Author: Sky Alexander
Publisher: Rising Phoenix Inc.
Genre: Historical Western Romance
FORCED TO LOVE is spell-bounding and one of my new favorite historical romance stories that is sure to be around for a long time. You must read this!” ~ Juanita Goodreads
Hattie Morran is a poor dirt farmers daughter in Missouri. Suddenly Hattie finds that her life is changed in the blink of an eye and she is forced to love Abner Garland. Now her Western Romance which is purely a façade for show and to save her family will soon come to an end.
“But what about their anger?” Hattie asked. “Jess and Abner will be furious.”
“Furious doesn’t even begin to describe how they’re going to react. Even though I probably shouldn’t, I am going to set them up with handsome allowances. What can they do? I’m of sound mind. So, Miss Hattie, when you marry Abner, I will give you nine-tenths of my fortune, and the remainder will be yours at my death.”
From the moment that you are brought into the book you will be immediately part of the western romance in the middle of the south. The Fires of Love & Hate Series will keep you right in the middle of a tale that is based on some true and historical events. This Historical Romance series is sure to be you’re new favorite.
gun on him to protect her sisters and mother.
going to be a wife.
that didn’t clutter the story. Each person was like another piece of the puzzle and brought the reader clarity as to why Hattie had what it took to be a survivor. It was a page turner and there were times I was smiling because I realized just how sneaky and smart that girl was. She made me proud and she knew who she could pull on her side even in the worst situation.
pull her magic off the little things that normally irritate me wasn’t even recognized. I would recommend everyone to give this author a try and let him amaze you as he did me.
Standing quietly in an upper bedroom of the beautiful Garland Mansion, Hattie Morran gazed out the open window over the lush, green grounds known as the Silver Creek Estate. Her wedding dress and auburn hair fluttered lightly in the soft Missouri breeze as she sighed dishearteningly. The cold steel of her Colt 45, nestled among the flowers of her wedding bouquet, belied the picture of a beautiful bride awaiting her once in a lifetime moment.
Without breaking her gaze, she began talking to her sister, who sat silently on a sapphire blue settee in the middle of the ornately decorated room. “So help me God, Dakota,” Hattie said with great conviction, “if Abner does not come across with my demands this time, this will be the shortest marriage on record!”
Knowing Hattie was not one to mess around, Dakota leaned forward with concern. “What do you plan to do, Sis?”
Turning in Dakota’s direction, Hattie slowly lowered her bouquet, reached in, and cocked the revolver. “Put it this way . . . if he doesn’t, the man is goin’ to meet up with an untimely death . . . or I am goin’ to shoot off the only thin’ in
life that Jackass holds dear.”
Hearing the revolver being cocked, Dakota replied in shock, “You wouldn’t!”
“Oh wouldn’t I? Just you hide and watch, Sister Dear. Believe me, I’ve taken just about all I’m goin’ to take from Abner Garland. At this point, I’d just as soon kill him than look at him! Of course, I can’t do that because I love his Mama so much, and even though he is a despicable person, he is her son.”
With her feelings for Abner’s mother, Rebecca Garland, calming her, Hattie reached back into her bouquet and uncocked the revolver.
Tilting her head to one side, Dakota let out a long, labored breath. “To tell the truth, I can’t blame you, Sis. With all that Abner has put you through, I understand perfectly your wantin’ to kill him. I just hope everythin’ goes exactly as his mother has planned.” Then, rising to her feet and walking in Hattie’s direction, Dakota held up a small handkerchief edged in lace. “Is this the blue one?” she asked, staring straight ahead.
Hattie looked down at the pale blue handkerchief and then at her sister. “Yes, Honey, it’s the blue one, thank you.”
“I really wish I could see you in your weddin’ dress, Hattie,” Dakota said somberly. “It’s times like this when I really miss bein’ able to see.”
Hattie thought for a moment and fell silent. She was so used to her sister’s condition that she tended to forget how hard it was for her. Dakota Jayne (often referred to as Cody) had tragically been left blind by an unknown illness at
the tender age of six, but through time, sheer determination, and a staunch refusal to be limited by the hand she had been dealt in life, Dakota had learned to cope very well.
