The Truth Behind her Blue Eyes (Preview)


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Chapter One

1855, Resland, California 

“I feel sick, Julie. That train jolted me around something terrible,” Helen complained.

Her older sister barely heard her. The train had deposited them on the station platform as one of only a handful of passengers getting out at Resland train station. It felt as though they’d barely stepped off the train before it was chugging away again, choking the platform with steam, keen to get away.

No going back now.

“Julie!” Helen repeated, aggravated.

“I don’t know what you want me to do about it, Helen,” Julie replied absently.

“Can we get something to eat? That might make me feel better.”

“We need to find an inn first.”

Helen sighed but didn’t complain anymore. Julie was relieved. Helen was fifteen now – she wasn’t a child that could be ordered around and scolded anymore. Not that Julie wanted to scold Helen. Scolding people didn’t work, in her opinion, just like Helen’s foster father’s swinging fists and stinging belt buckle hadn’t worked. Helen simply didn’t respond to that sort of thing.

She gave herself a little shake. No point thinking about him now. They’d left him behind for good, hopefully. Time to think of the future – thinking of the past only muddied the waters.

“Right,” Julie said briskly. “We can’t stand here all day, wasting daylight. Let’s find an inn, then get our bearings. Then we can find something to eat and work on finding somewhere more permanent to live.”

There was a neat little stack of dollars in Julie’s pocket, but that wouldn’t last forever. Once it ran out, there wouldn’t be anymore, and staying in an inn would eat through their meager funds like nothing else. She’d bought the cheapest train tickets possible to save money for their arrival, and as a result, they’d bounced around on hard wooden pews in a smelly, crowded train carriage for several days. It was hellish, to say the least, but they were here now, and that was all that mattered.

Julie bent down, grabbing one of their battered, threadbare bags in each hand. They were worryingly light.

“Here, let me carry one,” Helen insisted, snatching one of the bags out of Julie’s hand and falling into step beside her. “Do you think this place will have an inn?”

“Yes, I know it does,” Julie said confidently. “I picked this town for a reason, Helen. It’s perfect. It’s just far away enough that nobody will know us or find us, but it’s not in the middle of nowhere. There will be opportunities; you mark my words.”

Helen sighed. “It’s hard not to mark your words, Julie. Are you still set on making lunch pails for sweaty working men?”

“Yes, and don’t worry. I know plenty of other people who’ve made enough money doing things like that. Working men aren’t fussy.”

Helen shrugged, seeming to lose interest. Julie was relieved. Arguing with Helen was a bit like arguing with a brick wall by banging your head against it. Pointless, and it tended to hurt your head after a while. They made their way down Resland’s main street – which also seemed to be the only street. There were stores and even the occasional restaurant, all facing each other. A wide, dusty boardwalk circled the main road, keeping people’s feet away from the dusty street in summer and the thick, icy mud in winter.

Or so Julia assumed. She didn’t know what weather to expect anywhere outside of Chicago. It wasn’t as windy here for a start, but it was much warmer. In fact, sweat was starting to prickle under Julie’s stiff collar and unforgiving bodice. She needed a new dress. They both needed new dresses, but obviously, that was just a pipe dream at the moment.

The two girls attracted curious stares as they went down the street. There was a battered sign hanging near the bottom of the street. It was plain, simple, and to the point. Boarding House. 

“There’s a restaurant there,” Helen said eagerly, and Julie followed her gaze. A hand-scrawled sign in a window proclaimed the tempting offer of Meals, Thirty Cents.

Delicious. Still, it wouldn’t be any worse than the hard cheese and harder bread the girls had eaten on the way here.

“Let’s book into the boarding house first, then we can put down our bags,” Julie said. “First things first.”

A group of men eyed them up as they went past. Julie kept her gaze fixed firmly ahead, not even glancing in their direction. Helen, however, was much bolder – or stupider – than Julie and boldly met their gaze. The men exploded in a chorus of wolf-whistles and vile comments, which Julie studiously ignored.

Julie never considered herself particularly pretty. The matrons in the orphanage had told her that she was plain, often and repeatedly. She was twenty, with blue eyes and brown hair with a wave in it, which were, in her opinion, unremarkable and uninteresting features. She wasn’t ugly, exactly, but she wouldn’t call herself a beauty, either. Still, Julie had heard that with the lack of women out in places like this, men pounced on any single woman available, plain or not.

She wasn’t sure if that was reassuring or worrying.

