting plants dotted the landscape. Brown leaves danced across the open space, fluttering in the breeze for a moment, then hit a twig or a sticky mud puddle and drew to a stop.
“You know, after all, this time, you could call me, Dixy, instead of Miss Hawthorne,” she suggested for what seemed the hundredth time. Being a gentleman, he chose not to abide by her request but didn’t flat out tell her no.
The buck wagon hit a divot in the dirt path.
Dixy swayed on the bench and brushed against Tobias’ arm. She quickly straightened and stared down the lane. The trees lining the road ahead were bare. Winter had hit with a vengeance, bringing a cold wind and heavy rain. As they had left Centerville, the light of early dawn had peeked over the horizon. She expected a chilly, overcast day. Luckily, the clouds had cleared. The sun had graced them with its presence. The shawl around her shoulders plus her coat had kept most of the nippy breeze at bay.
“Oh, no, Mrs. Cowden wouldn’t approve if I became too friendly with you in such a short time.” He lifted the reins and steered the horse around a large puddle in the middle of their path. “I believe, though, I should introduce you to my friend John Bristol Smith. He’s near your age and could use a good woman. Or perhaps Nathaniel Murphy, you might be interested in him.”
Not thrill with the notion of getting involved with any man, Dixy bit back her aversion to him playing matchmaker but managed to hold her tongue. After all, Mrs. Cowden had arranged for this ride. Dixy had no intentions of offending Tobias or the lady who had secured his help. “How long do you think it’ll take for us to make it to Naked Bluff?”
He cocked his head. A lock of white hair swept across his face. The steady scrutiny of his gaze must have taken in her exhaustion. He tossed a hand over his shoulder. “We still have a ways to go. Why don’t you lie down in the bed of the wagon and rest? I’ll wake you when we get closer.”
Uncertain if she should take him up on the offer, Dixy noticed the empty space and considered the number of days she’d already been on the road. Having traveled up from Austin in the last week, she figured she should catch a few winks of sleep whenever she got a chance. After all, she still had a number of miles to travel if she planned to make it all the way to Georgia by the end of January.
She moved to the edge of the bench. “If you don’t mind, I could use a little shut-eye before we get to town.”
“Then you head on back there and rest for a spell. I’ve got things handle here.” He shifted, allowing her room to swing her legs around to the flat bed.
Standing for a mere second, she dropped to her knees and crawled along a row of large wooden boxes. One set had a tarp thrown over them. She nestled up under a corner of the thick fabric and stretched out. “Thanks, Tobias. This is great.”
“Good, now you just take it easy, and in no time, we’ll be in town.” His words drifted over her head.
The warm haven created from being out of the wind and under the heavy, cotton tarp allowed her muscles to relax. Her mind darted off as to the problems ahead. Where would she sleep tonight?
She didn’t have any money and had only agreed to travel to Naked Bluff with Tobias because Madeline Cowden had vouched for him. Still, what choice did Dixy have? If she had any hope of getting to Georgia, she had to count on the help of strangers.
Fighting not to worry, she forced herself to breathe deeply and clear her mind of all thoughts. Slowly, the clicked-clank of the wheels and the steady rocking lured her to sleep.
Only moments later to her, Dixy heard voices and noticed they weren’t moving. Had they arrived in town?
Disoriented, she listened to the rough cadence of a male voice. His loud, accusing tone shoved back the lure of continuing to snooze. She shifted and squinted up to where Tobias still sat on the wagon’s bench.
“Now, now, there’s no cause for you to get upset. I have everything under control,” Tobias assured the other man.
“So do I,” the stranger yelled.
Pop, pop, pop.
Dixy froze. Gunfire wasn’t something she was prepared to deal with.
Holding her breath, she silently wondered, what the hell was going on?
Several long seconds ticked by, then the distinct sound of horse’s hooves striking the wet ground sang through the silence. Plop, plop, plop, the noise indicated the man had ridden away.
“Tobias, what was that—”
A body crumbled on top of her. Shocked by the sudden attack, Dixy scrambled to one side and sat up to stare into Tobias’ pale, pain-filled face. Misery sat on the tight line of his lips. Blood covered his chest.
“My God, Tobias,” Dixy exclaimed and scurried to give him room to lie down on the hard, wooden planks. “You’ve been shot.
Leaning against the counter of the General Store, Nathaniel Murphy listened to the conversation swirling around him. For the first time in what seem like hours, he didn’t have to deal with the constant complaining of a patient’s aches or pains. Being the town’s doctor, he handed out free advice regularly as to what to do for coughs and runny noses.
Now, however, the discussion concerned his love life. Which when he pondered the topic was nonexistent, but he much preferred being single than being married to the wrong girl.
