Country bride, p.1
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       Country Bride, p.1

           Ava Catori
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Country Bride
Country Bride

  (Country Brides)

  Ava Catori

  Copyright 2013, Ava Catori

  This book is a work of fiction.

  Chapter 1

  Kristin parked in front of the small office, her dog by her side. This was it, the start of her new life. She hoped this year was better than last. Her mother called it running away, but how could her mother understand what she’d been through? Widowed on her honeymoon, her entire world came crashing down. She was still in shock, some days it took her down to her knees, and crying into her hands, begging for mercy. Other days she was simply numb. Either way, life would never be the same.

  He’d wanted to try the zip line, but she was too nervous, and when it snapped, taking him down from the tree tops to the ground in one quick succession, she knew he’d fallen too far to survive. She’d heard the snapping of the twigs from above, but nobody knew what was happening until it was too late. Medics, tears, the heartache, and horror of the day rushed through her mind over and over, though at least most of the nightmares had finally stopped. Greg’s life was over, and she had to find some way to pick up the pieces of her life and start over.

  They were about to buy a house, about to settle down and start a family, but those dreams had been crushed and were gone.

  “I’ll be right back, Molly,” she patted her yellow lab on the head. Climbing out of her truck, she turned around to see Molly’s head out the passenger side window, sniffing the new atmosphere.

  The small real estate office was clustered with a few other shops and retailers on the narrow street. She’d found the place on the map, throwing a dart at the atlas hanging on the wall. She didn’t care where it landed, it was better than staying at home. She’d quit her job, packed up her things, and found a place to rent. She’d stay for a year, working on some writing she’d wanted to do, maybe some painting, and then decide where life would take her after that. It didn’t really matter, she felt empty without Greg.

  A brass bell clanged as she opened the door, alerting the agent she was there. Calling out from another room, “I’ll be there in a second,” she shouted. On coming back into the room, she apologized. “Sorry about that, I’m also the town notary, next door. I just go between the two places, so if you need something notarized you can come to either of the places.”

  “Right, sure.” Kristin looked at the stocky woman. She waddled as she walked, and had short tight curls bobbing on her head. She was easily over fifty and had a smoker’s smile, with fine lines forming crevices around her lips. “Now what can I do for you.”

  “I’m Kristin Shaw, we spoke on the phone. I’m renting the Jenkins’s place.”

  “Oh right, the keys are here,” she said digging under a counter. “You owe us a check, and watch for wildlife if you’re not used to those things back where you’re from. Especially trash or food, you want to seal that up really tight. There’s a list of things that will help you with basics around here, but basically, any essentials you need you’ll find in town. If you can’t find them here, you don’t need them. The post office will take delivery of packages for you, but you’ll need to come in to town to collect your mail. You might want to check in with Sadie at the post office, and let her know you’ve arrived. Nobody’s lived at the Jenkins’s place for a bit, so tell her you’ll be staying there.”

  Kristin listened as the woman spoke; hoping she’d remember the details she was spitting out like it was common knowledge. This was the most remote she’d ever been, back home everything was nearby. She’d have another forty minute drive to get to the property, and while most of it was paved, she’d be hitting gravel and dirt roads the closer she got to her cabin in the woods. She’d rented it for a year, almost on a whim, not sure what to do with herself. Solitude felt right – and thoughts of renewing her creative soul.

  Realizing she’d better stock up, since running into town wouldn’t be a daily encounter and more like a weekly one, she made a mental list while finishing with the realtor. Thanking the woman for her time, she took her keys and headed out to her truck.

  She found a tall man, somewhere near his late thirties, petting Molly’s head, which was still happily out the window.

  “Hey,” she said, walking around.

  “Howdy,” he smiled, “Ty Addison,” he offered his hand.

  “Kristin Shaw, it’s nice to meet you.”

  “What brings you to Chester Hills?”

  “Change of pace,” she said. “Would you be so kind as to point me to the post office?”

  “Just two doors down that way,” he said pointing. “Where are you from?” He wasn’t sure he wanted her to leave just yet. She was a pretty girl, her eyes were blue like the sky, her hair lightened from the sun, a soft blonde with streaks.

  “New Jersey.”

  “Oh,” his voice went flat.

  “Not a fan?”

  “Not especially, most east coasters that come out this way don’t respect the land and nature. They come out here, take what they want, tramp around like some tourist looking for a ghost town, and…” he stopped himself. “Yeah, let’s just say we haven’t had the best experience with you folk.”

  “So we’re all the same, no benefit of the doubt?”

  “Haven’t met many Easterner’s I’ve been fond of. Most want to buy up the land and turn this place into something it’s not. This is my home, not some amusement park. Your type should just stick to your crowded cities and highways.”

