Charlotte Campbell descended the steps from the train gracefully with the assistance of the platform guard. She extracted her gloved hand from the guards and thanked him as she stepped onto the platform.
She was glad to have finally reached the end of her four day journey from Tulsa. She was tired of the noise, the ash that blew in every time she opened the window for relief from the heat, and she was well and truly fed up with the dreadful food.
She began walking towards the waiting room where she had arranged to meet her new employer – Mr Harrison Tate. She was attempting to straighten the wrinkles from her travelling suit as she walked to make herself a bit more presentable. Unfortunately she was not watching where she was stepping, tripped and collided with a solid wall. When she stepped back and looked up she realised the solid wall she’d run into was the chest of the most handsome man she’d ever laid eyes on!
Harrison Tate had been leaning against the door of the waiting room watching passengers disembark from the train when he caught sight of Charlotte. He’d been watching her approach and the next thing he knew her soft, curvy body was in his arms!
Charlotte blushed and took a step back as she composed herself and straightened her skirt. “I’m very sorry sir, I wasn’t watching where I was going and it appears I tripped on a rock” she apologised.
Harrison looked over the young girl in front of him and smiled as she blushed. He’d never seen such a beauty; albeit a dishevelled one. She was dressed in a blue woollen skirt with a matching jacket that brought out the blue in her eyes. Her fiery red hair was hidden under her bonnet but a few strands had escaped their confinement and now brushed her face. Her skin was milky white and her pouty lips were rose coloured. “Yep; she sure is a beauty” he thought to himself.
“That’s fine ma’am; as long as ya not hurt” he drawled in his deep Texan voice that sent a thrill to Charlotte’s toes.
“No; I’m perfectly fine thank you” she told him as she tried looking past him into the waiting room.
“Are ya lookin’ for someone ma’am?” the tall stranger asked as he looked back over his shoulder into the empty waiting room.
“My new employer is supposed to have been here to meet me” she said impatiently. “Maybe you know him? His name is Harrison Tate”
Harrison laughed and the sound made her knees tremble. “Well ma’am; it appears ya found him. That’d be me so ya must be Miss Charlotte Campbell; my new Governess” Harrison held out his hand and Charlotte shook it. “I’m right pleased to meet ya ma’am”
“I’m pleased to meet you too Mr Tate and I do again apologise for my clumsiness”
“No need to worry” he replied.
Charlotte Campbell, as agreed by all who know her, is an extraordinarily beautiful young lady. She is 22 years old and stands 5ft 6ins tall. She has large curvy breasts, a slim waist, curvy hips and long slender legs. She has waist length fiery red hair which she always wears pulled back in the most severe of buns; this gives her a spinsterish look. Her bright blue eyes are mesmerising and she has rose coloured pouty lips. She’s a head turner wherever she goes and her hand has been asked for on many occasions; the answer however, has always been no.
Her mother, Ethel passed on just over a year ago from consumption and her father, Richard, decided he no longer wanted her living in the family home. He’d told her she restricted his lifestyle with the ladies! Richard Campbell had always had a roving eye and his affairs were common knowledge; Charlotte had never understood why her mother put up with it and stayed.
Richard had tried several times to marry Charlotte off but each time Charlotte had steadfastly refused. It was sheer luck Charlotte had seen the ad in the paper for a Governess. She had gone to the mercantile in town for some supplies but as the store was quite crowded she had decided to go to the diner for coffee and return later.
She’d sat drinking her coffee and flicking through the pages of the paper while she pondered her future.
After one of their regular arguments about the intentions of the ‘lady’ he had brought home with him; her father had given her one month to leave her home by whichever means she saw fit. He’d yelled at her “You can be a prostitute for all I care as long as you get out!” That had been two weeks before and Charlotte still had no prospects!
She’d continued to flick through the paper only half seeing the pages when an ad caught her eye:
2 Little Girls aged 7 and 6
Ranch – 3 miles from Fort Stockton
Contact: Harrison Tate via
Fort Stockton Telegraph Office
Charlotte had finished her coffee and gone straight to the telegraph office to send a wire in response to the ad. She was trained as a Teacher and after corresponding with Harrison via wire regarding living arrangements, payment and her qualifications; she had been offered the position and she had gratefully accepted.
