An unlikely pair discovers that true love can find you when you least expect it.
The Men of Bitter Creek
Bitter Creek Contemporary Novellas
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Joan Johnston come two classic stories of the unforgettable THE MEN OF BITTER CREEK—”The Christmas Baby” and “The Man from Wolf Creek.”
When THE MAN FROM WOLF CREEK leaves his secluded mountain refuge to seek revenge on the thief who robbed him, he never expected he’d end up taking home the wily old bandit’s gorgeous and spirited daughter Raven. But Cale will never get back what he lost, until he learns to trust in love.
Conn Benton is shocked at the suggestion he should marry a Winthrop—especially that tall, redheaded Emaline—to end the feud between their families. He might marry her and bed her, but he has no intention of loving her. It takes a Yuletide miracle, THE CHRISTMAS BABY, to heal his vengeful heart.
THE KILLING HAS TO STOP EMALINE THOUGHT. Somehow, someone has to make it stop.
Nobody knew how the feud between the Winthrops and Bentons had started. But for twenty years, since before the War Between the States, the town of Bitter Creek in Nolan County, Texas, had run red with the blood of both families.
The most recent victims were five-year-old Sissy Benton and fourteen-year-old Rufus Winthrop. The two family patriarchs had called a week-long truce so they could bury the dead. The Bentons attended funeral services at the Bitter Creek Baptist Church in the morning. The Winthrops took over in the afternoon.
Emaline Winthrop had lost both a father and a younger brother to the feud. At twenty-two, she’d spent nearly her entire life under the cloud of animosity that existed between the two families. For the past five years, a particular plot of land had been the focus of hostilities.
Emaline sat in a back pew of the church mulling over a plan to end the fierce contest over those precious acres of land. She would never have a better opportunity to suggest her idea.
Following the funeral service for Rufus Winthrop, the clan gathered at the home of its patriarch for the wake. Emaline approached the elderly man, who was sitting in a rocker on his back porch with a heaped plate of food balanced on his knees.
“I need to speak with you, Jeremiah,” she said.
He spoke through a mouthful of food. “I’m listenin’.”
“I have an idea. A way to end the feud.”
Jeremiah stopped chewing and stared at her. He swallowed before he said, “Don’t talk nonsense, girl. Been a lotta folks tried to stop this fightin’. Them Bentons just won’t hear a word of it. Only way to end this feud is to kill ’em all, down to the last man, woman, and child.”
Emaline shivered at the venom in the old man’s words. As she dropped to her knees beside him, the skirt of her eyelet-lace-trimmed gingham dress billowed around her on the dusty wooden porch. “What if I could end the feud without any more bloodshed? Would you be willing to stop killing? Would you make the men put down their guns?”
Jeremiah eyed her thoughtfully. “What fly’s buzzin’ in that brain of yours, missy?”
“What if there were a way to establish that the contested land belonged to both Winthrops and Bentons equally? Would that solve the problem?”
“What’re you getting’ at, girl? Speak up!”
Emaline grasped the arm of the rocker to steady herself as she stood. “What if a Benton and a Winthrop married and had a child? It would be half Benton and half Winthrop, right?”
“I suppose,” Jeremiah conceded warily. “Only, ain’t no Winthrop nor Benton gonna do such a thing.”
Emaline ignored him and continued, “Say the disputed land was settled on their child. The land would have to belong to both families then, wouldn’t it?”
Jeremiah opened his mouth to voice another objection, then snapped it shut. His eyes narrowed as he stared at Emaline. “You got someone particular in mind to marry a Benton?”
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Dorthy – 5-Star Amazon Customer Review
“Love, love John Johnston’s stories, not a bad one in the bunch; my book shelf is getting full as I do not want to recycle them, just want to keep them and read them again!”
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Avon, (Reissue) November 26, 2019