Excerpt taken from:
Chapter 1, Apache Springs by
Annie awoke to the sound of a
babbling mountain brook and birds
happily singing. A brisk chill was
in the air. She shivered and pulled
the patchwork quilt over her and
tucked it around Cort’s shoulder.
As she put her arm around him, she
They’d been married two days;
well, almost married. Perhaps, the
Mexican wedding wasn’t legal in
the United States, but it was valid
in her heart and soul. Later, she
hoped they’d have a real wedding in the
church with their family and
friends in attendance.
She pressed her body against him,
tucking her legs into his, spoon
“Annie, Annie, have you ever been
so happy?” He whispered, turning
to embrace her.
“No, never,” she murmured. Kissing
him lightly in the hollow of his
neck, a warm glow flowed through
her. She’d ever felt happy or loved
“Let’s stay in bed all day.”
Annie giggled happily., “And do
what?” she asked in an innocent voice.
“I can think of some very
“I can see that,” she replied as
he turned and began to slide his warm
hand over her bare back.
Annie shivered with desire as his
lips traced a sensuous path from the
hollow of her neck to the rosy
tips of her breasts.
“Damn,” Cort cursed softly as the
telephone jingled in their ears.
“Don’t answer,” she said, running
her long slim fingers through his sandy
hair. “It’s probably Marilyn.
We’ll call her later.”
“I think I’d better get it.” He
pulled the blanket around his shoulders and
reached for the phone.”
“I’ll make coffee,” she said,
sliding out of bed and padding out to the kitchen. While she made the coffee,
she sipped a small glass of orange
juice and poured one for Cort.
Setting them on a tray, she wondered who the phone call was from.
Padding back to the bedroom, she
carried the tray laden with a light breakfast of two steaming cups of coffee,
warm sweet rolls, and orange juice. When she saw Cort, a flood of uneasiness
rushed through her. The tray shook in her hands. Coffee spilled, dribbling onto
the floor into a puddle. She set the tray down on the dresser and wiped it up.
Cort sat on the edge of the bed,
clad in his jeans and a blue and white
plaid flannel shirt. The worried
expression he wore confirmed her fears.
He pulled on his black leather
western style boots and glanced up at her.
Concern filled his sea blue eyes.
“We have to leave.”
“Why?” she asked, her stomach
“Barbara was injured pretty badly.
She was brought into the hospital
unconscious, by neighbors. They
heard screams and investigated. She’d
suffered a terrible beating.”
“Sweet Jesus,” Annie said.
“She’s all right now. She was
released from the hospital last night. Your
grandmother has been looking for
“Does she know where I am?” She
asked, her brows knitting together.
Cort nodded. “Marilyn’s mother
told her you were in the mountains staying in Gene’s cabin. She’s furious you
“Barbara knows his wife. She’s in
bridge club with her. It would be a cinch for her to find the cabin.”
Her hands trembled as she drew the
sash of her robe tighter. “You don’t think she’d drive up in her condition, do
you? If she did, wouldn’t she call first?”
“I don’t know. She has a brand new
1957 Chevy. If she suspects I’m here with you, she might drive up anyway. It’s
only seventy miles,” Cort said.
“Maybe, you’d better call her, or better
yet, I think we’d better drive back, talk to Barbara and to your grandmother.
We need to tell them we’re married.”
“I don’t know.” I don’t think so.
Not yet. A wave of anxiety swept over her.”
“We have to tell them sometime. We
can stay with my parents until I find a job to support us.”
“But, you’ll need to go to school,
She brushed her hair back from her
face. “We should have talked about these things first, before we eloped.”
“I can make enough money over the summer
working on cars to pay for an apartment for us in Albuquerque next fall. Don’t
worry about it, sweetie.
Everything will work out.”
Annie had a sinking feeling Cort was
wrong. She tried her best not to let her feelings show, “I’d better shower and
dress in my best; the dress I wore when we were married.”
Cort gazed at her lovingly. “I’ll
always remember you in that dress, more beautiful than ever as you said your
vows. Now, hurry and get ready to leave. I’ve made up my mind about going.”
Annie stepped out of the cabin
onto the front porch. She gasped, as
her right hand flew to her heart. “I thought I just saw Barbara’s car.”
Cort smiled as he shut the door of
the cabin and placed his arm around her shoulder. “Have you forgotten, sweetie,
she’s just been released from the hospital. She’s probably not driving yet.”
“You’re right. I wasn’t thinking,
was I? I’m sure the doctor told her not to drive. But, if she has any idea we
eloped, she just might do it anyway, bruises, bandages and all.”
“That’s exactly why we need to
speak with your family. We shouldn’t have run off like we did, without
permission, even if we are adults now.”
“I know. You’re right.” But, she
knew neither Grandmother nor Barbara
would have given their permission.
She dreaded the talk they’d soon have. Just thinking about it made her stomach
ache. For now, she’d try to forget about it and enjoy the ride home. She had an
awful feeling, it just might be the last ride she’d ever take with her new
During the hour-and-a-half ride
back to Apache Springs, Annie snuggled
next to Cort and gazed out the
window. The beauty of the Hondo Valley never failed to stir her.
Gently rolling hills with fragrant
pine trees, regal poplars, and tall oak trees embraced the valley on each side
of the winding road. A picturesque mountain stream, abundant with trout, snaked
its way down the Sacramento Mountains.
Occasionally, a tiny church or a
small adobe home beckoned invitingly. Poplars hugged their driveways while
weeping willows, near the center of their lawns, offered shade. Annie sighed,
promising herself, someday she’d paint the enchanted valley.
With one hand on the steering
wheel and the other around Annie, Cort was silent while she admired the
scenery. He wondered if eloping had been a mistake. He hoped he hadn’t
jeopardized their happiness. What if they’d not only hurt, but enraged her
family? Would they be able to weather the storm? He didn’t know if their
Mexican wedding was legal in the United States.
They’d marry again soon, in a
church. He sighed. Jeeze, where would they live? Even though he’d said they
could stay with his parents, he wasn’t so sure how they’d feel about their
He shuddered inwardly, thinking
about the confrontation that was sure to come once they arrived Annie’s grandmother’s.
He began to wish he could speak to her alone, to assure her of his love for
Upon their arrival, he was
unexpectedly granted his wish. He understood then what his mother had always
warned him of. “Be careful of what you wish for, Cort. You just might get it.”
When they pulled into a parking
space across from the hotel Annie’s grandmother lived in, she was still not
prepared to face her with the news She grasped Cort’s hand tightly on the
elevator ride up to her grandmother’s room.
A dark fear crept over her from
the tips of her toes to the top of her head. “Maybe, we shouldn’t do this.
Let’s just leave for Albuquerque. I can support us with money from my trust
fund for awhile. I have four hundred dollars a month.”
“No. Keep your trust fund. I don’t
want to touch it. Ever.”
“I don’t like it, Cort. I have a
bad feeling about this. I-I’m afraid I’ll never see you again.”
“Sweetie, we’re married.”
“But, not in the church. I’m
afraid they’ll talk you into leaving me, she said, her voice trembling with
emotion. Just the thought of him leaving her left her feeling miserable and
Cort turned and took Annie into his
arms. Smiling down at her, he said,
“You must not know how much I love
“Excuse me. Sir. Miss. This is the
fifth floor. Aren’t you getting out here?”
Annie’s cheeks warmed as Cort
slowly released her from his embrace. Maybe, she’d feel better after they were
in her grandmother’s room.
The moment they opened Mrs.
McClaine’s door, Annie’s heart fell. She knew she’d been right.
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