  “My type? I apologize to have inconvenienced your life by coming out west. I thought we all lived in the same free country,” she said, hoping the rest of the town wasn’t so narrow minded. “Anyway, I need to get to the post office.”

  She excused herself and headed to the post office to talk to Sadie. Shame he was so shallow. On first glance, he was an attractive man, but it was obvious by his personality that this attractiveness was only skin deep.

  After stopping in the post office, Kristin went over to the market, stocking up on some supplies, and then rejoined Molly. “I got you some treats,” she smiled, and patted the dog on her head. “Why don’t we find a place for you to relieve yourself, and then we’ll head to our new home, girl.” The thump, thump, thump of her dog’s otter-like tail hit the seat of the truck.

  She was grateful to have Molly. She would have been lost without her. She patiently listened to her ramble on, cry, and sat with her through it all. She was getting old and her stride was a little slower, but she was healthy and strong. Molly was just over ten years old, and the best friend she ever had.

  Kristin’s twenty-seventh birthday had just passed, but there was no celebration, just a quiet night at home with Molly, and a dart thrown at a wall to determine her new location. Chester Hills, Wyoming won.

  There weren’t any traffic lights in town, which brought home just how small of a place this was. Just a four way stop and old brick and stick built buildings that were older than she was. Pulling out the map that the realtor had given her, she double checked her directions, and then started her truck.

  Everything she wanted was with her – she left everything else behind. Things held no value anymore, and except for a few trinkets and her computer, she’d only packed clothes and odds and ends that make life easier. The cabin came fully furnished, so she didn’t need to worry about kitchenware, she simply needed food.

  Backing up, she pulled her truck out into the road. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the shallow Ty Addison coming out of a small shop. That man was a menace to society with his narrow-minded ways. How dare he assume just because I’m from New Jersey, that I’d be a certain way. Some people, she huffed.

  Ty watched Kristin’s truck move down the road. Glancing down, he noticed her license plate, another east coaster
, coming to use up his land and then go on their way. They didn’t need more of her kind around here, especially after what happened down in Lawrence last year.

  Ty shook his head, thinking of the mess the company had left behind, tearing down trees, paving up an area, and then bailing on the amusement park they wanted to put in. All that was left were steel beams, half built amusements, all fenced up with barbed wire surrounding it, making it look like some junkyard. They decided it would be a financial loss before finishing, and then left it for everyone to look at. They had no intention of cleaning it up. They’d snapped up huge portions of land at a good price, and they could do what they pleased with it at this point. Only the town people that had to see it when they passed through were reminded once again what east coasters thought of their home – a cheap place to build and use up space, taking nature down, and destroying the beauty of Wyoming.

  Kristin turned off of the main road onto a gravel one. Dust kicked up behind her as she traveled the next portion of her trip. One last turn onto a dirt road without a name, this was going to be tricky. The realtor said there’s a sign, a small painted one – but there weren’t a lot of roads jutting out, so that would help narrow it down.

  She finally saw a wooden handmade sign with white paint on it, offering a rural route number. That must be it, she squinted, reading the sign, and then turned left. She saw the cabin’s driveway not far up the road. A big rock was painted white to signify the path, just as the realtor had mentioned. Turning into the driveway, she slowed down, taking it all in. She’d seen pictures of it online, but in person, the reality of what she was doing kicked in.

  Her heart beat loudly in her chest, and gripping the steering wheel, her palms grew sweaty. She hoped this wasn’t a mistake – it was such a random, last minute decision.

  The wooden cabin sat tucked under a cove of trees. Parking her truck, she let Molly out and checked the grounds before going inside. The fence needed some work, and the gate didn’t close properly. Kristin frowned, realizing she’d have to fix the gate somehow, so Molly didn’t wander off.

  “Come on, girl,” she said, jiggling the keys for the front door.

  Climbing two small steps, she was on a small covered porch with a swing. She pictured sitting outside in the morning, drinking her coffee, and a tingle of excitement rushed through her. Opening the door, she was met with a combined living room, dining room space, and the kitchen area. It wasn’t large, but it was more than enough space for her and Molly. Turning down the small hallway, she found a washer and dryer in a closet, and then the bathroom and one bedroom. This was perfect for what she needed, and would become home for the next year. The solitude was exactly what she needed.

  Lugging her things in from the back of her truck, she realized she’d have to be careful to watch her gas tank, being that far away from town. She’d be stuck in the middle of nowhere if she ran out of gas. There weren’t gas stations on every other corner like back at home.

  After bringing her stuff in and unpacking, Kristin settled onto the porch swing. Molly followed her and curled up nearby. It was peaceful, serene, and absolutely beautiful. She’d never seen so much open space. Back east it was so congested, a shopping complex around every corner, and cars everywhere. The silence was so different. She listened to nature, birds, leaves gently rustling, and knew she’d made the right decision to come out here.

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