To the casual observer, Dakota appeared perfectly normal. Strangers, in fact, were stunned when informed of her blindness, as her beautiful blue eyes looked healthy and moved about freely yet deliberately, appearing to survey everything with the thoroughness of a sleuth. In addition, the family made sure that her surroundings remained constant, and in doing so, Dakota knew instinctively how many steps to chairs, tables, and the doors. Her familiarity with her environment coupled with an extremely keen sense of hearing that allowed her to place people by the sounds that they made enabled Dakota to move about with the greatest of ease. It was only when she was in new or unfamiliar places that she became unsure of herself. On the arm of a trusted friend, however, she handled herself with poise and elegance, never letting on to her handicap. Always the life of the party, Dakota was quick-witted, had an effervescent smile, and was even a delightful dancing partner. Looking at her sister with deep admiration, there was no doubt in Hattie’s mind that Dakota’s strong character and deep faith in the Lord allowed her to persevere
where others would have surely failed.
The silence between them was broken as Laville, their elder sister, burst into the room and rushed to the window. Raising her hand and pointing enthusiastically at the guests who were arriving, she exclaimed, “Hattie! Hattie! You won’t believe who just arrived! It’s the Governor, his wife, and their party from the Capitol!”
Before Hattie could respond, Rebecca Garland and Hattie’s mother, Minerva Morran, entered the room as well. Rebecca, a dainty woman with blonde, flowing hair, pale blue eyes, and fair complexion, was the epitome of elegance. Smiling brightly, she replied to Laville’s youthful enthusiasm with her patented southern flair. “I should certainly hope so! I invited him, as well as many other dignitaries of Missouri society. This will, after all, be the state’s most prominent wedding of the year.”
Rebecca was right; the wedding between her son, Abner, and the beautiful, young Miss Hattie Morran was indeed known as the social event of the summer of 1896. Rebecca had spared no expense and Minerva had left no stone unturned in making this mockery of a wedding appear genuine.
Joining Laville and Hattie at the window, the two mothers looked down over the stunning gardens of Silver Creek. The gardens were by far the most awe-inspiring part of the estate, as they were the home to nearly every tree, shrub, and flower known to man. Rebecca went to great lengths to keep the vast gardens immaculately maintained, and in doing so, it was often referred to by the locals from the nearby town of Gallatin as a latter-day ‘Garden of Eden’. For today, however, the usually tranquil gardens were alive with activity, as they served as a magnificent backdrop for the wedding.
Gazing down into the shaded court area, Rebecca secretly wondered if there would be enough seating, as it appeared there were more people arriving than had been invited. But then, as if she had been reading Rebecca’s mind, Minerva nodded her head reassuringly and whispered, “Everythin’ is perfect.” It was a beautiful sunny day this July 25, and the illusion that they had worked so hard to create was at last complete.
Turning their attention from the outside, Rebecca and Minerva set their gazes upon Hattie. Moving directly in front of the young bride-to-be, the two mothers looked adoringly at Hattie, bathed in the morning sunlight. It’s warm, gentle rays streamed through the open window, surrounding her in a soft, white aura, perfectly accentuating her auburn hair. A petite girl with a tiny nineteen inch waist, Hattie stood only five foot two inches tall. On this day, however, with the morning sunlight cascading down around her in such splendid grandeur, she appeared larger than life. Rebecca sighed as she took in the picture of beauty in front of her. “Hattie, my dear, you are breathtaking.”
Flattered, Hattie smiled graciously, turned, and looked outside again. She, like the rest of the family, could not get enough of the elegance of Silver Creek.
During the next few minutes, the women busied themselves making final touches on the wedding dress. As they did, Hattie’s mother, Minerva, a moral, strong-willed woman with dark brown hair and blue eyes, thought back to the terrible morning when her husband, Newton, an immoral, average-sized man with red-brown hair, brown eyes, and rugged masculine features, informed her of the circumstances which eventually led up to this whole sordid affair. In her mind, she could still hear him screaming at her as she sat silently at the kitchen table, turning her coffee cup around and around in her hands.
Pacing back and forth like a caged lion in the small kitchen of their modest farmhouse, Newton’s voice boomed like thunder. “Damn it, Minerva, do you hear me? Hattie has no choice in the matter! She will marry Abner, and that’s all there is to it!”
Aghast at her husband’s behavior, Minerva implored, “Stop screamin’ at me, Newton! And lower your voice, the girls
are still in bed.” He glared at her with eyes as cold as a Siberian winter as she pleaded desperately. “Tell me, Newton, how in the world did you ever get yourself into such a mess, and why in heaven’s name did you involve Hattie? She is only fifteen and too young to marry anyone, let alone the likes of Abner Garland!”
“And just what the hell is wrong with Abner? His mother, Rebecca, is your best friend.
The boy’s well educated, and he comes from the wealthiest family in the state of Missouri, if not the whole damn country!”
Minerva knew trying to reason with Newton once he’d made up his mind on something was like beating her head against a brick wall. “What’s that got to do with the kind of man he is, Newt? As I recall, you used these same words last year when you tried to convince me to let Laville marry John Anderson, and look what a horrible mess that turned out to be.”