Helen, however, was definitely the pretty one of the two. She was five years younger than Julie and at fifteen, was exactly the right age to attract the most unsavory types of men. Her hair was nearly blonde and would likely bleach lighter in this sun, and her blue eyes were alight with mischief and confidence. Julie worried about the trouble her sister might get into. There’d been plenty of examples available for the sisters to consider of women who’d found trouble – or trouble had found them.

“Don’t look at them,” Julie hissed.

“They’re just stupid men, Julie.”

“You don’t know what stupid men can do to girls like us, Helen. I mean it. Don’t look at them.”

It was a relief to reach the boarding house. Julie shouldered open a horribly creaky front door and stepped inside. A musty smell washed over them. It wasn’t a dirty smell, just the smell of a house that wasn’t dusted or aired enough and had sweaty, unwashed people pushing through its rooms regularly. The foyer was very small, with peeling wallpaper and a floor that badly needed sweeping. Directly opposite the door was a narrow counter, too small for the large, balding man who crammed behind it.

Julie forced a smile. “Good day.”

The man eyed her up and down. “What d’you want?”

Julie swallowed a retort at his tone. Nearly there, she told herself. In a few minutes, you’ll have a decent room to rest in. It won’t be a palace, but it’ll be a damn sight better than that wretched train carriage. 

“I’d like a room, please. For myself and my sister.”

The man narrowed his eyes. “Where’s your husband? Father? Brother?”

“Excuse me?”

He leaned forward, resting meaty fists on the counter. “Is it just you two women traveling alone?”

“What sort of question is that?” Helen snapped. “Of course it is.”

No, no, Helen, Julie thought miserably. Don’t offend him. We can laugh about him later. I just want a room. I just want to rest. I haven’t been able to rest since we got away from Mr. Brown. 

The man reared back. “I don’t rent to women.”

“You don’t rent to women? Why not?” Julie repeated. “I can pay. I’ve got money. I’ll show you.”

The man spat off to the side, narrowly missing Helen’s boot.

“Women traveling alone are trouble,” he said, speaking slowly as if Julie was especially stupid. “They’re either whores, or they’ll end up being whores. What good reason is there for a woman to travel without a man?”

“We aren’t alone. We’re with each other. We don’t need a man,” Helen said, taking a step forward. “Like my sister said, we have money.”

The man glowered at her. “It’s not about the money. No women traveling unaccompanied by a gentleman in here. Those are the rules. Get lost.”

“But …” Julie began desperately.

“I said get lost!” the man roared. Julie cringed, unable to help herself. Helen grabbed her wrist and pulled her out, letting the door slam behind them.

Julie was shaking, the man’s bellow dredging up unpleasant memories. She shivered, even in the warm sunlight.

“What a troll,” Helen muttered, rubbing Julie’s arm. “It’s probably just as well we didn’t stay there. The place smelled awful, and I bet he’s a creep.”

Julie sighed. “I don’t know where we’re going to stay tonight, Helen.”

Helen bit her lip. Perhaps she was finally starting to understand how dire their situation was. Julie felt like a fool. Of course, old-fashioned places like this wouldn’t approve of women traveling alone. A boarding house might not be safe for two women alone, in any case. Julie glanced over at her sister – Helen was just as tall as Julie now – and tried to smile reassuringly.

“Well, we might as well eat first. Come on, let’s go to the restaurant.”


The restaurant was a little better. It was greasy with poor quality food, but the fat woman who served them their meals was cheerful and friendly. She served them each a plate of rubbery eggs, salty bacon, and surprisingly delicious fresh bread and butter and promised them as much coffee as they wanted.

“So, where are you girls from, then? And what are your names?” the woman asked, not bothering to hide her eagerness for gossip.

“My name is Helen Dotson, and this is my older sister, Julie,” Helen said before Julie could speak up and offer false surnames. She cursed under her breath. It was too late now. Helen was relaxing into herself, chattering away easily to the woman – whose name was Flo, short for Florence, and she hated to be called “Florrie” or any other diminutive – and the woman was warming right up to her.

Julie ate in silence, letting Helen steer the conversation. Fortunately, Helen was clever enough to gloss over the circumstances of their departure from Chicago. Very sensible.

“You girls got anywhere to stay?” Flo asked when the food was all gone, and Julie was swigging back the last dregs of her coffee.

“No, the boarding house over there won’t take us,” Helen explained.

