Hello there, my friends! I am excited to announce the completion of my second book, White Fir Lodge: A Holiday Tale!
As some of you already know, I started this 19th century tale last October. I wrote six chapters starring Adam Clayton, his lovely wife, Victoria, and their horse ranch. Located outside of Carson City, Nevada, White Fir Lodge is Adam's pride and joy. His past has been filled with pain and tragedy. Now, his future appears sweeter.
In this holiday tale, he is all set to enjoy Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Of course, family drama and past mistakes conspire to foil his plans and the telling of a beautiful secret that Victoria holds dear. I have added three more exclusive, never-before-seen chapters in the final print!
Below, you can enjoy the first chapter and read the book's description for yourself. White Fir Lodge is lit up and warm, awaiting your arrival. Why not schedule a visit soon? Adam and Victoria will more than gladly prepare a room, I am sure. ;)
For more information on how to order your copy, feel free to visit the official White Fir Lodge: A Holiday Tale page. I hope you enjoy my work as much as I enjoyed writing and presenting it. Thank you for your time!
Seven years ago, Adam Clayton and his two brothers traveled from Ohio and discovered silver outside Carson City, Nevada. With his share, Adam purchased a horse ranch and built White Fir Lodge upon the land. Together with his lovely wife, Victoria, he has built a privileged life for them within the shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
In the fall of 1866, on Thanksgiving, the couple prepares for a festive holiday season. However, family drama and past tragedy conspires to ruin the day. No matter what century, nothing changes. If only the couple could find a moment to share their deep secrets. Will their future look brighter afterward or will their hearts be torn apart by events beyond their control?
The First Chapter
your reading pleasure!
The sun breached the horizon, its fiery rays extending beyond the snow-capped mountains. With all the majesty of an emperor returning to his country, the golden sphere took command, splashing the sky with purples, blues and golds. The thin clouds reflected the vivid hues, turning pink as they floated above the highest peak.
A formation of geese glided over the lake, their peaceful calls echoing on the water. Thick pine stands graced the landscape and promised a safe haven for deer and all manner of wildlife.
The land was rich and fertile, its savageness gone untamed.
Sitting atop a tall, black stallion, Adam Clayton smiled as he surveyed his vast holdings. Everywhere that the sunset's rays drifted....everywhere the light touched was his alone.
The year was 1866.
It didn't seem possible that only seven years ago he had traveled out west from his father's home in Ohio. Gold had been what he sought back then but now? He wouldn't trade these eighty-five square miles of paradise for a fortune. Each acre had been hard fought and hard won earned through work. His blood had soaked this land. Nothing and no one could ever rip this paradise from his grasp.
The black stallion shook his head impatiently, half-rearing to convey his wish to move on.
Adam chuckled and reached down to caress the stallion's muscular neck. “Easy, boy, take it easy there. We'll head back soon but first I want to look over your sons and daughters.”
He nudged his mount's sleek sides. The horse crowhopped once before taking off into a hard gallop. Hoofbeats pounded, the rhythm strumming through his body. Cold wind whistled past his ears. He pulled his hat lower and upturned the leather collar of his black coat. Whooping with pure abandonment, he hurdled ever onward.
His only thought was that there must be a God in heaven to give him so many blessings in as many years.
In 1859, late summer, he and his two brothers, Shane and Phillip, had bid farewell to their father and traveled out westward from Ohio. Attracted by the silver fever of '59, they ended up in Gold Hill, Nevada. With their meager funds, they bought a small plot of land. Digging for silver was not an easy endeavor as they would find out soon enough.
Every waking moment was spent digging but all they had to show for their hard work was a few tiny nuggets, no bigger than pebbles. Still, this reward was enough to feed and clothe them which was more than most treasure seekers could say.
He remembered how wonderful it had been when his youngest brother had struck the mother vein. Oh, the wild joy there had been that day! He smiled, thinking about the celebration trip to the Gold Hill Hotel & Saloon.
His brothers had gotten completely hammered while Adam, ever the responsible one, had curbed himself. His task had been restraining his brothers' mouths from spilling their expensive secret. Then he had sheltered them back to their cabin and all three had slept for two days straight.
The grassy hills peaked into a sharp lookout point. He pulled up, sitting back in his saddle to survey the valley below. A herd of two hundred mares, fillies and colts grazed peacefully, bathed in golden twilight. He sighed with satisfaction, his frozen breath frosting in the cold air. Jupiter trembled under him. The stallion let loose with an ear-splitting neigh, his nostrils flaring red.
A grin breaking out on his face, Adam dismounted. He untacked the horse before slapping its shiny, black rump. Jupiter shot away, galloping down to his family.
The stallion was received warmly by his subjects for a king is what he deemed himself. Wild, untamed blood flowed within his mustang veins, echoing his royal ancestors. Magnificent and proud, he pranced in a circle, touching various muzzles as his mares crowded close to pay homage.
Ignoring the hysteria, one animal stood off to the side, its hind foot cocked. A sharp whistle brought the chestnut paint to attention. A low nicker could be heard. He stepped into a brisk trot, traveling up the hill.
Within seconds, he halted next to his master and playfully nuzzled his neck.
“Hi'ya, Coyote, enjoy your time off?” Adam chuckled, slipping the bridle over the gelding's head. “Time to get to work and then back home for a good meal for both of us. It's just too cold out today to be outside.”
He glanced at the highest peak in the distance and shook his head. Bending down to gather his saddle and cinch, he talked to his loyal friend while saddling up.
“Look's like snow, boy. Not sure if my wife will be happy about that. She wanted to enjoy the fall colors a bit longer. Speaking of her, I think we should hurry along. There's a warm meal and a good woman waiting for me and a bucket of oats waiting for you. How 'bout it, ole buddy?”
Coyote whuffed softly, standing quiet just long enough for the man to mount. The two cantered down the slope and moved through the herd. On occasion, Adam let loose a rope to settle around the neck of a random colt. He would dismount to look over each sleek coat and check for healthy hooves. He found nothing amiss, only the superior bloodline that he had been working so hard to build during the last few years.
On business trips to San Francisco, he had bought purebred broodmares and three other stallions which carried champion thoroughbred bloodlines. He had spent a small fortune on those mares and had added another one-hundred-and-fifty horses through breeding.
Over the last five years, White Fir Lodge ranch had become known for its breathtaking Lake Tahoe scenery and thoroughbred pedigreed stock. Countless rich investors had come from far and wide. A few had even traveled from Europe to purchase a foal for their stables.
Taking his hat off, Adam glanced up at the sun. Almost noon. Time to be heading back or his wife would have his neck for sure. A wry chuckle floated into the crisp, morning air. He turned Coyote around and slowly rode back through the herd.
For the most part, his horses appeared to be thriving, minus a few who would need special treatment. Taking note of the pregnant animals which needed tending and filing that task away in his mind, he rode away toward home.