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An Equal for Edith, Lilac City Romance Novella #5

An Equal for Edith, Lilac City Romance Novella #5

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Spinster Edith Vosburg may yet find love but in the most unexpected place… amidst the rubble of an earthquake.

While seeking a fresh start in Wyoming, Dr. George Rasmussen unexpectedly reconnects with Edith, his late wife's friend. Their journey to San Francisco becomes a test of emotions and fate when they're caught in a devastating earthquake. Amidst the city's ruins, love and hope rise from the rubble.

Main Tropes

  • Later in life romance
  • Widower with children
  • Friends to lovers

Synopsis

After the death of his wife last year, Dr. George Rasmussen decides he needs a fresh start. When he interviews for a position in a small Wyoming cow town, he discovers that his late wife’s dear friend, Edith, lives there. He’s impressed by her but tells himself he’s too busy caring for his three children to consider anything more than friendship.

Edith is perfectly happy as a spinster. Or so she says. When she sees George again after so many years, she’s surprised at the spark of attraction. She puts the thought out of her head, determined not to betray her friend’s memory.

When Edith travels to San Francisco with friends and George accompanies them to collect his children, disaster strikes. Surrounded by the destruction of the massive earthquake, with fires raging all
around, the two are thrown together, fighting to survive.

Yet from the devastation, emerges hope for a possible new future—one Edith has always wanted. One with a family of her own.

But only if she can let go of the past...

Intro Into Chapter One

“I’ve done a lot of things in my life,” Edith Vosburg said as she packed her portmanteau, “but I’ve never been a lady’s maid before.”

“Don’t call yourself that,” Maude replied with a pretty scowl. It was no wonder the young woman’s husband had fallen head over heels in love with her last year. “You’re my companion and not my maid. And most of all you’re my friend.”

 “Oh, I know. Just like I know your husband invited me along as your companion because I’m experienced in delivering babies.” Edith winked.

At Maude’s look of chagrin, Edith relented. She didn’t want her friend to feel bad about it. The poor couple had waited long enough for their wedding trip.

“Don’t you be worrying about me. I’ve always had a hankering to see San Francisco ever since a dear friend from years ago went there once. This will be the trip of a lifetime for me. I hear they have ladies working in offices there. What a hoot it’d be to see one of those new typing machines.”

“Do you think you’d like to learn how to use one? I wouldn’t.” Maude held up one of Edith’s shirtwaists. “But I guess I could see you in that role. You’re so professional and businesslike.”

Maude didn’t say manlike, but the word came to Edith’s mind. The adjective had been used to describe her a few times over the years. She wasn’t bad looking. Her dear friend Caroline used to tell Edith she was beautiful, but in an uncommon way. It might stretch the truth, but it wasn’t a lie either.

“You mean manlike?” Edith couldn’t help asking.

“Now, why would you say a thing like that?” Maude asked, frowning.

“I’ve been called it before. While your sister Frances rides with the cowhands on your brother’s dude ranch and regularly carries a rifle, I’ve never yet heard anyone suggest she’s manlike.”

“If they did, she’d probably shoot them,” Maude said, her tone flat, and both women laughed.

“True enough,” Edith said with a grin. “Even so, her husband is completely infatuated with her and her ways. I doubt that man will ever try to change her. I always assumed it was my forthright manner that people thought of as manly. But Frances is forthright and then some.” It wasn’t fair. But if Edith had learned nothing else in her thirty-nine years, it was that life wasn’t fair.

“That’s a load of nonsense.” Maude put down the folded shirtwaist and faced Edith. “I was reading one of Frances’s books recently, and it talked about how a lot of men get intimidated by strong women. And they lash out because of it. The only thing they can do is to attack your femininity.”

“I’m not worried about simpleton men.” Edith picked up a split-skirt Frances had given her. “If I thought I could put up with one of them, I’d be married by now, I imagine. I’ve received a couple of marriage proposals, you know.”

“You have?” Maude paused again in her packing.

“Both were widowers who needed someone to keep house for them and raise their children. They explained how much less expensive it was having a wife than hiring a housekeeper.” Edith gave a disgusted snort. “Heaven preserve me from men like that. I’m doing just fine as I am.”

“They aren’t all like that. I firmly believe there’s someone out there for you.” Maude’s expression had taken on a familiar dreamy look.

Edith was happy for her friend but realistic enough to know marriage wasn’t likely for her. If she couldn’t find a man she could put up with—and love, if she were being honest with herself—while living in a town with nearly five times more men than women, it wouldn’t happen.

When they’d finished packing, Edith brought out the tea and made Maude put up her feet
while she sipped her own drink. It gave them a chance to chat about their plans for the trip.

“Hey, Edith,” her brother, Abe, called later as he opened the door to the small house she kept for him. “Oh, hello there, Maude.” He glanced over his shoulder and called, “Hey, your wife’s in here.”

Deputy Sheriff Charles Merrick stepped in the front door, taking off his hat. His face lit up when he spotted his wife. The love which seemed to shine from both of them made Edith’s heart ache a little. What would it have been like to find a man who looked at
her like that? She gave herself a mental shake.

With her luck, she’d get stuck with someone horrible like her father. It’d been harder to remember that over the last year. With the Lancaster sisters moving to Lilac City and each one finding their life partners here, Edith had wondered sometimes if all these years she’d been wrong to keep her distance from eligible men.

When Charles took Maude’s hand and brought it to his lips, Edith had to turn away. It surprised her to find that her curmudgeon brother, Abe, who’d just turned sixty and had also never married, was watching the couple with longing in his eyes. He looked very much like a man who was second-guessing his decision to remain a bachelor. Now, that was unexpected.

Abe glanced at her. She could tell he knew she’d been watching him by the little bit of pink showing above his beard. He shrugged.

“What’s for lunch?” he asked, as though the roast that’d been cooking since this morning wasn’t smelling up the house.

“What, is your smeller going bad in your old age?” Edith teased.

“We should go,” Charles said, putting his arm around his wife’s waist. “We have no wish to intrude.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake.” Edith pointed to the kitchen table, which she’d set for four. “If you
don’t want to eat my cooking, just say so.” At Charles’ wide-eyed expression and her brother’s frown, the sharpness of her words made her wince. Why was she suddenly so cranky? Probably all those thoughts about the family she’d never have. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”

“Let me help with that,” Maude said, coming into the little kitchen.

“All right. You men go wash up.”

“Have I said something wrong?” Maude asked once the men had gone.

“It’s not you.” Edith was nothing if not upfront and honest, specially to a friend. “What you and Charles have is something I never thought I could find. I was too much like your sister Frances with her attitudes about men.”

“But you didn’t have a Nick to change your mind like Frances did.”

“Who knows? I might have but didn’t recognize him. I’ve never let any man get close enough to me to find out.” Edith sighed. “It’s too late now, and I’m a practical woman. I’d best not be wishing for more than I have. The good Lord must have had solid reasons for not sending a good man my way.”

“And all this time I thought you were perfectly happy as a spinster.”

“I thought I was too,” Edith said softly.

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