“I’m telling you. Mrs. Manning is convinced you will be asking her daughter to marry you any day now,” Zack Goodman stated as if it was a forgone conclusion that Nathaniel would be walking down the center aisle of the church by the end of the week.
Unfortunately, he’d ran into this problem before. As the town’s doctor and a property owner, he offered every mother in the territory the perfect target for a suitable man for their daughters to wed. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t interested.
“No, the girl is all wrong for him,” Logan Jansen argued. “Sierra is nice enough, but she wants nothing more than to escape this town. He needs a more stable woman.”
Zack countered, “Like who?”
Nathaniel nodded. “Exactly, gentlemen, that’s why—”
“Help, help, someone please help me.” The sound of a woman’s voice rang through the door that Mrs. Westerly had just swung open.
“What the—” Mr. Randal, the store’s owner, sputtered out and whipped around to stare out the front window.
Not waiting for the other two men beside him to move, Nathaniel rushed for the exit. The steady footsteps of Zack and Logan followed in his wake. Nathaniel didn’t paused and darted outside.
A buckboard wagon rolled to a stop by the wooden sidewalk. The woman driving tied the reins to the brake handle and spun around. “Tobias has been shot and needs a doctor.”
Unfamiliar with the lady, Nathaniel rushed forward and peered into the back. His consideration immediately fell to a Naked Bluff’s resident, Tobias Poe. “Damn, how long ago was he shot?”
She twisted her legs to the open cargo area and stood for a brief moment. Her tall, stately form drew his attention. But before he could fully appreciate her elegant curves, she knelt by the injured man’s side. Without answering the question, she applied pressure to the wad of cotton resting against his chest. “It’s okay, Tobias. We’ve made it to town. Now, stay with me until I can get a doctor to examine you.”
Using the advantage of the sidewalk to boost himself into the wagon, Nathaniel landed in the limited available space and nudged the woman aside. “Here, let me take a look.”
As if knowing what he needed to see, she shifted her red-stained bloomers off the wound. “He’s lost a lot of blood, but the bleeding has slowed.”
Nathaniel caught sight of the gaping hole in the man’s chest and didn’t expect him to survive through the night.
Turning to the crowd that had gathered on the sidewalk, Nathaniel barked orders, “Zack. Logan. I need your help. I want to take Tobias over to my place so I can care for him.”
The two men jumped into the front and drove down the muddy road. Nathaniel’s house stood just off the main street. Close enough for him to help people living in town but far enough away to have a bigger piece of land. The ability to live and work at the same place was the main reason he’d decided to move to such a small community.
During the time it took to travel to his house, Nathaniel turned his attention to the woman applying pressure to Tobias’ wound. Light brown wisps of hair danced around her face. A black hairnet imprisoned the length and held it neatly to the base of her neck. Air rushed over her skin and blew her unique scent in his face.
Unable to identify the alluring aroma, he wondered if she might have crushed a few fragrant herbs between her bosoms. His mouth watered at the thought of tasting her. With her leaning forward, he could only see the sleek line of her back and the round curve of her hips. He’d only gotten a brief glance at her elegant form before she dropped to her knees to attend to Tobias. Could Madeline have sent her?
“I’m sorry but…” Nathaniel started but stopped when the wagon pulled to a halt.
He shifted around and rolled off the back. Once on solid ground, he turned for the front porch. “Zack, if you and Logan can carry Tobias inside? I’ll go in and get the place ready.”
“Not a problem, Doc.” Zack swiveled on the bench seat and stared at the woman kneeling beside Tobias. “Hey, lady, you need to get out of the way.”
Nathaniel waved a hand at her, directing her to move to the end of the wagon. He didn’t have time at the moment to question her regarding her reasons for coming to Naked Bluff. But once Tobias was taken care of, he’d find out if she was here for him. “Come on. You can clean up inside while I see what I can do for Tobias.”
She’d crawled forward and swung her legs over the edge. With a dainty hop, she landed on the ground and straightened beside him.
Surprised by her height, he shuffled further along the path to fully appreciate her splendid curves. Most women barely stood tall enough for the top of their heads to reach his shoulders. This one could almost meet him eye to eye. His gaze met hers. The dark brown color engulfed him with their warmth. Hunger, he hadn’t felt in a long time, coursed through his veins and settled in his groin.
Unconsciously, he lifted his hand to touch her but caught himself midway in the act of enclosing her in an intimate embrace. He redirected his grip to capture her arm and firmly squeezed her bicep. “Here, let me help you inside.”
A knowing smile touched her lips briefly before she shook her head. “No, we need to get everything ready for you to remove that bullet from Tobias’s chest.”
She rushed ahead of him and gained entrance into his house with a simple twist of her wrist.
With no plans to be away from home long, he hadn’t bothered to lock the door. He knew everyone in town. Also, the only thing of value, his medicine was kept in a secure metal box which was bolted to his office floor.