Disgusted, Newton muttered, “Hattie ain’t nothin’ like Laville, and you know it.” Walking to the open back door and venting his frustration, he kicked it shut, shaking the walls of the kitchen. “You know damn well Laville never intended to cooperate with me.”
“And just what makes you think Hattie will?”
“Hattie’s always been obedient. She’ll do exactly as she’s told.”
“And what do you have your money grubbin’ hands after this time, Newton?”
“Never you mind!”
Disgusted that he wouldn’t level with her, Minerva slammed her cup down and held the determination of an ox. Weary of her husband’s deplorable behavior, she had taken all she was going to take. “Well, the fact of the matter is
that she’s only fifteen years old. As for Abner’s mother, she may be my best friend and Heaven knows she loves Hattie like her own, but what has that got to do with your puttin’ our daughter in the hands of a man like Abner? You know, just as I do, that Rebecca had to send him back East to school because she and Jess couldn’t do a thin’ with him. He’s worthless, Newton, and you know it!”
Feeling he was losing ground, Newton
tried another tactic. “Now Minerva, you’re takin’ this all wrong.”
“Oh, no, I’m not!”
Minerva replied in anger. “Hattie ain’t somethin’ for you to bargain with, especially if it’s to get you out of some kind of trouble. I won’t stand for it!”
Newton was absolutely furious as he glared at her and again raised his voice. “Listen, Woman, I’m not askin’
you for your permission! I’m tellin’ you! Hattie will marry Abner Garland! I’ve already given Jess my word on it.”
Minerva pushed her chair away from the table and stood in defiance before her husband. “Your word! Hah! Since when has your word ever amounted to anythin’? Get this through your thick skull, Newton. The only way she’ll marry Abner is over my dead body!”
In the bedroom above the kitchen, Hattie, Dakota, and Laville listened in disbelief. Laville turned to Hattie. “Did I hear what I thought I heard? Please tell me this isn’t happening again!”
Angrily throwing her hairbrush on the bed, Hattie tried in vain to control her emotions. “You heard right, Sis. It looks likes Pa ain’t gonna be happy till he ruins all our lives!”
Worried for the safety of their mother, Dakota tried to calm her sisters. “Look, you two, I know you’re both angry, but I think we better get downstairs. Laville, find Curtis and have him go for the boys. I heard them leave for town a while ago, but they couldn’t have gotten far. I got a feelin’ we’d better get ‘em back to the house before this all blows up in Mama’s face.”
As Laville opened the door to Curtis’s room, she found him frightened and huddled with his three younger brothers on the floor. He, like them, was tired of being scared of their tyrannical father. With urgency in her voice, Laville
instructed, “Curtis, go after your older brothers, and make it fast. They’re on their way to town, but you should be able to catch them if you hurry. Don’t bother going down the stairs and through the kitchen. Instead, crawl out your bedroom window, across the roof, and onto the shed. Take my buggy; Robert said he would have it ready for me early this morning. When you find the boys, tell them I said to hightail it back here as fast as they can. Then, get right back up here and make sure that Mark, Barry, and Miles stay safe.”
Curtis, sensing the seriousness in his sister’s voice, was out the window and gone before she could say another word. After making her way back to Hattie and Dakota, Laville grabbed a robe then waited while Hattie and Dakota got themselves presentable, as they had all been in their sleeping garments. “I’m the oldest, so I guess I better do the talking,” Laville quipped, as the girls made their way out of the bedroom and started toward the stairs.
Not about to let Laville fight her battles for her, Hattie grabbed Laville’s arm and whirled her around so that they were face to face. “Oh, no you won’t, Laville! This is about me. This time I’m doin’ the talkin’!” Moving quickly, they started down the stairs and reached the bottom just in time to see their Pa drawing back to strike their mother. Terrified, Hattie ran to her mother’s aid, jumped in front of her father’s flailing fist, and screamed, “No, Pa, stop!”
Following through without a second thought, instead of striking Minerva, Newton struck Hattie square in the
face. The blow came with such force that she spun across the room like an out of control top, struck the wall, and fell into a heap on the floor. Laville rushed past their father to Hattie and, bending down next to her, wiped away the stream of blood that was now trickling from her sister’s mouth. Angry beyond the point of common sense, Laville screamed, “What’s wrong with you, Pa? Have you completely lost your mind?”
Showing no remorse, Newton stepped toward them, his hand drawn back again. “Shut up, Laville, or you’ll get some of the same.”
