Cover image for Winter Raven
Title:
Winter Raven
Author:
Edwards, Cassie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Signet, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
373 pages ; 18 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780451201911
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

It was desperation that led Holly Wintizer to pose as a bounty hunter and boldly set out to capture outlaw Jake Two Moons. Alone in the world, it was the only way the beautiful young woman could finance her true journey--to seek justice for her mother's death...It was loyalty that compelled Winter Raven to hunt for his renegade twin brother Jake Two Moons. It was the only way the fearless Indian warrior could honor his father's dying wish, even if it meant neglecting his own heartfelt needs--to find a new wife and a mother for his beloved daughter...It was fate that Holly and Winter Raven's paths would cross in the Montana wilderness. Although they should be enemies, they find themselves unable to deny the desire that blazes between them. Now Holly must decide if she can trust the brother of a criminal with her life--and her heart...


Author Notes

Cassie Edwards is and accomplished violinist and romance novel writer. She began her literary career while working as a secretary. Edwards sent a manuscript to Zebra, who bought it and offered her a contract for six more books, but not before she was offered a contract for another historical novel by Leisure Books.

Over 100 of her historical romances have been published and Edwards has won the Romantic Times 'Lifetime Achievement Award' for her Indian series and a 'Reviewer's Choice Award' for her first Indian romance, Savage Obsession. Her series list includes: Savage Secrets, Wild Arizona, and Wild Tribes. Her novels include: Island Rapture, Fire Cloud and Shadow Bear.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One The angels most heedful, Receive each mild spirit, New Worlds to inherit. --William Blake Kansas City, Missouri, 1859 It was late spring. Wild geese had flown from the South to nest on the tops of dead cottonwood snags in the groves along the streams that branched from the Missouri River.     A weeping willow tree graced the hillside, its limbs gently shimmying in the breeze, as Holly Wintizer stood in its shadows over a fresh grave.     Tall and willowy like the tree behind her, her golden, waist-length hair hanging in waves down her slender back, Holly couldn't believe that her mother lay in that grave. Putting on the dreadful black dress and the black veil this morning had been perhaps the hardest thing she'd had to do in her life. The clothing made everything too real, declaring that she was in mourning.     Holly choked back a sob and reached beneath the veil to dab at her eyes with her lacy handkerchief.     "Mama, how can it be that I will never see your smile or hear your laughter again?" she whispered, alone now that the other mourners were pulling away from the cemetery in their black buggies. "You weren't sick ever , before."     A dark, angry frown creased Holly's brow as she thought of who she blamed for her mother's untimely death.     "Rudolph Anderson," she hissed, the sound of his name as it crossed her lips causing a familiar bitterness. She always' felt this way when she thought of the man her mother had been married to for such a short time.     Holly still couldn't believe that her mother had been taken in so quickly by the drifter, actually marrying him only one month after having met him in Harrison's General Store in Kansas City.     As her mother had explained it to Holly, she had been trying to reach a bolt of cloth high on a shelf in the store when, out of nowhere, a large, strong hand reached up and got it for her.     When her mother turned to the man to thank him, his blue eyes seemed to hypnotize her, and his red hair glowed like sunshine as it lay neatly at his freshly starched white collar. And when he spoke to her, in a voice so masse and deep, her mother was swept dean off her feet and was never the same afterward.     "And then there came those days shortly after the marriage when you complained about not feeling too well," Holly whispered. She bent to a knee and placed a single long-stemmed rosebud on the fresh mound of dirt. "I wish I had suspected then what I suspect now, Mama. Just ... maybe ... you would be alive today."     She hated thinking about how fast their lives had changed after her mother married Rudolph Anderson.     Oh, Lord, was it really only two weeks after they had been married in the beautiful white Baptist church in midtown Kansas City that he had wiped out her mother's bank account and left town?     Yes, that was how cruel and heartless he had been, and it was on the very day that her mother had discovered the truth that she had died.     Doc Adams had told Holly that the shock of having been duped by a con artist had caused her mother's heart attack, killing her as surely as if the swindler had been right there sinking a knife into her aching heart.     