Mesmerized by the view of the woman in front of him, he followed at a slower pace than he should have. After stepping across the threshold, he noticed her racing down the hallway.
“I’ll heat up some water while you prepare for surgery.” She threw over her shoulder and disappeared into the kitchen.
Suddenly realizing he didn’t even know her name, he hurried forward to catch her.
“Hey, Doc, where do you want us to put Tobias?” Zack muttered and wedged his way through the door. Half-carrying, half-dragging the man into the house, the two men turned to Nathaniel for guidance.
He pointed to the open doorway at the bottom of the staircase. “Guess you better take him into my office. Just set him on the cot in the corner. Once I get the bullet out, I’ll need to keep an eye on him for the next few days.”
Following the men inside the room, he rushed to the cabinet that held his medical supplies and surgical instruments. Without much thought, he dropped the things he needed on a tray and debated the likelihood of the man surviving.
“Doc?” Logan’s words filtered through Nathaniel’s mind, drawing his attention to the problem at hand and away from his fascination with the woman he’d just met. “Doc, I think Tobias is already gone.”
“Damn, that means this was murder.” Zack wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. “I better go tell my boss. He’s not going to be happy. He just got home yesterday after being gone for almost a month.”
Shifting his focus to Zack, who worked as a foreman for Texas Deputy Bo Kildare, Nathaniel held up his hand and hurried over to Tobias. “Hang on a second.”
The man’s ashen face was a good indication the man stood on the threshold of death’s door. Still, Nathaniel wanted to be sure. Probing the man’s jugular vein, he searched for a noticeable sign of life.
Several seconds passed.
No pulse beat against his fingers. He brushed a hand over Tobias’ mouth, hoping for a light brush of air. “I guess you’re right, Zack. It appears as if someone shot and killed Tobias.”
“What? He can’t be dead.” The woman, who had darted off for the kitchen only moments ago, now stood in the doorway of Nathaniel’s office. Her hands locked on her hips. A determine expression highlighted her face.
He assessed her complexion and high cheekbones. The pallor of her skin alerted him. He stepped forward concern she might be in shock. Then his gaze collided with hers. The dark fire in her brown eyes flashed with fury. “I’m sorry, Miss, but he’s gone. Did you know him well?”
Zack and Logan eased away as if suddenly aware of her anger.
“No, I just met him this morning. Madeline Cowden introduced me to him.” She shook her head. Her stride ate up the short distance to the cot until she stood over the dead man. “I should have known better. He was too helpful, too nice. He had to have enemies, but why in the hell did they have to kill him while I was sleeping in the back of his wagon?”
Nathaniel didn’t have the answer to that particular question, so he avoided responding. Instead, the dark red stains across the entire front of her dress redirected his concentration to her full, luscious bosoms. With her standing so close, a craving blossomed inside him. He curled his fingers into fists to keep from touching her.
He noted the tarnished material and the familiar scent of blood. Fighting the nauseating effects, he detected a foreign fragrance of…he inhaled…rosemary.
Unable to keep his distance, he laid a hand on her arm. “Why don’t we see if we can find you a clean set of clothes? Then we’ll work on trying to salvage your dress.”
She dislodged his hand by moving away and inspected her appearance. “It’s not a problem. I have my coat and a change of clothes in my bag which is in…”
Pausing, she studied the spot where Zack and Logan had been standing only a few seconds ago. Without any warning, she suddenly darted for the doorway. “Dang it, I bet those men took off with my things.”
Not willing to let her out of his sight, Nathaniel hurried after her. “They’ll be back. They’re just heading out to Bo Kildare’s house.”
Stepping out of his front door, he halted immediately and marveled at the spectacle before him.
The woman shifted restlessly from foot to foot with her hands clasping her skirt. She acted as if she were holding back the urge to run after the retreating wagon. With a frustrated sigh, she kicked the dirt and spun to face him. Eyes lit with fury. Hands locked in fists. The intense anger radiating from her heated his blood.
He realized he should be wary. A hotheaded woman could cause havoc to a man’s peace of mind, but he like women with spunk. This one appeared to have plenty to spare. “They’ll be back in a little while.”
Holding out his hand, he waved her forward and stepped toward the house. “Come on inside. I’m sure I have a few things you can borrow until they return.”
She studied the wagon’s wheels tracks on the road for a moment longer. As if coming to a decision, she straightened her shoulders and stomped onto the porch. “Tobias was only giving me a ride. I’m on my way to Georgia to help care for the wounded from the war. I don’t have time to sit around here.”
Not particularly happy she was only passing through Nathaniel shrugged. “Yes, well, I’m sure Tobias isn’t overjoyed by the change in plans either.”
“How can you say that?” She sputtered out and stared at him disbelievingly.
“Look, Miss,” he paused, expectantly waiting for her to fill in her name.
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