From An Angel Called Gallagher
A Historical Holiday Western Adventure
Briarwood, Montana Territory—December 1883
White clouds of warm breath snaked through the cold air. She held her hands in front of her mouth in an effort to bring heat to her stiff fingers. Fresh snow had covered the land while she tried to sleep, and she didn’t want to sleep too long for fear that the small fire would dwindle. Two thin pieces of wood leaned against the inside of the small black pail. She tucked her feet under her legs and pressed them into her chest. The wool blanket was thin and only warm enough for a cool day, not bitter winter nights. When the sun dipped behind the mountains and the moon rose, the cold seeped past the blanket and into her bones.
Sleep came and went like fleeting dreams until the stars faded, and the small window by the door promised to reveal a rising sun over the mountain peaks. It would be a good day to gather more wood and branches from the forest floor. She looked to the two pegs above the narrow stone fireplace where her father’s rifle used to hang. The emptiness in her stomach might be worse if her father hadn’t left behind a cut of deer. She finished the last of the meat the night before, and the gnawing in her gut told her she’d have to find a meal soon.
Her eyes closed when the soft rays of sun touched her skin. As though drawn toward the promise of warmth, she stepped off the bed with the blanket wrapped around her small shoulders and opened the front door.
An Angel Called Gallagher Excerpt ©MK McClintock
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