His uncle scowled. "Best if you forget it. You just lost one woman, not wise to allow a needy one to get her claws into you." "She's not like that. Nothing like that."
Big John walked away. "You don't even know her."
His uncle's truth stung. But he was wrong. Matt gazed at the injured woman and her dark hair, soft skin. So pale. "I'll take care of you, Hannah."
Excerpt from Matt's Story
Hannah opened her eyes.
Two men were talking near her, but she didn’t hear Gunther’s voice. She lay still and listened. The older one had a gruff voice. He was a hard man but honest. The younger one, the one she first saw, he was kind and gentle, but there was a strength and sadness in him.
She relaxed. They weren’t outlaws. In her spirit, she knew that. Her pain lessened. She pushed down on the straw mattress and sat up. The cabin spun. She closed her eyes and rested. Thirsty, she cleared her throat. “Could I have a drink?”
The two men jumped up.
The younger one grabbed a cup and his canteen before rushing to her. He poured the water and then handed the tin cup to her. “Here. Take it easy.”
The water cooled her parched throat. With a nod, she handed the cup back to him. “More, please.”
The second cup helped her strength return. “Thank you. My husband?” Hannah saw the truth on their faces. He was gone. Poor Gunther, life had turned so sourly upon him. She prayed he’d seen the savior’s face at his last breath.
“Sorry ma’am. He was dead.” The younger man spoke, looking sadder than she felt.
She stared at him, trying to feel, to cry. “I think I need to lie down.”
He jumped to help support her and eased her down gently. “Best thing for you. We’ll be here. Call out if you need anything.”
She looked into his brown eyes and nodded. Yes, she could trust this one. She was so tired. Gunther was gone. She should cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. Maybe after she rested she could give Gunther the sorrow and grief she owed him.
As she closed her eyes, Gunther’s image didn’t fill her mind. It was the kind face of the strong, gentle man with the brown eyes. She didn’t even know his name.
Matt stared at Big John and cringed. His uncle had that lecturing look.
Big John stood. “One thing you don’t want to do is bounce to another woman after losing one. She was married to a man and lost him. You owe her nothing. You don’t even know her.”
Matt matched the big man’s glare. “I just want her to have a chance. You’re right, I don’t know her. I just want to get her to a doctor, not like I asked her to marry me.”
“Yeah, just keep it that way. Females can be awful needy when they’re on their own. This farm doesn’t look like it’s worth a thing. She’s likely destitute. You just make sure she doesn’t get her claws in you.”
“Her name is Hannah. She’s not like that. You just worry about yourself. Worry about becoming a grumpy, old man.”
Big John guffawed and slapped his knee. “Well, young Matt, you and me have a lot in common. I’d say we were cut from the same cloth. You watch out that you don’t become a grumpy, young man.”
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