The position was on a large cattle ranch three miles from the town of Fort Stockton Texas and it was far enough away from her father so there would be no need to visit.
She’d packed all of her belongings including her mother’s precious trinkets and keepsakes into five large trunks; booked her train ticket for the following night and she was ready to start her new life.
Charlotte missed her mother terribly despite the fact she’d spent very little time with her. She’d been a lady in every sense of the word and Charlotte aspired to be just like her; a fact that irritated her father no end. Her father preferred women to be more familiar and common but Charlotte had no intention of behaving that way.
Richard constantly told her she was stuck-up with her nose in the air and her ladylike ways and he said one day she’d meet her match and he’d not be the gentleman she expected. Charlotte’s mother told her it was dignity and to stand tall. Charlotte told her father she would never be interested in any man for fear he’d turn out to be like him. She’d resolved to stay single and it was for this reason her father wanted her gone.
Their parting had been cool and unemotional; neither shed a tear. It was what Charlotte had expected from a man who cared for no-one but himself.
Harrison Tate is a single father who has been caring for his two daughters with the help of his cook and his housekeeper for the past two years.
His wife Maryann was murdered by her brother. Linus was the town drunk and Maryann had continually attempted to help him. When she met him in town two years ago she told him she would no longer give him money or help him in any other way until he decided to help himself. Linus snapped, an argument erupted and Linus had pulled out his gun and shot Maryann. She was shot at point blank range through the heart and died instantly. Linus was tried and hung shortly after.
Harrison missed his wife and he tried hard to care for their two beautiful daughters. Madeleine, the eldest is 7 years old; she’s Maddie to all those who know her. Maddie is the image of her mother with long waist length blonde hair, blue eyes and dimples. Catherine, known as Katy, is 6 years old and the image of her father. She has waist length dark curly hair, grey eyes and a small dimple in her chin.
Harrison has been chased by the most beautiful girls in the county since a suitable time for his wife’s mourning passed but he has made it quite clear he will not fall in love or marry again. The eligible girls are devastated that such a handsome man is willing to remain single and Harrison Tate is indeed handsome.
Harrison is 6ft 4ins tall and, thanks to the work on his ranch, he is all muscle. He has a flat stomach, slim hips and his long legs encased in tight denim jeans are enough to make the girls drool. His dark wavy hair reaches his collar; he has a square jaw with a cleft in his chin and smouldering grey eyes that resemble a stormy sky.
Harrison adores his two girls and he works his ranch hard to provide them with everything they want and need. To say the girls are spoiled would be an understatement and they drive everyone on the ranch to distraction with their mischievous ways.
When Betty-Sue, his cook who is also his foreman’s wife, and Mavis, his housekeeper insisted they could no longer care for the two recalcitrant girls and take care of the chores; Harrison had conceded it was time for a Governess and had advertised.
“Do ya know where ya luggage is?” Harrison asked Charlotte.
“I have five large trunks that the guard said would be placed in the luggage room to await collection” Charlotte explained.
“Five! Lucky I brought the buckboard then ma’am. Let’s go see if we can find ‘em”
Harrison took Charlotte’s arm by the elbow to lead her to where her trunks should be but Charlotte shook his hand free. “I am quite capable of walking without your help thank you” she told Harrison primly.
Harrison; usually a gentle, easy going man; became annoyed at her attitude. “As ya wish ma’am” he said and strode on ahead. Charlotte had to almost run to keep up and she arrived at the luggage room out of breath.
She noticed her trunks stacked against the wall. “Those are mine” she pointed out as she attempted to catch her breath.
Harrison nodded and, leaving her standing in the middle of the room, he walked over to talk with the porter. “Could ya please ask ya men if they could help me get them five trunks onto me buckboard out front?”
“Certainly sir” the porter replied and called over three of his men.
The trunks were loaded and Harrison gave the porter and his men a few coins for their help before he went in search of Charlotte. He found her sitting on a chair in the far corner of the room and walked over to her.
“Ma’am; if’n ya ready ya luggage is loaded and the buckboard’s out front”
Charlotte nodded and stood up. She noticed Harrison begin to reach out his arm to escort her out to the front but he quickly thought better of it, lowered his arm, and walked out of the building. Charlotte was beginning to regret being so rude.
