I’m leaving behind my Valentine’s story, Deep Fried Sweethearts. The story is complete and I’ll be cleaning it up in coming weeks to be sent to my editor.
This week I’m starting with an as yet untitled prequel for one of the characters in my Dominion Falls series. Katherine Daugherty was a firecracker of a character that entered the scene in book 2 and became my heroines best friend, but her history intrigued a few readers and myself, and so I’m preparing a short prologue told in a 3-or-4 part series of minuets starting with this scene when she is 15.
There was a knock on her door, and Katherine’s father stepped into the room. His thinning red hair shimmered in the sunlight, and the grin he wore was contagious. “Are you ready, Katherine?”
“Of course I am.” Katherine leapt from her bed with an enthusiasm that would have disappointed her mother thoroughly. She knew her father wouldn’t mind, he had been the one teasing her mercilessly for weeks over her surprise. She smoothed out the full width of her skirts and spun. “Am I dressed appropriately?”
“Hmm.” He took her hand and spun her as if they were about to begin a waltz. “You might be a little fancy, but that is the norm for us, is it not?”
“It is anymore.” Katherine agreed. Since her sisters embarrassing turn a pregnancy out of wedlock to an Indian, and their subsequent secret marriage while she was engaged to the delightful Mr. Schaffer; Katherine’s mother had become far more obsessed with asserting their position in Dominion Falls.
The result had been a new wardrobe and frequent trips to Denver which left Katherine utterly bored with society and the proper young gentlemen her mother had been encouraging her to get acquainted with. At fifteen Katherine might be the age to consider proper marriage, but the thought had never appealed to her. Perhaps it was growing up her whole life among miners, but she thought there might be more fun life than being a proper wife.
“I certainly didn’t mean to upset you.” Her father chucked his finger under her chin. “This is supposed to be a surprise, not a funeral.”
“Sorry. So long as my surprise isn’t us moving to Denver, I’m certain I’ll love it.”
For a moment her father’s smile seemed to falter, but the moment was so brief she dismissed it as her overactive imagination. He held out his arm to her. “You will have to close your eyes, but I’ll let you get all the way down the stairs first.”
“The surprise requires me to close my eyes?” She couldn’t stop her excited little hop to grab his arm. “That means it’s definitely a big one. What have you gotten for me, father?”
“Something that has set your mother’s mind that I spoil you too much.”
Katherine giggled at his wink and stepped down the steps with him as if light as a feather. At least her excitement kept her from what her mother described as unladylike stomping down the stairs, heaven forbid she raced as she once had when she was small. “She never complained when I was a child.”
“Life was different then, you know that. This mining camp and our business has grown to such that we can’t be who we were then.”
“I don’t see why not. People liked us then. Now they look at me different.”
At the bottom of the stairs, he paused. A small frown tugged his smile away. “How so? The men aren’t…”
When her father’s voice trailed off, Katherine raised her eyebrows. “The men aren’t what, Father? I just mean they look at me like they do mother. My old friends, the men that used to be real nice all treat me like I think I’m better than them.”
“Oh.” His shoulders sagged and he exhaled a breath so big she wondered if he’d been holding it. “I see. Well, that’s of no consequence at the moment. You just keep being you and they’ll see you haven’t changed, Katherine.”
“Easier said than done. Now what about my surprise?” She hopped up on her toes and bounced. “Can I see it now? Can I?”
“Close your eyes.” Her father’s warm chuckle filled the hallway even as she obliged him and his visage disappeared behind her eyelids. His warm grasp on her arm guided her down the hallway.
“How far are you going to take me? You’re torturing me this way.” Katherine tried to put just enough whine into her voice and puff out her lip just enough to get a clue. All she got in response was more laughter.
“You aren’t being tortured. You’re just impatient. We’re almost there. Hold on. We should stop here for a moment.” When her father stopped her, there was a small bustling of petticoats nearby before a cloak was draped over her shoulders.
“My cloak? My surprise is outside?” The typically cold winter of Dominion Falls had hit as early as it ever did. Snow blanketed most of the town, and all of their yard and the surrounding woods in a beautiful coat of white.
“Very astute of you. Here we go.” The door opened with a blast of cool air and her father guided her outside.
The cold tickled her nose and she willingly leaned against him when he wrapped his arm around her shoulder. A whinny caught her ears on a blast of wind and without permission she opened her eyes. Not that it mattered she’d beat him to the punch, she’d been left speechless by what she found.
Off at the far end of the yard a brilliant white horse and clean as the snow shook its head out. Her father whistled in her ear and the horse whinnied in response before it started to run toward them.
“I’d tell you that you can open your eyes now, but I see you have. What do you think, Katherine? You were complaining about the brown being too old for you.”
“I—I just—oh, she’s beautiful father! Is she really mine?” Katherine burst from her father’s hold to run toward the fence that bordered the paddock. The horse slowed down near by and ambled toward her and the carrot she dug out of the bag her father held out to her. “I thought you said we didn’t need another horse.”
“I did, but I saw this one for sale in Pueblo. She was wild as the day is long, but I thought what would be better for you? I’ve had her fully broken and trained for you, with just a little bit of wild left.”
She grinned when the horse took the carrot from her hand. With a small sigh she rubbed her hand along the velvet nose. “I’ll call her Powder.”
“A fitting name.”
“Thank you.” Katherine spun and clasped her father in the tightest hug she possibly could. “She’s the most beautiful horse ever.”
“You’re welcome.” He squeezed her shoulder when they parted. “Why don’t you take a few minutes to get to know her? You and I can go for a ride after dinner.”
“Okay.” She smiled bright even as she caught sight of her mother on the porch. When her father moved to join her mother, she turned back to Powder. She fed Powder another carrot and spoke low. “There are no presents without reason, Powder. I just don’t know what you mean.”
She glanced at the porch and the quiet debate going on between her parents. Her mother’s triumphant nod of her head before she headed back inside didn’t ease Katherine’s concern. Even worse was the painful attempt at a bright smile her father made before he waved and followed her mother.
“I guess hoping you are just because the brown is getting old is too much to ask, isn’t it, Powder?”
The horse nudged her almost off the fence as it tried to get into the bag of carrots.
“You aren’t helpful. Not at all.” Kat chuckled and dug out another horse to feed to the horse. “But you are beautiful. And mine.”
Hope you enjoyed it! Click on the Tuesday Tales badge to see more excellent entries!!