Dakota Cowboy

Dakota Cowboy
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Surely the handsome cowboy can't be serious. Lucy Hall's father wants to see her? Now? After years of being brushed aside, Lucy's in no hurry to rush to the man's deathbed.And just as Wade Miller rode into town to bring her father's message, he can ride right back out with hers. But before Wade can leave, Lucy finds herself witness to a terrible crime, with a killer on her trail. In this storm of trouble, she'll take any shelter she can find–even if it means going to her father after all. Yet safety comes at a high price when time with the Dakota cowboy puts at risk the one thing Lucy's always protected–her heart.

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“I got no need of a man.”

“I ain’t offering to marry you.”

Lucy snorted. “That’s not exactly what I meant. I meant to escort me to the recitation.”

Wade refused to repent. “I still ain’t offering.” He had been alone for a long time. Preferred it that way.

They reached the schoolroom. Lucy led him to a desk near the front and they crowded in side by side. He noted how nicely she fit next to him.

Again he marveled that a body as pretty and as sweet smelling as Lucy’s—like a field of clover in full bloom—could house a heart of coal.

Thankfully it was time for the program to begin. He forced his attention back to the front of the room. Then Lucy rose.

For a moment, he couldn’t take his eyes off her, then he forced himself to remember why he was here.

Lucy—with her grey eyes and teasing smile—had succeeded in throwing open all the gates in his thoughts. But he wasn’t here to moon over a gal. He cared only for one thing—convincing Lucy to visit her father.


shares her life with her rancher husband, a grown son, a live-in client she provides care for and a yappy parrot. She and her husband raised a family of fourteen children, ten adopted, providing her with plenty of opportunity to experience God’s love and faithfulness. They had their share of adventures, as well. Taking twelve kids in a motorhome on a three-thousand-mile road trip would be high on the list. They live in Alberta, Canada, close enough to the Rockies to admire them every day. She enjoys writing stories that reveal God’s wondrous love through the lives of her characters.

Linda enjoys hearing from readers. Contact her at [email protected] or check out her Web site at www.lindaford.org, where you can also catch her blog, which often carries glimpses of both her writing activities and family life.

Dakota Cowboy

Linda Ford


In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

—Psalms 16:11

To God be the glory. As Jesus said in John 15:5, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” I am aware of my limitations every day and grateful for His sufficiency.


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen


Letter to Reader

Questions for Discussion

Chapter One

Summer 1896, Dry Creek, North Dakota

He looked like any one of the hundred different cowboys who came in pretending they wanted a nice meal in a fancy dining room when what they really wanted was to eyeball the girl serving the food.

Yes, he looked like every other cowboy except for his steady eyes and how quiet and still he held himself, all watchful and calm.

Eighteen-year-old Lucy Hall served dozens of men like him every day—ignoring their invitations to walk her home, smiling at their jokes, ducking away from those who would steal a touch. None of them made her look twice.

Until now.

It was the way he seemed so self-assured, so peaceful with himself that drew her glance to him time after time. Often she caught a little smile on his lips as he overheard something from a nearby table. She wished she could share his amusement, grab hold a bit of his calmness. He gave her the feeling all was right with his world.

Lucy hesitated just a fraction on her way to get his order. No one would have noticed the slight pause if they’d cared to glance up from their meal. Only she knew the way her heart skittered with something akin to the nervousness she’d felt the first day she’d worked in the Dry Creek Hotel dining room.

“Morning, sir, what can I get you?” The words caught on the back of her tongue, but she would not clear her throat and cause any of the patrons to glance her way nor give them reason to tease her.

He smiled. His eyes were blue-green, like pond water on a bright day. He owned an unruly mop of blond curls.

Her cheeks heated as if seared by a July sun.

“You here alone?”

The sunshine threatened to blind her, though she knew the curtains muted the morning light. Her feeling of being shone upon had come from his smile, his eyes. She pulled her thoughts into orderly control and turned her concentration to his question. Was the man joshing? No, she sadly mused. Only like a hundred other cowboys wanting to sweet-talk her. She knew how to handle them. Tease them. Pretend to play along with their nonsense while guarding her words, her thoughts and her emotions. “Let’s see. Apart from—” she glanced around the room “—about a dozen others and Harry and Hettie in the kitchen, yup, I’m pretty much alone.”

He tipped his head back and laughed. “Guess that was a stupid question. It’s just that I was told—I wondered if there was another girl helping you.”

Lucy’s nerves danced in accompaniment to his chuckle. She sniffed in air heavy with the smell of bacon and fried potatoes. He was like a hundred others she saw every day.

Only he wasn’t. She wished she could put her finger on what made him different—besides the fact he made her nervous and excited all at once.

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