But Holly doubted the doctor's observation. Her mother had always been a strong woman, with a strong heart. Holly could not help but believe something else had caused her death. She had requested an autopsy, but thus far she had not heard the results.     Holly gazed heavenward. "Mama, I love you," she said quietly. She swallowed: hard. "Oh, how I will miss you." Hanging her head in utter despair, Holly went to her horse and buggy and rode away from the cemetery. The thought of going back to the house that had once been filled with her family's laughter Was almost unbearable.     She was now alone in the world.     Through the years, her mother and father had often moved from place to place, and Holly had lost touch with her relatives. She didn't even have grandparents to fall back on. They had died before Holly had been born.     "It's all up to me now to make a life for myself," she said aloud, thinking about how she would find Rudolph Anderson and have him arrested for what he had done to her family.     It wasn't because of the money, either. Her need for revenge went deeper than that. It was because of her mother. No man should ever treat a woman the way Rudolph Anderson had treated Kathryn June Wintizer.     Wintizer. Holly believed that her mother had entered the portals of heaven with that name, the name she had received from her beloved first husband. The name Anderson was never truly meant to be a part of her mother's life, and it most certainly wouldn't be a part of her death. "Wintizer" was being engraved on her mother's headstone, not "Anderson." Holly had seen to that with almost the last cent of her and her mother's money.     Sighing heavily, she tried hard to shake off such troubled thoughts, knowing she had to have a clear mind to make decisions about her life. She drove along a cobblestone road through town, not even aware of horses and buggies or men on horseback riding past her and alongside her.     She didn't pay any heed to the lovely day with its blue skies and sunshine, not to the women in their lovely hats and dresses strolling along the board sidewalks before the two- and three-storied buildings of midtown Kansas City.     Holly was thinking hard about what she was going to do with the rest of her life.     She had never been forced to make her way, to work.     But now everything was different. She did have to find a way to make a living.     "At least I still have our house," she thought as she turned down a street that soon revealed a residential area with charming white frame houses on either side of the road. "As long as I'm there, I will still have a piece of Mama with me."     While there, she would be able to close her eyes and envision her mother sitting in her rocking chair, knitting, embroidering, or reading while Holly put together a puzzle on the floor beside the warm fire in the fireplace or just relaxed beside her mama and read a book of fiction.     If Holly thought about it when shoe was home, she might even be able to smell her favorite cinnamon rolls baking in the oven, and hear her mother humming contentedly.     Until he came along and ruined everything, Holly thought. After her mother married Anderson, Holly had not seen her laugh much anymore. She no longer sat and sewed and hummed contentedly beside the fire.     Holly hadn't been able to find it in herself to ask her mother why she had chosen to marry that man.     No, she hadn't wanted her mother to realize that she noticed the changes in her behavior, in her happiness. She felt that her mother had realized the mistake she had made though she had not yet worked her way out of it. In time, Holly knew, her mother would have booted the cheating liar out of their lives.     But she had not done it quickly enough, and he had run off with the family's wealth.     Holly's heart skipped a beat when she pulled her horse to a stop in front of her two-story white shingled house. Its wraparound porch, filled with wicker furniture, was where she and her mother had sat on drowsy summer days. The maple trees that Holly's father had planted around the house with his own hands had grown large enough to create a canopy of shade that Holly's mother had loved.     Holly blinked over and over again, not sure if what she was seeing in the yard was true, or imagined.     She stared disbelievingly at two large trunks, and then at boxes piled high with clothes, and then at the lone rifle that lay with her other things on the ground. Her saddle, with its saddlebags and gunboot, was flung down amid her other belongings.     "What's going on here?" Holly wondered, cold inside as she looked at her belongings sprawled on the ground. The shock of seeing them made her unable to move from the buggy.     When she heard the squeak of the front door as it slowly opened, she lifted her eyes to the porch and gazed in total surprise as a man and woman came out of her house and stood on the porch as though they owned it.     She looked from one to the other and soon realized that they were strangers, not friends who might be there to welcome her home from her sad moments at the cemetery.     