A Husband for Victoria by @CynthiaWoolf is an Indie Authors pick #historicalromance #indie #giveaway
Title: A Husband for Victoria
Author: Cynthia Woolf
Genre: Historical Western Romance
New York Governess Victoria Coleman survives an attack but finds herself in a family way. When her employer finds out, the kind man tells her she is safe there. But his wife has other ideas. Believing her husband is the child’s father, she threatens Victoria. Needing to escape, Victoria becomes a mail-order bride as far away as possible—Golden City in the Colorado Territory.
Andrew Mayfield is consumed with guilt over the death of his wife and infant son in childbirth six months ago but knows that his two-year-old daughter needs a mother and he needs to marry to provide her one. He contracts for a mail-order bride.
But vengeance is a dish best served cold and the woman determined to see Victoria’s baby dead and therefore Victoria herself, is an iceberg. Refusing to believe her husband or Victoria, Mildred Thomas follows Victoria to Golden City. Will she be able to exact her revenge for a perceived wrong? Or will Andrew be able to protect the woman who might be working her way into his heart?
November 1870—New York City
Just outside the library of the great house where she worked, Victoria Coleman stood trying to stop the dizziness that had plagued her for the last few days. She’d even fainted twice but luckily she was in her bedroom so no one knew. Now she was in the hall next to the door to the library, her arm braced on the wall and breathed deeply.
Her knees gave way.
When she opened her eyes, she saw the Mosaic ceiling in the library.
“Victoria.” Mr. Thomas, his kind brown eyes filled with worry, knelt next to her and patted her cheek. “Victoria, are you all right?”
“Wh…what? Oh!” She sat up quickly and immediately wished she hadn’t, falling back to the rich green brocade of the couch. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Thomas. You must think me the worst ninny for fainting.”
“Not at all. I think something must be terribly wrong. Tell me, so I can help. Has my wife been working you too hard?” His brown hair was sprinkled with gray, even though he was just thirty-five-years old. Probably from being married to Mildred. She was a horrible person and in some ways frightened Victoria.
Victoria shook her head and began to cry. “I’m…I’m with child, sir. I…I was violated several months ago by my friend Adele’s husband. She left to get something from the grocer and he attacked me. I haven’t been back and I know she wonders why, but I won’t hurt her by telling her. Nothing can be done about it and the knowledge will only make her life miserable, as she can’t leave him. She has no place to go. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was afraid I’d be sacked and I have nowhere to go either.”
He patted her hand, and then released her, letting her hand fall back to the rich green brocade of the sofa. He sat next to her on the sofa. “You’re safe here for as long as you want. Are you all right now?”
“Yes, thank you for your kindness.”
He frowned. “I can’t very well throw you out into the street. What kind of man would that make me?”
“A typical man.” She slapped a hand over her mouth. “I’m sorry. That was terrible of me when you’ve been so nice.”
Mr. Thomas chuckled. “Given what you’ve seen of men, I don’t wonder at your opinion of us.”
Victoria released a breath and gave him a small smile, still unsure of what he might want for his kindness.
He stepped away and put his arms behind his back. “Well, if you’re feeling better, I’m sure Margie is missing her favorite person.”
She shook her head. “Oh, no, sir. I’m sure you are her favorite person.”
He laughed. “Not my wife, huh?”
“Oh, no, sir.” She slapped her hand over her mouth again. “I’m sorry. I meant nothing untoward about your wife.”
He waved his hand in front of her. “No offense taken. I know what a shrew I married. Maybe that’s why I find your niceness so refreshing.”
She dipped her head and her cheeks heated. “Thank you, sir. You are too kind, but I must return to Margie. She’ll come looking for me and only get in trouble for being out of the nursery.”
He held out his hand.
She took it, and he helped her to her feet.
“I suggest next time, you sit first.”
Bowing her head, she said, “Yes, sir, I will.”
She hurried out of the library, past Mrs. Thomas, who lifted an eyebrow and sneered. Though she looked just like Margie, with her blonde hair and blue eyes. She may have been beautiful on the outside, but she was ugly inside.
Victoria had passed the foyer and was just about to start up the wide staircase when she heard the library door slam. Even with the door shut she heard Mrs. Thomas’s screechy voice yell at her husband.
“You’ve gotten that girl pregnant, haven’t you?”
Mr. Thomas held his own and hollered back.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Mildred.”
Victoria realized they were arguing about her. Not wanting to hear anymore, she lifted her skirt and walked up the stairs to the nursery. She was slower than normal, her legs still a little weak.
Victoria found Margie right where she’d left her. The little blonde, blue-eyed girl was having tea with her dollies and a stuffed bear.
Victoria sat on one of the small wooden chairs. She remembered the first time she’d sat on one after she’d seen Mr. Thomas sitting on one having tea with Margie. She’d laughed at the sight, but knew the chair would hold her if it held him.
He’d looked up and smiled. “Victoria would you like to join us for tea? One seat is available. Mr. Bear has the other.”
She placed fingers over her mouth to hide her smile and nodded. If he could do it, so could she.
Today she gazed around the nursery knowing she’d have to leave soon. They wouldn’t let her stay and have her baby here. So, looking around, she saw all she would miss. The nursery was a huge room. Margie’s bed was there. On one end of the room, along with the little table, and a toy box, was a bookshelf for books and her dolls. A desk and blackboard were on the other end with her bed in the middle.
The room was painted a pale, robin’s egg blue, and the heavy, dark blue curtains had stars and moons on them. Her bed had a spread that matched the curtains.
Victoria loved this room, and she loved Margie. Victoria had been with the Thomases since Margie was born and had raised her for the last three years. Though she hated to say goodbye, Victoria knew she’d have to.
For now, though, she’d have tea with her favorite little girl and not think about what tomorrow might bring.
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