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Elizabeth (Betty) Rose finds herself a young widow. She is angry with a husband who left her with a house, blacksmith shop and no money to maintain either. Hoping to earn a living by renting rooms, she winds up with Ross Culpepper , a mystery man, a sassy young schoolmarm, and a dangerous-looking downright scary fellow named Bart Devlin. Betty Rose and her two helpmates, an Indian couple saved from a massacre, hope to make the best of a bad situation. Will they be able to survive mystery, danger, and teacher, Cassy Lou?
Elizabeth Rose Pike sat across from Mr. Pierce, President of the Rocky Mountain National Bank of Central City, Colorado. She nervously looked around, noticing the nautical theme that decorated his office. She sensed his hesitation as he shuffled the papers on his desk. Betty Rose, as she preferred to be called, twisted her handkerchief and waited for him to speak.
“Betty Rose, since Tom’s death, I’ve been putting off talking to you. I wanted to give you time to catch your breath but I can’t wait any longer. We have to discuss how to handle your finances.”
“Yes, Mr. Pierce. I need to know what to do and where I stand.”
“Tom was a good friend. It pains me to have to tell you this. We both know Tom’s weakness, his fondness for strong spirits and cards. I don’t suppose you know he put a mortgage on your house some time ago. He made a payment from time to time but not enough to bring the balance owed down much, what with the interest added periodically... I guess I knew more about his business than anyone.”
“What are you trying to tell me, Mr. Pierce?”
“I’m trying to tell you, Betty Rose, if we don’t get regular payments on this mortgage, you’re going to lose the house.”
She took in a great breath and asked, “How much do I owe the bank?”
“You owe eight hundred and fifty dollars. We’re going to need a payment before the month’s out or I’m instructed by the Denver home office to foreclose. What do you figure you can pay monthly, Betty Rose?”
Betty Rose heaved a sigh, “I don’t know. I’ve used most of the money in our account to pay Tom’s other debts. I don’t have much left, just enough to survive. I had no idea, Mr. Pierce. I thought we had plenty. Tom was always generous with me and everyone else. I had no idea.” She held tight to the handkerchief to keep from weeping.
“Can you give me a few weeks to figure out what I can do?”
“I’ll talk with the Denver people, explain the circumstances and see what I can do, Mrs. Pike. I’m so sorry to have to bring this up at a time like this. So sorry.”
Betty Rose stood stiffly, hoping she could walk across the room. She shook hands with Mr. Pierce. “Thank you. I don’t want to lose the house. It’s all I have left, that and the blacksmith shop. I need time to think.” She walked wearily to the buggy where Molly stood waiting for her. She got in, picked up Molly’s reins and headed up Spring Street to her home.
* * * *
Betty Rose Pike bent her head against the cold, damp Colorado morning air. She pulled the cloak tight about her and brought the hood up over her head to cover her ears. She felt as gray and sad as the threatening weather.
“I’m so angry with you,” she said aloud to the mound of earth. Her glance swept over the words on the tombstone.
Here lies Thomas James Pike, Central City’s Benefactor and Friend to Many. Beloved Husband of Elizabeth Rose Pike, 1816 - 1878.
Betty Rose realized the anguished moan she heard came from deep within her. She ran her tongue over her lips and dropped to her knees, fighting tears. She’d wept so much, she didn’t think she had any more tears left. Her tears now were from anger. Yes, she was angry that this man, whom she’d loved, had thought so little of her that he’d drank himself to death, leaving her almost penniless and alone.
She was no longer young, and she wasn’t sure she could survive this blow and make a life for herself without Tom.
“How could you do this to me, Tom Pike? Damn you!” She covered her mouth with cold, rough hands. “God forgive me,” she whispered, releasing a torrent of tears, along with her fear and anger.
She ran her fingers over the name on the gray slab of stone as though she caressed his face. “You always said you would take care of me. What am I supposed to do now? All I have is that big old empty house. Every dime you left in the Rocky Mountain National Bank is gone. All gone! Now I even owe a mortgage. I could lose the house, you hear me, Tom Pike?”
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 196
Paper Weight (lb): 8.6
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