Friends certainly would not have gone into her house and taken the liberty to rifle through her personal belongings. And friends especially would not have moved her possessions outside on the ground!     Inhaling a quavering breath, and finally finding the strength and courage to leave the buggy, Holly went and stood at the foot of the steps beside her things.     "Who are you?" she asked warily. "What is the meaning of this--going into my home uninvited? What do you think you're doing, putting my things out here on the ground?"     The man, short, squat, bald, and dressed in a dark suit, stepped away from the woman into the sunshine. His gaze was steady as he looked down at Holly. "This house is no longer yours," he said, his voice tight. "I purchased it, and everything in it, from Rudolph Anderson a few days ago. Me and my wife were civil enough to allow you to live here until your mother's burial. Today, while you were at the cemetery, we took possession."     He nodded toward Holly's belongings. "I went through your things," he said. "I've been kind enough to give you what I feel you need to get a new start in life."     This terrible news was so devastating to Holly, she felt as though someone had slammed a fist into her gut. Her stepfather had not only robbed her and her mother of their money but he had also had the gall to sell the house and everything in it. Except for what was lying on the ground beside her, Holly now had nothing!     "You can't be serious," Holly finally was able to say. "You can't do this. It's not--not ethical. It's criminal."     "I have the deed," the man said, lifting his chin boldly.     He looked over his shoulder at his wife, who was equally short and squat, and whose eyes were widely set and pale colored, Her black hair was pulled back into a tight bun atop her head, and her cotton dress strained at the waist and bust. She was nervously wringing her chubby hands.     "Edith, go and get the damn deed," the man growled. "Seems we've got to prove the purchase to the lady."     Holly watched the woman disappear into the house, then return again with a folded paper.     Holly stepped closer as the man waddled down the steps. Her hands shook as she took the deed and read it, her heart sinking when she saw that it was legal.     The house and everything in it were no longer hers. Her stepfather had sold it before he left town, and gotten even wealthier with the money from the sale.     Now that she knew she no longer had a legal right to the house, she realized she was too dead inside to argue anymore with people who didn't care how she felt. She loaded her belongings into her buggy and rode off toward town. She was stunned to realize that now not only was she penniless, she was also homeless.     "Jana," she whispered as she removed her black veil and laid it on the seat beside her.     She knew that she could go to her dear friend in a time of trouble, yet she hated to impose for even one minute on Jana and her husband, Frank. They had two children and were dirt poor.     But Holly had no choice.     She didn't even have enough money in her purse to pay for one night's lodging at a hotel. And she knew Jana well enough to believe that she and her husband wouldn't have it any other way. They would want Holly to come to them at a time like this. Holly wouldn't be with them for long.     She had things to do--someone to find.     There was no way that Holly was going to let her stepfather get away with it. Come hell or high water, she was going to find him. And, by damn, she would make him pay.     She drove down the long dirt lane that led to Jana's log cabin, which sat far back in the woods on the outskirts of Kansas City. When she saw Jana walk out of the cabin to see who was coming to call, tears sprang to Holly's eyes. She had seen Jana only a short while ago, at the cemetery. They had held hands as the preacher said the last words over Holly's mother's grave.     Just before Jana had left Holly alone to say her final good-bye to her mother, she had given Holly the rose to place on her mother's grave.     "Holly?" Jana said, stepping up to the horse and buggy as Holly drew a tight rein before the cabin.     Jana wore a cotton dress and soiled apron, her brown hair in long pigtails down her back. Her oval face was dotted with freckles and her eyes were deep brown and friendly.     "Holly?" Jana said again, her voice drawn. "Oh, honey, was it too hard to go home and be alone? Do you need to stay here the night? You know you're more than welcome." She laughed softly. "But the kids might drive you crazy. They're in a fretful mood. They've been fightin' since we've been home from the cemetery."     "Jana, my stepfather sold my mother's home, and people moved in while ... while I was burying Mama," Holly blurted out as she stepped down from the wagon.     Jana's lips parted in a loud gasp and her eyes widened in disbelief. "He did what?" she asked, glad when her husband came to her side and slid an arm around her waist.     Jana leaned into Frank's embrace, so happy to have him. It hurt her to feel Holly's loneliness. (Continues...) Copyright © 2000 Cassie Edwards. All rights reserved.