Flo nodded. “No, they won’t. It’s not usual to see ladies traveling alone. I can see that you two are respectable, but you’ll want to tread carefully. If you’re looking for a place to rent, my husband’s looking to rent out a little cabin up in the woods. It’s not much, mind you, and we’ll want a month’s rent upfront, but you might want to consider it.”

Julie brightened, glancing over at Helen. Finally, a turn-up for the books.

“That would be wonderful,” Julie asked, smiling in relief. “How much would rent be?”

Flo pursed her lips. “Four dollars a month. Can you girls afford that?”

Julie bit her lip. They could, barely. She could pay two months’ worth of rent straight off, but the rest would have to go on ingredients for the work she planned to do. After that … well, after that, they would have to see.

It wasn’t as if they had a choice.

“Yes, that would be fine,” Julie said, uncomfortably aware that she had no idea whether Flo was making them a generous offer or overcharging them. She didn’t know enough about the way the world worked. She’d just be glad they were getting a roof over their heads.

“Excellent!” Flo said, smiling. “You’ll need to wait for my husband to get back from work, but after that, we can work out the details. Are you girls alright to wait around a little? I’ll fetch you more coffee.”

“Yes, thank you,” Julie said, smiling gratefully up at her. When she bustled away, Julie leaned across the table to grin at Helen. “That’s a bit of good luck, isn’t it?”

But Helen wasn’t looking at her. They were seated by the window, and Helen was looking out at the same group of men who’d whistled at them earlier. She was scowling.

“They’re saying awful things about me; I just know it,” Helen muttered.

“Ignore them, Helen.”

“You know, if I could go up to them, I’d have all their wallets out of their pockets in a flash. And their pocket watches, too.”

A cold flash of fear went through Julie. “That’s not funny, Helen. Don’t even joke about that.”

Helen grinned. “I’m not joking.”

Julie glanced around, ensuring Flo wasn’t near enough to eavesdrop. Flo struck her as a kindly woman who wouldn’t hesitate to gossip without shame. This was a new town, and they had a chance at a new, fresh reputation.

“Don’t you dare, Helen. You promised. No more pickpocketing. No more stealing. You promised.”

Helen scowled, tearing her eyes away from the window. “How else are we going to get money? You know that I never get caught.”

Julie swallowed hard. “We’re not having this conversation again, Helen. No stealing. I absolutely mean it. I need to hear you promise me.”

“I already promised you.”

“And yet here you are, talking about pickpocketing people. Promise me again.”

Helen rolled her eyes. “Fine, I promise,” she mumbled just as Flo reappeared with two steaming cups of coffee and two bowls of what looked like grits.

“Eat up, girls,” she said with a wink. “You two are far too skinny. Haven’t they been feeding you properly?”

Julie smiled thinly and said nothing.

No, she thought. They didn’t.

“The Truth Behind her Blue Eyes” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Losing her parents at a young age, Julie was brought up in a cruel and unkind orphanage with her younger sister, Helen. After being robbed of her own childhood, Julie is determined to keep herself and her sister safe, and to build them a safe and happy home in Resland, where they escape. At first, life seems idyllic in the hometown of a fading gold rush, but a spate of robberies leads to unrest and danger. Even though times do not allow thoughts of romance, the sheriff’s young and handsome deputy makes Julie reconsider her feelings toward lawmen…

When her sister suddenly goes missing though, will Julie trust him with her only family’s secrets?

Sonny Campbell and his father are both sheriff’s deputies, and they lead a simple, peaceful life in their town of Resland. Sonny is used to a certain kind of life, where every day is the same and nobody ever arrives to pique his interest, let alone make him fall in love. The gold rush, part of which touches Sonny’s own town, creates unique challenges, but none so unique as the arrival of Julie and Helen Dotson. Sonny is immediately drawn to Julie, but it’s clear that she has secrets – secrets that she will do anything to hide.

Torn between his duty to the law and his growing feelings for Julie, can Sonny make the right decision?

Together, Sonny and Julie have to come up with a plan to save Helen and get to the bottom of what exactly is going on in their town. Will they be able to overcome their various secrets, obstacles, and fears to fall in love, before time runs out?

 “The Truth Behind her Blue Eyes” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!


Grab my new series, "Brave Hearts of the Frontier", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

One thought on “The Truth Behind her Blue Eyes (Preview)”

  1. Hello my dears, I hope you enjoyed the preview and that you are as excited as I am for this release! Make sure to leave your comments here. I’m so looking forward to reading them 🙂

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