Charlotte followed Harrison as fast as she could and by the time she got out front she saw him sitting on the seat of the buckboard with the reins in his hands. She walked over and, lifting her skirts, she attempted to climb in. She lifted one leg and bounced on the other but she just couldn’t seem to get her skirts out of the way to get up onto the seat. Before she knew what was happening she lost her balance, and with a loud thud, she landed on her backside in the dust.
Harrison watched with amusement as Charlotte attempted to climb into the buckboard but he knew any offer to help her would probably be rejected so he stayed where he was. When she landed on her backside in the dust; it took all of his control not to burst into laughter. He watched as she sat with a stunned look on her face and then burst into tears.
“Would ya like some help Miss Campbell?” he asked gently.
“Yes please” she sobbed as she sat in the dust. Harrison quickly jumped down from his seat and went to her side. He lifted her up from the ground like she weighed no more than a feather and held her to him as she sobbed.
“I’m sorry Mr Tate. I’m tired, I’m dirty, I’m hungry and I’m scared” Charlotte confessed through her tears.
Harrison pushed her back and looked down into her face. “Let’s get ya to the ranch and ya can have a bath, somethin’ to eat and a sleep” He placed his fingers under her chin and tilted her face up to look at him. “Ya have nothin’ to be scared of here I promise ya” He took a handkerchief from his pocket and began wiping away her tears. “Ya ready to go?”
Charlotte nodded and he lifted her up onto the seat of the waiting buckboard. He climbed in beside her, lifted the reins and set off towards the ranch; Charlotte’s new home.
It took only fifteen minutes to reach the ranch and Charlotte thought it was the most beautiful place she had ever seen.
The ranch was set against the backdrop of the Guadalupe Mountains which were along the border of Texas and New Mexico. Charlotte could see the last of the winter snow on the very top of the highest mountains.
The two storey house was built from logs and it was surrounded by a large verandah which had a swing seat and several chairs placed along it. Charlotte thought it would be a lovely place to sit with the children and read stories.
The gardens were well looked after and flowers bloomed in every colour of the rainbow. Charlotte loved Spring with all the blossoms. Beside the house stood a huge barn and several other buildings; Charlotte wasn’t sure what they were used for.
As Harrison pulled the buckboard to a stop out the front of the house; two little barefooted girls dressed in denims and faded shirts with their hair all in tangles came running. “Daddy; daddy” they called excitedly.
Harrison jumped down from the buckboard, swooped them both up into his arms and gave them a kiss. The girl’s giggled and hugged their father tight. Harrison walked around the buckboard to where Charlotte sat waiting patiently.
“Miss Campbell, these are my daughters” he said proudly; Charlotte noticed his eyes sparkled with love. “This one here ….” he lifted his arm so the little girl with the blonde hair and blue eyes was raised into the air. “…is my eldest Maddie, she’s 7 and this one …” he said as he raised the little girl with dark hair and grey eyes like her father “…is Katy and she’s 6” The girls narrowed their eyes and scowled at Charlotte as she greeted them.
“I’m pleased to meet you Maddie; Katy” she said with a smile. The girls didn’t respond but clung tight to their father. Harrison kissed his little girls again before gently placing them back on the ground.
“Stand there please” he asked the girls and they immediately took off running back to the house.
Harrison laughed as he lifted Charlotte to the ground. “High spirited I’m afraid” he told her.
“Disobedient more like it” a short, portly but very attractive woman said as she walked towards Charlotte. She held out her hand as she introduced herself. “I’m Mavis, the housekeeper”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance” Charlotte said primly as she shook hands with Mavis. “I’m Charlotte” Mavis raised an eyebrow as she looked at Harrison.
“You must be tired after ya long journey. Come inside and I’ll make ya some tea and then run ya a bath” Mavis took Charlotte by the hand and led her into the house.
“I’m gonna go and check everythin’s alright with the men” Harrison muttered to thin air as he led the horses attached to the buckboard over to the barn.
© Copyright 2016 SusanHorsnell. All rights reserved.
Book / Romance
Book / Romance
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