Hattie, knowing that it might come to this, had slipped her pearl-handled revolver in her robe before coming downstairs. As she reached in and pointed the gun toward the picture of evil that was her father, shivers ran down her spine. It was as if she was looking at the devil himself.
Seeing the revolver, a smirk crossed his face. “You wouldn’t dare use that on your own Pa, now would you Hattie?”
“Just try me,” Hattie said daringly, as Laville helped her to her feet. Then, quite abruptly, she pulled the trigger twice, splintering the wooden floor directly in front of his feet. Jumping back to the window, Newton could see Hattie’s jaw firmly set and her eyes aflame with anger. “That’s the last time you are ever goin’ to hit one of us!” Holding her revolver steady, she ordered, “Stay right where you are, Pa.
The boys will be back any minute, and when they are, we’ll get to the bottom of this mess.”
Testing Hattie again, he took one step forward but stopped when he heard Minerva call out his name from behind. Turning around, he saw that she was now standing in the doorway with a rifle. “Stop where you are Newton, or so help me God, if Hattie doesn’t shoot you, I will. She’s right; we’ve taken all we’re goin’ to take from you.”
“Who do you think you’re kiddin’, Minerva? Why, the law would hang you.”
Looking at him as if she could see right through him, she replied, “Don’t you think for one minute, Newton, it wouldn’t be worth it, to get you out of our lives. I’m plum fed up with your takin’ advantage of us. As far as I’m concerned, the depths of Hell couldn’t be any worse than you are.”
Showing no emotion, he replied arrogantly, “You can’t hold these guns on me forever.”
“You’re right, Pa,” Dakota said matter-of-factly. “We could just go ahead and shoot you. Then we could drag your body out in the woods, bury you, and all of us swear we didn’t know what happened to you.”
“Stay out of this, Cody; this is none of your affair.”
“Wrong, Pa! Everythin’ that happens to us is my affair. Don’t think we didn’t learn our lesson after what you did to Laville. No one said anythin’ when you married her off to John Anderson. But this time we ain’t standin’ by while you try to ruin Hattie’s life, too. How do you think we felt when we found out that you forced Laville into marryin’ John just so you could get your hands on their farmland?”
Before he could answer, the back door swung open and Newton’s three older sons, Shannon, Robert, and John, stepped inside the kitchen. Shannon, being the eldest, was very protective of his mother and sisters. Demanding an answer, he asked, “What the hell’s goin’ on, Pa?”
Crossing his arms in front of him, Newton refused to speak. Gaining composure, Minerva explained the situation, and
as she did, the boys became enraged. Taking in all that his mother had to say, Shannon could only shake his head in
disbelief. “What are you after this time, Pa?”
Newton had a reluctant look on his face, but he knew now with the whole family present he’d have to fess up.
“If you must know, I owe Jess Garland a lot of money.”
Shannon’s blood was boiling.
“You can’t keep expectin’ the family to bail you out every time you get yourself into trouble, Pa. We love Hattie too much to see you use her to pay off your gamblin’ debts.”
Newton glared at his eldest son.
“She has too as she’s what Abner wants, and if I was to give him everythin’ we owned, it still wouldn’t be enough.”
“My God, Newt! How could you do such a thin’? How much do you owe ‘em?” Minerva questioned, heartsick.
“More than we got. But that ain’t all. Jess said if Hattie doesn’t marry Abner, Laville and Dakota just might meet up with some sort of accident.” Newton was lying, but with the whole family in opposition of him, he was desperate.
Stepping farther into the kitchen, John couldn’t help but think that there had to be a better way to solve the situation. “Why don’t we just go to the Sheriff, Pa, and explain the whole thin’?”
Thinking quickly, Newton retorted, “Wouldn’t do us a bit of good. It’ll just be our word against theirs, and they carry a lot of weight in this county.”
Discouraged but not willing to give up, Minerva slowly lowered her rifle. “I’ll go to Rebecca myself.”
“I wouldn’t if I were you. She can’t control Jess or Abner, and you know it.”
“Then it’s hopeless,” she conceded, her voice full of despair.
Newton, seeing things turning in his favor, took advantage of the situation. “As I see it, we ain’t got no choice in the matter. No choice at all.”
Hattie looked at Laville, then Dakota, who were both now sitting at the old wooden table in the middle of the room and couldn’t bear the thought of anything happening to them. Seeing no other solution and wanting desperately to protect her family, she said reluctantly, “If that is what it will take to get us out of this mess, then . . . then I’ll marry him.”
He has a degree in Network Engineering and is currently finishing a degree in Software Engineering. Sky is currently working on two different series “The Fires of Love & Hate” (A Historical Romance series) & “Aspen Falls” (Action Adventure, Thriller series).