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Once Wayward - ebook View larger

Once Wayward - ebook

Orphan Train, 5

When love is a long shot, aim straight for the heart.

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    If Isabel Bennet were given the choice to remain with her parents in the carnival life or hop on a train full of orphaned girls into the vast unknown, she would have gladly remained with the two people she loved most in the world. She cherished her family and embraced the gypsy lifestyle, but her parents desired a brighter future for her. And the wealthy Mr. Robert Winston had promised the beautiful Isabel all that and so much more.


    She was lucky, not like the other young girls she’d met on the orphan train. Mr. Winston would love the fifteen-year-old sharpshooter like a daughter, and teach her that life held more than a quick shot in front of amazed crowds. So her parents placed the reluctant Isabel on an orphan train headed for Kansas, and the one man who promised her a future.


    But Isabel would soon discover that men don’t always keep their promises.


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    Once Wayward - ebook

    Once Wayward - ebook

    When love is a long shot, aim straight for the heart.



    “I’m a business man, as you well know,” he continued, “and as such, I encounter a lot of shady characters. And usually, most of them end up owing me a lot of money.”

    He paused, and Isabel puzzled. “But what does that have to do with me?”

    “Well it’s quite simple, really,” Winston replied. “I need you to help me collect—”

    “Collect? But I don’t understand. Wouldn’t that task be better suited for your male hired hands? I mean, I’m a woman—”

    “Exactly,” Mr. Winston replied.

    She didn’t like where his insinuation was going, but she listened.

    “You’ve always done a fine job drawing in a crowd for me. Your beauty combined with sharp shooting—quite the dangerous combination. Well, I’ve devised a plan that will combine your female wiles and your gunplay. A gorgeous woman who can handle a gun is a rare commodity indeed. Those bastards will never expect it.”

    “Expect what?” Isabel asked.

    “You to hold them accountable for their debt to me.”

    When her response was nothing more than a blank stare, Mr. Winston continued, “Must I spell it out for you, my pretty little pistol? You see, I will point out a gentleman who owes me money. You, in turn, will cozy up to him, offer yourself, and then take him to an upstairs room in the saloon. Then, when you get him in a compromising position, shall we say, you will pull a gun on him and demand payment.”

    She tasted the bile backing up in her throat. Demand payment? “But, why? Why would you have me do such a thing? Couldn’t you simply have your hired hands coerce the men for their monies owed?”

    “Of course I could.” Mr. Winston smirked. “But the way I have devised is more fun, don’t you think?”

    Evil. That was the only word to describe George Winston. It wasn’t enough that he had stripped her from loving parents on an empty promise, had demanded she perform her gunplay daily for groups of drunken cowboys, had allowed his slovenly son to have his way with her at his leisure; and now she was going to have to suffer the indignity of what basically accounted for prostitution. And for no other reason than his amusement. Pure evil.

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